Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 10

at Silver Creek were Catholic and had a little church which had for several years been served by the Rev Louis Baroux, a member of the Holy Cross Order, but he was in India at this time and his place was supplied by other Fathers of the same Order. Only a remnant of the tribe remained, but an infiltration of Irish settlers had come in and the little church had its uses. This time it was Father Cointet who was returning from Silver Creek to Notre Dame and he stopped to visit the lone Catholic family in a radius of many miles, of whose existence he had in some way learned. 

          It was a cold frosty evening, but with no snow, that he drove in the lane with one horse and light open wagon. It is needless to say that he was welcome - that little man with light hair and complexion, with a low voice speaking English easily but with a French accent,  of an age when most men would be seeking rest and retirement, but still vigorous and alert in the work of his profession. His face was seamed with the marks of labor and exposure, but his smile was as kindly as that of an old friend renewing a friendship of years interruption. 

          I remember that little altar he set up in the main living room of the house the following morning. Many a time have I set up similar ones in my missionary years, in better and worse surroundings, but that first one is clearer today in my mind that any of those of my own arranging - it was so strange, it was so sacred, it was so portentous of something so great - Oh, I even recall the strip of rag carpet on the floor before it! And yet it was but a table covered with sheets, another one against the wall behind it, tow candles, his crucifix, and his chalice covered with its veil in the center and the two small altar cards at the ends. Another thing which I remember was that our wonderment must have been a little out of order, for our mother was obliged to still us and she did it by threatening to make us go to confession if we did not keep still! That was enough, the priest was in a side room hearing confessions and giving penances, and surely we would get a big one. When mass began we were too interested to be disorderly. After the mass, Father Gointet gave each of us a little holy picture which we highly prized. Mine unfortunately fell into the hands of my baby sister and was crushed out of all shape. I had a good cry over my loss, but my older consoled me by pressing it into fair shape again with a hot flatiron, and I am glad to say that I have that little picture yet among my most valued treasures. It is now a souvenir, not only of Father Gointent, but of that little sister who died a holy death thirty years later as a Sister of the Society of Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross. 

          In regard to the threat of my mother to make us go to confession if we did not keep quiet I sometimes question the propriety of making religious practices a matter of punishment. 

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