Breck was born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended high school at the Flushing Institute, founded by William Augustus Muhlenberg, who inspired him to resolve at the age of sixteen to devote himself to missionary activity. In 1844, by then a priest, he went to the frontier of Wisconsin with two classmates, under the direction of Bishop Jackson Kemper, to found Nashotah House, intended as a monastic community, a seminary, and a center for theological work. It continues today as a seminary.
In a letter to a friend, Breck described the seminary in his day as follows:
- "The students boarding with us are all theological. They are chiefly young men, sons of the farmers, and all communicants of the Church. Our students, like ourselves, are poor, but not the less worthy for all that. They seek the Ministry, but are unable to attain it without aid. We have a house; for this we pay no rent; it belongs to the Church, and so do we. We have land. They work four hours a day for their board and washing, and we give them their education without cost. Thus their clothing is their only expense, and to enable them to purchase this, we give them six weeks vacation during the harvest, when they can earn the highest wages. Brother Adams and myself work four hours, except when we are teaching or doing Missionary labor. We must all work for our board. That is the only way in which they will feel it their duty to labor and to study, and the only way in which our people will feel their duty to the Church, and to ourselves as clergy of the same. We rise at 5am, Matins at 6. The Morning Service of the Church at 9. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the Litany at 12. On Thursdays, the Holy Eucharist at the same hour of 12. The Evening service of the Church at 3, and Family Prayer or Vespers at 6:30 or 7pm. Our students labor between 7 and 9 in the morning, and 1 and 3 in the afternoon."
In 1850 Breck moved to Minnesota where he founded schools for boys and girls, and the Seabury Divinity School at Faribault, Minnesota. He also began mission work among the Ojibwa. On June 23, 1850, on top of Grandad Bluff, Father Breck celebrated the first Episcopal Holy Communion in the La Crosse area.
In 1867 he moved to Benicia, California to build another two institutions. He died there in 1876.
Propers for James Lloyd Breck - Priest, Teacher & Missionary
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant James Lloyd Breck, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the people of the American Frontier: Raise up, we pray thee, in this and every land, heralds and evangelists of thy kingdom, that thy Church may make known the unsearchable riches of Christ, and may increase with the increase of God; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - Acts 1:1-9.
THE former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things. while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
The Gospel - St. Luke 10:1-9.
AFTER these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor pack, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
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