Johannes Bapst (b. at La Roche, Fribourg, Switzerland, 17 December 1815; d. at Mount Hope, Maryland, U.S.A., 2 November 1887) was a Swiss Jesuit missionary and educator. He became the first President of Boston College.
At 12 he began his studies at the college of Fribourg, and on 30 September 1835, entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. He was ordained priest, 31 December 1846, after the usual course of studies and teaching.
He arrived in New York in 1848 and, ignorant of English, was sent to minister to the Native Americans at Old Town, Maine. They had been without a priest for twenty years. He founded several temperance societies in Maine.
In 1850 he left Old Town for Eastport. His work immediately began to attract attention, both for its results among Catholics and the number of converts who were brought into the Church. As his missions covered a large extent of territory, he became generally known through the State. When the Know-Nothing excitement broke out he was at Ellsworth. Protestants were outraged when he denounced the public schools for forcing a Protestant Bible on Catholic children. He moved to Bangor. The Ellsworth town meeting passed a resolution threatening him bodily if he returned. He did return on a brief visit in October 1854 and was attacked by ruffians, tarred and feathered, and ridden on a rail to the woods outside the town. The outrage at Ellsworth met with general condemnation across Maine and New England.
In Bangor, Maine, Father Bapst built the first Catholic church, dedicated in 1856. He remained there for three years and was then sent to Boston College, as rector of what was at that time the house of higher studies for the Jesuit scholastics. He was afterwards superior of all the Jesuit houses of Canada and New York, and subsequently superior of a Residence in Providence, R.I..
- Maine Historical Society, Maine: a history, (1919) Volume 1 pp 304-5 online