August 8, 1892 – To Cardinal Ledochowski, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda, Rome, Italy from General Superior Sr. M. Edward, Kingston ON

House of Providence of the Sisters of Charity,
Kingston, Ontario
Aug. 8, 1892
To His Eminence, Cardinal Ledochowski
Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda,
May it please Your Eminence,

May I be pardoned if I venture to address Your Eminence, a word relative to the decision of the Sacred Congregation whereby separation of our branch-houses at Holyoke from this Mother House, has been finally declared and recently made known to us by His Grace, the Archbishop of Kingston, our Ecclesiastical Superior. While the keenest sorrow is felt over the result, I humbly beg to place before Your Eminence the strongest assurance that I accept most reverently and with supreme submission this decree of the Sacred Congregation: still hopeful that in obedience to Holy Church we may continue to accomplish religiously, the works for which we were established.

Although submitting reverently to the decision, I am constrained to say that full information has not been supplied to the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda; that the secret inquiries made by Rev. Dr. Beaven (also Confessor), from the Sisters separately, encouraged them to make charges against my administration; that the same Dr. Beaven urged them to give no information to me, and bade them answer no question concerning the project of separation without his permission. I fear very much that the charges made against my administration as General Superior, influenced the mind of Propaganda. I did not receive directly or indirectly from any source, information as to what these charges are, and consequently had no opportunity of refuting them.

The priest, to whom I applied and who promised to act as my representative in Rome, did not, in any particular, do as I desired him. I am incapable of writing, except in English, so I stated my case fully to him, and requested that he translate my letters into Italian or Latin, and present them to Your Eminence; also, to inform me of the charges made against my administration, upon which the Bishop of Springfield made application for separation.

From the fact that my Roman Agent never mentioned the presentation of my letters to Your Eminence, and that he withheld from me all information respecting the charges against the administration, I conclude that he did simply nothing at all, and that my representations never reached Your Eminence.

It appears from the letters of Your Eminence to our Most Rev. Archbishop, that by your order, the Sisters were asked to secretly declare their choice of Springfield or Kingston diocese, and that Twenty Five signified their preference for Springfield, while Fourteen were for preservation of unity with the Mother House. I presume from Your Eminence’s statement, that these fourteen shall be free to return to the Parent House, and may I respectfully beg your order to that effect.

Your Eminence has further stated that it is decreed by Propaganda, that the Separatists shall pay in seven annual installments, the sum Seven Thousand Dollars. I presume that this represents compensation for the annuity of Twenty Five Dollars for each Sister required by our Rule; because it was in this form, the question about compensation was put to me by Rev. Dr. Beaven, with authority, as he said, of Your Eminence. This annuity has been paid for only four years, out of the nineteen years that we have been providing Sisters for the Houses in Holyoke, and nursing such Sisters as were broken down by labor or infirmity from time to time. All things considered, by myself and Chapter, we accept Your Eminence’s decision on this point as fair and equitable.

Permit me respectfully to request Your Eminence, to order the loan, made by the Parent House to Holyoke, for the erection of their Orphanage in the year 1880, to be paid to us at once, inasmuch as we have within the past year, undertaken the erection of a House of Refuge for the Aged and infirm poor, in connection with our Institute in Kingston at a cost of over Twenty thousand dollars, and for execution of this work, we have already borrowed Ten Thousand dollars, at interest, and we shall be obliged to borrow Six Thousand more, in order to complete it, unless we immediately receive from the Sisters in Holyoke, the money we lent to them for the erection of their building. In undertaking this heavy work, we calculated on repayment of the debt by Holyoke. The amount lent was Six Thousand and five dollars, on which the House in Holyoke has regularly paid the annual interest at Fiver per cent, to Kingston, and in the year 1890, paid One Thousand and five dollars of the Capital loan, leaving a balance of Five Thousand now due. It would be a grievous injury to this Mother House if, by reason of delay of the payment of that loan, we shall be constrained to borrow an equivalent sum at larger interest, for the completion of our own building. Wherefore, we humbly entreat Your Eminence, to require that this debt which is undisputed, should be discharged at once and thus we may be spared the necessity of incurring more weighty financial obligations.

Furthermore, I am bound to inform Your Eminence, that by special stipulation made by the late Bishop of Springfield with this Kingston House in the beginning, all moneys collected by us, by quest from the faithful in any part of the world, outside the diocese of Springfield, should be regarded as the property of the Mother House, and, if employed in erecting or equipping our House in the Springfield diocese should be refunded to this Principal House in the event of our separating from Springfield diocese at any time. Now the amount thus collected by our Sisters outside the diocese of Springfield and employed in erecting buildings for the Sisters in Holyoke was Six Thousand and Forty Five dollars. In the gathering of which our Sisters endured many severe labors and privations, having journeyed through the Southern States of America, even to the borders of Mexico, soliciting alms of the faithful. We trust Your Eminence will do us the justice of insisting on this amount of money being refunded to us according to the aforesaid stipulation between the Bishop of Springfield and this Parent House in Kingston.

There are other claims of money which in equity I might make, in behalf of this House (Kingston), but which I am satisfied to forego, being content to receive from the House in Holyoke what belongs to this House in strictest justice.

I again renew my declaration on behalf of this Institute, that we accept with reverent submission, the decision of Your Eminence and the Sacred Congregation, but I could not withhold from Your Eminence the foregoing absolute and indisputable claims of this House, in the hour of our severe trial, when our best expectations are disappointed and the new building has just been erected by us for the Poor, in the belief that the money due to this House by Holyoke would be available for the payment of the work, and that we should also have the annuity derivable from that House according to our Constitutions to help us in discharging our debts.

The Houses in Holyoke are stronger in resources than this Parent House is at present. Kingston House is encumbered by a heavy debt, as I have already stated to Your Eminence, whereas only one thousand dollars lies against the House in Holyoke, and this may be discharged any day that the clergy of the diocese of Springfield will supply the stipend required by diocesan regulations to be paid to the orphanage for support of the children sent there from their several missions.

Moreover, one of those Houses in Holyoke receive annually twelve hundred dollars from the Parish in which the Sisters teach school, besides being supplied with residence and all domestic requisites at the expense of the parish.

With profound reverence, I remain Your Eminence’s most obedient daughter and servant in Christ
Sister Mary Edward,
Superior of the Sisters of Charity in Kingston
Notes: Another copy of this letter exists as an individual letter. 105.6-C, Mother Mary Edward General Superior sous-fonds, Correspondence series, Letter August 8, 1892
Source: 407-409-A, General Secretary Fonds, Annals of the Congregation/Generalate series, Volume 1861-1892, p. 418, 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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