Dilhet, Father Jean

1811, October 31

Date of Birth: 1732, August 26


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Jean Dilhet, born at Toulouse on November 18, 1753, entered the major seminary of that city on November 9, 1774, as a cleric.  After spending nearly two years in the Solitude he was, in the vacation period of 1778, sent to Bourges where he stayed up to 1787.  Then he was appointed to the seminary of Avignon as Superior of the Philosophy students.  He remained there only two years; and in 1789 he went to teach Horal at Tulle.  He was enrolled in the Society in 1780.

At the time of the [French] Revolution he returned to his own region and went into hiding there.  But towards the end of 1797, he left for the United States and arrived in America on January 13, 1798.  He was dispatched to the missions of Detroit in Michigan where Father Levadoux assigned him to residence in River Raisin, and appointed him to form a parish there.  Father Dilhet underwent many difficulties there by reason of the divisions which split the settlers into various factions, all equally inimical to authority and opposed to the correction of abuses.  He managed, however, by dint of patience and mildness to win all of them over.

Recalled at length to France, he went first to Baltimore.  There, in conjunction with Father Nagot, he founded at eighteen leagues from Baltimore, the minor seminary of Pigeon Hill in Pennsylvania.  Father Dilhet spoke of this institution as being an English-German minor seminary which was, he said, a seed-bed of seminarians and teachers for the seminary and college of Baltimore.  After putting this house on a good footing, he left for France; and in l807 he arrived in Paris, where he spent some time.  From there he was sent to Limoges to help in the establishment of the seminary.  Father Emery introduced him to the bishop in these terms: “Father Dilhet has experience, zeal, energy.  He has worked in the heart of America.  Since he got along with the Indians, he will have no trouble getting along with the Limousins."  In 1810 Father Dilhet was sent to Puy for the same reason, the reestablishment of that diocese’s seminary.  He died there suddenly on October 31, 1811.

Translation of an excerpt from an article on Father Dilhet in Bibliothècue Sulpicienne de Histoire Littéraire de la Compagnie de St. Sulpice (hereafter designated as Bibliothècue Sulpicienne) Volume II, pp 35-36.