Allouez was born in Saint-Didier-en-Velay in the département of Haute-Loire in south-central France. In 1639, he graduated from the College of Le Puy, and became a Jesuit novice in Toulouse, France, that same year. In 1655, he was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. He arrived in Quebec in 1658 and immediately began a study of the Wyandot and Anishinaabe languages to prepare himself for work as a missionary among the American Indian tribes along the St. Lawrence River for three years.
In 1660 he became the superior of the mission at Trois-Rivières, Quebec. His stay there lasted until 1663 when he was named vicar general of a part of the diocese of Quebec that now is the central region of the United States. This appointment was made by Bishop François de Laval who was the first bishop of New France.
From 1667 through 1669 he made a missionary tour of the Western missions. He served as a missionary to the Potawatomi Indians in Wisconsin. The next year he was with the Mesquakie, establishing St. Mark's Mission, and founding the mission of St. James among the Miami and Mascouten Indians, finally returning to Green Bay later that year. He said the first mass in Oconto, Wisconsin. The small village of Allouez, Wisconsin near Green Bay, is named for him, as is a trail on Mackinac Island, in Northern Michigan, the Allouez Trail. In 1671, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, he was a principal speaker at the ceremony which formally declared the North West Territory subject to the King of France. In 1671 he founded the St. Francis Xavier Mission at the last set of rapids on the Fox River before entering the Bay of Green Bay. The site was known as Rapides Des Pères (rapids of the fathers) which became modern day De Pere, Wisconsin.
Having been ordered to continue Jacques Marquette's evangelization of the Indians, he arrived at Kaskaskia, Illinois, in 1677, working among Illinois Indians until his death in 1689, near what is today Niles, Michigan. He is buried in Niles.
A good portion of Father Allouez’s written work from the time has been preserved. It provides insight into the missions of the time and provides a record that is extensive and important of the Catholic Church in mid-America. As well, it contains the first documented accounts of the Illinois Indians.
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