James Lloyd Breck was born 27 June 1818 near Philadelphia, and attended high school at the Flushing Institute, founded by William Augustus Muhlenberg (8 April), 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 Wisconsin (then on the frontier) with two classmates, under the direction of Bishop Kemper, to found Nashotah House, intended as a monastic community, a seminary, and a center for theological work. It continues today as a seminary and representative of one traditional aspect of Anglican thought and practice.
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 on to Minnesota, where he founded schools for boys and girls, and the Seabury Divinity School at Faribault (now part of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Chicago). He also began mission work among the Chippewa Indians, and laid the foundation for work among them by Christian priests from their own people. In 1867 he moved on to California to build another seminary. He died there in 1876.
written by James Kiefer
Teach thy Church, O Lord, we pray, to value and support pioneering and courageous missionaries, whom you call, as you called your servant James Lloyd Breck, to preach and teach, and plant your Church in new regions; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.