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.


Aug. 21, 1884 - Circular letter to the Community from General Superior Sr. M. Edward and General Secretary Sr. M. Aloysius, Kingston ON

J.M.J.
House of Providence, Kingston
Aug. 21, 1884
Very dear Sisters,

Our fullest sympathy has been with you in the anxiety and suspense in which you have been unavoidably held since the office of Local Superior became vacant, for although we did what in us lay to expedite the appointments that concern the Mission, yet in the delay incidental to the arrangement of such affairs, much time has been consumed and your patience and forbearance have been put to a severe test. All is now settled however and it gives us pleasure to announce to you forthwith and in detail the information already conveyed in our telegram together with some other recommendations which our solicitude for you impel us to make. Be it known to you therefore our very dear Sisters, that by decision of the Council the following named Sisters were appointed to the Mission - Sister M. of Providence, Superior; Sister M. Agnes, Assistant in the City; Sister M. Ignatius, Assistant at Mount St. Vincent.

These several appointments were submitted to the Bishop and on the 19th inst. it pleased His Lordship to come to the Community attended by two Assistant priests and in full assembly of the Chapter to approve and confirm said decision of the Council and to authorize each of the Officers to the full discharge of her respective duties. Thus they go to you duly entitled to exercise the Authority which the Rule allows them and thus we wish you to receive not only the Superior, but also the Assistants who in her absence replace her, not nominally, but substantially as the guardians of good order and discipline and responsible to the Community for the maintenance of the same. It may be well to remind you here that His Lordship has not yet withdrawn his mandate concerning the enforcement of Superiors' orders. His interpretation of disobedience is no trifling one and what has hitherto been told you on this point remains in force to wit that the subjects are obliged in virtue of Obedience to obey and any positive act of disobedience is to be regarded as mortal sin, the offender rendering herself thereby a reserved case to be absolved by the Bishop himself. Serious reflection on this matter will prevent grave trouble. Although it is presumed that you are fully aware and that all special privileges, dispensations and general permissions which you may have enjoyed under former Superiors, are by the recent election rendered null and void, yet for the more perfect understanding of your duty, you are now informed that all such permissions are cancelled, and you are called to the observance of the simple letter of the rule until you have applied for and received a renewal of such privileges from us. No general permissions will be granted and it is only after we have examined the case and are well satisfied of the necessity for dispensation that any exemption from the Rule will be granted.

We wish in conclusion to remind you dear Sisters, that a cheerful acquiescence with the injunctions herein given will greatly promote harmony; and as it rests with each individual to advance the welfare of the Community, by her fidelity, we cherish the hope and confidence that you will generously devote yourselves to the observance of the Rule. Nothing would give us greater pleasure nor more effectually lighten our burden than the assurance that such is your practical determination and that the Holy Patrons of the Community may aid you in the performance of every religious duty is the earnest prayer of

Yours affectionately
Sister Mary Edward, Supr.
Sister M. Aloysius, Secy.

Source: 105-C, General Superior's fonds, Correspondence series, Copybook pp. 35-38, Archives, Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.
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