Aug. 7, 1890 – To Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul Hospital Brockville ON from General Superior Sr. M. Edward, Kingston ON

House of Providence, Kingston
Aug. 7, 1890
To the Sisters,
St. Vincent de Paul Hosp. Brockville
Very dear Sisters,

It was with regret that we were obliged by more pressing duties to set aside for a few days your claims upon us. Now however, that the rush of work is over and a few moments are ours, we hasten to give you the pleasure and ourselves the gratification of communicating with you and offering our most hearty thanks for your congratulatory letters. So replete were these affectionate missives with good wishes for our welfare that we count on the assistance of your fervent prayers for the accomplishment of the duties, which again devolve upon us. Inasmuch as all our devoted Sisters of the Missions participated largely in the graces it has pleased Divine Providence to dispense in our regard during the event of our General Elections. We feel that a knowledge of what has transpired at the Mother House will interest you. For this purpose we begin from the day on which the Elections took place. His Grace having entered the Sanctuary, recited the “Veni Creator”, exhorted the Sisters in most serious and grave tones to consider well, the importance of the Act they were about to perform. He hoped that as they had spent the week in Retreat, and had prayed long and fervently to the Holy Ghost they were prepared to do what was best for the Community, setting aside all personal motives.

The future welfare of the Company depended on the choice of Officers to be elected. If these were what they ought to be God would bless them and success might be expected.

His Grace approved of the administration in the past six years, but expressed himself highly pleased thereat; was convinced from appearances and other sources of information that a blessing had attended the efforts of God’s representative in behalf of the Community – these were in abundance both spiritual and temporal. Having thus entreated the Sisters to vote conscientiously as the voice of the Community, he concluded his remarks with a reassurance of God’s blessing on the proceedings.

Moreover, His Grace explained to the Sisters that although the Rule determined the period for each office; it would not be so only in as much as they rendered themselves capable or worthy of the duties entrusted to them and he expressly declared that should the Superior find sufficient cause of complaint regarding any Officer and came to him, no matter how important the trust she holds – immediately will such a Sister be deprived of her office and another appointed to replace her.

You well remember dear Sisters that his Grace issued a mandate in ’83 rendering Obedience in certain circumstances a reserved case, but it is our pleasing duty, now to inform you that this injunction has been withdrawn. His Grace felt convinced that such restriction was no longer necessary and expressed himself consoled that not a Sister during the space of six years had rendered herself a reserved case and this alone was sufficient proof for the withdrawal. At the same time dear Sisters, that you rejoice at this consoling intelligence, we entreat you most earnestly to be faithful in all that regards holy Obedience. And since God’s grace and love helped you in the past, that same Divine Aid will sustain you in the future if fervently sought.

We deem it a fitting opportunity beloved Sisters to apprise you in as few words as possible of the positive objection His Grace holds out against a proposition made him by Dr. O’Reilly, Bishop of Springfield regarding the Separation of the Mission at Holyoke from the Mother House. His Grace gave his disapproval thereof in the most imperative terms – saying that his reply to His Lordship’s request was given in writing and this writing will be left as an assurance of his (The Archbishop) opinion and wishes in a matter of such grave results to our young and prosperous Community. In most determined sentences His Grace opposed all influence that might be used to favor the project of withdrawal and his censures were of the gravest nature, namely any Sister who would encourage the disconnection by word or act would be guilty of a grave fault against the Vow of Obedience and be deprived of active and passive voice for the space of six years. He considered it fratricide or deathblow to the Community and hoped such a Separation would never take place in his time or ours.

The Elections concluded – His Grace addressed the Superior Ganeral and Officers in few but impressive words exhorting them to remember that they were acting for the good of the Community and their aim should be to make each Sister as happy and contented in her “Religious Home” as she would be in her Fathers’ home and she had a right to it.

Whereas you have so long and earnestly desired that a residing Superior be appointed for both Houses at Holyoke, it is with much satisfaction that we say this has at last been accomplished. The two Houses are no longer one, but separated with a Superior at the Head of Each. Sister Mary of Providence is still Superior at City House (Hospital and Schools) and Sister M. Ignatius has been appointed Superior at Mt. St. Vincent.

Recommending ourselves again to the fervent prayers of each of our dear esteemed Sisters. We remain in the pure and sorrowful Heart of Mary,

Yours devotedly
Sister Mary Edward, Sup. Gen.
Notes: Similar copies of this letter were sent to the other missions.
Source: 105-C, General Superior's fonds, Correspondence series, Copybook, pp. 119-125, Archives, Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.
Catherine McKinley’s Letters

This letter is part of a large database of correspondence written by and to Catherine McKinley, who is considered one of the founders of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. As a Sister of Providence she was known by her religious name Mother Mary Edward.

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