January, a hundred years ago

Margaret Irene Connolly (Sr. Mary Roberta) and Irene Carter (Sr. Mary Lenore) as postulants in 1916 with an unidentified novice.


Most people start the New Year looking forward; however, let’s look back 100 years in the Congregational Annals to see what life was like at the House of Providence in Kingston in January, 1916.

A new year brings fresh hope

January 4 – The New Year 1916 opens – a clean page is now before us. Shall we place on it only good works, acts of kindness, of goodness, of generosity, of self sacrifice, of devotion or shall we mar it with contrary vices. May God grant it shall not be the latter. What is contained in the year just opened? Who shall be called away within the year? We do not know. God grant that we may live each day as if it were to be our last.

The Kingston weather doesn’t seem to have changed a lot in a 100 years, still bringing freezing rain, snow storms, cold days and surprisingly mild days

  • January 1: The year 1916 opens blustery. It has rained during the night and frozen.
  • January 10: A storm of wind and snow all night. The snow just chiefly on the sidewalks.
  • January 12: It is raining and freezing as it falls.
  • January 14: The first cold day of the season 12 degrees below zero…The day is bright.
  • January 20: A heavy snowstorm is on.
  • January 21: A January thaw. It has rained during the night.
  • January 25: The day is fine like April.

January, like now, was a bad time for illness, with many Sisters and residents suffering from the flu

  • January 8: Another sick call in the city, it is with difficulty any Sisters has been found to go, finally Mother sent Sr. Mary Columba and Sr. Mary Rose of Lima. This is the third call in the city. The grippe has been raging in the west and is now visiting this part.
  • January 17: Many of the inmates are sick with the Grippe.
  • January 20: The Grippe is raging. Many of the Sisters are ill.
  • January 22: So many of the Sisters ill, only two Sacristans go to the Cathedral.

Six women entered the congregation as postulants in January, 1916

  • January 6, 1916 We had four young ladies enter this evening…Not any of these are teachers. If it is God’s Holy Will may He inspire some who have certificates to devote their lives to His Holy Service.
  • January 9, 1916 – Then 2 young Ladies to be received… two of Father Cotler’s penitents, Miss Irene Carter and Miss Irene Connolly, fine girls. God grant they may persevere and become holy and useful subjects.

Margaret Irene Connolly (Sr. Mary Roberta)
as a postulant in 1916.

They did indeed become useful subjects. Miss Irene Carter, known in religious life as Sr. Mary Lenore, served as General Superior of the congregation from 1965 to 1971 and Miss Irene Connolly, known in religious life as Sr. Mary Roberta, served as General Treasurer of the congregation from 1945 until 1971.