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The Story of the Mountain
Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary

Mary E. Meline & Edward F.X. McSween

Published by the Emmitsburg Chronicle, 1911

Chapter 18 | Chapter Index

Chapter 19: 1829

Father Brute' has an extensive list of Seminarians, etc., as follows:

  • Seminary of Mt. St. Mary's, 22nd. 8bre, 1829.
  • Revd. M. McGerry, Prest. American, Emmitsburg, Child of the Mountain.
  • Revd. M. Purcell. Vice pit. Ireland. Child of the Mountain.
  • Revd. M. Brute’, Professor. France.
  • Revd. M. Xaupi. Professor, France, of St. Sulpice, one of the early friends.
  • Revd. M. Jamison, Professor, American. Child of the Mountain.
  • Revd. M. Wiseman, Professor, American. Child of the Mountain.

Divines, nineteen, seventeen present. Of the Baltimore diocese: Messrs. Pelissier, subdeacon, France; McCaffrey, Minors, Emmitsburg; Hitzelberger, Minors, Baltimore; Deloughery, Minors, Baltimore; Parsons, tonsure, Baltimore; Flaut, tonsure, Emmitsburg. Of the Philadelphia diocese: Messrs. Stillinger, Chambersburg; Souriu, Philadelphia; Gartland, Phila; Collins, Phila; Thomas Butler, Phila; Duffy, Ireland.

Of New York diocese: Dannengher, Ireland; McCloskey, Amer. free; Correy, Gegan, Bradley, McCool, all from Ireland; Whelan, Baltimore, after two years gone to Paris to return hither. (The expression "free" means no doubt that these had not yet been adopted into a diocese.)

Humanists: Obermeyer, Emmitsburg; Quarter, Ireland; Correy, Ireland; Aukenbaugh, Chambersburg; Riley, Ireland; Donelly, Ireland; Murray, Loretto, American; Gilmeyer, Emmitsburg; Antony Hermange, Baltimore; White, Ireland; Lawrence Puzenet, Frederick; McAleer, Chambersburg; Jerome Kelley, Emmitsburg. Hopes declared (aspirants?) all Americans: Gardener, Maryland; Thorn. McCaffrey, Emmitsburg; and twenty others or more who wished themselves to be presented as such to the Most Rev. Archbishop last June nearly all of his diocese.

Ordained Priests and gone: 1. Bev. Cavanagh, Boston; 2. Quarter, New York; 3. Curtin Philadelphia; 4. Jamison, ordained Sept. 6, 1829 (remains here); 5. Gildea, Martinsburg in Virginia.

Died: 1. Rev. M. Egan; 2. Rev. M. Lynch, professor of mathematics; 3. M. Taylor a divine; 4. J. M. Butler, a divine.

Gone: 1. Mr. Kelly a philosopher, to the Jesuits of Georgetown. [This is the first of the Mountaineers to join the Society of Jesus.] 2. M. Holahan, a philosopher to New York; 3. Mr. Dickehut, a divine to Baltimore; Francis Hermange at Baltimore Seminary, is also a former child of Mt. St. Mary's.

Result: Present in the Seminary: six priests, seventeen divines, thirteen humanists, thirty in all. Twenty Americans, eleven Irish, one French. Paying scarcely three teachers or prefects twenty-one. Ordained priests in the year, five. Died four, two priests and two divines. Three gone, but to continue their vocation. Pupils in the College from one hundred and fifteen to one hundred and twenty.

We add items about a fen-of the lay-students. This year on March 24, 1829, died Thomas Sim Lee Horsey; he was the eldest son of Outerbridge Horsey, formerly Senator from Delaware, and grandson of Thomas Sim Lee, late Governor of Maryland. He was 18 years old, belonged to the Senior Class, and his mother, brother and sisters were with him to the end. The students voted to wear crape on the left arm for thirty days.

Of Thomas McCaffrey, John's brother, we read: Thomas McCaffrey's report for conduct, etc., 5th Latin: " Talents very good. Memory the same. Manners respectful and polite. Temper mild." J. McCloskey (Cardinal), Teacher.

The Most Rev. John Baptist Purcell, D.D

Thomas became a priest as we shall see and died a heroic death in 1853. Brute' wrote to President McGerry, who was still at the College, during Oct.. 1829, from Baltimore where the former was attending the First Provincial Council as theologian to Bishop England. We cull from his letters:

"Our dear and happy Mountain . . . simple straight ways of personal duty. Our Seminary is, as it always was, but so particularly now all at the mercy and only will of Divine Providence and protection of the B. V. little to be expected from men, and indeed this has, I say, always been its happy case; hence probably so much of blessing. . . .

"Today Bishop England preached one hour and fifty-five minutes, but one flow of astonishing powers; matter, logic, elocution, feelings, and carrying along the mind and heart, I hope, of his crowded auditory. What Protestant could answer such a train of argument ? I regret that you have heard him not by far to such advantage at the Mountain. He truly subjugates all, and any blemish is forgotten in the universal sense of such elevation and superiority over the adversaries he thus encounters. . . .

"There is still talk of restricting the ecclesiastical development of 'our own Mountain.' The Bishops generally and their priests favor us.

"Monday 12. I met just in the street Jerome Bonaparte, who stopped his gig to speak the first to me, remembering well his old stay at the Mountain. He promised to call on me. I have seen Mr. Kensey this morning with Mr. Hughes and Mr. Pise. I have conferred with M. Chatan about Caroline Livers. He sees ' No need of prescription (nor I)' . . . Exercise and ' Ointment of opodeldoc' is sufficient.

[Here speaks the physician. The only time while at the Mountain that Father Brute practiced his first profession, that of medicine, was when a boy had broken his arm and there was no doctor near; he set it and set it well.]

"After the grand dinner at the Seminary:1. All the Bishops and the priests from the talk here, (for of the closed sittings of the Council nothing is said) are for a principal Seminary (to have elect students from diocesan ones) just as Paris receives principal students from all France; and arrangements being made with St. Sulpice, Theology being destined to cease in two years at the Mountain and only a petit seminaire to continue with proper supply and means for the carrying of the College as usual; things would take that way their new channel of ecclesiastical education in the metropolis but I hear few details. All the Bishops and the Archbishop speak of going together to the Mountain. I see nothing in the eventual possible settlement to be otherwise foreseen or prepared on our side, but waiting in best order of duty, and then all confidence in Providence I perfectly trust that keeping quiet and looking straight on for duty, simplicity, humility, all, all will still be well for Mount Saint Mary's."

But later he has good news to communicate : "This evening, St. Theresa, 15 Providence, Providence, good friends. Have hope! The Council has decided this evening, and from what I saw from the dinner, I did not expect so good a result all remains in status quo. The opposition of the Bishops (to whom I have said nothing, and nothing has been said in the Council) has obliged all to be left in status quo. I can tell you this, for I have conscientiously asked Mgr. Flaget, who said to me that I could certainly say this to you. Therefore be at rest concerning the Council. As for our worthy Archbishop, remain also the more quiet these next two years have no other policy than the most faithful and simple performance before God, and you will see Providence will do all for the best. Read this to the four priests but however speak little of it; this is a rule which I have observed strictly and for the better I will give you a full account. I have written to you on the other page the first, but behold the true, good page Laus Deo! Auspice Maria!

"P. S. Friday 16. As I have told you, we are exactly at the same point, the Council having twice, and yesterday evening the final adjournment, refused to treat of such matters as a Metropolitan and common Seminary. But, I cannot repeat it too often as I have already said-—since you know the previous dispositions of Mgr. the Archbishop keep quietly to this simple and modest course with the Seminary: 'All the present to duty, all the future to Providence ! Duty the most faithful and Providence the most loving and all will go well. 'Diligentibus Deurn omnia cooperantur in bonum.' I will give you a more particular account and hope that you will be satisfied with your poor Brute’.

"P. S. 16. I will probably return Tuesday next and probably some of the Bishops by the stage. I did not hear again of the Archbishop coming; I know not.

"Last post. Reopening this letter. Just from visit to the Archbishop, all very friendly, but not a word about the Seminary. He thinks he cannot come this time. Mr. Read wants to send his sonbe sure however that I avoid any puff and inviting. ..."

In October, 1829, after the close of the Council came the Bishops of Bardstown, of Cincinnati, of St. Louis and of Boston, together with Rev. Mr. F. P. Kenrick, theologian of the Bp. of Bardstown. Addresses were made by Bishops Flaget, Rosati and Fenwick of Boston, as well as by Mr. John McCaffrey of the Seminary, Father John B. Purcell, Vice-President, and Father McGerry, President of the College. The Bishops stayed several days, and the Bishop of Boston sang Pontifical Mass on the Hill on Sunday, while Bishop Flaget did the same at the Academy, and addressed the Sisters to his and their holy delight.

The same autumn a musical society was started by Mr. Joseph Gegan. Dr. Hermange came to live at the Mountain in December of this year, and the College obtained the Philosophic apparatus, of which science the doctor was professor, from Paris. Mr. Brute taught the First Geography class for sometime this year gave it to Dr. Hermange afterwards.

President McGerry left the Mountain about the latter part of November; how, or why, and whether definitely or otherwise, we know not, nor do we find record of the induction of his successor. He left to Mr. F. B. Jamison a memorandum dated Dec. 2, 1829, of the state of affairs, describing everything ..." William, Maria and her child were accepted as compensation for James Quinn, else they would have been sold out of the State. M. Parsons knows all the debts and also all the money due us. I have given you a full power of attorney . . . The list of debts shows a total of $26,500 ... I endorsed notes to the amount of $1,400, but the principals are all good. ..."There is evidence of some misunderstanding between Father McGerry and the others, but no positive record of the cause or circumstances of his resignation and withdrawal.

The following refers in a way to Father McGerry's retirement, but there is no record found of Father Purcell's election to succeed him: Rev. J. Hughes to Rev. J. Purcell.

Philadelphia, Dec. 21, 1829.

Rev. and dear Friend: ... I saw our friend (Rev. M. McGerry) embark, and in a few hours the canvas of his ship seemed to mingle with the distant clouds. His departure, which excited a good deal of speculation here, has entailed upon you a responsibility which I trust you will have the fortitude, as I know you have the qualifications, to sustain. Your situation is one of great difficulty. Your institution has certainly taken the lead of every other Catholic establishment in the country; but recent circumstances are calculated to excite in its friends a degree of prospective solicitude. There is a spirit of unusual vigor a species of revival infused into the Institutions of Baltimore and Georgetown, which, unless by wise management and renewed exertion, Emmitsburg is destined to feel. Of course there is patronage in the country for them all, but whether or not there will be reaction in favor of those institutions at the expense of yours will depend very much on the united zeal, prudence and exertion of you and your colleagues. I have had frequent opportunities to judge since I left there, and I do not know anything so well calculated to make the institution flourish at home and popular abroad as to make the boys happy, and the parents at ease, by frequent and judicious correspondence. In this poor Mr. Egan was extremely felicitous and Mr. McGerry extremely otherwise.

You have been kind enough in your letter to say that you will receive with consideration any remarks I may deem proper in regard to the institution; and if a constant desire to see it prosperous could establish a right, I might say that I am entitled to the privilege. But after all, human exertion and human wisdom is in vain, unless that God support it who has rendered the administration of all your predecessors happy and successful. If there is anything which I might suggest to you it would be this: that being President "de nomine", you should also be president de facto; for I am afraid lest your modesty or humility might induce you to be guided by the judgment of others, where it will be necessary for you to follow the sober dictates of your own. I think, also, that a regular and unbending course of discipline should be maintained among the professors as well as among the boys. I make this observation because on my visit last year it appeared to me that things in that regard had very much retrograded from the time I was there. This I mentioned once to Mr. McGerry, and whether it was so or not you must know. ... It would afford me great pleasure if you would correspond with me whenever you have time. Mr. Brute’, from whose letters I derived comfort and instruction, seems to have given me up. Give my love to him and all.

If the future Archbishop of New York, who was evidently out for a missionary bishop and could never understand the position of chief executive in a constitutional government, had read Brute's communication to his young associates, he would be aware that the "Angel of the Mount" allowed no relaxation of discipline to pass unnoticed.

"We understand," says "The Catholic Press " of Hartford, Dec. 12, 1829, "a Catholic College has been recently established at St. Louis, Missouri ... it will, we trust, like another Mount St. Mary's . . . become the nursery of Science, Virtue and Religion, supply our churches with active and efficient laborers in the vineyard and our Republic with virtuous and scientific citizens. ..."

There are no lists of premiums at this period, but the bulletin books were kept with great care and copies sent to parents, who might thus know exactly how their boys were doing. Here is the record of the future Cardinal McCloskey:

"J. McCloskey. 3d. English. Has lately joined, can study if he will good memory, good manners, agreeable, disposition good. Latin Grammar. Talents and application good very attentive disposition excellent. Manners everything desirable; 5th. French. Joined a few days ago given specimen of excellent judgment. Writing application and conduct satisfactory; 3rd. Arith. Succeeds very well.

Chapter Index | Chapter 20

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