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Pilgrimage in Madison to Walk in the Historic Footsteps of Fr. Sebastian Râle on August 11

Jesuit Missionary to the Maine Abenakis was Killed by the British in 1724

MADISON---In visiting the places he preached and ministered, those gathered at a special pilgrimage in Madison on Saturday, August 11, will have the opportunity to experience a walk in the historic footsteps of Fr. Sebastian Râle (also spelled Râsle). All are welcome to attend.

The group will meet at Notre Dame de Lourdes Church, located on 273 Water Street in Skowhegan, at 9 a.m. before driving to the site of the old mission at St. Sebastian Cemetery on Father Râsle Road in Madison.

Originally from France, Râle joined the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1674 and, driven by the love of Christ, he traveled to the Americas 15 years later.

“When he encountered this amazing, burning love from the heart of Jesus, it lit his own heart on fire,” said Joseph Moreshead, a seminarian of the Diocese of Portland who will lead the pilgrimage. “He had to make the love of Jesus Christ known to the farthest corners of the world. In Father Râle’s day, Madison, Maine, was the farthest imaginable corner of the world!”

Father Râle lived much of his life among the Abenaki people. He composed a catechism and a dictionary in the Abenaki language and is even credited with establishing Maine’s first school. He fiercely defended the rights of the Abenaki people and was killed by the British in 1724. Seven members of the tribe died trying to protect him.

There will be several opportunities for prayer and meditation during the pilgrimage, and excerpts from letters written by or about Father Râle will be read along with Scripture passages. The pilgrimage will conclude around 1 p.m. at the memorial of Father Râle, located in St. Sebastian Cemetery on the spot where he was killed.

“I think that realizing that it happened here and that these are people not so far removed from us, people can realize that this is our call as well,” said Moreshead, “to go set the world on fire with Christ’s love just like Father Râle did.”

For more information about the pilgrimage, contact Joseph Moreshead at or call Christ the King Parish at (207) 696-3203.