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

Page 86

          The year 1888 was also noted for another serious event. It was the year of the death of my mother. I was on one of my regular missions when I got the sad news. Only a few days before I was with her and said mass and gave her communion. She was in her eightieth year. Iwwas [I was] not at her death bed but I presided at her burial. She died well. Rest in Peace. 

          This year also I had a little diversion from my ordinary routine in a trip toward the east. An old Kentucky school mate of mine, the Rev. Ruan, was to be consecrated Bishop of Alton, on May 1. I gave Sterling the mass kit and told him to meet me at the train that evening. Then I pursued my journey and was at the connection on Tuesday. There I met a number of my clerical friends from Kentucky and had a pleasant day with them and their bishop renewing old memories and associations. In passing, I may say also that I met there Father Augustine Tolton, the first colored priest ordained for the American missions. He was ordained at Rome for the Diocese of Alton, but went to Chicago later and organized a congregation of colored Catholics there. He died there a holy death brought on by his devotion to duty

           I also met an old friend and teacher of both spiritual and worldly wisdom in my seminary days, the Rev. Ruan of Davenport, Iowa. He insisted upon my going home with him and spending a few days going over old times, which I did, and thus began a series of the mutual visits which ended when I saw him laid in in honored grave thirty-one years later.

          I cannot leave the subject of my prayer missions without paying due tribute to the generous hearted and faithful Catholics of those pioneer days in Eastern Colorado. There were no rich among them as far as worldly goods go, and thirty-five miles were not too long when they had a child to be baptized. When I visited them in their homes nothing and they had was too good for me. If they were at meals they invited me to sit down with them but generally they would begin by taking the ordinary food from the table to substitute something better. To this I always objected, telling them what was good enough for them was at all times was good enough for me at one meal, and I was not fit to be a missionary if I could not live on the food of the country. They may have lived in a sod house or a dugout but the best corner was given to the priest. In fact, I found that it was possible to kill one with kindness.

          In Germany I slept one winter with one feather bed under me and another over me, and I slept comfortably all winter. In American [America] I never cared for a feather bed, but had sometimes to put up with one on the missions. On one occasion at one of my stations the weather was very cold, and when I was shown to my bed I found it with a deep feather tick and near it was a stove in which a big coal fire was roaring. Soon I was perspiring in bed. I threw off the coverings in my sleep and the fire burned itself out to before morn. When I awoke I found that I had caught a severe cold, and it was the mercy of God that saved me from pneumonia. These missions have now sixteen churches with as many residents priests, and the end is not yet.

          The severance of my connection with those missions took place in 1889. My old friend, Father Matz, became Coadjuter Bishop of Denver, and he asked me to leave my missions and take charge of the Parish of St. Ignatius. We had always been friends and we were neighbors in our

View Original Here


This page has paths:

Contents of this path: