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

Page 45

          This year and a half tended to settle me in my plans for the future. My old pastor, Father Machebeuf, had been made a bishop and had come to see me at St Thomas. The lure of the West was coming back to me: I thought of the great need he would have of priests, and I saw that he expected me to go to him if I ever reached the goal of our expectations of ordination for me. There was no special contract, but it was mutually understood that I would return to Denver.

          The vacation of 1869 I spent in the vicinity of Niles and my old home in Michigan. Four years had made a great change in everything there. It did not seem like the old home at all, and I felt somewhat of a stranger in the old surroundings. I suppose the change was partly with myself, for people recognized that I had grown up and was a seminarian. They thought they had to show me a certain deference, and all this tended to make somewhat a stranger to myself. Yet I had a pleasant vacation and visited many of the old familiar places and some new ones and met old friends and made some new ones. At South Bend, Indiana, I visited Father P P Cooney, C S C, who had been a chaplain in the Civil War and had often assembled his men for mass and confession at St Thomas Seminary and I was interested in his account of his experiences with the men of both armies, for soldiers from Bragg’s army of Confederates and Buel’s army of Federals passed St Thomas and received favors. A Southern Captain lay sick there and was discovered by Union men and paroled.

          This summer I paid my first visit to Notre Dame although I had lived for years near it. The only incident there was that, after going through the college and mounting to the cupola for a view of the surrounding country, I was permitted to be one to help work the pedals to swing the big seven ton bell which was then mounted on a platform on the lawn. I don’t think the tower of the church was finished at the time.

          Another visit I made was to Kalamazoo. Two of my fellow students at St Thomas were from that village. I say village, for although it was a place of 10,000 inhabitants, it had but a village charter and took pride in calling itself the largest village in the U S.

          During that visit I was present at the dedication of the new church of St Augustine, just finished by Father Lebel. There was no bishop in Detroit, so Archbishop Purcell came from Cincinnati for the occasion. The mass was sung by Father Cullen of Chicago who later became the first bishop of Davenport, and the sermon was by Father Riordan, who became Archbishop of San Francisco. A lecture in the evening was given by Father Cooney of South Bend, and, as might be expected, was on the Civil War.

          While at Kalamazoo I received a tempting offer from Father Roy, a Victorian priest from Bourbonnais Grove in Illinois. The priests of St Viator had just founded a college at that place and need[ed] a teacher of English. He offered to assist me in the continuation of my studies and pay a small salary besides for my services. I did not feel free to accept his offer but I found a 

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