Background on The Church of St. Francis Xavier

The Church of Saint Francis Xavier is a Roman Catholic establishment that embraces the Jesuit tradition, and endeavors to be a prophetic, inclusive witness, and welcoming community to Jesus Christ’s presence among us. Mindful of our need for the grace of God, and reliance on God, the Church of St. Francis Xavier celebrates together in proclamations of the gospel and sacraments. As a community of hope, the Church of St. Francis Xavier commits itself through creative and prayerful discernment to respond to God.

Who is St. Francis Xavier
Saint Francis Xavier was one of the founding figures of the Jesuit order and Portugal’s patron saint of missionaries. He was born on 7th April 1506 in Spanish Navarre’s Basque region. He was born in a noble family, and so, he lived a privileged life during most of his childhood days. However, this changed following the demise of his father and increasing attempts by some forces to take control of the region. In 1925, Xavier attended the University of Paris where he got acquainted with Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius had become converted while recuperating from a war injury. He encouraged Xavier to travel the path of salvation and devotion. In 1537, Xavier and Ignatius were ordained in Venice as Jesuit priests. Xavier spent his missionary life in the Near East and East. He had always dreamt of spreading the gospel in China. In 1552, Xavier set out for China in pursuit of a goal he would never reach. St. Francis Xavier is widely considered the greatest Christian missionary of all time after St. Paul. St. Francis Xavier carried out his missionary work with unwavering devotion and traveled across great distances under extremely harrowing conditions to areas that were not easily accessible at a time in history when the transport and communications means were not well developed.

As a missionary, Xavier found himself actively opposed, with a very little corporation, and inadequate funds. He lived side by side with the locals and converted them through his preaching, concern for them, and example of his life. His miracles were well-known, and his conversion was quite remarkable, given that he worked through interpreters and did not possess the gift of tongues as many people believed for a long time. St. Francis Xavier’s missionary influence endured for centuries in the East and is estimated to have converted hundreds of thousands of people into Christianity. He was dubbed “the Apostle of Japan” and “the Apostle of the Indies”. In 1622, Pope Gregory XV canonized St. Xavier. Previously, Pope Pius X had proclaimed St. Xavier the patron of all foreign missionaries. The celebration of the life of St. Francis Xavier is held annually on 3rd December.

The Church of St. Francis Xavier
During the summer season of 1890, Bishop John Joseph Hogan facilitated the organization of a parish in the Wyatt Park subdivision, located on the eastern edge of St. Joseph. Bishop John Hogan selected Ohio’s Society of the Precious Blood of Carthagena to construct the church and also charged them with the establishment and maintenance of the parish. The parish was formally established on 17th September 1890 and named The Church of St. Francis Xavier. The school, rectory, and original church were dedicated on 14th June 1891. Reverend Seraphim Kunkler was the pastor of the Church of St. Francis Xavier from the time of its founding until 1899 when Reverend Louis Hefele took over.

Post written by Helena Marvin, leader writer at Credit Glory. She contributes once monthly to STFX Brooklyn and lives in Brooklyn, New York.