as sistance she needed in her vision of the community. For years Reveren d
Elder Mull i n , S.J. rom Boston, was a familiar igure at the Mount giving retreats and direction to the Sisters an d advice and counsel to Mother
Berchmans. The other priest was Most Reverend E d w ard J. McCarthy of the Diocese of Halifax, appointed Superior General in 190 6 . W i t h i n two years,
he had work ed himself out of the position by the encouragement he gave Mother Berchmans to overcome opposition and seek and obtain special Papal
approval for the congregation’s rules, constitution and manuals of prayers. In
19 0 8 the Sisters of Charity were made a papal institute, and Mother Berchmans became the irst Mother General. The role of Superior G en eral
disappeared. The ive-year trial period ended on June 10, 1913, with Pius X’s inal approval of the Constitutions. The spirit of those constitutions has been
recaptured in the latest revisions. If t h ese broad, far-reaching administrative matters were not enough,
Mother Berchmans had to contend wit h v ery earthy stuff as well: forest ires
around the Mount, a water shortage, expropriation of land by the Domi n i o n Government for railroad building; and the Halifax explosion in 1917. Her foresight was extraordinary. As early as 1915 when doctoral degrees
were rare, especi al l y fo r women, she sent Sisters to the Catholic University of America in Washington so that Mount Saint Vincent could become a
College afiliated with Dalhousie University. Sisters also went to Fordham U n i v ersity, Creighton University, and to England to pursue higher studies.
The seed ofhigher education took root. Mount Saint Vincent received its own college charter in 1925. Today Mount Saint Vincent University, the
outgrowth of the college, maintains its honorab l e an d unique position as a deg ree-g ranting women’s university. Mount Saint Vincent, in fact, at one
time was a v ery b road educational umbrella housing an academy, a college,
and a provincially licensed normal school. Th e Sisters were, of course, bene iciaries ofwhat was offered.
When Mother Mary Berchmans assumed her ofice of Councillor in 1895, there were 23 houses in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Bermuda, and
Massachusetts, staffed by about 190 Sisters. By t h e end of her term of ofice there were 678 Sisters in 40 missions in Eastern Canada, but also in British
Columbia and Alberta. As well, four Sisters retu rn ed t o New York in 1924
“ a refu n d for the gi t of 75 years before,” said Sister Mary Bernard Stuart,
the Bursar General.