Posted by: Kath Usitalo | June 4, 2010

Belated Happy Birthday, Father Marquette

Father Marquette overlooks Lake Superior and the old iron ore dock in the UP city named for him

I feel terrible. I knew it was coming, but I’ve been so wrapped up in (not necessarily in this order) my work, Dad’s health, complications from Paige’s wisdom teeth extractions (misery plus missing school), her ballet recital, Comcast internet going down on us, Godson Kevin heading to Afghanistan, and…oh yeah…

…catching up on my flossing because I have a dental appointment on the horizon…

Anyway, I forgot to recognize Father Marquette’s birthday on June 1. How could I be so negligent?

Father Marquette in St. Ignace

Jacques Marquette was born in France on June 1, 1637, joined the Society of Jesus, was sent to Quebec, and set up missions at Sault Ste. Marie in 1668 and St. Ignace in 1671.

These were Michigan’s first European settlements and the sites of some of its earliest Indian casinos. In fact, the Kewadin Casinos Silver Anniversary Celebration is a Summer Festival July 22-24; entertainment includes appearances by Henry “The Fonz” Winkler and Meat Loaf.

But I digress.

Father Marquette and explorer Louis Jolliet set out to map the Mississippi River, and during that absence, in 1675, he died in Ludington. His remains were returned to and buried in St. Ignace on the grounds of the Ojibway Museum (of course it was not a museum back then—at least there are no brochures or admission ticket stub evidence of it being so).

Father Marquette gravesite, St. Ignace

That’s the short version of Father Marquette’s life. He did a lot before the dysentery set in, or the Great Lakes countryside wouldn’t be dotted with so many plaques about him, not to mention the UP city named after him. And then there’s the National Memorial in Straits State Park in St. Ignace. A museum that had been on the site burned in the year 2000, but you can look at a plaque and catch a great view of the Mackinac Bridge, which is better than catching dysentery.

So, belated Happy Birthday Father Marquette.

I feel better.

Now, if only I’d remembered to send a card to my uncle, whose birthday is June 5…



  1. Are you bad, Kath. Forgetting the poor Father’s birthday! Put it in your calendar for next year? (Sorry to hear about all the Life Stuff happening to keep you preoccupied…)

    • I know, I won’t let this happen again! Now I’ve got to track down Father Baraga’s big day!

  2. I’m sure the good Father will understand with all that “life stuff” (Thanx, Kathy, I borrowed it…) going on. Big hugs and blessings to you and your family!

    • Thank you! It’s always something, right?

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