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

Page 22

          Something more than a dozen Catholic families lived in the vicinity of Barron Lake and Father Cappon sometimes said Mass at one of the homes to which all gathered for the service. My first attempt at serving Mass was on one of these occasions. My father had begun to teach me the Latin but I knew very little of that and nothing at all of the ceremonies. This day the Mass was at the home of Mr. Pat Mannix, and I was put forward by my father to serve the Mass. He said he would answer the Latin and tell me how to do the rest. He perhaps tried to do so, but Father Cappon could not stand my awkwardness and told me to retire and try it another time. My lesson did me some good, for when later I had more sense and had observed the actions of the servers. I ventured once to serve a priest who used to say Mass at our house and I succeeded to his entire satisfaction and my own.

          Father Cappon built the new church at Niles and laid out the new cemetery but it was at considerable cost to himself. He had a regular income from his family estate, and of this, he himself told me a year before his death, he had used $10,000 to help the parish in making the improvements. He did not intend that this should be an insupportable burden to the parish but wished to release the congregation from the obligation by a stipulation in his will that the debt would be cancelled if the church authorities would cause fifty masses to be offered for him annually for ten years. He asked me if I thought he was asking too much and he might reduce the number. I told him that he was very generous with the parish and they should be willing to accept the condition with rejoicing. I do not know whether he imposed the condition or not, but if he did, and should there have been any dissatisfaction on the part of anyone in the parish, I am happy to say that my advice was strongly in favor of imposing that burden upon them. I learned that after his death there was a sum of money to his credit in his own find and that the executors decided to use it for a monument over his grave. Some of the parishioners worked or otherwise helped in its erection, but the final remnant of his own private fortune was gone. I state these facts so they may not be forgotten. Already his memory had begun to fade and these facts with it. His goodness and love for his people are yet remembered, and also the fact that he died on a Sunday morning during high mass and the people fell on their knees to pray while the bell tolled his passing. Rest in Peace, my good friend! 

          I am aware that much of this degression [digression], but it contains interesting facts and casts illuminating sidelights on the times in which the lives of the pioneers were cast. There was not much in them to foster religious vocations for the priesthood or convent life. And now, to return to more personal things.

          Our health as children was fairly good. Of course, we had the usual ailments of children - whooping cough, measles, mumps, colds, and in our section, chills and fever. The taste is in my mouth yet as castor oil with sugar, of quinine dissolved in water, of pinkroot tea followed by a drench of senna that makes one’s eyes ache, by the way, there were profiteers in those days also,

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