A cousin of mine sent me this picture from the National Shrine in Washington DC memorializing our cousin Monsignor Francis Van Antwerp, assistant to Cardinal Gibbons, for participating in the laying of the cornerstone of the national shrine on September 23, 1920.

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Digging a little further, I found several mentions of this.

From the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception site –

Hidden among the errata, is the name Rev. Jean Joseph Marie Aboulin, C.S.B. (1841-1931) of Detroit.   In 1909—the same year in which Rev. Shahan became Rector of CUA—Abbé Aboulin, as he was known, urged his Vicar-General, Msgr. Francis Van Antwerp, to propose the idea for such a great church to James Cardinal Gibbons (1834-1921), Archbishop of Baltimore.  He further sweetened the proposal with a donation of $1,000.   Thus, Abbé Aboulin  provided the first practical step towards the building of this great church and became the first benefactor.   In his testament, he attributed many of the graces he received during his long life to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, “my most beloved Mother, who protected me from my mother’s womb, and to whom I owe the greatest graces I have received, especially the grace of my vocation.”  While the idea for such a church was nothing new, the donation of such a grand sum of money was.  Even then, the envisaged “cathedral” was in actuality a “National Monument or testimony of American devotion toward the Immaculate Mother of God … to be known as the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin.”

I also found an old biography about him.

VAN ANTWERP, Francis J., clergyman; born, Detroit, Apr. 22, 1858; son of Francis and Mary E. (Gore) Van Antwerp; educated Assumption College, Sandwich, Ont; St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, Md. Ordained R. C. priest, 1881; pastor Hastings, Mich., 1881, Grosse Pointe, 1882.85, Battle Creek, 1885-8, Our Lady of Help Ch., Detroit, 1888; first pastor, 1889, of Our Lady of the Rosary Church, in which charge he still continues. Republican. Member A. A. A. S., American Geographic Society, Records of the Past Exploration Society, American Catholic Historical Society, Board of Commerce, Detroit. Member Knights of Columbus, C. M. B. A., A. O. H., Knights of St. John. Residence; 1280 Woodward Ave.

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