Blessed Frederic Janssoone
Blessed Frederic Janssoone was born in Flanders in 1838. His life took many interesting turns. His was not an ordinary nineteenth-century way of life. Frederic was born of wealthy farm parents and he was the youngest of thirteen children. He was just nine when his father died, so the boy left school to help support his mother. He soon realized that he had a "knack" for selling. He enjoyed people. He liked meeting new people and he knew how to explain his products.
Frederic's mother died in 1861. It was then that the twenty-three-year-old reached into his heart in search of his own life's call. He realized that he was experiencing a strong desire to join the Franciscan order. After his seminary studies were finished, Frederic was ordained a Franciscan priest. He became a military chaplain for a time. Then in 1876, he was sent to the Holy Land. Father Frederic preached the Gospel in the places made sacred by Jesus himself.
He used his skills to help various groups of Christians cooperate in the upkeep of two sacred churches. He built a church in Bethlehem. Blessed Frederic is also remembered for reviving an old custom of having pilgrims make the Stations of the Cross throughout the streets of Jerusalem.
Father Frederic's ministry in Canada began when he was transferred there in 1881. He was sent on a fundraising tour. His many talents served him well. His joyful spirit of self-giving made him much loved immediately. His sermons and talks were filled with interesting facts about the Holy Land. He looked into the faces and hearts of the people and prayed that they would grow in the richness of God's life. In 1888, he returned to Canada to stay and was to spend the rest of his life there.
Father Janssoone was an interesting person and a fascinating writer. He wrote several articles and biographies of saints. They are reminders of the enthusiasm that filled his own soul. They reflect the joy of Jesus that he so willingly shared with others. Father Frederic died on August 4, 1916. He was declared "blessed" in 1988 by Pope John Paul II.
Blessed Frederic's talents served him well in bringing the gospel to the places he went. Am I using my gifts for the good of others?