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

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they wanted an Irish priest as pastor, or at least as assistant. There were not many Irish priests in the Diocese of Detroit at that time, so none was sent and that made it harder for Father Cappon. The Germans were loyal to him, but notwithstanding that his position was not a pleasant one. An assistant came in the spring of 1861, and he also was a Belgian. This was Father Charles VanQuechelberg, a young man destine for Natchez, Mississippi, but unable to go there because of the war. He spoke English well and was good preacher, but most of all he was a real St Francis DeSales in gentleness, piety and good will. He stayed two years and those two years were years of peace and good will.

          His departure, however, raised the old question, and when another Belgian was sent who could speak very little English of any kind the situation was in danger of becoming acute. Some began to say that Father Cappon did not want an Irish priest; that he would have to watch him to keep him out of his saloons, all of which was perhaps untrue. He did get the neighboring priests occasionally for a Sunday, who, although not Irish, left no one an excuse for not receiving the Sacraments. Father Steiner of Michigan City, and Father Lebel of Kalamazoo, and Father Hennsert of Adrian I think came at times, so things were not so bad after all. Father Cappon had four counties to attend. From New Buffalo and St Joseph on the west to Watervliet, PewPaw and Constantine on the north and east, and when he began to visit those places oftenex [often] and left Father Joseph, an assistant, alone at Niles, the people began to wish he would stay at home more and they were glad to see him on the altar instead of Father Joseph whom they could hardly understand when he preached. So, by degrees the main opposition wore itself out and Father Cappon eventually won his way with the people and they came to appreciate his zeal and devotion and gave him their allegiance and their love.

          But Father Cappon did not differ greatly from the older priests of that day; especially, those who had been trained in the stricter schools of continental Europe. He was not a Jansenist, nor was he a rigorist, but he wished to see his people practice their religion as it was practice in Catholic countries, where the people had the customs of ages to follow and a crystalized Catholic atmosphere to help them. The atmosphere of America was different from that of Belgium and the immigrant Irish had made it different also from that of Ireland. I have in mind now a case where Father Cappon refused Christian burial to a delinquent Catholic. She was a resident of the Barron Lake settlement and negligent in her religious duties. Irish, good-hearted, a friend of everybody, she went to mass occasionally - at least on Christmas and Easter. She would say: “Father, you do the praying and we will do the work.” If she anticipated death, no doubt she would not have met it unprepared. As it was, she died unexpectedly at night. The funeral went to the church but Father Cappon would not allow the body to come further than the schoolroom under the gallery, end [and] there was no blessing of the corpse; only a word that he would

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