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

Page 47

now sit (See that rare and priceless volume "Spalding's Sketones of Ky") where it functioned for five months until removed to its permanent location on a tract of land donated for the purpose by Thomas Howard, fifteen miles from here and four miles from Bardstown. Humble it was, but when we think of the early missionaries it prepared for the work of planting the faith -- it was so deeply planted in Kentucky -- we think of universities, of scholars and saints. Flaget, David, Badin, Nerincks and the pioneers brought their faith with them, but the new generation had to be taught if the old faith were to be preserved, and St. Thomas became the spring from which the life-giving and life-preserving waters flowed which made the Tree of the Cross grow in the forests of Kentucky and spread its branches through East and West. Need I name Abell, Durbin, Aud, Elliot, Coomes, Elder, Burne and other devoted missionaries who went out from St. Thomas in its early years to spend their lives on horseback seeking out and bringing faith and grace to many who otherwise never would have known either?

          And the hundreds of later years, some of whom became leaders in Israel, such as Bishop Reynolds of Charleston, Richter of Grand Rapids, Byrne of Nashville, Alerding of Fort Wayne, Lenihan of Cheyenne, Tierney of Hartford, Ryan of Alton and Lavialle and O'Donaghue of Louisville?

          Of the priests they were scattered from Massachusetts to the western borders of our civilization, and the rank and file of the clergy of Kentucky ever came from its doors. It is no wonder, then, that St. Thomas was dear to the priests of Kentucky and its closing was considered as a blessing although its removal brought prospects of greater advantages and less hardships to its inmates.

          Bishop Flaget's solicitude for his people went beyond the strictly religious care of them, but he wished to provide them also with a sound education founded on Christian principles. Already he had two female religious orders in the field, the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross, and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, both founded in 1812, but he had nothing yet for boys and young men of the world. The completion of his Cathedral in 1819, gave him his first opportunity, and in the basement of his own newly completed residence he opened a school which soon expanded into a college, and for more than forty years was one of the noted educational institutions of the South. His priests and seminarians were its principal professors until 1848, when the Jesuits took charge of it and taught there till 1861 when the Civil War closed it to make it a hospital for wounded and sick soldiers. It had not been re-opened after the war, and its fine series of buildins [buildings] was far superior to anything we had at St. Shomas [Thomas], four miles away. For some years after the war the buildings of the colleges of St. Joseph at Bardstown had lain unoccupied and furnished with only a caretaker in charge, and Bishop McCloskey of Louisville decided to transfer the students of St. Thomas to its more commodious halls and dormitories. The transfer took place in October, 1869, when we loaded our trunks and belongings on a big haywagon drawn by two mules, and we tramped behind it in a body to take possession of our new home.

          The new accommodations were fine but there were changes in the faculty and in the teaching staff. Our old president, Father Chambige, did not come and we missed him. There were some little hardship [hardships] at

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