Dumont, Father Francis
1915, May 12
Date of Birth: 1838, December 29
August 4, 1915
Fathers and Very Dear in Our Lord:
In the United States in the course of the school-year 1914-1915, four of our confreres engaged in our work have died: Fathers Schwalbach, Berkeley, Chapon, Dumont. I have been unable up to now to express the traditional tribute of our remembrance. But even late, that tribute remains due, and I herein pay it to them for your edification and as a duty of piety towards those who belong to our family.
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Father Louis Dumont, born at Lyon on December 29, 1838, was the compatriot and contemporary of Father Chapon. Last December it gave Father Chapon real pleasure to congratulate him on the occasion of his golden jubilee. Father Dumont followed his friend in life, and he followed him in death. Father Chapon died the day after Easter; Father Dumont died on Ascension Eve, May 12th.
His ministry in America had three stages: we see him first at St. Mary’s as Professor of Theology and Superior of Philosophy, then as President of St. Charles, and finally at Washington (1894) as Superior of the University seminary and at the house called St. Austin’s.
The high intellectual and moral worth of Father Dumont was especially appreciated. One of his subjects called him a true gentleman.
At first glance, he gave an appearance of coldness and inspired respect rather than liking. He believed in frankness. He always had everyone’s trust. He was known to be firm but very fair.
More than ten of the University professors came to his funeral, which took place at St. Mary’s in Baltimore (though he had died in a Washington hospital). The Rector, Bishop Shahan, preached a sermon after the Mass, which was celebrated by Father Schrantz – through long years an associate of Father Dumont’s at St. Charles and also later at the University seminary. He left a deep impression on the professors of the University, where he had rendered great service as spiritual director.
His apostolate was carried on also by correspondence. Pious layfolk sought his guidance, and he took good care of them. Religious communities close to the University sought his counsel and knew they could always rely on his charity.
He was always humble and self-effacing. A well-read man, he left a library of valuable and rare ancient works and of the best of current publications. He patriotically followed the progress of the war [World War I] until he fell sick. After that, he no longer read the papers and showed no further interest; sure, he said, that the good God would arrange things according to what was best for His glory. It is regrettable that after 1894 his positions did not put him in frequent contact with a good number of our confreres on whom he might have had a very salutary influence. He was a quiet man and a courageous one.
His health was always something of a problem, but he never used it as an excuse to dispense himself from the hard aspects of our life. Father Dumont will leave to all who knew him in the United States the impression of a priestly soul, one very edifying by reason of his integrity, his dependability, his piety, his sincerity and even-handedness, his clear vision of what was good, and his courage to work at it and promote it.
I recommend to your prayers the four deceased American confreres: Fathers Schwalbach, Berkeley, Chapon, and Dumont. I renew to you the expression of my very devoted sentiments in Our Lord.
Superior of St. Sulpice