Mage Still Preaching Gospel After 42 Years
By William Faust in
A missionary to America
since 1905, a colorful little Frenchman is still preaching the Gospel in
He is Dr. Alexandre
MAGE, 74, pastor of the Irons Memorial United Presbyterian church, the
last Protestant mission in Pennsylvania where services are conducted in
Dr. MAGE is nationally
known as a leader of French Protestants. He writes regularly for “L’Aurore,” a French paper
published in Montreal, Canada, and has written several books. Each summer he is called by Canadian churches to conduct
Dr. MAGE was educated in
Lyon, France and Geneva, Switzerland. He
was assistant pastor of several reformed churches and later became
assistant to the director of the McCall Mission, France.
He was called by Dr. Paul VILLARD in 1905 to take charge of the
college of the Methodist Institute in Montreal.
In addition to his work as school principal, Dr. Mage preached on
many occasions. Following
this assignment, he was called to pastorates in Lowell and Springfield,
At the same time he
served as professor of Romance languages in the International College of
His next and last
pastoral assignment was the French mission established in McDonald.
In 1910, the town was booming.
Workers had been imported from the north of France to expand the
glass industry. At the same time, the coal mines in McDonald had attracted
large numbers of Belgians and laborers from the south of France.
To provide these French-speaking peoples with religious services,
Dr. Mage was asked to take charge of the work.
“In those days,
McDonald was almost a part of France,” the slim minister said.
He still has a pronounced French accent.
“I never shall forget
those old days when the workers would bring their families to church,
lighting the way with lanterns. A
very lovely procession,” he explained.
“But now,” he spoke
wistfully, “there have been many changes. Only one service a week I preach in French.
But we do have a women’s Bible class where French is spoken.
You see, this is the third generation and, soon, French will be
forgotten. Only the old people still speak it.”
In 1917, Dr. Mage
returned to France as an interpreter for the American Expeditionary
Forces and to conduct the Foyer du Soldat, an organization similar to
“It was funny the way
those Frenchmen looked at me,” he smiled.
“They had to be careful of what they said.”
After the war, when King
Albert of Belgium visited Pittsburgh, he decorated the slender pastor
with a medal for his services to the Belgians during the war.
Two years later, Dr. Mage was made a Knight of the Order of King
After he resumed the
McDonald pastorate, he was asked to teach French to replace the German
class in McDonald high school.
In 1924, he received a
call from the Methodist Episcopal church to establish a mission in
Grenoble, France. After
this work had been completed, he returned to the McDonald church.
In 1932, the French Government conferred on him the decoration of
“Officier d’Academie.” Several
years later he was mad an “Officier de l’Instruction Publique” for
his work in educational fields.
The usually cheery
countenance of the little pastor becomes worried when he speaks of
France, for he has a number of relatives there.
“But there is so
little we can do for them. Thy
have money, but what can they buy?’ he asked.
“So we send them clothing, food, whatever we can to help them
September 19, 1947
by Victoria Valentine