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- Memoir - 3/7 -


liked to converse with our Reverend Father Abbot, who won them by his frank and polite manner. In addition to the work of this monastery, our Reverend Father Abbot supported and directed another house of our Order which he had also founded, and which was productive of much good. This was a community of nuns. There was yet another convent, one belonging to the Ursulines quite near, that is to say about three or four miles from our monastery, which our community supplied with a chaplain. I was obliged to go there every Sunday to say mass and to confess the nuns. When we arrived in their neighborhood they were without a priest; we could not leave them in such need, so that I, ill though I was, had to say two masses on Sundays, one in the church of the Ursulines, the other in that of our sisters. However, this was to me a cause of rejoicing, although I was fatigued after my voyages and overwhelmed by the work with which I was charged, I was compensated and consoled by the good that I could be the means of doing. I remember having received the abjuration of Protestantism of three young ladies who were boarders at the Ursuline Convent, and who had the happiness of becoming Catholics.

Although we were in a Protestant country, our Reverend Father Abbot undertook to have the procession of the Blessed Sacrament on the festival of Corpus Christi, thinking it might do some good. He had several repositories built in a field adjoining our house, these he decorated in the best style possible and managed to have a canopy and boys to swing censors and others to throw flowers before the Blessed Sacrament. When the time for the procession arrived we saw our Reverend Father bearing Jesus Christ in his hands and walking under the dais borne by four religious in dalmatics accompanied by the community and by several strangers singing hymns and canticles. Numbers of children preceeded the Blessed Sacrament, exercising the solemn functions which had been allotted to them. This infantine band, clad in white surplices girded with different colors, resembled angels and presented a spectacle at once beautiful and edifying to the beholder. The Protestants who were present appeared to be much pleased with the procession.

Our Reverend Father Abbot wished with all his heart to be able to continue the good work thus commenced, but he was obliged to abandon it for want of pecuniary means, and perhaps also because of the ill-will of many who offered opposition to his projects; besides which King Louis XVIII had been restored to the throne of France, and religion was being re-established in that country. Almost all our brothers were dispersed here and there throughout Europe, and it would be necessary to reunite them. Persuaded, besides, that he would receive more help in France than in the United States, and in short, reflecting that there would perhaps be more good to be done yet in the old world than in the new, (the Revolution having been the cause of such wickedness and having done so much harm) our Father Abbot decided that he and his community would return to France. He embarked in the autumn of 1814, and took with him from New York the greater number of our Brothers and all our Sisters, leaving only six Brothers and myself behind, with orders that we should join him in France after I had arranged our business matters and recovered my strength, for I had still within me the germ of that malady of which mention has been made in speaking of Maryland where I contracted it, as did the others. It left me with a slow fever, that lasted for a long time.

At this junction two of our Brothers died, a lay Brother and an oblate. This latter had been almost a millionaire he having acquired a large fortune in the West India Islands; he lost it, however, in the negro rebellion, and retired to La Trappe, where he died poor enough.

Belonging to the house in which we were living was an orchard which we had made our cemetery, here we had buried our two brothers; but, as we were going to leave this spot and did not wish to expose their bodies to be perhaps profaned by heretics who might buy the ground and not wish to have them there, we determined to exhume them. They had been buried about a fortnight, and the weather was warm, so we provided ourselves with incense to burn in case there might be a foul odour. This precaution, however, was not necessary, as there was no smell perceptible, they were as fresh, so to speak, as if they were still alive. We remarked especially that the body of Brother Jean Marie, (the lay Brother) was supple. I touched it myself, and saw that it was really so, for while I held him his legs swayed as would those of a person in life.

Near the town there was a little cemetery well walled in, and intended for the poor. As our brothers were poor in fact, and by profession, I had them laid there, and in the same spirit of poverty interred them side by side in the same grave. We accompanied these good brothers to the tomb, offering our prayers for their repose, and all was finished before daylight.

About the middle of the month of May, 1815, our business being concluded, we left New York, and fifteen days later arrived at Halifax, without having experienced bad weather. After two week's delay in searching for another vessel, we at length found one, and by means of the recommendation of Mr. Burke, then pastor of the town, and since Bishop, we were taken on board with our seven trunks without being obliged to pay anything for our passage. The ship was a transport called the "Ceylon," and was delayed by contrary winds. The second day after we embarked the wind still being from a wrong quarter, I was stupid and imprudent enough to go ashore to see about some business that was not of grave importance--when lo! the wind veered round suddenly and became favorable. The ship sailed, but Father, Vincent remained and lost his passage!

I thus found myself alone in a strange country, and without means. I made every effort to discover some way of overtaking the ship, but in vain. It was impossible to do so, and I felt very sad at the thought of my brothers being carried so far away from me.

My Superior in France, to whom I made known this event, wrote to me that as God had permitted it, I could remain until farther orders, and occupy myself with the salvation of the Indians; for which object I accordingly labored up to the time of my leaving Nova Scotia, that is to say up to the month of October, 1823. These labors, however, did not prevent my working for the good of our Order, as we shall see later.

Mr. Bourke having gone to Ireland, we were only two priests for the town of Halifax and its suburbs, where there were many Catholics, without counting the Mic-macs, who are the Indians inhabiting Nova Scotia. These Indians were called to the Faith about four centuries ago. French priests or Jesuits coming at the peril of their lives, brought them the light of the Gospel. Many of these ministers of our Lord fell victims of their own zeal and charity, being murdered by this nation, then pagan and barbarous. Since these Indians became acquainted with the true religion they have never been known to conform to any other, but have preserved their firmness in the faith up to the present day in spite of the danger of perversion to which they are so often exposed, more especially since they have lived among the English, and in spite of their ignorance, for it is difficult to teach them. Their language which they call "Mic-mac," is a jargon without rule. They have been taught to read in it, but only by means of hieroglyphics. A figure or a sign which they write themselves on bark or on paper, may sometimes signify only one word, sometimes again it stands for a whole phrase. Some have thought they detected Arab words amongst this language, but I think it bears more resemblance to that of children just learning to speak without being able to understand what they say. For example for the "_yes_" they say [long-e] (ay); for "_no_" they say "mena." The accent of the Mic-mac is soft and slow. I have remarked that, they do not convey their ideas well in any other language. When one translates Mic-mac for them into French or English, they often appear dissatisfied, and one can see from their manner that the true sense is not given. What renders their faith more remarkable and meritorious is, that they confess through the medium of an interpreter, and they avail themselves of the first they find, no matter who, provided he knows their language. They are often interpreted by their relatives, even the oldest by the youngest. Mr. Mayar, a French priest who was formerly missionary to these parts and who died in Halifax full of merit before God, was deeply regretted by these Indians. By means of great application, and by the aid of light from heaven, he accomplished the task of translating into their language a number of the prayers and chants of the church, so that they now sing the _Kyrie_, the _Gloria in Excelsis_, the _Credo_, &c, even the _Te Deum_, on the Roman or Parisian tone, (for this worthy priest came from Paris). They know many hymns of the Blessed Virgin, which they sing equally well, also the prose _Dies Irae_. They sing mass fairly well, especially the tone Royal, and the mass for the dead. Some persons may be surprised at this, and perhaps harbor a doubt of it, but I can testify as a witness to its truth. More than a hundred times they have sung it for me. So recently as the month of August, 1823, I was in a parish called Havre-a-Bouchers, when twenty-six canoes filled with Indians arrived there; they came to have their children baptised, and for confession, &c. There were eight singers among them, and during the week that they remained, they sang mass for me each day, and one might say conducted themselves like canons or like Trappists! They have clear voices. These poor Indians might shame some of our European Catholics by their zeal and their piety; they will go fifty or even a hundred leagues to find a priest and to receive the Sacraments, and as it often happens that they have no provisions when they arrive, they pass two or three days without eating, occupied only with their souls and forgetful of the wants of the body.

While in Halifax, which is the capital of Nova Scotia, I found myself overladen with work. The priest who was with me being in very delicate health and often indisposed, most of the work fell to me. He was at length obliged to go away for change of air and was absent for a month, during which time it fell to me to baptize, confess, marry, visit the sick in town and country, and be on my feet day and night, besides saying mass on Sundays and Holy days.

Although I knew very little English, I preached twice in that language in the Catholic church of the town, where there were about two thousand Catholics, of whom the greater number were Irish.

Soon I felt constrained to go further into the Province of Nova Scotia to minister to the wants of the poor, neglected inhabitants. The first place to which I went was a parish called Chezzetcook, composed of French Acadians, who were without a priest. It is seven leagues from the town (Halifax) and when it possessed a missionary the Indians had been accustomed to go there. They were not long in learning of my presence, and came from a circuit of fifteen or twenty leagues. I had a transparancy representing the suffering souls in purgatory, which our Revered Father Abbot had made. The figures expressing different shades of grief and of the desire as well as the hope of seeing God, combined with the brilliant and real looking flames, were well calculated to produce an impression. I showed it to them and explained it by means of one of their interpreters who knew French. At once penetrated with compassion and charity for the suffering souls in purgatory they began to weep, and to look up the money they had with them so as to have the Holy Sacrifice offered on behalf of these suffering souls, and that without my having said anything to give them the idea. They all wear the cross, some have it hung round their necks, others fasten it on their breast. It is seldom that an Indian leaves home without his beads; they generally have them and do not neglect to say them, sometimes repeating the


Memoir - 3/7

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