LENAPE WATOMIKA (FATHER JAMES BOUCHARD) DIED—FIRST ORDAINED NATIVE AMERICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST
Born near Leavenworth, Kansas, circa 1823, his father was Lenape (Delaware). His mother, of French ancestry, was captured by Native Americans & adopted into the Lenape Tribe. James’ tribal name meant “Swift Foot.” After his father died in a skirmish with the Sioux in 1834, a Protestant missionary took him to Marietta College, Ohio, to study for the ministry. However, while in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1846, he converted to Catholicism. Bouchard entered the Jesuit Order and was ordained on August 5, 1855–the 1st Native American Catholic priest in the U.S. After several years of ministry in the Midwest, he was assigned to California in 1861 and became a retreat master, pulpit orator, and lecturer. He preached at the dedications of St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, Los Angeles (1876) & Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Sacramento (1889), and spoke on public issues in California. Bouchard devoted himself to missionary work in the mining camps & towns of California. Fr. Bouchard died in San Francisco.
Source: “James Bouchard,” Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 9/14/2020, https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bouchard-james Photo: Author unknown, pre-1890. Public Domain.