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

Page 43

January 6, 1868, I arrived in Louisville, Kentucky, too late for the train to Bardstown, and had to wait until afternoon, and the long day was spent near the station for I did not want to get lost in a strange city.

          That evening I reached Bardstown and stopped at the Murphy House. There was another hotel called the Hynes House, but the other sounded better to me and I went there. I might have gone to the old Cathedral church and had been welcomed by the Jesuits who were in charge at that time, but I knew nothing of him, although I visited the Jesuits in St. Louis and met Father O’Neil, the President of the University, and Father Stunteback, and heard mass at their church, the old St. Francis Xavier’s at Ninth and Green Streets. Green Street was afterwards called Christy Avenue.

          The next morning I went to St. Thomas, which was about four miles out from Bardstown, to begin my studies. It was raining, but the road was a toll road and kept in fair order. It also was picturesque winding around hills, crossing the Beech Fork on a long covered bridge and lined with substantial looking houses. I felt that I was in the South even if it was not sunny at the moment, and I watched at every turn to meet an old “Uncle Tom” or a band of Kkluxes, (at that time the Kukluxes were not of the modern brand, but a Southern band of nightriders with far different aims and principles), but I met none and arrived without incident at the Seminary.

          Father Chambige received me kindly and gave me in charge to the student prefect who was at leisure that month. There were two prefects; one on duty each month, and this one was Edwin Drury who labored well and fruitfully in Kentucky in after years as a model priest; the other was Michael Ronan of Boston, whose work in the ministry in that diocese, and especially at Lowell in Massachusetts has kept him in holy memory. I think I may say that Mr. Drury was the first person with whom I ever got acquainted in Kentucky. No thought entered our heads then that he would spend years in the very room where I am now writing his last years of a fruitful life directing the good sisters of Loretto, or that I would succeed him in that work and put in twenty years as his successor, with his tomb in plain sight only a few rods away and a reservation close by for my own remains to await with his the call to immortality.

          The transition from one manner of life to another may suggest sacrifice and pain, and in no doubt there is much of both in such changes generally. In looking back now I do not see that there was very much of either in my cases. I had been absent from home for some time anyway, and then I never did consider the West to be my home. My father was dead, the older members of the family were doing for themselves, or planning to do so, and it was only a question of a short time when many families would replace the old original one. The old order had shaken itself off and a new one was before me. Would I become a priest? I did not know but I was going to give the preparation a trial. If I could not succeed in going through to the happy end I might get so far as to be able to try to teach in some college, and thus have a settled career. It was with these feelings that I began the new era. If I had a vocation I did not feel it. I reverenced the priests, I liked their company, I was pleased to serve mass and I

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