Fr Joseph Goiffon

Fr Joseph Goiffon

Death 6 May 1910 (aged 86)
Burial Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, USA
Memorial ID 118444244 · View Source
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Reverend Joseph Goiffon born March 3, 1824, Ordained June 2, 1852, Died May 6, 1910.
Rev Joseph Goiffon one of the pioneer missionaries of Minnesota, was born in France on the third of March, 1824. Aftr preparing for college, he entered the Petit Seminary at Meximiux, graduated and pursued his theological studies at Grand Seminary of Brou, where he was ordained in 1852. He was then Vicar of Meximieux for five years, coming to St. Paul Minnesota November 7, 1857.

After a nine month stay at the latter place, he was sent as a missionary to Pembina, on the Red River. At that time, two months were required to make the round trip to St. Paul. His location was 35 miles from any other missionary station. His career of usefulness in that country was almost terminated by a distressing and almost fatal set of circumstances which occurred in the early part of November 1860.

Father Goiffon was requested by the Vicar General to return to St. Paul to meet with him in late August. He was delayed on his return trip due to his not wanting to leave before hearing Sunday mass. The party that accompanied him to St. Paul and which he hoped to return with was the Meitis of St. Boniface from Canada. The Metis left without waiting for Father Goiffon. He would try to catch up with his party by traveling extra hours during the day. But several problems delayed him more and more on his trip. He was facing the start of winter and had thought he was only 10 miles from his destination when the weather turned severe. In actuality he was 40 miles from Pembina and was becoming hopelessly lost on the prairie in a storm. The rain that had been falling now turned into snow. Although his horse was only four years old and very strong, it could not find prairie grasses to eat and became weak and died.

Father Goiffon tried to obtain shelter from his horse by cutting him open. But with only a small pocket knife, he could not open the frozen carcass. He was able to cut some of the horse flesh away to gain food from the meat of the horse. This nourishment was enough to keep him sustained. With great despair, he prayed for God to not let him die on the prairie without receiving the sacraments.

Father Goiffon was found alive but badly frozen, his right leg from the knee down and his left foot at the ankle had to be removed in order to save his life. The Vicar General Bishop Grace brought him to St. Paul with his party accompanied by Ravoux. Bishop Grace was making a tour of his northwest diocese when he visited Pembina and St. Joseph in 1861.

After his recovery, he was appointed the Pastor of the Church of St. John in Little Canada and St. Genevieve in Centerville from 1861-1891. Some of the oldest sacrament records of the parish were recorded by Father Goiffon. He also supervised the building of the third parish church in Centerville in 1870. After his retirement he lived with relatives in Hugo until his death May 6, 1910.

Father Goiffon emulates the courage and commitment all pioneers of our great country had to have in order to survive. His dedication to his faith, parishes and community helped us to become the community that we are today. His actions give us the example we need to live by today.


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  • Created by: Steven M. Wielenberg
  • Added: 9 Oct 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 118444244
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Fr Joseph Goiffon (3 Mar 1824–6 May 1910), Find a Grave Memorial no. 118444244, citing Calvary Cemetery, Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by Steven M. Wielenberg (contributor 47544806) .