Mar. 5, 1892 – To Archbishop Cleary, Archbishop of Kingston, Virginia Beach, VA from General Superior Sr. M. Edward, Holyoke MA

House of Providence, Holyoke
Mar. 5, 1892
Most Rev. J. V. Cleary, S.T.D.
Virginia Beach
My dear Lord Archbishop,

I have just received your telegram and thank God, I have your Grace’s address; I must say first, that I am grieved beyond my power of expressing it, that I am obliged to intrude on the so much needed little rest Your Grace has obtained. But I know your fatherly heart will not abandon me and my unhappy distracted flock in this my greatest trial.

My letters which Rev. Fr. Kelly promised to forward will surely reach Your Grace soon. On Wednesday after Mass said by Fr. Haffey, Rev. Fr. Harkins came up to the Convent and removed the Blessed Sacrament, turning to the few Sisters that happened to be present and said “Your Rev. Mother is the cause of this desecration”.

The same evening I went again to Sr. M. of Providence and plead and remonstrated, but all to no avail – go she would not.

I assembled the Community and explained to them that Sister had been called to the Mother House and that she refused to obey. I again read Your Grace’s letters; she then read her appeal, a copy of which I enclosed in one of the letters to Kingston. I installed Sr. M. of the Sacred Heart as Superior and arranged things in such a way that I thought perhaps would heal them somewhat. I sent Sr. M. of the Cross and I. Conception to Mount St. Vincent.

At present they do not seem to attach importance to any decree or mandate except from Bishop O’Reilly or his representative and steadily adhere to the fact stated by Dr. Beaven, namely that I am the one who has violated the Status quo and until the appeal is refused them they stand firm.

I went to the Mount on Thursday and did as directed at that House; on my return Dr. Beaven was here for Confessions and asked to have the Sisters assembled. As he says, he represents the Bishop, I feared to refuse; having them summoned, he began by a long, eloquent apology and ended by telling them the reason of appearing before them – that he wished to protest publicly, as he had in private, as Bishop O’Reilly’s representative, against the action of the General Superior in doing as she had and in disturbing the peace of the Community. He bowed and said he was ready to hear the Confessions.

I must acknowledge, Your Grace that I was not too comfortable, but I remained perfectly quiet and no word has escaped my lips since concerning the affair. Today it is reported that as soon as it is known that I read the Documents at the Mount, the Blessed Sacrament shall be removed from that House. It is also current that Fr. Harkins has said that he will recognize no Superior in this his New House [Hampden Street] except Sr. M. of Providence until the appeal is answered and that next week he would order every Sister (except those engaged in teaching) out of it; that we might go to the House on Dwight Street, to Mt. St. Vincent or wherever we wish; I suppose I must go if ordered, but will not Sr. M. of the S. Heart as the properly appointed Superior be obliged to remain in the House? This house is the one built by the parish for the teachers; the other two belong to the Sisters.

As nearly as I can ascertain eighteen Sisters are for the Separation and twenty against it. But in the distracted, bewildered state of their minds at present it is impossible to be certain. I know that some dear good souls among them do not wish to be separated from the Mother House; still if the affair goes against us they will probably ask to remain.

I have heard through a Sister wishing a separation that when Bp. O’Reilly received his letter from Rome; he was inclined to accept the decision, but was strongly urged to non-acceptance. He sent for my friend Don Farranti and he examined the letter closely and gave, as his opinion, that it was the decision of a few Cardinals assembled and presided over by the late Cardinal Simeoni, and in view of this advised the Bishop of Springfield to write to Rome, which he did; to whom, I do not know, but the reply came to His Lordship to consult Don Farranti and be guided by him. Don Farranti was sent for again and the “Appeal” accordingly prepared and forwarded with a few particulars added concerning Sr. M. I. Conception.

They say that their chances are better now, that Your Grace’s friend, Cardinal Simeoni is dead.

Oh! How I long for that promised letter that will, I know, bring strength and courage to me, to bear whatever cross God shall be pleased to send me next.

Hoping soon to hear that Your Grace and our dear Vicar General are both improving under the sunny Southern sky.

I am with profound respect and gratitude, Your Grace’s obedient Child.
Sister Mary Edward, S.G.
Notes: Another copy of this letter exists as an individual letter. 105.6-C, Mother Mary Edward General Superior sous-fonds, Correspondence series, Letter March 5, 1892.
Source: 407-409-A, General Secretary Fonds, Annals of the Congregation/Generalate series, Volume 1861-1892, pp. 255-257, 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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