Gabriel RICHARD, PSS (1767-1832), was a French Sulpician priest who labored in the United States for many years among the French-speaking settlers in the area of Detroit (Michigan) and among the native American Indians of the region. He arrived in the United States in 1792, having been sent by the Superior General of the Sulpicians, Father Jacques-André EMERY as a missionary to the new world and to escape the severe persecution of the Terror that grew out of the French Revolution.
Among Father Richard’s singular accomplishments were co-founding the school that became the University of Michigan, being considered the “second founder of Detroit” after helping to rebuild the city after the disastrous fire of 1805, being the first priest to serve in Congress, being an earlier pioneer in ecumenical relations with Protestants, being an enlightened friend of the Native Americans, giving Detroit its first library, and bringing the first printing press west of the Alleghenies Mountains.
Recently, the Superior General of the Sulpicians, M. Ronald WITHERUP, PSS, had the privilege of visiting the historic parish of St. Anne in Detroit where Father Richard was pastor for thirty years and where his remains are kept in a small chapel near the main sanctuary. The present pastor, Msgr Charles KOSANKE, invited Father Witherup to celebrate a Mass at the parish in connection with the University of Michigan’s bicentennial (2017).