June 4, 1892 – To General Superior Sr. M. Edward, Holyoke MA from Rev. Gauthier, Archbishop’s Palace, Kingston ON

Archbishop's Palace, Kingston
June 4, 1892
Dear Mother Edward,

Your letters to Father Kelly and the Archbishop were received here yesterday. His Grace thinks it better not to write you directly as you are subject to so many hostile interrogations. But he wishes to give you his best advice. He thinks that the death of Bp. O’Reilly will, if matters have not reached too definite a stage, render it more easy for Propaganda to decide in your favor. Don’t despond. Keep up your hope in the justice of your cause. Be courageous and patient. Every person in office gets occasional trouble which should be endured bravely.

Don’t attach too much importance to that trio of gentlemen calling themselves a “Commission”. They have not shown you their authority for their act, nor have you received any direction from Rome. Neither is it probable that the Cardinal Prefect authorized them to interrogate you on the subject of compensation. Indeed their written question merely says that he “desires to know” and this very form suggests that the interrogation was not intended for you, but for the Bishop of Springfield and may have arisen out of an offer made to Rome by him to compensate the Mother-House for all losses if separation be allowed. If the Cardinal Prefect seriously contemplated a separation, he would have addressed the question to you directly or to the Archbishop of Kingston in the usual way or would have told your representative in Rome to obtain information from you on this point. As for the Archbishop of Boston, it is not likely he has “taken up the case”. He may have been asked by “Beaven & Company on the day of the funeral, whether they might not put this question to you, and naturally he would say “yes, she is best able to answer it and it would be only courtesy to her to consult her”.

As for any other interference on his part, there is most probably more. It is indeed the practice of Rome, on occasion of the death or extreme sickness of a Bishop, to communicate with the clergy of the Diocese through the Archbishop: but this is merely as a channel of correspondence irrespective of the Archbishop’s private opinion this way or that.

You would be justified, at least theoretically, in refusing permission to that Reverend trio to see each Sister secretly unless they had previously produced to you their authority for this demand, especially as they are well known to be hostile to your authority and favorable to the disobedient faction and their similar action on a former occasion had aggravated disorder in the Community. Nevertheless, it was practically safer for you to acquiesce, and they have given you just cause of complaining to Rome about the injury done to good order and discipline and religious authority by these secret interviews of hostile priests with seditious Sisters, everyone knowing that the spirit and aim of such action warfare against the Institute and the authority of Superiors.

You will do well to report the matter with its offensive circumstances to Propaganda through Monsignor O’Bryan, requesting him urgently to explain to the Cardinal the evil of such a course and the difficulty created for you thereby in the government of the Institute. Such proceeding on the part of three priests would destroy the influence of Superiors in any Convent in the world.

Your answer to the question in writing was most proper and prudent. Adhere firmly to it. Propaganda knows well you could not give a definite answer without consulting your Council. So many things have to be considered – the cost of training every Sister in Kingston for Holyoke Mission, their travelling expenses, their care when broken down by labor or sickness, etc. etc. Then the amount of money you collected by bequest outside the Diocese of Springfield and inform Monsignor O’Bryan of the question and your answer, and explain it to him as above, and add that should the Cardinal Prefect wish you to calculate the measure of compensation, you will proceed to Kingston to consult your Council upon it. If, however, those priests persist in demanding a definite answer, let your reply be that you are in communication with Propaganda on the subject through your representative in Rome.

It seems right that you should telegraph Monsignor O’Bryan in some such form as the following:

Monsignor O’Bryan,

20 Via Sistina, Rome, Italy.

Please telegraph present state of our case in Rome. Advise me by letter how to act. Expect letter.

Mary Edward

In your letter to him, explain your hope that Bishop O’Reilly being now dead, it may be easier for Propaganda to decide in your favor, since his feelings on the subject are no longer in the way and the new Bishop will be entirely free to allow things proceed in the Convent as hitherto. Also, renew your request for change of confessor, Beaven being so openly hostile to the Institute and so demonstratively allied to the party of disaffection, which has been kept alive and hopeful by him chiefly. But on no account should you mention the name of the Archbishop of Kingston whose views are already before Propaganda in full and emphatic form.

Regarding the six unprofessed Sisters, you had better let them stay as they are till the question is finally settled, lest a pretext be given for charging you with anticipating Rome’s judgment and taking matters into your own hands while the case is pending. Beaven and Company would be glad to add this to their charges against you.

For the rest, be constant in prayer to God and the Blessed Virgin. Keep up your confidence and let resignation to Divine Providence be the support of your soul and the source of your peace of mind.

The Archbishop celebrated Mass this morning for you and the Institute. He is quite hopeful, being fully assured that what will finally be done will be the right thing. He sends you his best blessing. Keep this letter entirely to yourself.

I remain my dear Mother Edward Faithfully yours,
C.H. Gauthier
Source: 407-409-A, General Secretary Fonds, Annals of the Congregation/Generalate series, Volume 1861-1892, pp. 311-313, 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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