Albert H. Biever, S.J.


From Our Friends, by T. H. Clancy, S.J.

Fr. Biever is most celebrated as the man called in by Fr. O'Shanahan, the Provincial Superior, given a nickel for carfare and told to go uptown and to start a university. This legend may well be true but it is not documented. Biever himself seems to have thought that his greatest work was accomplished on the mission band. At any rate he was surely one of the giants of the Province.

He was born in Luxembourg and attended apostolic school there. In December of 1875 he began his novitiate at Grand Coteau. After his juniorate he taught for 6 years at Spring Hill before going to England for an abbreviated course in philosophy and theology at Stonyhurst and St. Bueno's. It was probably in England that he developed his interest in science which he was to use in the classroom and pulpit for the rest of his life.

In 1896 he was sent to Florida as a missionary. But after a. year he was recalled to Baronne St. where he taught and preached until 1904 when he received the mission to start a school in uptown New Orleans. At first this was supposed to be another Jesuit school like the college on Baronne St., embracing high school and college. It had inauspicious beginnings and it was finally decided to concentrate the college department uptown and the secondary department on Baronne Street. By 1912 a university charter for Loyola University had been obtained from the state. By the time Fr. Biever left in 1914 he had raised the money for Marquette and Thomas Halls and Most Holy Name of Jesus Church. He had also raised money for the Biever Chair of Science.

His next assignment was the Mission Band on which he labored from 1913 to 1921. He preached missions and retreats throughout the South and was well known and loved by many priests and bishops. One of his techniques was to perform a chemical experiment with appropriate sounds and colors to draw a crowd. He also used magic lantern slides to introduce and illustrate his discourses. He himself relates how he sometimes got a bigger explosion than he bargained for.

From 1921 to 1931 he worked at Baronne St. and he supervised the construction of the new church in the exact style as its predecessor in 1928-29. Fr. Biever was tireless in his pursuit of souls. As a young priest he risked his life in the Yellow Fever epidemics to minister to the sick. He was revered by all who knew him as a saint.

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