Francis Xavier Seelos

Also known as
Francesco Saverio Seelos; Father Seelos

Memorial
5 October

Profile
One of twelve children born to Mang and Frances Schwarzenbach Seelos; he was named for Saint Francis Xavier. His father was a textile merchant who became parish sacristan when Francis was 11. Confirmed on 3 September1828, and made his first Communion on 2 April 1830. The boy wanted to be a priest from an early age, and often claimed he would be another Francis Xavier.

Completed his basic studies in Füssen. Graduated from the Institute of Saint Stephen in Augsburg in 1839. Received a degree in philosophy and theology from the University of Munich. Entered the Saint Jerome seminary, Dilligen on 19 September 1842.

Became familiar with the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and their mission to work with the poorest, theabandoned, and immigrants. He joined on 22 November 1842. Feeling a call to minister to German immigrants toAmerica, he left the seminary on 9 December 1842, sailed for the America on 17 March 1843, and arrived in New York on 20 April . Ordained in the Redemptorist Church of Saint James in Baltimore, Maryland on 22 December 1844.

Worked nine years at Saint Philomena parish, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, six of those years as assistant pastor to, and spiritual student of Saint John Neumann, and the other three as superior and novice master of his Redemptorist community. Faithful to the Redemptorist teachings, he led a simple life, preached a simple message, and was always available to those in need. His sermons drew crowds from neighboring towns, there were lines outside his confessional, and he never tired of working with children. He heard Confessions in English, German, and French, from black and whites and anyone else with a burden.

Transferred to parish ministries in Baltimore in 1854, Cumberland in 1857, and Annapolis in 1862. Proposed as bishop of Pittsburgh in 1860, but he begged to be excused "from this act of God", and his desire was granted by Pope Pius IX.

In 1863, during the American Civil War, all men were obliged to be available for active military duty. Seelos, as Superior of the RedemptoristSeminary, met with President Abraham Lincoln, and obtained an agreement not to send seminarians to the front. Seelos soon after lost his position as Prefect of Students for being "too lenient".

From 1863 to 1866 he lived as an itinerant mission preacher in both English and German in Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey,New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. Hearing of an influx of German immigrants to New Orleans, he pastored aRedemptorist church there beginning in 1866. He worked with yellow fever victims until he was taken by the illness the next year.

Born
11 January 1819 at Füssen, diocese of Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany, and baptized on the same day

Died
4 October 1867 of yellow fever; buried in a crypt beneath the floor of Saint Mary’s Assumption Church, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Beatified
9 April 2000 by Pope John Paul II at Rome, Italy; responsible for the miraculous healing from inoperable liver cancer of Angela Boudreaux in 1966

Canonized
pending

Additional Information
New Orleans Clarion Herald,
American Wonderworker, by Brother André Marie, M.I.C.M.
Catholic Encyclopedia,
Thomas Artz, C.SS.R.,
America's Forgotten Saint?, by Father Carl Hoegerl, C.Ss.R.
Our Most Amazing Case, by Patricia Treece
The life of a roving Redemptorist, Father John Murray, C.Ss.R.
Praise of Glory,
America's Forgotten Saint?, by Father Carl Hoegerl, C.Ss.R.
Redemptorists, Denver Province,
Homily for Father Seelos, by Bishop Edward Gilbert, C.Ss.R.
His Kindly Approach: excerpt from a letter by Blessed Francis
The Cheerful Ascetic,
Vatican Biography,
Pope John Paul II, homily at the Mass for the beatification of Blessed Francis

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Readings
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight. I offer praise to You for the grace You have bestowed on Your humble missionary, Father Francis Xavier Seelos May I have the same joyful vigor that Father Seelos possessed during his earthly life to love You deeply and live faithfully Your gospel. Amen.

-Byron Miller, C.Ss.R.
Faithful to the spirit and charism of the Redemptorist Congregation to which he belonged, Father Francis Xavier Seelos often meditated upon these words of the Psalmist. Sustained by God's grace and an intense life of prayer, Fr Seelos left his native Bavaria and committed himself generously and joyfully to the missionary apostolate among immigrant communities in the United States.

In the various places where he worked, Father Francis Xavier brought his enthusiasm, spirit of sacrifice and apostolic zeal. To the abandoned and the lost he preached the message of Jesus Christ, "the source of eternal salvation" (Heb 5: 9), and in the hours spent in the confessional he convinced many to return to God. Today, Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos invites the members of the Church to deepen their union with Christ in the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Through his intercession, may all who work in the vineyard for the salvation of God's people be encouraged and strengthened in their task."

-Pope John Paul II at the beatification ceremony for Blessed Francis

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