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

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lessons, but I must say that the catechism seemed to be the most difficult lesson I ever tried to learn. We had Butler’s Catechism, and everyone knows that needed simplification. There were three of our family in the class, of which I was the youngest, and some of the older ones wanted to hold me back as being too young. I maintained that ten years was not too young when I knew my catechism as well as the others. Under the circumstances Father DeNeve admitted me and I went with the class for instruction every day for a time and for the few days set aside for a short retreat. The day for First Communion was set for a Friday, for Bishop Lefebvre was to give Confirmation on the following Sunday, and Father wanted to have the children’s communion out of the way of the big class for Confirmation.

          The morning of the First Communion was a busy one for priests and people. I think there were three priests hearing confessions and they were kept busy until mass time. Of course, the people were busy too, for the mothers must spend a little more time on this day on the children’s wardrobe than usual. The consequence for us was that when we had come our six miles the mass was about to begin and there was not time for confession. The rest was that we were not able to make our First Communion with the others. The ceremony was long and it was late when all was over. When the priests went to dinner and returned only after their Sunday recreation, it was near three o’clock before we could go to confession, and it was then that Father DeNeve learned that my brother and I had not gone to communion, and thus it was that we were able to keep in the class for Confirmation. I think this was October 27, 1847, and the following Sunday we were confirmed, and it seemed to me that almost all the congregation was confirmed at the same time. Old grey-haired men were there; but it was explained that many of them had not the opportunity of being confirmed in Ireland in their younger days. 

          After our confirmation we were kept on in our catechism lessons. Mr. John Dwan was engaged to open a little school in the sacristy of the church and he was our teacher of catechism. His manner for the more advanced was to call two pupils, one of whom was to ask the other the first question of the lesson. This answered, the next question was put back to the first pupil and thus they asked and answered to the end of the chapter.

          In those days I had not much thought of becoming a priest. My mother entertained the idea in a vague way and sometimes spoke to the priests of it. As for myself, I would look at the priest at the altar and think how nice it was to be a priest, for no priest could ever commit a sin. Of course they did not have to go to confession. That was the bugbear.

          My father never said much about it, but I imagine it was because he did not see his way towards paying the expense of such an undertaking. The farm was producing no more than necessary to feed and clothe so many, and as the older ones grew up they went to do for themselves and the younger members had to take their places in the work. To ask for assistance was beyond thought. He might be poor,

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