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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 64 | Chapter Index

Chapter 65: 1882

On Monday. March 6, 1882, the College was declared to be out of the receiver's hands ; on March 17 Archbishop Gibbons, of Baltimore, was elected a member of the Council, and on April 3 accepted membership "on condition that he was not to incur any pecuniary responsibility affecting him as Archbishop of Baltimore." [Archbishop Eccleston had joined the Council Dec. 13, 1836.] Cardinal McCloskey was to be invited to nominate for election some clergyman at the College to represent him at the corporation meetings.

The President of the corporation was to be distinct from the President of the College, and the Abp. of Baltimore to be the President ex-officio of the corporation. An election then took place, and Abp. Gibbons was chosen President of the corporation; Father William Byrne President of the College; Father Thomas Fitzgerald Vice-President of the College; Father James S. Kelly, Secretary ; Father William Byrne, Treasurer.

It was decided that "Incorporators may be either resident or non-resident. The corporation, while reserving to itself the possession of the property, the control of the financial management, and the election and removal of members and officers of its own body, hereby delegates to the resident members constituting the College Council all the other powers and privileges vesting in it under its charter and by-laws." Thus the "Corporation" succeeded to the "Regents."

April 11, 1882, Abp. Gibbons approved President Byrne's proposal to have the church and cemetery incorporated with three clerical trustees and two laymen, but this was not carried out.

In the midst of all these cares and troubles a serious condition developed : one of the graduates died, and the attending physician recommended that the Easter vacation be extended. So it fell out that the College was closed from April 12 to May 12. Some students, however, remained at the house, nor suffered any ill consequences, but the danger of a general alarm was so great that a special providence must have prevented complete disaster and the abandonment of the institution by its patrons. However, no one could perceive the slightest sign of despair, fear or indecision in the conduct of the head of the house, who, like those old Romans with the enemy at their gates, kept on buying and selling and praying and teaching as if nothing were the matter.

On May 24 Rev. Charles P. Grannan, D. D., was elected to the Council, and on June 10 the first of a series of pamphlets, "Report of Progress in Liquidation of Debt," was issued.

The Commencement of 1882 saw nine graduates. At the annual election Father Byrne was again chosen President and also Treasurer, Father Kelly Vice-President, Father Grannan Secretary, Father Fitzgerald prefect of studies and principal of the Junior Department.

On the 13th of October, 1882, died Henry Dielman, Mus. Doc., for forty years teacher at the College. He was the last to die of those so long associated, and two years saw the death of five of (hem. More of him elsewhere.

Popular collections to pay the debt were now set on foot. The pastors of seven churches in Baltimore and four in Washington granted collections for Lent, several in Philadelphia, etc., had done similarly, but it was hard to secure efficient preachers. Rev. John M. Mackey, ex-63, joined the Faculty pro tern, for the purpose of collecting. Rev. Dr. Burtsell, of New York, offered to collect for the Mountain also, if it were to be made a missionary college for the whole country.

Two of our alumni in Ohio here demand our attention. During President Garfield's illness this year Bishop Gilmour, of Cleveland, ordered prayers for his recovery, and all believers in the nation prayed together.

In an article of April 18, 1882, Bishop Chatard, of Vincennes, as he was the successor of Brute, shows also that he was the disciple of McCaffrey. The pastoral of the Cincinnati Provincial Council, held about this time, had been bitterly attacked, very much as the Syllabus of 1864 had been, for its apparent opposition to American principles, but Bp. Chatard shows how the Pope and the Bishops are the true friends of law and of the government:

"The Pope in his Encyclical, June 29, 1881, teaches the world ' that the republican government of the United States is a just form of government, and no kingly power nor mob power has a right to overthrow it. . . .'The Pope' lays down the scriptural idea that all authority comes from God. . . .' We call attention to the consequence of teaching that authority belongs to the people.

Disobedience to the people would not be sinful, as sin is a violation of God's law only. Therefore all laws would be but penal; there would be no obligation in conscience to obey and therefore any one could violate them provided he were in no danger of being caught. What a delightful state of things and what a door would be opened to lawlessness! As things are now the lawbreakers are in the minority ; with such teaching the case would be reversed. The Pope and the Bishops, teaching that authority conies from God, put an obligation of conscience on every citizen to observe the laws of the United States. And this although those who exercise the rights of government are chosen by the people ; their power is not given by the people, but comes from God. . . . The Church therefore ' commands all Catholics to obey the government of the United States under pain of resisting the ordinance of God.' If there is anything in the Declaration of Independence that goes against his doctrine, then it seems to me, the Declaration is not as friendly to the welfare of our country as the Catholic Church is. . . ."

Francis Silas Chatard, Bishop of Vincennex. 'Indianapolis, Ind., April 18, 1882."

The report in the appendix tells what churches and what individuals contributed to the Mountain in its distress, as well as who went about collecting, as far as this can be known. At the alumni banquet, October 1896, Father Mackey of Cincinnati gave this account of his collection tour in 1882.

"My first appointment was at Conewago, and I had orders to be there on a certain day. So I went to Conewago, and from that to the Mountain, then to Baltimore. I shall never forget the parting salute of a priest in Baltimore, when I was leaving the city. He said to me: 'God speed you, you are leading a forlorn hope,' but I was welcomed everywhere. . . . Men who had never seen the Mountain, but heard the story that I was able to relate, went out to the Mountain with their affections, and I was received with open arms. I told the simple story of the Mountain; That there was a spot, the only spot in the whole United States, on which for seventy-five years, stood an institution with a faculty and men in charge of it where students who had no money but were willing to work and who had ordinary talents, a calling for usefulness, or a vocation for the priesthood, had the doors open for them. Every avenue to success was afforded such a student. . . . The arms of the faculty were open for him. Every one treated him with respect; and when his clothes became threadbare, there was John McCloskey, grand old Dr. McCloskey. (applause), who, when he noticed such a boy, would kindly say to him: "Wouldn't you like to have a new suit? " Then he gave him to understand that the tailor would be up to take his measure, and the new suit was forthcoming; and he got a cloak sometimes for winter service, that came down from the days of Cardinal McCloskey, and it was a venerable relic of antiquity. But that was the spirit of those times. This was the only spot where a young man was welcomed to work for his education and be a factor in the progress of the country and in the establishment of the Church, this was the only place in the whole United States. And this is what I had to say for this grand old Mountain. And I had the daring and courage to tell those congregations that I myself, though very humble, was a product of the Christian love of that house and institution, and it was no wonder I was there to beg and make an appeal for it. They opened their purses to help the college in its distress, showing the same love and same sentiment with regard to it that I have myself. I realized then that the Mountain was going to live; and it must live where the appreciation of its work and its services of the past are so great in the minds of the clergy and the people, if there is only somebody to present the case to them and keep them in mind of it.

"I remember a scene in Cincinnati, where St. Xavier's Church, of the Jesuit parish in the city, burned down. It was Holy Thursday night, and the great wooden cross that stood on the top of the tower lay across the sidewalk. The next day was Good Friday; they were to have had the veneration of the cross. The good old pastor, who had built the church, collected for it and paid the debt, saw the work of his whole life destroyed. The people came to that church to venerate the cross on Good Friday, and they knelt on that side­walk, gazed upon it, five or six thousand people, all day long, kissing the prostrate cross; and the pastor, when he saw that, said, with tears in his eyes: 'The faith that kisses that prostrate cross will lift it up again. The charity of the faithful Catholic people, the charity that loves the cross will lift it up where it was before.' And his words were prophetic. In less than one year that church had risen, phoenix like, from its ashes, and now it is a monument of religion in the Queen City of the West. So it was the faith and charity of the people that saved the grand old Mountain. . . ."

Chapter 66 | Chapter Index

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