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Elizabeth BAYLEY (Mother Seton) was born in New York City in - page 8 / 12





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“ restore d iscipline”; others sided with Mother Mary Francis. It was an

extremely trying perio d – choosing between Bishop and Mother Superior! The affair was settled eventually but only a ter presentations were made by the

Congregation to Rome. On April 30, 1880, Leo XIII issued a docu ment removing rom the Archbishop of Halifax “ any jurisdiction” he had held over

the Sisters of Ch ari t y, and placing the Congregation under the Pope’s immediate control. Archbishop John Cameron of Arichat was to be the Pope's


The story thus sketchily presented is very intriguing and t h e lack of documentation renders it so. The Chancery of Halifax has no copies of Bishop

Hannon’s correspondence. The Archives of Mount Vincent disappeared in the ire of 1 9 5 1 . Where to ind documents? A phenomenal job of detective work

was done by Sister Francis d’Assisi, the community historian. By searching the archives ofvarious Roman institutions, the Irish College, the Propaganda,

the Congregation of Religious, as well as Canadian chanceries, she was able

to piece together the story. A key igure outside ofthe ecclesiastial ramework was John Sp arro w Thompson, later Prime Minister of Canada, whose

sister-in-law, Sister Helena Afleck, w as a member of the Congregation. Thompson was the community’s legal adv i s er and was of great assistance in

having the congregation’s cause heard and settled in Rome. It i s only in

recent years, with the clari ication brought by Sister Francis d’Ass i s i ’s research, t h at t h e cloud of mystery and unease has been removed rom both

congregation and diocese. A t the time the congregation was wrecked by the departure of twelve of its sixty-two members. The next Mother Superior,

Benedicta Harrington, and the newly appointed Superior General, John Cameron ofArichat, worked to bring about a spiritual renewal. Thus, the irst

eight-day retreats, based on the Spiritual Exercises of Sai n t Ignatius, were

begun, and gradually, a uller programofspiritual training was introduced. The t roubles of 1877 were not the only distaste ul events. There were

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    t her instances of misunderstandings: between clergy and the Sisters in

Western Nova Sco t i a; b etween boards and the Sisters in Cape Breton; and

ov er teacher licensing in New Brunswick. The controversial CBC ilm “ Thecla’s Cho i ce" (concerning the Sisters of Saint Martha) touches another

area of misunderstanding. In addition, the Sisters suffered physical poverty

and hardship in many of the pioneer missions. But perhaps “ the troubles” of 1877 were potentially the most dangerous, involvi n g as t h ey did, the

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