Alexandre Mage

 

Dr. Mage Still Preaching Gospel After 42 Years

By William Faust in Pgh. Press

A missionary to America since 1905, a colorful little Frenchman is still preaching the Gospel in McDonald.

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 French.

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 evangelistic services.

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, Mass.

At the same time he served as professor of Romance languages in the International College of Springfield, Mass.

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 the YMCA.

“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 Leopold.

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 survive.”

McDonald Record-Outlook, September 19, 1947

Submitted by Victoria Valentine

 

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