Feb. 17, 1892 – To General Superior Sr. M. Edward, House of Providence, Kingston ON from Archbishop Cleary of Kingston ON

Feb. 17, 1892
To the Rev. Mother Superior General of the Religious Sisters of the House of Providence in Holyoke
Dear. Rev. Mother Superior,

The professed Sisters of your Institute temporarily resident in your houses at Holyoke are not in any way or in any degree independent of your Authority and mine. The obligations contracted by their Religious profession under your Constitutions remain undiminished in their binding force on every conscience before God and the Church. Their Vows are as sacred to-day as on the day they pronounced them; and cannot be weakened by any act of any person on the face of the earth, except by dispensation from the Archbishop of Kingston or the Pope of Rome.

Adding my authority, as Archbishop of Kingston and their ecclesiastical Superior, to the authority of you and your Chapter, I hereby declare most solemnly that, should any one of your Sisters unhappily resist your mandate, she becomes at once guilty of mortal sin and sacrilegious infraction of her vow of obedience, absolution from which sacrilege I reserve to myself exclusively; and furthermore I hereby interdict such rebellious Sister the use of the Sacraments of the Church, and entrance into any Chapel or Church in which the Blessed Eucharist is reserved, until such time as she shall have renounced her contumacy and fully obeyed the aforesaid mandate of your Chapter, and shall have asked pardon from me and from you and from your Community for her most grievous crime of infidelity to her vows, and thus repaired the scandal she has given. It is competent to me to inflict the further and most severe censure of excommunication upon a Sister who publicly and defiantly tramples under foot her religious vows; but I confidently hope this necessity shall never be forced upon me, and that, by God’s blessing, every Sister will recognize her plain and obvious duty of obedience to her Superior General and her Archbishop.

It is with great pain I feel myself constrained to put forth my full authority, and utter threats of ecclesiastical censure against Religious Sisters whom I have ever regarded with fatherly care and affection in Christ.

May God in His Mercy enlighten and strengthen every soul in your Community, and guide them all in the ways of religion and holiness and conscientious fulfilment of every duty, most particularly the duty of obedience to their Superiors, which they vowed to God on the morning of their profession, and which constitutes the very essence of religious life.

I ordain that the Rev. Mother Superior shall forthwith proceed to Holyoke for formal Visitation of the two houses of her Institute in that City; that her Visitation shall continue until I shall have ordered its termination; that during her Visitation she shall take charge of every office in each of the two houses for absolute control and direction by herself or any Sister she may delegate; that she shall read aloud to the full assembly of Sisters in each house this, my letter of instruction and authoritative direction to her, and through her to the Sisters collectively and severally.

James Vincent Cleary, Archbishop of Kingston
Source: 105.6-C, Mother Mary Edward General Superior sous-fonds, Correspondence series, Letter February 17, 1892, 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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