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Charles John



Bishop of Vancouver Island (today Victoria), Apostle of Alaska. b. at Ghent, Belgium, 26 Dec., 1839; d. in Alaska, 28 Nov., 1886. Left an orphan at a very early date, he was brought up by his uncles. After having studied in local institutions and in the American Seminary at Louvain, he was ordained priest on 31 May, 1863. On 14 Sept. of the same year he left for Vancouver Island, where for the space of ten years he was engaged in valuable missionary labours among the pioneer whites and the natives. On 23 March, 1873, he was appointed to succeed Bishop Demers (q.v.). One of the first cares of the new prelate was to visit the territory of Alaska, after which he turned his attention towards the west coast of Vancouver Island, where he established missions for the Indians. In 1877 he again repaired to Alaska, and evangelized in succession St. Michael's, Nulato, Ulukuk, Kaltag, Nuklukayet, and various other points along the Yukon. He did not return to Victoria before 20 Sept., 1878. He was then named coadjutor to the Archbishop of Oregon City, whom he succeeded 12 Dec,. 1880. After meritorious apostolic labours in his new field of action, as no titular could be found for his old diocese of Victoria, he generously volunteered to return thither, with a view to following up his work in Alaska. This act of disinterestedness deeply touched Leo XIII, and on 2 April, 1885, Archbishop Seghers again took possession of his former see. Whites and Indians then received the benefit of his ministrations, and two missions were founded (1885) in Alaska, one at Sitka, the other at Juneau. But in the course of his fifth expedition to that distant land, he was heartlessly murdered by a white companion named Fuller, whose mind had become more or less unbalanced under the stress of the hardships of the journey and the evil counsels of an American who foresaw in the coming of the two Jesuit priests the archbishop had brought with him an implied reproach. The remains of the bishop were ultimately transferred to Victoria.

DE BAETS Mgr. Seghers, l'Apôtre de l'Alaska (Paris, 1896); MORICE, History of the Catholic Church in Western Canada (Toronto, 1910)

A. G. Morice.








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