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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 65 | Chapter Index

Chapter 66: 1883-1885

Rev. Edward McSweeny, S.T.D.

January 27, 1883, Abp. Gibbons authorized the College to grant testimonial letters to candidates for Sacred Orders, an Episcopal function.

Rev. Henry Northrop, '60, declined an invitation to become president, and Rev. Patrick Morris, '78, received a very flattering and pressing invitation to join the Faculty.

At the annual election, June 25, Father Byrne was elected President and also Treasurer; Father Mackey Vice-President, and Father Grannan secretary.

In September, 1883, Father Byrne being busy in Boston, Father Grannan became acting president, and on November 28 Rev. Edward McSweeny, a Propagandist, pastor of St. Mary's, Poughkeepsie, N. Y., who had accepted an invitation to teach philosophy and theology, entered the Council and assumed direction of the Seminary.

Here the reviewers would pause awhile to insert a tribute of love and gratitude to Dr. McSweeny, who this year entered the College as professor and who died suddenly October 19, 1909. It is due in great measure to his indefatigable labor, born of love for the Mountain, that it is possible to publish these records. For twenty-five years he blessed the Seminary and College with the ripened fruit of his sympathy, affection, learning and piety, and Mountaineers with one accord thank and bless his memory.

Since his return to the College, after the summer vacation of 1909, he alluded on several occasions, mostly in a humorous way, to an ailment he fancied he had contracted at Belmar, N. J., where he had spent some time visiting a former pupil, Father William McConnell. It was the insidious foe of heart disease that all unknown was preying upon his life.

Clad in cassock, as was his wont, he visited Rev. James McDermott, pastor of Waynesboro, Pa., the Sunday before his death and relieved his host of the fatiguing work of Sunday, preaching both at High Mass and Vespers. The people still remember the simple yet inspiring lessons of his discourses on the maternity of the Blessed Virgin. He fell ill that night, but no one knew of it until just before his departure. Returned to the College, he went to his room to bed, from which he was fated never to rise alive. Few ministrations were required of the infirmarian; he felt this attack would pass off quickly, as had many another. On Tuesday evening about seven o'clock, a seminarian passing his room heard a moan of agony and hastened to the Doctor's side. It was evident the throes of death had already set in, and a priest was quickly summoned. Dr. Flynn barely reached the bedside and administered the last rites of the church before the spark of life was extinct. The community and College were shocked by the news of his unexpected death. Mountain and valley were wrapped in a pall of profound grief which has not yet been lifted.

The true tribute to the character and worth of Dr. McSweeny is yet to be written. With the plain and simple life of the priest, he combined the gift of the seer, which enabled him to forecast enduring policies; and yet, who was more childlike in trust, true-hearted and sincere; more constant in his friendship, more unostentatious. He came to the College in the days next following disaster, and the trials and dangers that threatened but served to intensify his priestly devotion. He realized the sacrifice and the great responsibilities his new love imposed. Few Mountaineers surpassed him in devotion; and then again, he was the leader in developing the inner life of seminarian and collegian, co-laborer and many others hereabouts, not only pointing out to them the way of the higher life, but walking himself through its pathways, steadfastly.

Nothing diverted him from the discharge of this sacred duty, whose exercise strengthened him with the solace and comfort that spring from an unaffected trust. His devotion to his levites and collegians seemed to dominate his every action. He felt that he should lead them happily along, and he strove to make them feel that in the College they would find a home which was the super-naturalized type of the one they left behind. Whether he accompanied his pupils on recreation days rambling about the mountain, or visited the family circle of the neighborhood, imparting blessing and extending counsel and comfort; whether in the class-room, where he presented the lessons of lofty thought to his pupils, he still kept faithful in the path " where flamed the Paraclete." He died as he had lived, with a heart overflowing with love for his charges, and his mind working out the problems duty had imposed.

May his spirit ever rest over Alma Mater, and, as the second "Angel of the Mount." ever guarding and blessing her. One of his former pupils, in the Mountaineer of November, 1909, thus characterizes the Doctor:

"Doctor McSweeny was a many-sided character. He was at home in the profundity of Aquinas or Augustine, and as well in the Morise of Thomas More or The Facetiae of Hierocles. He reveled not only in learned disputations, philosophical and theological, but also in the homely discussions of the country grocery. The broad and engaging humanity of Francis of Assisi dominated his life. How well he blended the naive wisdom of the untutored with polished results of systematic study, those who have heard his unique talks will now recall with chastened joy.

"His was the deep, unbudging piety of the Ages of Faith, yet he followed the established findings of science with the enthusiasm of a devotee.

"Of tense observation, he laid under tribute everything he saw or heard ; consequently a wealth of illustration and anecdote was at his disposal. We who sat at his feet know how he could with unerring precision pick out of an involved paragraph the pivotal word and with a succinct phrase explode a mystery.

"Many a time his remarks evoked laughter on account of quaint similitudes never coarse or grotesque. We were amused at our stupidity that we had never before sensed such fine, obvious, overwhelming felicities.

"He could sing a song and sing it well. No gaudeamus of the seminarians was complete without a selection from the Doctor's repertory. He must have been a rare singer in his younger days; latterly his voice had lost something of its volume, but not a whit of its sweetness. Irish, Scotch and Italian melodies were his favorites: the unrestrained glee of the Italian lyric found as ready and delightful interpretation as the sobbing threne of his Celtic ancestors. But who that heard him sing the matchless hymns of Mother Church was not thrilled and rapt to a plane of thought higher than earthly?

His favorite religious poem was the following, which the Doctor loved to quote in his chapel sermons:

My God, I love thee.

"My God, I love Thee! not because I hope for heaven thereby; Nor because those who love Thee not. Must burn eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me Upon the cross embrace I For me Thou didst bear the nails and spear, And manifold disgrace.

And griefs and torments numberless. And sweat of agony, Yea, death itself and all for one That was Thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ, Should I not love Thee well ? Not for the hope of winning heaven, nor of escaping hell!

Not with the hope of gaining aught, Nor seeking a reward; But as Thyself hast loved me. O everlasting Lord! E'en so I love Thee, and will love.

And in Thy praise will sing Solely because Thou art my God, And my eternal king."

He was a gentleman. He used to define for us the term as the union of the tenderness of woman with the manliness of man. This may be forgotten; but how his life actualized and visualized those ideals no Mountaineer of the past quarter of a century can forget or fail to appreciate. He thought, as it now appears Mr. Taft does also, that the nations that taught us letters, Italy, Spain and France, have much also to teach in the amenities of social life. He had no patience with the vulgar type of American; the man without heart-training is only a poor fraction of a man.

"One of such varied and accurate attainments could not but have pronounced opinions and consequently encounter opposition. He coupled suavity with firmness, disarming wrath; and always won recognition and respect for his claims when he failed to gain acceptance. Undoubtedly

This man was fashioned to much honor from his cradle. He was a scholar and a ripe and good one, Exceeding wise, fair-spoken and persuading; And to those who sought him, sweet as summer.

He studied and wrote extensively on political and social questions, championing the cause of the poor, the oppressed, the unfortunate. The same motives explain his advocacy of total abstinence and his active sympathy with the lot of the Negro and the Indian. Among the few pictures in his study was one of John Brown embracing on his way to the scaffold a negro child. He knew well and admired and was fond of proclaiming the virtues of Las Casas, Claver, Damien, De Smet and suchlike.

"In politics an independent, and delighted with the appellation of ' mugwump,' he never obtruded his views on others unless it were his contempt for the spineless subservience of the henchman, which is at once a betrayal of manhood and a menace to free institutions. Extremely individualistic, he must have appeared eccentric to the philistine and the fugleman.

"Conversation never lagged when the Doctor was present, He could mingle judiciously the dulce with the utile. Appreciating a good joke, he could often tell a better one, but he never employed, or without protest allowed others to employ, dear and venerated objects to point a witticism.

"He wrote frequently for the press, now to impart information from his abundant knowledge, now to provoke criticism, for he knew there was much dormant talent waiting to be thus stirred up to fruitful activity. His writings are voluminous, touching almost every topic of current interest and manifesting extraordinary versatility. His last communication was the following letter published in the New York Sun, October 15. four days before his death.

"American Saints"

"Investigation into the virtues of Elizabeth Anne Seton, a New York lady, foundress of the Sisters of Charity, at Emmitsburg, has occupied a Baltimore ecclesiastical court now these three years, and may hold it much longer. It will interest all concerned to know that Father Brute, long her confessor and spiritual adviser, himself enjoyed a high reputation for sanctity, being called ' The Angel of the Mountain.' He anticipated ninety years since, as his writings show, that judicial inquiry would at some future time be made into his holy penitent's life. But he also is a candidate for canonization, and St. Mary's Mountain may have its saint as well as St. Joseph's Vale.

"Father Brute' was the chief helper of Father Dubois, New York's third bishop, in the founding of St. Mary's College. He afterward became Bishop of Vincennes, and died in the 'odor of holiness' in 1839. The bishops of the Fourth Pro­vincial Council of Baltimore, held in 1840 and comprising all the bishops then in the United States, in their official report to Pope Gregory XVI thus refer to Brute: 'Since our last meeting we have to deplore the death of our most dear brother, Simon Gabriel Brute, Bishop of Vincennes, who shone with so great splendor of .virtue as to leave all who knew him full of confidence in his celestial happiness and glory. God grant us, under the guidance of your Holiness, to walk in his footsteps and reach his reward.'

"In ancient times this act of the bishops was equivalent to canonization, something that for centuries past belongs only to the Pope. Besides Mrs. Seton and Bishop Brute three other American candidates await the honors of the altar. These are the ' Lily of the Mohawk,' Tegakwita, an Iroquois maiden, native of New York State, and two Frenchmen, Rene Goupil and Father Isaac Jogues, S. J., missionaries in the Mohawk Valley. The third Plenary Council of Baltimore, held 1884, recommended these last three to Rome for canonisation. So that of the five candidates two are native New Yorkers and two others intimately associated with the Empire State." Edward McSweeny.

"To the last he maintained his wonted serenity and cheerfulness and thus hid from his friends the premonitions of fast approaching death, of which, as we now know, he was fully aware.

"To the priesthood of this country his death is a serious loss; to Mt, St. Mary's irreparable.

"With the request 'Bury me on the Mountain' he left the following epitaph, to be inscribed on a granite slab selected by himself shortly before his death as his tombstone:

EDUARDTJS P. X. McSWEENY, S. T. D. Natu Corcagiensis, Civitate Neo-Eboracensia,

Ortus die 6o Sept. 1843 Decessus [die 19o Oct. 1909] Annos in Collegio Praelector [XXVI] R. I. P.

"His mortal remains have been laid near the ashes of those Mountaineers he loved and taught others to love so well, and our Godsacre is enriched by another saint. Thither his old pupils will often wend to

Plant flowers, not where April showers, But tears like ours Shall make them bloom

and to breathe a prayer that his white soul may enjoy the fulness of eternal happiness."

The Chronicler regrets to find a gap in the minutes between November 28, 1883 and March 28, 1884. The defect may possibly be made up by the following: Writing from Rome, December 5, 1883, to President Byrne. Abp. Gibbons says:

"Your letter and the petition to the Propaganda asking that Mt. St. Mary's be affiliated to the Propaganda College came duly to hand and the petition was presented to Cardinal Simeoni. I am very much inclined to believe that the Propaganda will hesitate to accede to the request of the Faculty owing to the still embarrassed condition of the College. The document was read to the American prelates assembled in the American College, and those of them who have expressed their opinion on the subject, do not much favor the project. ..."

In the petition referred to, which had been taken to Rome in the fall of '83 by Archbishop Corrigan '59, the petitioners stated that Abp. Elder '37, Gilmour '48 and Watterson '65, had suggested it. They set forth the history of the institution, what it had accomplished in educating missionaries for every part of the United States, many of whom had become bishops, its landed property and buildings valued at one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, etc. The institution owed heavily for its property when the inter-state war broke out. During the war it met with great pecuniary losses . . . was about to be sold out, "but was saved by its friends and the Catholic people. It is proposed now to make it a college for supplying priests in the dioceses which have no seminaries, to train missionaries for the Afro-Americans, etc., such an institution as Mill Hill in England, All Hallows in Ireland, the Foreign Missions in Paris, etc. etc., under a Board of Bishops directed by the Propaganda. ... "To sustain the efforts that are being put forth by a few disinterested clergymen who are moved by the sentiment of affection and gratitude as well as with a view to meet a real want and supply an efficient agency for future good, the encouragement of the Church is essential, and the pressing obligations or debts of the institution seem to require a prompt decision. The institution is before the country for help, and unless help is received promptly it must perish. . ." The petition was not favorably received.

Had the Propaganda accepted the offer, the Mountain would perhaps be such an institution as the Josephinum of Columbus, that splendid foundation of the zealous German-Americans, but who would have done the special work of the great American seminary and college? This is the answer of the Sacred Congregation:

Roma Li, 31 Dicembre, 1883. S. CONGREGAZIONE DI PROPAGANDA.

Segreteria N. I. Rme Domine.

Valde tibi gratulor quod S. Mariae loci Emmitsburg Collegium, ob temporum rerumque circumstantias magno aere alieno gravatum et fere oppressum, meliori condition! jam restitueris. Ideoque libenter tuae postulationi morem gererem habendi istud collegium affiliatum Collegio Urbano hujus S. Congregationis, nisi natura et conditiones ejusdem Collegii impedimenta essent quominus ejusmodi affiliatio perfici valeat. Perge itaque et bono animo esto; opus bene incoeptum prosequere, pro certo enim habeo, catholicum auxilium, in tarn laudabile et pro-ficuum opus explenduro. tibi minime defuturiim. Dintissime in Domino Vale: D. T.

Addictus giovanni card sisleoni pbef" K. D. gulielmo byknb, D. archiep tyrkn, a Setretis. Vicario OenK Ballimoren (tie.).

The Chronicler has great pleasure in presenting the names of the class of '83, with the encomium passed upon them by the President of the College. In a letter to Bishop Watterson from the Mountain, May 23, 1883, he writes:

"We will have only seven graduates. Most of them are destined evidently for the ecclesiastical state. This class truly deserves praise for their talent, industry, and above all, for gentlemanly conduct and honorable behavior during their course. Never did a class enjoy so many privileges and never did a class so faithfully abstain from abusing them."

Upon which the distinguished president of the alumni association, Alfred V. D. Watterson, '75, LL. D., of the Pittsburg Bar, comments as follows :

"This letter will at least demonstrate to future classes that it is not only the correct thing to abstain from abusing privileges, but that it pays to do so.

"Very few of us there are to whom it would not be a keen satisfaction to have a letter like this appear during our lives, and I cannot but think that it will be much more satisfying to the members of the class of '83, coming as it does from a man of the extensive experience, stern rectitude, ripe judgment and nobility of character of Dr. Byrne. Besides, it reflects credit upon the College itself to graduate men about whom its president can truthfully speak in such terms.

"What a comfort it is to read of honorable conduct such as this, and then to compare it with the disgusting narratives in recent issues of our papers, making charges or insinuations that death has come to some school boy at such and such a college by reason of his companions pouring tabasco sauce down his throat, or committing some other alleged joke bordering on brutality and total depravity. ..."

The class of '83 was composed of John H. Bergman, James F. Callaghan, John W. McCarren, John J. Hill, William L. O'Hara, (future president), Daniel Quinn, Charles Rohrback and Samuel L. Keilly. The last named died before the completion of his graduation year.

The privileges granted with their conditions were expressed in an instruction issued to the prefect? November 3, 1882, prescribing, 1st., that the graduates should keep together as one band; 2nd., they should confine themselves to Tom's creek. Owing's creek and the railroad; 3rd., they should visit no store where liquor was sold; 4th., one of their number "to be selected or approved by us" must act as monitor, be responsible and bound to report any disorder or wrong-doing committed by any member of the band. "It must be understood that this does not establish a precedent and that the favor will not be extended to any future class." A privilege somewhat similar was granted to a class in the early '90's, and again to the classes of 1907, 1908 and 1909.

On March 27, 1884, President Byrne resigned his office and wished the act to take effect June 30 or on election of his successor. On the 28th it was decided to give to the Abp. of Baltimore the Church on the Hill with its cemetery if the holder of the College mortgage agree, but to reserve for the College the "use of Church and cemetery with necessary right of way." A "fair" had been held in the White Bouse the previous year for the purpose of obtaining money to extend and wall in this cemetery, which was done later. The College claimed a certain well-defined part of the graveyard wherein are buried many priests and students, and staked out another piece, forty by forty feet in the extension to the west.

Right Rev. E.P. Allen Bishop of Mobile, Ala., 13th President

On June 25 Rev. Edward P. Alien '78, was elected to the Council and Corporation. The treasurer handed in his debt-extinguishing report which showed that individuals had given thirty-nine thousand eight hundred sixty-two 63/100 dollars; Church collections had realized nineteen thousand, four hundred twenty-two 50/100; Receiver's sales eight thousand four hundred ten 22/100, a total of sixty-seven thousand, six hundred ninety-five 35/100, all of which was paid to creditors, leaving debt fifty seven thousand dollars. It was decided to raise salaries of priests to six hundred dollars a year, the two professors of theology to receive more. Next day Father Alien was elected Vice-Presi­dent and Treasurer, and Dr. Grannan, Secretary. Rev. Patrick J. Garvey '65 was invited to become President.

Father Byrne, President, writing September 24, 1884 to the Abp. of Cincinnati, says that " Mr. (Daniel) Quinn is the best teacher we have discovered for a long time. Dr. Garvey has been offered the presidency and has positively refused. We are now turning to Father Terry of Albany, a former professor.

On the 11th of October it was proposed to admit students sent by Reverend Mountaineers at mere cost, "and in view of the New Missionary Seminary."This measure was not considered advisable, but the College would be as generous as means allowed, and indeed many students have always been educated free, at least when destined for the ministry, their services as teachers and prefects after they developed their abilities being accepted as more than an equivalent for money, and thus excellent youths, many of whom became the stay of their alma mater and the prop and glory of the Church, owed it to this College which received them and risked her money on them when they had no other friend, that they were able to fulfil their sublime vocation.

President Byrne December 3, 1884, sent out cards inviting Mountain Bishops to a meeting in Bp. Gilmour's room, St. James Hotel, Baltimore at eight p. m. This was during the Third Plenary Council held in that city, and the object of the meeting was doubtless to take measures for bringing about what was set forth in the following petition which was printed as a circular.


The President and Council of Mt. St. Mary's Seminary propose to devote that institution to the education of priests for the more destitute missions of this country.

That this may be done in strict accordance with canon law and ecclesiastical discipline, they respectfully and humbly petition the Plenary Council of Baltimore to appoint a Board of Bishops to take supreme direction and control of this Missionary Seminary.

The undersigned petitioners, who are the legal incorporators of Mt. St. Mary's College, pledge themselves to transfer the title of the property and the franchise to this Board of Bishops in trust for the object herein specified. very key. William Byrne, D. D., V. G., President. Rev. Charles P. Grannan, D. D., Secretary.

The Property.

The property, which the President and Council propose to transfer to Episcopal Trustees as a foundation for a Missionary Seminary, consists of a group of buildings solidly constructed of stone, and capable of being arranged so as to accommodate about sixty theologians, giving a private room to each; besides a school of one hundred and fifty or two hundred students in classics and philosophy in separate halls and dormitories. To this property is attached a farm of four hundred acres of arable land of medium fertility, and about five hundred acres of mountain woodland. There are at present in the Ecclesiastical Seminary thirty students, and in the College nearly a hundred pupils.

The debt is under 560,000. Valuation of property §150,000. The College is now in a paying and flourishing condition, and even though this offer be not accepted, it will continue as heretofore.

Motives for the Presentation of this Petition

1. To obtain for the Seminary a "status" more in harmony with ecclesiastical law and discipline.

2. To supply an acknowledged want in certain fields of labor, notably among the Negroes and Indians, and in the West and South generally.

3. To carry out more efficaciously, in view of present circumstances, the original intent of the founder, Bishop Dubois.

4. To secure the permanency of a worthy and venerable institution, that has for almost a century served the cause of religion.

5. To save certain vocations to the priesthood, that are now believed to be lost through want of means or failure of adoption in the more populous dioceses.

6. To obtain the sanction of the Council for an appeal to the faithful for funds to carry on this work of educating missionary priests.

We have 110 record of the fate of this petition, but it was not granted, and the College-Seminary was again left to do its ordained work.

December 10, '84. Several Mountain Bishops came, making us all happy, and departed. This was during the Third Plenary Council. They were Elder '37, Northrop '60 and Watterson '65. Bp. Krautbauer also dropped in. Abp. Elder made a speech in the dining-hall and, among other things, told the boys about Gen. Harrison's visit in 1836 and what he said to them. "'I know,'he continued,' I am not a great man, but there is one thing that, both on the field of battle and in the halls of Congress, I have always tried to do, that is, my duty. So you should try to do your duty.' You may not become great men. but you can become men devoted to duty. You may become great in the eyes of the Almighty ; and what we are in His eyes, that we are, no more no less. ... a Mr. Edwin Arnold visited us lately and said one thing worth remembering. ..."There is one thing you Americans need and need very badly, Character!' This is true. We need character."

Rev. John J. Tierney '80 entered the Council. He had entered the Faculty in September, 1884.

A fire of the most serious nature broke out in the attic of one of the buildings at St. Joseph's Convent. It was discovered from the College at one p. m. March 20, 1885, an exceedingly cold, clear, windy day. At once the entire Faculty and band of seminarians started by a single impulse for the Convent, two miles away, the graduating class with them. It was a great event for those young men, who rendered material aid in preventing the progress of the conflagration. We stayed till evening drew on, the Sisters supplying all with refreshments, and the impatient undergraduates looking on from the distant tollgate and longing for an opportunity to help save the teachers and pupils of our twin institution. One boy broke away and being seen at the fire was sent back with a penalty of five hundred lines attached, but he came again and was given five hundred more. It cost him many recreation hours of hard study to pay for his escapade. The direction of the wind and the detachment of the buildings saved the Convent from utter destruction, as well as the fact that the village water had been introduced six months before, and the village fire company with its hose M'as present. As it was, everybody was tired out, and companies from Frederick and other towns kept watch over the smouldering ruins that night. The wonder of it all was that as far as the chronicler saw, not a Sister nor a pupil was visible, though we know how they prayed and worked. Mother Euphemia Blenkinsop alone walked towards the blazing building with scapulars in hand which she cast into the flames, while Father White, the pastor of Emmitsburg, engirdled with icicles, was unceasingly moving about and encouraging the clerical and lay fire-fighters. The ruined edifice comprised the infirmary, the kitchen and the refectory of the community. Major Henry Seton ex '55 was among the fire-fighters that day.

Commencement was held June 23, 1885, and seven were graduated.

A letter dated June 23, 1885 was received from Archbishop Ireland of Saint Paul, Minnesota, who had recently visited the College, asking us to send an experienced professor to become the founder and rector of his new seminary, and also a prefect to assist him in matters of discipline. The secretary was instructed to thank Abp. Ireland for the compliment paid the house, but we could not accede to his request, as far as a professor went. [However our first prefect, Michael B. Donlin went out and spent a year helping at the St. Paul institution. He became pastor of Dunmore, Pa., and died in 1911.]

At the annual election held the 24th of June, '85, Father Alien was chosen pro-rector, Father Byrne insisting on his resignation and no one present wishing to become President, Father Tierney became Vice-President and Treasurer. Archbishop Gibbons, who presided at this meeting, proposed a vote of thanks to Father Byrne for the "zeal, courage, self-sacrifice and success with which he had labored for the past four years in extinguishing the debt." This was of course unanimously and most heartily agreed to. It was also agreed to invite Rev. Patrick L. Duffy, '75, of South Carolina, or Rev. Patrick Morris, '78. of New York, or both, to join our Faculty.

Oct. 5, '85. It became known to-day that Rev. James Bradley, pastor of Newry, Pa., had died, leaving twenty thousand dollars for the education of aspirants to the ministry. He was a Mountaineer of the '30s, and had wished that his college-mate, Cardinal McCloskey, would take the trust, but it appeared that the Cardinal, who had been long failing and died this same year, had declined to do so. We received a bequest of twenty-seven hundred dollars from the estate, but the trust went elsewhere. Father J. O'Brien, of Hartford, left us four hundred dollars this year.

In January, 1886, Rev. Thomas J. McOloskey, of New York, a graduate of Manhattan College, afterwards a Jesuit, was invited to join the Faculty.

April 9, '86. To-day it was decided to invite Louis Cassidy, of the Philadelphia Bar, to address the Philomathian Society, and this was the last attempt to revive the custom of having such address.

On the 6th of June it was learned that Archbishop Gibbons, of Baltimore, who had presided over the Third Plenary Council, had been raised to the Roman Purple. It were gross ingratitude to omit in a history of the Mountain an acknowledgment of our indebtedness to this chosen mouthpiece of the Holy See in the United States of America, whose prudence is equaled by his courage, whose charity is as broad as mankind, whose patriotism is characteristic, whose simplicity and elegance of literary style is equaled by his skillful use of knowledge, whose eloquence charm and whose affable manners fascinate those outside the visible fold as well as the children of the household. We have seen in these pages how he exerted himself to help us in distress, but when the College was once more in smooth waters he showed his appreciation of its system and its Faculty by sending us his three nephews one after the other, by visiting us frequently both officially and otherwise, and showing professors as well as boys by words and acts how much he enjoyed a visit to the Mountain. One visit of the many is stamped upon our memory, that when in 1887 he was preparing that epoch-making letter on the Knights of Labor, addressed to the Holy See and published to the world, he came to see us among the rest of the colleges in his primatial diocese, and inquiring who was the professor of moral theology, asked him and the other members of the Faculty what we thought of the great question. Verily it seemed to us that here was the man who could reconcile obedience and authority, the true Pontifex who bridges over the social and political chasm.

The graduates were allowed to visit Baltimore in '86, on the occasion of his receiving the cardinalitial insignia.

Archbishop Corrigan, '59, at the Month's Mind of Cardinal McCloskey, '31, November 10,1885, said that the Cardinal was the first native of New York State to become a diocesan priest. When Cardinal McCloskey, the modest Bishop of Albany, who had conquered the trustees of St. Joseph's Church, New York, by his gentleness, was appointed to the Metropolitan See, some thought he could not take the place of the aggressive Archbishop Hughes, but one who knew him from boyhood said: "He will not fight, but he will conquer." His first sermon was on "Peace be to you," and he was immensely successful in government, never having an appeal made against him, and in care of temporalities. For a year and a half before he died he was too weak to say Mass. His last words were "Hail, Mary!"

In December, 1883, there was a reunion of the Elder family in Cincinnati after the new Archbishop had been invested with the pallium. It was the first time in fifty years that all the brothers met under one roof. Joseph J. Elder, of Cincinnati, was the fourth. Francis W. Elder, of Baltimore, then aged seventy-five, was the oldest. The others were Basil T. Elder, of Kansas; John C. Elder, of Louisiana; Thomas S. Elder and Charles D. Elder, of New Orleans. Archbishop Elder was the sixth, then aged sixty-four years, forty of which had been spent in the priesthood.

We find no traces of special temperance work at the College until the time of the Third Plenary Council held in Baltimore in the fall of 1884, when a momentous decree was passed nem. con., no. 263, in which the Bishops admonished persons engaged in the alcoholic liquor business to " choose if they can a decenter way of making a living," a decree soon after confirmed by the Holy See. A temperance meeting was held at Ford's Theater and five members of the hierarchy, Archbishop Elder, Bishop Watterson and Bishop Spalding, all Mountaineers, besides Archbishop Ireland and Archbishop Keane (then Bishop of Richmond), declared themselves total abstainers and invited a present to join them. As a result a few weeks later three seminarians of the Mountain came to take the pledge of the priest who had told them of the great meeting The priest himself did the same, and a society for seminarians and boys was founded, which has numbered hundreds of student-member's, flourishes to the present day, and has a deep and wide influence on clergy and laity both.

1885. Hampton Taylor, the last of a noble band of brothers, tall, vigorous, manly Mountaineers, loved his native place. He wrote to John McFadden a few years before his own death: "It is a good place to start from to go to judgment, led by Dubois, Brute, McCaffrey, McCloskey, Flaut, McMurdie, O’Neill, O'Brien, exclaiming: ' Accept, O Lord, their Faith and forgive them their transgressions!' A glorious band to march in. ... I suppose the present Mountaineers will start from Bosting."

The alumni association of Mt. St. Mary's College held a meeting at the College on June 24, '85. After the Alumni Dinner, Joseph J. Greeves of Cleveland was elected president, Daniel Quinn '83, secretary and Jacob Rohrback '82 of Frederick City, treasurer. On June 22, 1886 a constitution was adopted. On June 28, 1887, the regular meeting was held at the College and the proposal o the previous year was adopted, to grant a prize of fifty dollars to the theological department and a prize of fifty dollars to the collegiate department, but this was not carried out.

August 30. '85. "Among the Colleges, Mount St. Mary's, the cradle of the American priesthood, ranks first. ..." New York Sunday Democrat editorial.

Three fine paintings came from Carrol Spence this year, the Visitation by Albori Alessandro; the Murder of Abel by Baldassare Franceschini; a copy of Guide's David and Goliath. An account of these and other works at the College will be found elsewhere in this book.

In November Bishop Ireland visited the Mountain and said: "Every Bishop in the country should consider it his bounden duty to make a pilgrimage to this shrine of science and religion. ... I hope you will ever practice, ever love the holy virtue of temperance. Oh, how many young lives have been blighted, how many who gave promise of great things have been ruined by this monster drunkenness' Need I tell you then to shun this vice, to shun those who are addicted to h and never so far forget yourselves as to taste any intoxicating liquor. Thus only can you be true Mountaineers; thus alone can you reflect credit on your alma mater, thus alone can you be genuine men, real Catholics."

There was in those days intense competition between the Pennsylvania road and the B&O., and this Christmas tickets to Chicago were sold for five dollars, to the delight of the students. The agents of the B. & O. having to go away, appointed one of the latter to continue the fight and to go below the Opposite party to the end.

There had been alarms of fires no doubt occasionally at the College, and the mere fact that fully one hundred stoves were in use is reason enough for the fire of January, 1885, for the theologians had then begun to use stoves. After midnight on January 21, 1885, a fire was discovered in the chimney at the south of Dubois hall, and considerable excitement resulted, the seminarians who occupied the building all getting up and helping by carrying water from the terrace to the top floor where the trouble was. There was absolutely no provision against fire, for as w saw, the hand-engine purchased after the conflagration of 1824 had never bees used and had disappeared many decades before. However, the fire was put out, very much to the discomfort of a venerable lay professor, a Franco-American, whose ceiling was suddenly burst open by the leg of one of the fire-fighters, and his floor flooded by the too zealous use of water. Still the old gentleman complained that he had not been awakened in a legitimate and courteous manner, such as he himself, the very soul of old-fashioned courtesy, would have used, and he used to say, apropos, that '' unless you wore a cassock in this house, you didn’t count for much." One of the clerical Faculty, however, lying ill of a cold declined to get up, saying that he couldn't help any. As for the boys, one of the prefects had rung the great bell and they all began to rise, but the alert vice-president bade him go at once and tell them it was a mistake and that they might lie down again, which they did very gladly ; but they expressed their disappointment in the morning at having "been deprived of the show," and kept the sick professor in a very undesirable state tramping for an hour up and past his room, every single one of them. This fire raged for five years, at least as far as the old lay professor was concerned, for he never saw through the joke they put up that he had himself caused the trouble, and the simple-minded man was every day obliged to explain at great length that he had had nothing to do with it.

Halloween was celebrated this year as every year by plunging the head into a tub of cold water, to seize with the teeth the coins at the bottom; by trying to seize in the same way floating apples in which coins had been stuck, and by endeavoring to catch in the mouth apples on the two ends of a horizontal cross swinging freely from the ceiling, the other two ends being fortified by lighted bits of candle. These traditional and simple sports never lose their interest, especially for the ''little boys," and furnish endless amusement for their elders. Here is one sport surely which entertains alike the old and the young, though in opposite ways.

Chapter 67 | Chapter Index

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