Richard, Father Gabriel
1832, September 13
November 2, 1822
No Memorial Card is Available
It is my duty to inform you of the death of Father Gabriel Richard, priest of the Society and missionary at Fort Detroit in America; at the age of sixty-eight he has recently been carried off by cholera (last September 13th), fortified by all the sacraments of the Church. Father Richard, native of Saintes and student at the Seminary of Angers, was admitted to the Solitude in 1790. He was sent in 1792 to Baltimore to teach Philosophy; he went from there with Fathers Levadoux and Flaget to the Illinois country. After staying there for some years and tending to that mission, he was called in 1798 to Fort Detroit on the Canadian border; he remained in Detroit until his death, fulfilling there the duties of a most devoted pastor. It would be impossible in this letter to tell all the good he did in this place – preaching, catechizing, visiting the sick and the poor, buying bread for those dying of starvation, defending Catholicism in the public prints, increasing his flock through many conversions, laying the foundation of a large church which, when it is finished, will be, for that area, a quite noteworthy monument of Gothic architecture. His integrity, his talents and his literary attainments drew to him the respect of the inhabitants who, in 1823, elected him to the National Congress; there he successfully looked out for the interests of the territory which had sent him.
Laid low three months ago by an attack of cholera, he continued, in spite of his own extreme weakness, to carry on his ministry; he did not stop visiting the sick until his own worsening illness forced him to take to his bed. Having learned from the priest who was attending him that he had only moments to live, he heroically offered his life and asked for the sacraments, which he received with the deepest reverence. Upon receiving the Holy Viaticum, he thereupon uttered the words of the holy old Simeon, “Nunc dimittis”; he expired a few hours later. A great number of people of every class and every denomination attended his funeral and mourned his loss. He is the first and only member of the Society who has up to now succumbed to cholera; our priests in Canada and in Baltimore have been preserved from it, although, exposed to it as they so regularly are, their zeal in assisting its victims has done great credit to their faith. I recommend this excellent priest, whom I knew very well, to the prayers customary in the Society.