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Joseph Salzmann

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Founder of St. Francis Provincial Seminary (St. Francis, Wisconsin ) known as the "Salesianum", one of the best known pioneer priests of the Northwest, b. at Münzbach, Diocese of Linz, Upper Austria, 17 Aug., 1819; d. at St. Francis, Wisconsin, 17 Jan., 1874. He was ordained in 1842, and laboured very successfully in his home diocese until 1847, when the visit of the first Bishop of Milwaukee, John Martin Henni, and his urgent appeal ripened his long-felt desire to devote his life to the foreign missions. Having come to Milwaukee in October, 1847, he was appointed to a small country mission, but soon his extraordinary success induced the bishop to make him pastor of St. Mary's congregation at Milwaukee. There the German free-thinkers resorted to every kind of insult and calumny to thwart the success of this intrepid champion of the Church, and he encountered a long and bitter combat with them. Feeling the lamentable scarcity of priests Salzmann conceived the idea of founding a seminary. To collect the necessary funds he went from state to state, and after many difficulties, on 29 January, 1856, the institution was opened with twenty-five students. Rev. Michael Heiss, afterwards Archbishop of Milwaukee, was its first rector. The seminary is now one of the most prominent in the country. Several hundreds of priests and twenty-three bishops call it their Alma Mater.

Salzmann is also the founder of the first Catholic normal school in the United States and of the Pio Nono College. After years of hard struggles the Catholic Normal School of the Holy Family now stands on a solid basis and yearly sends out efficient teachers to parochial schools. The American branch of the St. Cecilia Society for the promotion of genuine church music owes its existence and growth to him. Salzmann was of a noble character full of holy enthusiasm for the cause of God and his Church, fearless in the defence of truth, an eloquent preacher, a warm friend and father of his students, and a wise counsellor to priests and bishops.

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