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

Page 49

privileges than I had as prefect, for I was particularly free except at class time. Freed from the distractions of a crowded study hall, I could apply myself to the preparation of my classes and do some reading besides. I liked the work of sacristan for it made me familiar with the different services of the church, and all the solemn offices were performed there instead of in the seminary chapel. I liked all the altar breads the old fashion irons, which were two plates of steel polished and engraved on one side and fastened together with two long crossed handles and heated in an ordinary stove fire. It was not hard when you knew how to work them. 

          The church itself has some history. It was Flaget’s Cathedral when he was Bishop of Bardstown. The old church has celebrated its centennial but it stands as firm as it was on the day of its consecration.

          For two years I held this office, and after the vacation of 1871, which I spent at the college, and addition to my own duties I took charge of two classes; one in English composition and one in advanced Arithmetic. The work was easy, and as I got a class of volunteer boys from all the classes it was really enjoyable. This last year passed pleasantly enough;  it was philosophy year for our class and our last year at St. Joseph's. 

          Of the students I have not much to say in general. The brightest man in the class was, in my opinion, Henry Churchill Semple from Selma, Ala. He became a Jesuit and was rather prominent in the society as well as being the author of several good volumes. Another who was not so prominent was Daniel O'Sullivan. 

          Daniel was born in Ireland in 1836. Left an orphan early in life he was cared for by an uncle, but by the knavery of pretended friends he was swindled out of the little homestead where he was born and leaving Ireland with his sister four years older than himself, he came to Cincinnati when about 20 years of age. Dan found work in a tannery and his sister went into domestic service. After a few years, his sister resolved to join the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Dan strenuously opposed her resolution, and declared he would never speak to her if she left him and became a nun. Neither of them had much schooling in Ireland, and work was all that could be before them in any walk of life. But the sister carried out her plan, and Dan refused to see her for a year, but his anger could not hold out longer and they became reconciled as was inevitable with a man of Dan's big heart. Dan was thrifty and steady, and, at about the close of the Civil War, had a saving of $1,000.00. Then the thought began to haunt him that he might be a priest. He recognized his lack of education, but he wondered if there might not be someplace in the church where even the unlearned might fill if they had the desire to serve God as best they might. He consulted with a priest of Cincinnati and was told that in the secular ministry he could never succeed. He was too old to begin a course of study, and his mind would not respond at his age to training. It was suggested that a religious order might give him a trial. With this encouragement he applied to the Franciscans, telling them of his little savings, and got an answer that it might be possible but they could consult and give him an answer later. The later answer 

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