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Ignatius Mrak

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The second Bishop of Marquette, U.S.A., born 16 October, 1818, in Hotovle, in the Diocese of Laibach (Carinthia), Austria ; died at Marquette, 2 Jan., 1901. He made his classical studies in the gymnasium of Laibach and his theology in the local diocesan seminary. On 13 August, 1837, Prince-Bishop Anton Aloys Wolf raised him to the priesthood. To qualify for a tutorship in the house of Field-Marshal Baron Peter Pirquet, the young priest passed a rigorous state examination, and sojourned two years at Legnago near Verona, Italy, then an Austrian possession. In 1840 he returned to his native diocese, and occupied several positions as assistant before emigrating to the United States five years later. Bishop Lefebre of Detroit received him cordially, and sent him immediately to Arbre Croche to assist the celebrated Indian missionary, Father Francis Pierz. For two years the missionaries worked fruitfully together, and, when in 1851 Pierz removed to Minnesota, Mrak retained charge of the Indian mission. For his devotion to the red race Baraga appointed him his vicar-general, and upon the death of Baraga he was created second Bishop of Marquette. For a long time he refused to accept, but, finally yielding to the urgency of Archbishop Purcell , he was consecrated at Cincinnati on 9 February, 1869. After ten years' devotion to the administration of the diocese, although he was not unaccustomed to hardships, his health began to fail, and he was permitted to resign in 1879, and was made titular Bishop of Antinoe. For some years he remained with his successor, Bishop Vertin, and, when necessity required, performed the duties of an ordinary pastor. With the return of his health, his love for the Indians awoke, and he returned to the Indian missions, which he had left so reluctantly to accept the episcopate. Bishop Richter of Grand Rapids most cordially welcomed him, and at his own request gave him the Indian mission at Eagle Town, Leeland County. Here he lived a simple life sharing his small annuity of eight hundred dollars with the two Dominican Sisters whom he had induced to open a school for his charges. In his eighty-first year he retired to Marquette, and filled thenceforth a chaplaincy at St. Mary's Hospital to the last day of his life. His charity was as proverbial as his humility. He outlived his successor in the episcopate, and saw the election of the fourth bishop, whom he himself had raised to the priesthood. His body rests in the vault under the cathedral beside those of his predecessors, Baraga and Vertin.


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