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John Baptist Brondel
First Bishop of Helena, Montana, U.S.A., b. at Bruges, Belgium, 23 February, 1842; d. at Helena, 3 November 1903. He was educated at the American College of the University of Louvain and ordained priest at Mechlin, Belgium, by Cardinal Engelbert Stercks (17 December, 1864). Two years later he volunteered for the missions in the United States and was made rector of the church at Heilacoon, Washington Territory, early in 1867. Here he remained for nearly ten years and was then transferred to Walla Walla, but returned to his old charge the following year.
On 14 December, 1879, he was consecrated at Victoria, as third Bishop of Vancouver, British Columbia, in succession to Bishop Seghers, who had been made coadjutor to the Archbishop of Oregon City. Bishop Brondel retained this charge until by a Bull of 7 April, 1883, he was appointed Administrator of the Vicariate of Montana, When the Diocese of Helena was formed he was transferred to that see, 7 March, 1884, as its first bishop. During all his long and active career in this northwest section, he was particularly successful in his dealings with the many Indians under his charge. They looked up to him as a father and protector, and his great popularity among the various tribes was not only of benefit to the Church, but was utilized on numerous occasions by the United States Government to further the political, material, and moral welfare of the Indians. His death was regarded as a great loss to the work of the evangelization and civilization of the Indians. He was buried 7 November, 1903, in a vault under the catherdral in Helena.
Catholic News files (New York, Nov., 1903); REUSS, Biog. Encycl. Cath. Hierarchy (Milwaukee, 1898); Catholic Directory (Milwaukee, 1904).
THOMAS F. MEEHAN