Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos.jpg
Born January 11, 1819, Füssen, Bavaria, Germany
Died October 4, 1867, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified April 9, 2000, Rome by Pope John Paul II
Major shrine Blessed Seelos Shrine at St. Mary's Church, New Orleans
Feast October 5

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (January 11, 1819 – October 4, 1867) was a German-American Roman Catholic priest and Redemptorist missionary.

He was born in Füssen, Bavaria, Germany on January 11, 1819 and was baptized the same day in the parish church of St. Mang. Having expressed a desire for the priesthood since childhood, he entered the diocesan seminary in 1842 after having completed his studies in philosophy. Soon after meeting the missionaries of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, founded for the evangelization of the most abandoned, he decided to enter the congregation and to minister to German-speaking immigrants in the United States. He was accepted by the Congregation on November 22, 1842, and sailed the following year from Le Havre, France, arriving in New York on April 20, 1843. On December 22, 1844, after having completed his novitiate and theological studies, Seelos was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Church of St. James in Baltimore, Maryland.

After being ordained, he worked for nine years in the parish of St. Philomena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, first as assistant pastor to St. John Neumann, who was the superior of the Religious Community, later as Superior himself, and for three years as pastor. During this time, he was also the Redemptorist Novice Master. With Neumann, he also dedicated himself to preaching missions. Regarding their relationship, Seelos said: "He has introduced me to the active life" and, "he has guided me as a spiritual director and confessor."

His availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director, so much so that people came to him even from neighboring towns. Faithful to the Redemptorist charism, he practiced a simple lifestyle and a simple manner of expressing himself. The themes of his preaching, rich in Biblical content, were always heard and understood even by the simplest people.

A constant endeavor in this pastoral activity was instructing the little children in the faith. He not only favored this ministry, he held it as fundamental for the growth of the Christian community in the Parish. In 1854, he was transferred from Pittsburgh to Baltimore, then to Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Cumberland, Maryland, in 1857, and to Annapolis (1862), all the while engaged in Parish ministry and serving in the formation of future Redemptorists as Prefect of Students. Even in this post, he was true to his character, remaining always the kind and happy pastor, always prudently attentive to the needs of his students and conscientious of their doctrinal formation. Above all, he strove to instill in these future Redemptorist missionaries the enthusiasm, spirit of sacrifice, and apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the people.

In 1860 he was proposed as a candidate for the office of Bishop of Pittsburgh. Having been excused from this responsibility by Blessed Pope Pius IX, from 1863 until 1866, he dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos in church where he was baptised, St Mang Basilica, Füssen.

After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here also, as pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was joyously available to his faithful and singularly concerned for the poorest and the most abandoned. However, his ministry in New Orleans was destined to be brief. In September of that year, exhausted from visiting and caring for victims of yellow fever, he contracted the disease. After several weeks, he died on October 4, 1867, at the age of 48 years and 9 months.

Pope John Paul II beatified Father Seelos in St. Peter's Square on April 9, 2000. His day in the Martyrology is October 5.

On May 19, 2009 the Archbishop of Baltimore,Most Reverend Edwin F. O’Brien,celebrated Mass with many Redemptorist Priests to open the Diocesan process to investigate a possible 2nd miracle related to Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos.After the Mass, Rev. Gilbert J. Seitz, J.C.L. of the Baltimore Archdiocese Metropolitan Tribunal began the depositions of key witnesses – including that of Mary Ellen Heibel [1] of St. Mary’s (Redemptorist) Church, Annapolis, who attributes her healing of metastasized esophageal cancer through Father Seelos’ intercession.After the Session(s) of the Inquiry Phase are conducted, the official documentation will be sent to the Redemptorist Postulator General, Rev. Antonio Marrazzo, C.Ss.R., for review by the Vatican Congregation of the Causes of the Saints.[2]



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