Feb. 29, 1892 – To Archbishop Cleary, Archbishop of Kingston ON from General Superior Sr. M. Edward, House of Providence, Holyoke MA

House of Providence, Holyoke
Feb. 29, 1892
My dear Lord Archbishop,

I am just in receipt of your telegram and owing to the unhappy state of affairs in this house at the present moment, I judged it more prudent to await Your Grace’s letter hoping it may contain minute instructions in this most painful procedure.

I finished abruptly this evening as I was anxious to send Your Grace some information by the first mail; but shall now continue the subject.

On last Friday, the Sisters tell me, that Dr. Beaven interviewed them individually for the purpose of ascertaining definitely their opinion of the separation; those desiring it signed a document, the nature of which I have not yet discovered.

I had a stormy interview with Rev. Father Harkins this morning, caused principally, I think, by Dr. Beaven’s influence over him the previous evening. He expressed himself full of sympathy for Sr. M. of Providence; thought it was cruel and unchristian to send a Sister out at night on such a journey after hurling the censures of the Church at her. I replied that I was merely obeying my Ecclesiastical Superior.

After reading Your Grace’s letter which somewhat modified him he said that my action on Sunday night was diametrically opposed to the sentiments contained therein.

In the Convent Chapel this A.M. Mass was celebrated by one of Fr. Harkin’s curates Fr. Gaffey and the Community went up to receive Holy Communion before Mass as usual, but there was no notice taken and we returned to our seats. It sometimes occurs that there are no consecrated hosts and thinking this might be the case, we went to the railing during the Mass but no Communion.

When speaking to Rev. Fr. Harkins this morning, I referred to this action of the young priest, not by way of complaint, but simply to learn the reason. He was much surprised, being no explanation could be given. Fr. Harkins came over to the Chapel and assured himself that there were hosts enough to communicate the Sisters.

Tuesday Morning – At 10 o’clock Rev. Fr. Harkins and Dr. Beaven called; before I was fairly seated the latter asked to see Sr. M. of Providence. He then arose and asked if I had received any message from Your Grace. I answered, “Yes, a telegram and I am expecting a letter”. The Doctor then said: “In view of this and while awaiting the Archbishop’s reply, I as the representative of the Bishop of Springfield order the removal of the B. Sacrament and no Mass to be celebrated in the Chapel”. Fr. Harkins feels he is obliged to obey, although he said he would rather be chocked than do such a thing. It seemed like robbing the poor Sisters of their last and only consolation.

Speaking in the name of the Bishop and with his authority he Dr. Beaven forbade Sr. M. of Providence or any other Sister to leave this house or to leave Holyoke until a message came from Rome stating that the appeal had been finally settled. I would imagine from Dr. Beaven’s words throughout, that he thought that it was within my power to prevent the censures of the Church from falling on Sister and allow things to move on as usual until they had heard from Rome, notwithstanding my protestations to the contrary and that I was equally obliged to obey.

Anxiously awaiting Your Grace’s advice and direction in this most painful situation.

I am with every sentiment of respect Your Grace’s obedient child in Christ
Mother M. Edward, Sup. Gen
Source: 407-409-A, General Secretary Fonds, Annals of the Congregation/Generalate series, Volume 1861-1892, pp. 251-253, 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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