Living right on the left coast of North America!

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.—2 Thessalonians 2:15

Monday, December 1, 2014

Telling Our Story: The Early History of the Catholic Church on Vancouver Island: the Sisters of Saint Anne

Indented passages are quoted from The Early History of the Catholic Church on Vancouver Island (1843 - 1901) by Monsignor Philip M. (Michael) Hanley (Jun 6, 1925 - Oct. 10, 2010).
Bishop Demers goes east from Victoria to New York and Montreal for help. (p. 80).
In Montreal, the Bishop asks for help from the Sisters of Saint Ann. Sister Mary Theodore records the reception of Bishop Demers:
The Sisters were asked to vote by secret ballot (to determine whether or not they would send sisters to Victoria). The return in favour of acceptance was fifty-nine to one. The poorest order in the country had not hesitated to take upon itself to work in the poorest diocese in the world.  The departure (for Victoria) was fixed for April 14, 1858. (p. 81).
The Sisters travelled from Montreal to New York by train, then to Aspinwall, Panama aboard the steamer S.S. Philadelphia. They then boarded a train to cross Panama and sailed on the John E. Stephen to San Francisco.
During a fourteen day stopover at San Francisco, the Sisters received hospitality from the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul.

The missionaries left San Francisco, May 28, and headed north on S.S. Pacific. All went placidly until they had crossed the bar in the Columbia River. Here, at Astoria, as the boat came up the river, a party of citizens met them in a rowboat, came on board, and made directly for the Sisters.

Addressing them, they said, "Sisters, we are so glad you are here. You must stay with us. We will not let you go to that savage Vancouver Island where you have nothing to start with. Here we have a little convent and a school all ready for your accommodation, and we promise you our support." (The devil took (Jesus) to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”—St. Matthew 4:8-9)

The speakers were a delegation of prominent citizens from Portland(.) The ladies and gentlemen were in earnest. Their offer was enticing, the advantages both present and future beyond anything to be hoped for farther north.

Bishop Demers stood by taking it all in. He asked, "Sisters, will you leave me now?" Sister Mary Angèle answered, "My Lord, we will follow you to the end." (p. 82).
It's quite remarkable that the good people of Portland found out the Sisters were coming. Though there was a regional telegraph line between Portland and other Oregon cities (Oregon City, 1855; Corvallis, 1856), the transcontinental telegraph service had reached San Francisco until Oct. 24, in the year of our Lord 1861.
In ideal weather, with the sea calm, the S.S. Seabird, an American paddle steamer, glided into Victoria Harbour. It was three o'clock in the afternoon, Saturday, June 5, 1858. (p. 82).
Four ships and two trains later, and after having resisted the temptation of an exceptionally sweet offer by the good people of Portland, the Sisters completed the 54 day journey safe and sound.

TC/2008/Raeside

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