Vilatte on the American Frontier
In Canada he approached the Bishop of Montreal, who sent him to the College of Saint-Laurent, conducted by the Holy Cross Fathers, where he studied for three years.
About this time, he meet the famous ex-priest Charles Chiniquy, who was devoting his time to preaching against the Roman Catholic Church. After hearing what Chiniquy had to say Vilatte left the seminary and sought the advice of a French Protestant pastor in Montreal, this pastor helped Vilatte study at McGill University for two years.
After McGill University, Vilatte reconciled with Rome and entered the Clerics of Saint Viator at Bourbonnais, Illinois. Again he met Chiniquy, who convinced him to leave Illinois and go to Green Bay, Wisconsin. There he would find Belgian settlers that were waiting for conversion to Protestantism, for, as explained by Chiniquy, they were slipping from Romanism into infidelity. Chiniquy also advised Vilatte to contact Hyacinthe Loyson, who had been a Discalced Carmelite friar. He was excommunicated in 1869, after he married an American widow and founded Gallican Catholic Church. So in 1884, with the blessing of two former Roman Catholic priests, Vilatte went to Wisconsin to minister in the Green Bay Area.
By the time Vilatte arrived at Green Bay, many French-Canadians had settled and established a fairly good fur trade business. These former Belgians had ceased to practice their religion, some had become Spiritualists. At Duval, forty families of lapsed Roman Catholics had opened their own place of worship.
The Rev. Charles Chiniquy
July 30th, 1809 – January 16th, 1899
Père Hyacinthe Loyson
March 10th, 1827 – February 9th, 1912