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

Page 52

          Just then I would have been better pleased if he had said nothing about France. My mind has been made up and all preparations finished for Cincinnati and it seemed like taking snap judgment on me. I could have refused the offer, and I was tempted to do so, for I was ignorant of French, and that would be a handicap. However, the Bishop offered to give me a year to familiarize myself with the language and continue the study of philosophy, so I left the decision to him, and he closed the argument by saying: “in the name of God then, go to France.”

          On Sunday evening, September 1, 1872, we left Denver and reached New York on Thursday evening. On Saturday morning we boarded the French steamer Ville de Paris bound for Havre, France. Apart from a few days of seasickness, the passage was uneventful. The feeling one experiences during the first voyage at Sea were mine, and these have so often been described that I may pass them over. The restless sea rolling mountains of water in upon us at times and at times as smooth as a mirror; the dolphins sporting in the distance and the smaller fish running with us like a crowd of urchins with the elephant at a circus parade;  the beautiful sunsets off forming the centerpiece of an incomparable evening landscape, as a Syrian prelate dominated it, the cooling breeze after the heat of the day, and the long evening on deck. Then the appetizing meals five times a day, and after my seasickness!  There was no mass during the ten days of the voyage, although two Syrian priests were in the company. A young student from New York was also a passenger on his way to the Seminary of Aix in the south of France.

          The steamer touched first at Brest on the French coast to let off some passengers. We did not dock, but simply lay to, and a tugboat came for the passengers, mail and whatever express matter was to be landed there. Havre was the destination of almost all, and from there we went on immediately by rail to Paris. One night Mr. Bourion and I spent in Paris at the Hotel Fenelon, and the next day we went to Issy-sur-Seine, a village just a short distance outside the walls of Paris, to the seminary where I was to spend my first year in foreign lands. 

          My remembrances of Issy  are Pleasant. Those who know the Sulpician. Fathers need not be reminded of their kindness and the fatherly interest they take in every one of their students, and the surroundings where ideal -- the cozy rooms, the spacious halls and chapel, the shrines of Our Lady of All Graces, and of Notre Dame de Lorete, where a replica of the Holy HOuse was made more our own by the tomb in its middle of Paul Seigneret, Issy’s own martyr of the Commune.

          Among the students were two from America and a dozen from England, Ireland, and Scotland, all answering the general designation Los Anglais, so called because we formed a foreign unit among a hundred Frenchman and all spoke the same language. If we were not so many Anglais it might have been better for us for we would have been forced to learn French more quickly and perfectly. It is not easy to listen in silence to a strange tongue when your own is being spoken near you, and we have the same tongue gathered together as much as we could. Once a week we took a long walk all together, sometimes going into the city to the Grand Seminary, or to visit some shrine, or we might roam through

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