Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Notre Dame Chaplain Profiles #5 and #6 - Frs. Bourget and Leveque

I'm pleased to add another installment introducing the Holy Cross priests from the University of Notre Dame who served as chaplains in the Civil War.

See these posts for previous profiles:

#1 = Fr. Paul E. Gillen, CSC (here)
#2 = Fr. Peter P. Cooney, CSC (here)
#3 = Fr. Joseph C. Carrier, CSC (here)
#4 = Fr. James M. Dillon (here)

Recall that Fr. James Dillon died shortly after the Civil War, in no small part from the privations of serving as a chaplain...Below is an excerpt from my book, Notre Dame and the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory (The History Press, 2010) describing some of the life and ministry of Fr. Zepherin Joseph Leveque and Fr. Julian Prosper Bourget, as a chaplain in the Union army. Unfortunately, we do not know as much as Frs. Leveque and Bourget as the other chaplains, but they still deserve to be remembered.

Unlike the other Notre Dame priests who served as chaplains, Frs. Leveque and Bourget were assigned to hospital duty and not to a particular regiment...sadly, both men died during the Civil War while serving as chaplains. May they rest in peace.

In 1861, Father Sorin kept good his promise to send another priest to minister to the Catholic troops; that priest was Father Zepherin Joseph Lévêque, a Canadian by birth. While as zealous as the other Holy Cross priests from Notre Dame, Father Lévêque was also sickly and did not serve for long. On February 13, 1862—just a few months after arriving—he fell ill and died while visiting a fellow priest in New Jersey. Father Lévêque did not seem to have a commission with a particular regiment, although an obituary in the New York Herald stated that “the members of Company K, Twelfth Regiment, New York State Militia” were invited to attend the funeral. (1)

Another priest, Father Julian Prosper Bourget, had come to Notre Dame from the Holy Cross Mother House in France in early 1862. At Father Sorin’s suggestion, Father Bourget left for the military hospital at Mound City, Illinois, where he cared for many wounded and dying soldiers. Unfortunately, his stay—like Father Lévêque’s—was not long. Father Bourget contracted malaria and died at the hospital on June 12, 1862.


(1) “Obituary of Rev. J.M.Z. Leveque,” New York Herald clipping, February14, 1862, Lévêque File, Indiana Province Archives Center, Congregation of the HolyCross, Notre Dame, Indiana (IPAC)

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