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

Page 48

St. Thomas. We had to cut our firewood to keep the place warm; we went to the well for water to wash our faces form a pan on a log, stump or nay convenient place, winter and summer, but we kept warm and reasonably clean. We had cornbread and bacon as the great reliables, but we had white bread at least once a day, and on feast days we feasted. The faculty fared about as we did and we felt that we were at home as brothers under a good father. At St. Joseph’s the culinary department was slow in getting to work and the larder seemed not very well provided both in quantity and quality. We bore within for a time, but when improvements were slow in coming, murmuring was heard and contrasts were made, and old St. Thomas did not lose by them. These defects were remedied and things resumed their normal course, but there was an undefinable something at st. Thomas that we did not find in our new surroundings. A new faculty, a number of students from other colleges, the presence of the town at our gates, a few changes of discipline, and old St. Thomas with its simplicity in fraternity became dearer to those who knew it, and its traditions have been remembered and repeated with respect and affection until now. I believe I am now the last of the company who went out from St.Thomas when the change was made, and let me perpetuate the memory of old Saint Thomas, the mother of priests and bishops in the guardian of the faith in Kentucky. Not enough of it is left now to constitute a ruin, but its little old church is there yet, the first cathedral of Bishop Flaget, where the early priests were ordained and where I was present at the Golden Jubilee of the first Kentucky priest there ordained in 1818, the Rev. Robert Abell, familiarly known as “Uncle Bob” when fifty years later he came there to celebrate the event with all the clerical staff of the church in Kentucky wishing him many more years and more honor and merit as a climax of those busy ones of labor and accomplishment just closing. God granted him five more quiet years of grace for his own perfection before calling him to the great reward that must have been awaiting him in heaven. 

          When we were organized for work at St. Joseph’s, Fr. John Kelly and I were appointed prefects of studies. Our duties were to preside for a month at a time alternately in the study hall and keep order, and to report at the end of each month on the conduct and application of the students. The office carried with it the privilege of a private room in the daytime and some other favors. I did not enjoy the position of a boss at any time, and, although I had no trouble with the students and never had to report a single one of them, I declined the office prefect when offered it the following year. My successor was Dennis O'Donoghue, one of the bright students who began there a career of wise and mild authority that ended when he ceased to rule as Bishop of Louisville.

          The vacation of 1870 I spent in Missouri with my brother at Moberly. The town had been organized as a parish and Father McKenna was then its first pastor. He was then building a small frame church, and I had the honor of helping him arrange the altar for his first mass in the church which also I served as his acolyte.

          Upon returning to the seminary in September, Father DaFraine, who was President of the Seminary and Pastor of the Church of St. Joseph, appointed me sacristan of the church. This gave me even more 

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