Fonds 0900-3022 - Michael Karhaienton Jacobs, S.J. Fonds

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Michael Karhaienton Jacobs, S.J. Fonds

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  • Document textuel
  • Document iconographique
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  • Source du titre propre: Title based on the subject of the fonds.

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Juridiction responsable et dénomination (philatélique)

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  • 1902-1988 (Création/Production)
    Jacobs, Michael Karhaienton

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Description matérielle

35 cm textual records and other material
Note: Includes 257 print photographs, one negative, 47 slides, and seven objects

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Nom du producteur


Notice biographique

Michael Karhaienton Jacobs, S.J. was born in Kahnawà:ke May 11, 1902 to Ann Jacobs and Joseph Jacobs, a steel-worker who specialized in bridges. He was baptized several days later by Reverend William Forbes at the Church of the Saint-François-Xavier Mission—the same reverend and church that would host his ordination 32 years later. Father Jacobs’ family had been registered members of the Saint-François-Xavier Mission since 1715, and are descendants of Big Chief Te-wa-te-ron-hio-ko-aga (Piercing the Clouds).

Father Jacobs was initially one of eleven children, though only six siblings survived beyond childhood: brothers Thomas, Angus, and Frank (all former ironworkers in New York), and sisters Cecilia, Lottie, and Mary. Growing up between Kahnawà:ke and Lachine—an arrangement necessary to Jacobs’ father’s bridge work—Father Jacobs attended public school where he became fluent in English and Kanien’kéha. At 16 years old, after expressing interest in St. Isaac Joques (patron saint of Christian Iroquois Indians), he was sent by Joseph Gras, S.J. to study at Sacred Heart College in Sudbury, Ontario, over 500 kilometres from his home in Kahnawà:ke.

During his final year at Sacred Heart, Father Jacobs decided to enter the Society of Jesus. On August 14, 1922, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Sault-au-Récollet, Quebec, and became the first member of the Mohawk Nation to join the Society of Jesus. From 1923 to 1926, he studied Rhetoric at Sault-au-Récollet. In 1926 and until 1929, he pursued philosophy at Collège de l’Immaculaée-Conception; from 1929 to 1931, he taught at Seminaire Gaspé, to return to Collège de l’Immaculaée-Conception in 1931 to study theology until 1935. In 1934, Father Jacobs was ordained by Reverend William Forbes, now Archbishop of Ottawa, in his childhood church of Saint-François-Xavier. The event was widely attended and publicized, and attracted numerous Kahnawà:ke community members as well as fellow Jesuits. Father Jacobs’ tertianship, which followed the end of his theology studies, took place in Chicoutimi, Quebec, from 1934 to 1936.

In 1937, after the completion of his tertianship, he began preaching to and teaching fellow Kahnawà:ke community members in Kanien’kéha. The following year, in 1938, he was relocated to the St. Regis-Ahkwesáhsne community at the Quebec/Ontario/New York border to serve as pastor for St. John Francis Regis Church—a position which he filled for 27 years. Due to the unique territorial context of the community, Father Jacobs claimed to serve in two nations (the United States and Canada), two Jesuit Provinces, and three dioceses (Valleyfield, Quebec; Alexandria, Ontario; and Ogdensburg, New York).

Over the course of his long career at St. Regis, Father Jacobs maintained an active parish life. He took part in many of the events at the parish activities center at Hogansburg (on the American side of the community). His firm belief that sports were at the heart of the community’s youth compelled him to put great emphasis on athletic programs, including working to revive lacrosse at St. Regis. His particular interest in Saint Kateri Tekakwitha led to his developing a Kateri Hall at his parish, which was host to ongoing educational opportunities like performances and festivals. He is also said to have encouraged Kanien’kehá:ka construction workers to build improved homes for their own families. His devotion to education in St. Regis prompted a relationship with the Sisters of Saint Anne, who he invited to St. Regis to teach from the years 1942 to 1973.

During his early years in the Society of Jesus, in the mid-1930s, Father Jacobs had spent summers serving as assistant director of the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs located in Auriesville, New York. The National Shrine continued to have a strong relationship with St. Regis throughout Father Jacobs’ career. In 1972, he received the Tekakwitha Award at the National Shrine’s Coliseum, accompanied by hundreds of Kanien’kehá:ka community members from St. Regis and Kahnawà:ke.

In 1972, Father Jacobs’ Golden Jubilee was celebrated by a widely attended ceremony at St. Regis Mission and the Kateri Tekakwitha Center, officiated by Bishop Stanislas Brzana of Ogdensburg, New York, Bishop Guy Belanger of Valleyfield, Quebec, and Bishop Adolph Proulx of Alexandria, Ontario (representing all three of Fr. Jacobs’ dioceses), marking fifty years in the Society of Jesus.
In 1965, he Jacobs assumed the role of assistant pastor at St. Regis with Francis Arsenault, S.J. taking his place as head pastor. He maintained this position until his health began to decline in 1982, at which point he moved to the Jesuit Province Infirmary in St. Jerome, Quebec. Father Jacobs died there six years later on September 8, 1988.

Historique de la conservation

The material was accumulated and collected at the archives in Saint-Jérôme. It was transferred to The Archive of the Jesuits in Canada, located in Montreal, in 2009.

Portée et contenu

The fonds contains records relating to the religious life of Michael Karhaienton Jacobs, S.J., and demonstrate the pertinence of his Kanien’kehá:ka heritage. As the first Kanien’kehá:ka Jesuit, Father Jacobs’ fonds contains a number of records relating to events, speeches, and celebrations that highlight his unique position. His ground-breaking 1934 ordination at the Saint-François-Xavier Mission is illustrated through many photographs, newspaper clippings, and correspondences. Similarly, his widely celebrated 50th Jubilee is marked by a number of newspaper clippings, press releases, invitations, and photographs.

His interest in research and education is demonstrated through a series of research notes, essays and talks pertaining to the roots of the Kanien’kéha language, the history of the Onondaga Nation, and the story of Kateri Tekakwitha; records pertaining to the local high school including class lists and educational catalogues can also be found in the fonds.

A number of drafts, correspondences, and newspaper clippings document the process by which Father Jacobs worked to research, design, install, and commemorate a “liberty bell” at St. Regis. The erection of a number of other statues and plaques are the subject of many of the records in the fonds including newspaper clippings, photographs, and correspondences. Father Jacobs’ involvement in the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York, is represented in the fonds through correspondence, photographs, and leaflets; his membership in a number of societies, including Knights of Columbus, is demonstrated through group photos, receipts, and event invitations and bulletins. Additionally, personal documents, including extensive documentation around his ironworker brother, Thomas Jacobs, and family correspondence pertaining to personal and estate matters can also be found in the fonds.

Finally, several objects in the fonds mark Jacobs’ role in his community: gold model lacrosse sticks illustrate his attempt to revive sports in St. Regis; a series of multicoloured feathers refer back to his Kanien’kehá:ka identity, and a number of crucifixes speak to his religious dedication.

Zone des notes

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Source immédiate d'acquisition


Langue des documents

  • anglais
  • français

Écriture des documents

    Note de langue et graphie

    Some records are in Kanien’kéha.

    Localisation des originaux

    Disponibilité d'autres formats

    Restrictions d'accès

    Consultation of documents containing personal information on third parties could be forbidden.

    Délais d'utilisation, de reproduction et de publication

    Some documents may be subject to copyright. Use and reproduction of archive documents must be done with the permission of The Archives of the Jesuits in Canada.

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    Mots-clés - Noms

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    Kate Moore, Project Archivist

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