Blessed Joseph (1831-1914) was born in Bouxières-aux-Chênes, France into a Catholic farming family. He was the eldest of five children and received early support from his Parish Priest to begin studies for the priesthood. He had good linguistic skills which he put to great use in later life, learning the local Zulu and Sesotho languages while in South Africa.
Blessed Joseph joined the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, studying at Pont-à-Mousson, Nancy and Marseilles before moving to South Africa. He was ordained a Priest, taking his final vows, in 1854.
Blessed Joseph spent the whole of his Priesthood in South Africa as a missionary firstly, to the Zulu people and then in Lesotho. With the help of the local Bishop, he set up his first mission in 1862. Other missions followed and with them, the conversion of many to Catholicism.
The Oblates of Mary Immaculate wrote of his years in Lesotho, “Fr. Gérard’s concern and care for the sick and the old was remarkable – even heroic at times. Despite the distance, despite the weather, despite the inconvenience, he would set out on foot or on horseback, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, to minister to those afflicted. His deep devotion to Mary was absorbed by his first converts, and since his day the nation has been dedicated to Mary Immaculate”.
Following formal confirmation of a miracle attributed to his intercession, Blessed Joseph was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988 on his visit to Lesotho. His day of remembrance is the 29th May.
Pray for us that we will work tirelessly for others so they may understand and live a life true to Jesus’ Gospel teachings.
Glory be to the…