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
Most Rev. J. V. Cleary, S.T.D.
Archbishop of Kingston
My Lord Archbishop,

At 4 P.M. yesterday I arrived at the house in the City and while throwing off my outer cloak, Sr. M. of Providence dispatched a messenger to Rev. Dr. Beaven informing him of my arrival. In a few moments the Sisters were summoned and the usual prayers, etc being recited, I read Your Grace’s letter in full assembly as directed. After which we all proceeded to the Refectory for supper; before the meal was finished Dr. Beaven was announced; I saw him at the parlor. He told me that in the Bishop’s absence he was His Lordship’s representative in this Community and Bishop O’Reilly had requested him to inform me that my presence was not agreeable in his diocese and the shorter my stay the more pleasure it would give. Through the Dr. I likewise learned that the Bishop of Springfield looked upon the decision given by the Prefect of Propaganda as a personal opinion only, of Cardinal Simeoni, not that of the Sacred Congregation. His Lordship had appealed and the affair would be brought to the courts at Rome. He further stated that at the Bishop’s request he had written Your Grace, I believe the letter was mailed Thursday last.

Although Dr. Beaven did not know what I was about to do, still he desired me to suspend all action until Your Grace’s reply would be received. I gave him no assurance that I would comply. After a lengthy and trying interview he withdrew.

Now, the great ordeal was at hand; I sent for Sister M. of Providence and in all kindness and quietness made known the decision of the Council in her regard. She immediately expressed her unwillingness to comply. I read again Your Grace’s letters to Sister and remonstrated in every possible way. Still she refused to yield. “The Bishop of Springfield offered protection to those willing to remain in his Diocese and she would avail herself of his promise”. And went so far as to say that were she compelled to leave the house (and it would only be by police force that this could be done) she would seek protection in some of the Communities in the City until the failure of the appeal had been made known to her by the Springfield authorities; then and not till then, would she return to Kingston. She is desperately determined and with Dr. Beaven at her back will hold out against all our authority.

Dr. Beaven insists that every word and action of mine in the diocese during the Bishop’s absence is discourteous to His Lordship and he resents it as his representative in the Community.

Sister M. of Providence asked to see Dr. Beaven in order to ascertain if she really came under the censures contained in Your Graces’ document, by disobeying. After extorting a promise from her that the interview should take place in my presence, I deemed it more prudent to allow the interview and I am sorry to say that Dr. Beaven agreed with her viz. that she was not obliged to obey; neither did she come under the censures by remaining under the existing circumstances: that while the Bishop’s appeal was in Rome the celebrated “Status quo” should not be broken and that she was perfectly justified in the course she was pursuing.

Sister asked him to hear her confession, which he did, after tauntingly asking me “if I thought His Grace the Archbishop had withdrawn his faculties”.

This morning Sister appeared in the Chapel as usual for Mass and has been frequently in the presence of the B. Sacrament since she evidently feels justified in casting aside Your Graces’ authority to bind consciences.

I am most respectfully 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. 249-251, 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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