Mar. 9, 1892 – To General Superior Sr. M. Edward, Holyoke MA, from Rev. Gauthier, Archbishop of Kingston’s Assistant, Virginia Beach, VA

Private and Confidential
Virginia Beach
Mar. 9, 1892
Dear Mother Edward,

With this private letter the Archbishop sends you an official one, which he wishes you (after taking a copy) to forward to Mgr. O’Bryan, saying to him that you take it on yourself to forward it, since it contains all that you would desire him to know. His Grace will write directly to the new Cardinal Prefect as soon as he feels well enough to prepare such a letter, but he wishes you to deal directly with Mgr. O’Bryan as your representative before the courts of Propaganda.

The instructions so carefully detailed in that letter, although addressed to you, are intended for Mgr. O’Bryan’s direction, putting him on the right track. Be careful to comply with those instructions as nearly as possible and to lose no time in forwarding your statement to him, with the requisite documents, always keeping a copy of everything for yourself and for the Archbishop.

Let your statement to him be plain, exact and full, relating facts only and the evidence of those facts. It will be his business to formulate a letter in your name to Propaganda, showing your need of protection against the persecution waged on the faithful Sisters and on your authority, confirmed by the authority of your ecclesiastical Prelate and the S. Congregation of Propaganda. Give as much evidence as you can procure to show how necessary it was for you to hold the visitation and to transfer Providence to the Mother House; make it clear that she and Beaven were leagued together in support of the discontented faction, and so spoke and acted in the Community as to keep alive and foment the spirit of disaffection and insubordination, even after the receipt of Cardinal Simeoni’s mandate to abandon all idea of separation and direct all efforts towards the restoration of peace and concord among the Sisters. Mention the exact words used by Beaven to the Sisters in full assembly, encouraging the disaffected to persevere in their hostile attitude towards your religious Institute despite Cardinal Simeoni’s orders. Point out how utterly impossible it would be to bring about peace, so long as Providence remained in Holyoke disseminating discord and disaffection under the guidance of Beaven.

This is the critical point for defense against your adversaries in their striving to prove that you are the cause of the whole disturbance. Implore Propaganda in the most earnest and humble way to issue an order immediately to the Bishop of Springfield to appoint another Confessor for the Sisters, who has nowise identified himself with the unhappy dissensions caused by the scheme of disintegration of your religious Institute; ask also to have the Blessed Sacrament restored to your Chapels; and conclude by a respectful request to the Cardinal Prefect to deliver the one word that will restore tranquility and religious harmony in your houses, viz. that the decision communicated by Cardinal Simeoni last December to the Bishop of Springfield is final and the unity of your holy Institute is to be preserved. State that you have good reason to know the Bishop will readily acquiesce in this decision and that the result will be immediate peace. Indeed that you have ascertained from Sisters who belong to the party of separation, that the good bishop was himself disposed to accept Cardinal Simeoni’s mandate as final; but was overruled in his judgment by the more noisy and persistent members of that party. His Grace hopes you understand his pithy telegrams. He bids you not to allow Sister of the S. Heart to leave her Convent on any account unless ordered by him or the Pope directly. The same applies to yourself and Secretary. If the other non-teaching Sisters be ordered to leave, they must not comply unless the order be delivered in writing by the Bishop himself and signed by his own hand. Don’t recognize anyone as his representative, in such an act, unless he, the Bishop, declares so by his own handwriting.

The Archbishop thinks you ought to arrange for the Sisters assisting at Mass in the Church, as many as possible, every morning and also visiting the Blessed Sacrament every afternoon. But let not yourself and S. Heart be out of the Convent at the same time. Be careful of the key.

About this letter and the subject of it and Mgr. O’Bryan’s agency, keep everything as secret as possible. Don’t show your hand.

State to Mgr. O’Bryan for Propaganda’s information, that the machinations of Providence and Beaven during the past year and a half would have effectually broken the unity of any religious Community in the world, especially since what they propose to the several Sisters in whisperings and party gatherings, was altogether in favor of selfishness and personal ambition; that it is only the Mercy of God that saved the Sisters from being universally withdrawn from their allegiance and affection towards the parent house and its authority. Truly eighteen out of forty are too many to have been tainted by disaffection and party spirit. But it is a matter for thankfulness to God that the local Superior of one house and the Confessor of both being the chief agents of the party, twenty-two Sisters have remained faithful.

I have no more to say. With the foregoing practical rules for your guidance, I leave everything now to yourself. “I” means here the Archbishop who writes by my hand. He has been thinking night and day of everything to be said to you. His head is very weary, almost as bad as when he left Kingston. He must take rest from this till Palm Sunday. He is confident of victory and bids you be confident. He prays for you and the Sisters all hours of the day, and often through the night. He sends his best blessing to you all, and bids you good bye for a month. He goes to bed straightway. May he rest in peace after this day’s work. He has got no letters nor any communications whatever from Kingston.

I remain, Dear Mother Superior,
Yours devotedly,
C.H. Gauthier

From myself

P.S. Let me say that a work like this of today is enough to prevent the Archbishop from regaining his health at all. He is used up. Wherever he is and at every hour of the day, it is Holyoke and you that is running through his mind. He is always thinking what he can do for you or what advice to give you. He has said all he has to say. If anything should turn up very grave, which you can't manage of yourself, then write to me, not His Grace. But settle things yourself if you can. You're too big a baby for him to be carrying always at his breast.


Source: 407-409-A, General Secretary Fonds, Annals of the Congregation/Generalate series, Volume 1861-1892, pp. 266-269, 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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