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The Kennebec Historical Society’s May Public Presentation: “Go and Set the World on Fire: The Tragic Story of How a Jesuit Mission to the Abenakis of Maine Went Up in Flames”

16 May 2018 6:30 PM | Anonymous member

"Go and set the world on fire" was St. Ignatius of Loyola's famous call to the Jesuits to preach the gospel to the far corners of the world. Fr. Sebastian Rale followed the call of his order's founder and left France in 1689 to give his life to caring for the souls of native Americans. This he did for thirty years in a small mission village amidst the Abenaki people far up the Kennebec River. The village was called Narantsouack (i.e. Norridgewock.)

But this peaceful mission was not to last. In those few decades, Fr. Rale’s little village got caught in a blaze of controversy that ended in the mission being burned by a Massachusetts militia and its pastor being shot.  Joseph Moreshead, a seminarian for the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland, will discuss the origins of this conflict between Fr. Rale, the New England colonists, and the Abenaki people and how competing interests among the three parties led to such a tragic end.

Joseph Moreshead is a native of South Portland, Maine and a current student at the Catholic University of America, studying to be a Catholic priest in Maine.  A graduate of Cheverus High School and Fordham University, Moreshead was educated for eight years by Jesuits like Fr. Rale.  After extensive research on the Jesuit Relations, he led a pilgrimage to Fr. Rale’s grave last August.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and classical language.

The Kennebec Historical Society’s May Presentation is free to the public (donations gladly accepted) and will take place on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church located at 41 Western Avenue in Augusta. ​ 


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