Bishop William Quarter Diary Part IX: June 6, 1847 to January 9, 1848

June 6th

Second Sunday after Pentecost. 

Administered Sacrament of Confirmation at Prairie du Long. English settlement.

June 8th

Left St. Louis for Chicago.

June 24th

Conferred minor orders & subdeaconship on Mr. Kennedy.

June 25th

Deaconship on same.

June 26th

Raised same to the dignity of the Priesthood.

July 1847

July 6th

Sent Rev. Mr. Kennedy to Galena.

August 1847 #40

August 31st

About this date an article appeared in two of the daily papers of this city (“The Democrat” & “Tribune”) stating [p. 61]that there was a move on foot by the German Catholics to obtain a coadjutor bishop of this diocese who was to be acquainted with their language & manners etc. It was promptly contradicted in “Journal” & also in the two papers aforesaid. Journal came out again stating it was [illegible word – under?] the authority of some Germans. The Germans that caused the first article to be written(?) were Michael Diversey, Andrew Schaller, & (?) Bumgarten(?). They were accompanied to the office of “The Tribune” by the individual named Tally, whose name [is] connected with opposition to the Bishop & the arrangements made by bishop for ch[urch] improvement figures already in preceding pages. Indeed it was(?) believed that Tally was the writer of the article that appeared. A few days after the publication of the article in question, & the corrections of the editing an extract was made from a letter written by Cardinal Fransoni to the Archbishop of Baltimore recommending that persons be chosen hereafter for bishops of those dioceses whose population was German, that were acquainted with the language & this extract was also published in the daily newspapers as a kind of justification of their other proceeding. The matter might have gone further had not the bishop summoned the 3 Germans above named to his presence [p. 62] and threatened that in case they made any move to denounce them as schismatics.

#40 + McGovern does not include the August 31st entry in his published version of the diary. The entry deals with two important issues in the American Catholic Church – lay trusteeism and language abilities of bishops. In this particular case, Bishop Quarter had long-standing tensions with Tally and some other lay Catholic leaders. In his meeting with the German Catholics responsible for the article, Bishop Quarter saw the primary problem as the challenge to his leadership. He did not comment on the issue contained in the letter of Cardinal Fransoni, Prefect of Propaganda Fide, to Archbishop Eccleston on the need for bishops to speak the languages of the Catholics in their dioceses. A copy of the letter from Cardinal Fransoni to Archbishop Eccleston can be found in Donald Shearer, O.F.M. Cap. (ed.) Pontificia Americana: A Documentary History of the Catholic Church in the United States: 1784-1884 (Washington, D.C.: n.p., 1933), 246-249.

+ The issue of the Bishop of Chicago being able to speak German became a concern after the death of Bishop Quarter. A committee of German Catholics, including Diversey and Schaller, sent a petition to the bishops of the United States arguing for the need of the next bishop to speak German. They argued that, since the state of Illinois had approximately 35,000 German-speaking Catholics in the diocese of Chicago, it was imperative the next bishop speak German. For further information on this see: Trisco, Nascent Church, 93-96.

September 1847

September 24th Feast of the BVM de Mercede

On this morning at 8 o’clock the bishop gave in the cathedral the white veil of a novice to Miss Cath[erine] Kildea called in religion, Sister Mary Aloysius. Same day in the beginning of this month, Rev. John Fahy arrived from Ireland & was appointed as[sistant] pastor at Ottawa.

October 1847

October 1st

Rev. Mr. Shafer arrived from Picquets’ Settlement appointed pastor of St. Jospeh (German Church in this city). Rev. Mr. Plathe sent to St. Marie in his place. Rev. Mr. Plathe was accused by the Germans afforesaid (sic) of improper conduct, and as he was not found guilty by the Church & punished, or sent away immediately. There being no proof the publications alluded to above were set on foot (sic). #41

#41 + McGovern edits the October 1st entry. He drops any mention of the accusations against Father Plathe by German Catholics for misconduct. Bishop Quarter seemed to have investigated the charges and found them not verified.

October 4th

Left for McHenry to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. Purposing to stop the first night at the residence of Mr. Dwyer, near Little Fort took the wrong road and had to remain the night at a tavern at a place called “Half Day.” Started next morning a 6 and arrived at McHenry about 11.  The Rev. Mr. Fortman, the clergyman that attends that mission, had commenced Mass & was at the Offertory. #42

# 42 + Half Day is 34 miles north of Chicago. Many people believe that the town was named Half Day because it was a half day carriage ride from Chicago.

October 5th

Immediately after Mass, Confirmation was administered to 41 persons, male and female. After some short delay for refection, set out again for Chicago, and stopped that night at Mr. Murray’s near whose residence is a Catholic Church. There is in that neighborhood about 25 Irish families settled, who are visited occasionally by the clergyman of Little Fort [Waukegan].

[The entries for October 15th, 16th, and 17th were not in the original diary] #43

October 15th Feast of St. Theresa (Friday)

The bishop left Chicago in a private conveyance, a wagon owned and driven by John Gavin, with the view of going to Vincennes to assist at the Consecration of Right Rev. Dr. Bazin, the successor of the Right Rev. Dr. De la Hailandiere, which was to take place in the Cathedral on the 24th. The bishop was accompanied on the setting out by the Rev. Mr. McElhearne. The day previous a snow storm visited Chicago, and extended for some miles around, rendering traveling unpleasant; but a few miles from the City south no rain or snow had fallen, and the roads were good to Joliet.

October 16th

Left Joliet for Bourbonnais Grove.

#43 + The entries of October 15th, 16th, and 17th are ones that McGovern has in his version of the diary, but not included in the hand-written version. One possibility is that McGovern got the information for these entries from Father McElhearne, who accompanied Bishop Quarter from Chicago to Bourbonnais Grove, before returning to Chicago as indicated in the entry for October 18th.

+ The reference to the snow on October 15th was likely the local phenomena known as “lake effect” snow.

October 17th

Feast of the Maternity of the B.V.M. #44

The Bishop administered the Sacrament of Confirmation at Bourbonnais Grove. This congregation is composed almost exclusively of Canadian French; the present pastor is Rev. Mr. Conjault, a native of France. The congregation is increasing daily, especially from Lower Canada. A new church is about to be erected and dedicated under the invocation of the B.V.M. of the Nativity.

#44 + This feast used to be celebrated in October but was moved to January 1st after the Second Vatican Council.

October 18th Monday

The bishop went forward on his journey towards Vincennes having caused the Rev. Mr. McElhearne to return to Chicago. Altho (sic) the morning was fine up to 10 o’clock after that it commenced to rain & continued all day. The first stopping place was Middleport, the county seat of Iriquois (sic) county. Here runs a creek and after some rest he travelled on and reached Millford that night. The Iriquois (sic) & Sugar creeks are close to the town on either side.

October 19th

Set out for Danville. Passed there the small and poor village of Denmark.

October 20th

Left Danville for Paris. Heavy rains prevented the bishop from advancing further on his way to Vincennes. He remained and administered the Sacrament of Confirmation on Sunday [October 24th] to several children and adults. The Rev. Hugh Brady is at present pastor.

October 25th Monday

The bishop set out on his return for Chicago where he reached on Friday.

[p. 65] November 1847

November 1st

The bishop officiated pontifically in the cathedral. Rev. Hugh Brady, deacon; Rev. Mr. Coyle, subdeacon; Rev. Mr. Hoey, thurifer & Rev. Mr. McElhearne, master of ceremonies.

November 10th Theological Conference #45

The first theological conference of the diocese was held this morning in the chapel of the “Holy Name of Jesus” of the theological seminary. The Right Rev. W. Quarter presided.  The following clergymen were in attendance viz. V[ery] Rev. Walter Quarter, Rev. Jer[emiah] Kinsella, president of the university, & Rev. Misters Michael McElhearne, P. McLaughlin, Rainaldi (Naperville), Montuori & Mark Anthony of LaSalle, T. O’Donnell (Ottawa), Fahy of Kaskaskia, Scanlon (college), Brady (Galena), It was the intention of Rev. Mr. Brady to remain there until he would have arranged his affairs. Accordingly when he settled there, he wrote to the bishop for his exeat and obtained it. Much frost all this month. The fence was put up around Cathedral. School house removed to near by cathedral. #46

# 45 + One would wish for more details on the first Theological Conference of the diocese. Bishop Quarter was interested not only in the initial education of the clergy, i.e. the establishment of the seminary, but also the continuing education of them. Since many of the priests worked in areas with little opportunity for contact with other priests, the Theological Conference provided some time for those attending to develop a presbyteral fraternity as well as for Bishop Quarter to get to know his priests better.

#46 + McGovern does not include the reference to Father Brady obtaining his “exeat” from the diocese.

[p. 66] December 1847

December 8th Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM

Miss Mary Ann McGirr, called in religion, Sister Mary Vincent received the black veil and made her solemn vows, as a Sister of Mercy in the cathedral. The Right Rev. W Quarter officiated. The Rev. Jer[emiah] Kinsella presided. The aforesaid lady is a native of Pittsburgh [crossed out] Youngstown, Westminster County, Pa.

January 1848

[the first Sunday of the year in 1848 was January 2nd]

About the first Sunday of the new year, Sister Mary Agatha O’Brien, first mother superior of the “Sister of Mercy” in Chicago, formed a society amongst the female children of the congregation called the society of “the Children of Mary” about 60 female children entered this their names as members.

[January 8th]

On the Saturday before the first Sunday after the Epiphany Mr. Hampston, one of the seminarians, formed a society amongst the boys under the patronage of “St. Joseph.” #47

#47 + The formation of the two sodalities, “the Children of Mary” and “St. Joseph,” would be a means of providing further religious and spiritual education for the Catholic youth of Chicago.

[p. 67] January 9th #48

The first Sunday after Epiphany the following named Catholic gentlemen met in the bishop’s room after Vespers. Misters John Breen (?). Charles McDonnell, [William] Snowhook, John McGovern, Thomas Kinsella, John Devlin, all Irish & Mr. Ellis, Scotch and Canadian and had a conversation regarding the propriety of establishing a society to be known by the name of the “Hibernian Benevolent Emigrant Society.” The bishop said he approved highly of the designs of forming such a society. That it was called for by every feeling of humanity, benevolence, & charity, and that it would have his hearty cooperation. He showed that the active efforts of such a society could not fail to benefit the state whilst they would be of service to the emigrants in a variety of ways. Many had sought the West during the past year. It was likely that a large number would turn their steps westward the coming Spring, and every feeling of sympathising (sic) humanity seemed to require that there be some one to bid this stranger “welcome.” Whoever looks into his own heart, be he to the manor born or not, if he has even wandered from the paternal roof & bade farewell to those that went by him cherished, revered, and loved knows something of the pangs that such a seperation (sic) causes, but if he has left

#48 + The founding of the Hibernian Benevolent Emigrant Society is one of many examples among immigrant groups to establish fraternal and mutual aid societies. At a time in American history where there were no federal programs to assist immigrants, the grass-roots initiatives of leaders in immigrant communities filled the gap to help their fellow immigrants in need. For example, the Ancient Order of Hibernians was established in New York City in 1836. Bishop Quarter was likely familiar with this group. The particular object of the Chicago Hibernian Benevolent Emigrant Society seemed to focus on providing helpful travel information for those considering emigration. For a brief overview of Catholic fraternal organizations see: Jay P. Dolan, The American Catholic Experience (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992), 257-258.


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