Lecture By Seminarian Joe Moreshead on Fr. Sebastain Rale S.J. 15791
Council: 15791 - FALMOUTH
Six council brothers, wives and parishioners participated in a Lecture By Seminarian Joe Moreshead on Fr. Sebastian Rale S.J. at Holy Martyr’s Church on Tuesday July 17, 2018. In 1695, Fr. Sebastian Rale S.J. traveled down the Dead River from Quebec to the banks of the Kennebec where for thirty five years he gave of himself in caring for the souls of the Abenaki Indians of Narantsouack ( later know as Norridgewock.) Located on disputed territory, Fr. Rale soon had a price put on his scalp by his New England neighbors to the South. The French, it is said, had three primary motives for coming to North America: fish, furs, and faith. Many priests, mostly Jesuits, came with the fur traders and fishermen. They lived among the Indians, learned their language, converted them to Catholicism, and counted them as allies in battles with the English. The English and French fought especially for territory along the undetermined border between Maine (part of Massachusetts) and French Canada. The French gained Indian allies when they protested English encroachment on Indian lands. Father Sebastien Rales (1652-1724) started a Jesuit mission and built a church in Norridgewock, on the Kennebec River. He was suspected of urging Indian and French troops to attack Wells in 1703. Indians continued to raid the increasingly fortified and more heavily populated settlements in Southern Maine, despite the 1713 Treaty of Portsmouth. In 1721, Fr. Rale, along with Indians flying the French flag demanded that the English leave Indian lands and return Indian hostages. The English stopped selling gunpowder and ammunition to the Indians and made plans to stop the French priest and the threat he represented to their control of Maine. In 1722, Col. Thomas Westbrook raided the mission, hoping to capture Fr. Rale. The Priest escaped, but the soldiers confiscated his strongbox and got important letters and documents that suggested he was working under orders of Canadian authorities. To revenge the raid on Norridgewock, Indians burned Brunswick. “This moderation of the savages did not have the effect which they had hoped,” he wrote. “Thus we have a new signal of the war which is likely to flame forth between the English and the savages. The latter look for no support from the French … but they had a resource in all the other savage nations, who will not fail to enter into their quarrel and take up their defense.” With hostilities increased, the British were determined to stop Fr. Rale and the Indians. In August 1724, a combined force of English militia and Massachusetts and Mohawk Indians destroyed the village at Norridgewock, killing as many as 100 Indians and Father Rale. The Indians who managed to stay alive fled to Canada after the battle was over. He ministered to their needs, conducted church services, advocated on their behalf, wrote an Abenaki-French dictionary – and was much loved by his followers. This evenings program was well presented by Seminarian Joe Moreshead with plenty of questions following his presentation. For myself and my wife we knew nothing of Fr. Rale and his life as a Missionary. We have decided to read more about his life which was very much dedicated to the caring of the Abenaki Indians and promoting the word of GOD all of his life. We look forward to Seminarian Joe’s next seminar.