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

Page 40

private chapel in the house and said mass every morning. It was here and with Father Machebeuf that I learned to serve mass rightly. I began to remove the book, give him the wine and water, ring the bell, and answer at some of the responses. He was pleased with my progress and encouraged me, and I was greatly pleased when he complimented me the first time I ventured to do all without being prompted. We spoke some about going to a seminary, but Father Machebeuf was not a Bishop yet and Denver was but a parish of the Diocese of far-off Santa Fe. Neither was I in love with the Far West nor with it as a location for a priest as I had imagined it in Michigan. In fact I did not feel exactly at home in the West. It seemed that my stay there could only be temporary and I could never make it a real home. It seemed to me that almost everybody else had a sort of that feeling and kept themselves partly aloof from all others. They entertained the vague hope of finding a fortune and returning to civilization. Like the Hebrews they sat by the waters of Babylon and wept as they remembered Sion.

          The days went by uneventfully although I did consult some books and papers on seminaries and learned the location of some of those institutions, among which was St. Thomas’ Seminary at Bardstown, Kentucky. That was a long way from Denver, but it was not as far as Cincinnati or New York, and then it was not too high-priced. We were making some money and might decide later, but I could not afford to be extravagant. Thus the matter rested until an event took place that turned the course of the future for me.
          Father Machebeuf was anxious to have the children of the parish receive a Christian education. For this purpose he had brought the Sisters of Loretto to Denver and helped them to open a select school for girls. It was not a parish school, yet most of the girls of the parish attended, and a number also of non-Catholic girls whose parents wished them to get that convent polish not found in public schools. The Sisters taught the grades as well as an academic course and were equipped to give a complete education to the pupils of the time. A boys’ school was established with less success; the pupils were not as numerous and one lady teacher was all that the revenue could support. Twice in this school the teachers sought to better themselves in matrimony, and towards the end of 1866 Father Machebeuf asked me to take his school. I had never had any experience, but the school was small and most of the boys were young, so I accepted and began a new career which closed the prospects of my ever being a farmer, yet did not settle down into the permanent occupation of teaching the young idea how to shoot.

          About this time Father Raverdy went as pastor to Central City and a young French priest came from Santa Fe to help Father Machebeuf at Denver. His name was Rev John Faure, and as he knew no English it was arranged that I should teach him English and he

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