Franciscan Saints

11th February

The Servant of God Stephen Eckert

Confessor, First Order


Another child of St. Francis of our own day, Father Stephen Eckert, was born in Dublin, Canada, on April 28, 1869. He received the habit of St. Francis among the Capuchins in Detroit, Michigan, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1806. For several years he labored in New York, and was highly esteemed as a missionary, confessor and retreat master.


The glory of the metropolis and the honor accorded to him there were not agreeable to his humble disposition. He was attracted to the poor and the outcast. On his request, his superiors appointed him to take charge of the mission of St. Benedict the Moor, for Negroes in Milwaukee. There Father Stephen felt completely at home.


His iron determination, his gift for oratory, his unlimited optimism, and his invincible trust in God he placed at the complete service of the colored people. He was determined, cost what it might, to raise their cultural level and to promote their religious and moral life. With this in mind, he brought his influence to bear on both the Negroes and the white people. To the former he was father, with the latter he was the spokesman of the despised and oppressed black race. He left no opportunity pass to destroy prejudice and promote understanding and love for the Negro.


On a journey devoted to that purpose, he contracted pneumonia, which caused his death on February 16, 1923. One of the last utterances of this apostle of love was this: “Here I lie and do nothing, and meanwhile thousands of souls are being lost!” The many answers to prayer that have been attributed to his intercession have caused the process of his beatification to be introduced. (Cf. Forum, 1947, pp. 366-370)

All to all

1.    It is Christ-like to become all to all. All people are one in God: “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?”(Mal.2.10) all people are one in our Saviour: “Christ died for all” (2 Cor. 5, 15). How right it was, then, of father Stephen to interest himself as much in the coloured people as in their white fellows! – Let us never guide our actions by the race or nationality, but rather by the souls of humanity.

Prayer of the church

O God, who didst send the Holy Ghost upon Thy Apostles,

grant to Thy people the effects of their ardent prayers, so that

so that Thou mayest grant peace to those whom Thou hast favoured with

the gift of faith.

Through Christ Our Lord Who liveth and reigneth
Thee and the Holy Spirit,  One God, now and forever.



Quotations from

1. Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois



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