In 1822 a young French missionary priest arrived in America, where he would devote the rest of his life to the mission field on behalf of the Catholic Church. Jean-Marie Odin served first in Missouri and Arkansas, then in 1840 moved to Texas, becoming the first Bishop of Galveston in 1847. He held that office until 1861, when he became Archbishop of New Orleans.
The twenty years he served in Texas were important years in the life of the young republic-turned-state. His life and career during this period allow readers to view, in the words of this book’s foreword, “French missionaries and their collaborators treading the almost limitless Texas landscape to serve encampments of settlers and to preach the Gospel in English, French, Spanish, and German.”
His decade in New Orleans during the Civil War and Reconstruction spans a period of immense importance to America, the region, and the Roman Catholic Church. Finally, in 1870, Odin returned to Hauteville, France, and died in the same home in which he had been raised.
The role of the church in those turbulent times is revealed through the life and ministry of Jean-Marie Odin.
What Readers Are Saying:
"As Bishop of Fort Worth, I am privileged to minister in a great environment of faith in the state where the foundations for our times were laid by Bishop Odin in many ways in his times. Patrick Foley's scholarship is a welcome blessing for these days, when valiant missionary efforts of the past are often misunderstood and not appreciated."--Kevin W. Vann, Bishop, Fort Worth
"Any images you may hold of the life of a bishop will never be quite the same after you read Dr. Patrick Foley's Missionary Bishop: Jean-Marie Odin in Galveston in New Orleans."--North Texas Catholic
“There is a very real and marked need in the historical literature for this biography. This work is a very complete historical biography that is sound and well structured. This book will constitute an important contribution to the history of antebellum Louisiana and Texas while it highlights the underappreciated story of the Catholic Church. This will be a singular and important addition to the historical literature on the history of religion in Texas and Louisiana; there is no similar study.”--Light Townsend Cummins, Bryan Professor of History, Austin College
"The scholarship is most competent and the author has consulted appropriate archives and printed sources. I am not aware of any competitive book specifically on Odin. The work, therefore, is unique."--Archie P. McDonald, Regent's Professor of History and Community Liaison, Stephen F. Austin State University
“Shortly after completing all requirements for the doctorate in history at the University of New Mexico, Charles Patrick Foley crossed the state line into Texas to accept a faculty appointment at the northwest campus of Tarrant County Community College. Embarking upon a mission that would embrace a quarter-century of research and composition, Dr. Foley opted to investigate the life and times of the Most Reverend Jean Marie Odin, first Catholic bishop of independent Texas extending from the years of the Republic to Statehood, and concluding in the ecclesiastical leadership of the archdiocese of New Orleans. In the process of constructing a literary framework, stretching from cradle to grave, Foley deftly intertwined tufts of archival data, extracted from a myriad of depositories, to create a colorful, multi-faceted word portrait of a frontier missionary. Although Jean Marie Odin ascended to the highest episcopal chair in Louisiana, it was in Texas where he cast the longest spiritual shadow over his flock. The prelate's temporal legacy included a palace on Galveston Island that served as a residency and chancery, and on the mainland an array of churches, chapels, schools, convents, hospitals, seminaries, orphanages, and in the interior of his vast diocese a cluster of five 'old Spanish mission ruins along the Rio San Antonio' saved from demolition by legislative intervention. Author Foley's dedication to historical accuracy contributes to an exemplary piece of scholarship that illuminates not only the saga of nineteenth-century Texas, but also the American experience.”—Felix D. Almaraz Jr., Peter T. Flawn Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Borderlands and Texas History, University of Texas at San Antonio; and former president, Texas Catholic Historical Society and Texas State Historical Association
"A most welcome addition not only to Texas Catholic history but also to American Catholic historiography... All in all, Bishop Jean-Marie Odin has found his biographer... and our historiography, Texas and Catholic, is the grateful beneficiary." --Thomas W. Jodziewicz
"This work is the first in-depth study of Odin, and it is a welcome and important addition to understanding the history of Catholicism in Texas and Louisiana. It leaves a major and lasting impression of the life and struggles of a missionary bishop on the Texas frontier." -- Catholic Historical Review