“Have the poor ever had a greater friend than he?’
It is no mere coincidence that during this time of prayer for religious freedom, we celebrated the feasts of a marvelous “crowd of witness” to the faith from St. Thomas More right through to the first martyrs of Rome.
We too can boast of a saintly soul (not yet raised to the high altars) but very dear to our congregation who appropriately also will intercede on our behalf. Father Ernest Lelievre a most “devoted servant” died July 3, 1889. He was only 63 years old, had 35 years of labor, fatigues, worries and incessant travels that ruined his health. He stated. “If I had it to do all over again, I’d kill myself even more.”
Father Lelievre was the one who planted the first foundations of the Little Sisters of the Poor on American soil. In 1868, as ambassador of the Congregation to the bishops of the New World, many bishops welcomed him to their diocese from New Orleans, Louisiana to Brooklyn, to Baltimore and, yes, even meeting the archbishop of St. Louis Missouri.
In 1869, Father Lelievre received a letter from Cardinal Barnabo, prefect of the Propagation of the Faith, conveying congratulations from Pope Pius IX on the work accomplished in the United States and his encouragement “to continue to pursue it with ever increasing zeal & joy.” May our “great friend” intercede on our behalf.