University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


" . . . New York at this time had become the center of the parish school movement." Burns: Growth and Development of the Catholic School System, p. 123, See "Brother Victor" (Walsh), 1846

"Bishop Hughes asked Sorin to found Trade School.

"September 15, 1848 -- Sorin and Drouelle, Visitor, to go to New York. Didn't work out. November 1, 1848 -- 5 Brothers arrive at Brooklyn. Jesuits won out. Only 2 Brothers stayed for parish school." Condon Manuscripts, 1848

"In September, 1847, Msgr. Hughes, Bishop of New York, had Father Thibaud, (S.J.) write to ask the Brothers for a trade school at New York. But lack of funds caused an indefinite delay. When Drouelle passed through there in July, the Bishop asked him to speak to Sorin. Having conferred with the Local Council, Sorin and Drouelle decided to go to New York to see Bishop Hughes. But when they reached there, Bishop said he was unable to carry out his first proposal. but he promised to all he could with a committee of which he was president for the administration of a large legacy just recently made for the benefit of the orphans. He desired to put them under the Brothers, who would teach letters and trades. But the committee not agreeing and offers having been made by Fr. Parmentier regarding schools of different parishes in Brooklyn where there were nearly 800 children to be taught. Sorin and Drouelle, furnished with recommendations of Bishop Hughes, visited 3 pastors who seemed delighted with the idea and desirous of having Brothers as soon as possible, a month later five Brothers were sent, October 25, and arrived November 1st at Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the Jesuits had learned of these arrangemetns. One of their fathers was pastor there for some time of the principal parish. Probably they had made plans for these very schools. In short, they could find places for only two Brothers. The three others returned immediately. Events in Kentucky and Cincinnati were keys in explaining "this little phenomenon." However, the minor chapter was satisfied with having a place in Brooklyn, one of the first missions in the United States, and what is better: this first school in the hands of and devoted to the home pastor." 1847

"On the tenth day of June, 1842, he (Archbishop Hughes) dedicated the Church of the Assumption at the corner of York and Jay streets. This Church was commenced a few years previously by Father Farnan, at a time when he was under ecclesiastical censure. It was his intention to establish it as an independent Catholic Church, but, as might be expected, the attempt was a failure. In 1841, the Reverend David Bacon, completed the building, and it was dedicated in 1842. Father Bacon became its first pastor, and administered the affairs of the Church til 1855, when, on the 29th of April he was consecrated Bishop of Portland, Maine." THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN BROOKLYN, by Patrick Nulrenan, 1871, 1842

See under "Studies: Brother Gatian letter to Sorin"

"Father Drouelle, Visitor from Mother House, after being in New York, proposed to accept schools in Brooklyn. Brother Basil and Ignatius to go to one (Assumption) and Brother Aloysius and Mr. Welsh to another. Perhaps Brother Vincent will be General Director." Minor Chapter, Oct. 13, 1848

see "Bishop Hughes to Sorin, 1844"

see "St. Mary's, Kentucky, 1848"

"We received a most kind hospitality at your house in Brooklyn on our arrival in America. There were three Brothers with me among whom was old Brother Vincent now in his 86th year.

"I never forgot that generous hospitality . . . " from a letter of Fr. Alexis Granger, C.S.C. to Miss Rosine Parmentier on the death of her mother

"It is pleasant to note that the house which had been honored in giving hospitality to so many holy and celebrated personages, including the Founder of Notre Dame and the Foundress of St. Mary of the Woods, should be devoted to a work of higher Catholic education." THE BROOKLYN PARMENTIER FAMILY, by Sister Mary James Lowery, S.S.J.). (It was left by will to the Sisters of St. Joseph to be used as a normal or high school for girls.)

"It was during the course of the visit of (Father Drouelle) that there was opened by us a school manned by Brothers of St. Joseph. The preceding year the Bishop of New York, John Hughes, who at this time had still Brooklyn under his jurisdiction, asked Father Sorin to take this school over. Our stay in Brooklyn was short-lived -- till 1850." Condon Manuscripts, Provincial, 1848

"The proposition of the Right Reverend Bishop of New York for an establishment of Brothers as managers of the Orphan Asylum in the city is unanimously accepted as the very means to develop and recruit the society of the Brothers. Several Brothers were in consequences presented by the Chapter for the direction of the establishment. But no decision on this account was deemed prudent and even possible till an interview would have taken place with the Right R. Bishop Hughes. It was only unanimously agreed upon the establishment should be managed under the priest of the priests of our society." Minor Chapter, September 16

"The Brothers shall start for Brooklyn on Thursday next." Oct. 23, 1848

"October 14 -- on this day the Rev. Father Visitor (Drouelle) and Father Superior returned from New York, where they made arrangements with Bishop (Hughes) and the priest of Brooklyn to have an establishment and even 2 of the Brothers there. Upon their return the Minor Chapter resolved to send Brother Vincent as Director of these schools, and also to send Brother Vincent as Director of these schools, and also Brothers Aloysius, Basil, Ignatius, and Mr. Walsh, a postulant." Minor Chapter, 1848

"The Brothers destined for the Brooklyn schools left on the 27th inst. at 7 a.m."

"Nov. 2nd . . . Brothers James, Cyprian, and also Brother Augustus made their profession on the preceding day at 6 p.m."

Director: Brother Gatian; Assistant -- Bro. Louis Ganzaga. 1849

"Father Drouelle, Visitor, ifnormed the Council of the result of his journey to New York. He proposed the acceptance of the schools in Brooklyn. The motives for the acceptance were: the number of Catholic children who were now attending the three schools of that city; the need they had of pious more than of learned teachers; the vicinity of New York City which would be a place of a connection between the Mother House and Notre Dame du Lac; the many vocations which it would awaken, and the reputation it would give to our Association. Some objections were raised, founded especially on our inability to send a sufficient number of learned Brothers. To which the Visitor replied that provided we could send two able to teach the common English branches it would answer the purpose. The proposal was adopted by a majority vote. Brother Vincent was designated as Director of the Brothers who would be chosen to go there. Only two schools will be established at first. Brothers Basil and Aloysius will be the Directors and their under teachers will be Brothers Ignatius and Mr. Walsh. It is left to the prudence of the Director to determine the amount each scholar will have to pay, and he will ask the advice of the respective pastors to determine the sum to be paid for the poor; it is expected that it will not be less than $200. for each class." Local Council, the Visitor presiding, October 13, 1848

St. Mary's Assumption 1849

      Teachers:       Brothers Basil and Aloysius      Pupils:         120      Pastor:         Reverend David Bacon      Residence:      108 York Street      School:         York and Jay Streets      Other Brothers: Vincent, Ignatius, Gatian, Victor  1849 

"Art. VII. The necessity of making written agreements and of visiting new establishments before sending Brothers, shall also be urged, the failure of the establishment of Brooklyn being partly attributed to the mismanagement of the Minor Chapter (Council) and the ignorance of the Brothers." Bro. Gatian's report as Visitor, March 16, 1849

"Brother Gatian, Visitor to the Brooklyn School taught by Brothers Basil and Aloysius, dates his account of the Visit from St. Mary's Church of which Rev. David Bacon was pastor." (Is it St. Mary's of the Assumption?) Provincial, 1849

"Brother Basil -- Sorin: January 30, 1849"

" . . . since the time Brother left here, Father Bacon has neither said nor done anything for the encouragement or progress of the schools . . . You may judge from the following how we are paid for the schools. Our boarding in $7 per week. It is 3 weeks since we settled up for our boarding, we paid up $9 which leaves us in debt $11. Such is the income for 87 boys.

"Three months are past and not a word about hearing the confessions of the boys . . . we have lost all heart and courage to do anything . . . We are sure it is Father Bacon's intentions that the schools shall pay our expenses. The predicament in which we are placed by sending us here, you could not treat us worse if we were really slaves . . . What I mean by saying that is that if the parents do not pay for their children whatever we fall short of paying for our expenses you will have to pay . . . You may judge from this how things stand. Now, Reverend Father, I beseech you to relieve us from our present place . . . If you want the school continued here you will have to send here those who are more competent then we are."

(July 10, 1849: "Thank God that thick black and heavy cloud which has been hovering over us and preventing the sun from shining upon us since we came here, has almost disappeared . . .

"Father Bacon said that he intended to write in the spring for another Brother, that he must have three even if he has to give up his own house for a school room. He says that the people are now well pleased with the schools and that there is no danger but we will succeed here, for sometime the prospect was gloomy but now it is no longer so. He also said that the Orphan Asylum would be begun in May and that our Brothers should have charge of it if you do not open a Novitiate here. We have now about 100 boys in the two schools and for want for room we can receive only a few more. There are several boys going to the Jesuit school in New York, who when Brother Gatian commences, will come to us . . . . . . .

"The house in which we stop is on the Brooklyn Heights and commands a beautiful view . . . . . .

"The new epidemic (called the California Gold Fever) which is raging in the Eastern cities, has been very fatal in New York." 1849

"Going to Brooklyn: Brother Gatian . . . February 22, 1849." Provincial

"I have seen the great city at last and have pitched my tent on the seashore on the heights of Columbia Street, No. 94, at the Bath of Brooklyn . . . .

"I assisted at the distribution of ashes on last Wednesday . . . . . . It was then I had for the first time sight of our Brothers' young New Yorkers, hard cases indeed . . . . . . "

It took Brother Gatian, over six days to go from Notre Dame to Brooklyn, via Niles, Detroit, London, Chatam, Hamilton, St. Catherine's Niagara FAlls, Buffalo, and Albany. Mediums sleigh to Niles, R.R. to Detroit, open sleighs at 7-10 miles an hour in Canada, R.R. from Buffalo to New York City. Travelled 265 miles in two and a half days.

"(March 16, 1849) Time -- 3 weeks. The Brothers and I are becoming very impatient in our terrestrial hell . . . . . . No Brothers will consent to teach for any length of time at Father Bacon's Church. It would be no harm if you had no establishment in New York or Brooklyn for two or three years during which it would be proper to have Brothers Aloysius, Anselm, Thomas, and Louis taught by some experienced professors or sent to college . . . . . . .

"1. If Mr. Bacon wants a permanent establishment he should at once free the Brothers from the Sunday school, give a free place sufficient for 200 pupils in the Church, furnish a room 1500' square for the commencement of next school year, furnish before April 22 next: 3 desks, 3 blackboards, a seat for Brother Basil, a partition in the school room and curtains.

"2. The above will probably be rejected at once. Then I will propose the fall compromise: We will agree to stay until the end of the year if he consents to keep our intended departure secret, to furnish the above articles, and to keep Brother Basil. This will be a hard pill for Mr. Bacon and Brother Basil.

"In this second case I would leave free to choose between paying the Brothers $60 a month in advance and freeing them from the trouble of collecting or letting us collect and himself paying for the boys admitted at an underprice.

"3. If he does not consent to the above I will propose to leave on April 22, the end of the present grade, allowing us to collect all that will be then due by the pupils.

Should you have any great aversion to any of these proposals you might let me know by telegraph. I shall try not to conclude anything before next Sunday, though the Brothers will scarce suffer me to wait so long . . . . . .

"Pray that I may settle everything or complete the downfall of the school, if it be God's will as I think it is. The Brothers and I offer our prayers and Communions for the prompt termination of the affair on St. Joseph's Day.

"I have paid our debt of $11.81 and when we will have paid our board tomorrow we will still have enough money for three weeks. We received nearly $20 this week . . . . . . .

(April 6, 1849) "I become daily more convinced that we cannot take a footing in Brooklyn or in the neighborhood unless we succeed at Father Bacon's. I have spoken to priests and others in Brooklyn, New York, and Williamsburg, and they have candidly told me that the system of our Brothers is not in good repute; that they have not the qualifications of learning necessary. They said, moreover, if you succeed at Father Bacon's your Brothers being religious, will be preferred . . . . . .

(March 1, 1849) "To succeed in Brooklyn we should absolutely carry things on a great scale and keep a house for ourselves. If we had three Brothers at St. James, three at St. Mary's and lay Brothers to cook for them in some room on Jay Street, which we could have for $4.50 a month, we would spare great deal of money and avoid disagreeable changes of Boarding houses.

"In each of these establishments the Directing Brother at least should be an uncommonly smart man, understanding perfectly the plan of teaching, experienced and learned and knowing the usages of life of the cities of New York, and Brooklyn." Gatian -- Sorin, 1849

(April, 1849) " . . . I will go down to Father Bacon and see how the new system works. I also know that Father Bacon will not give favorable accounts until he has had a year of six months in the manner indicated in my last letter. Do then as I indicated, unless you would adopt the far better plans of anandoning the establishment entirely and of not making any foundation in Brooklyn for 5 or 6 years, during which you could prepare good teachers . . .

"I know for certain he will not make the least advance this year, though he has the means and even the objects wanted.

" . . . Last week we spent $15 though our board was only $9.00 (for three) . . . would you allow the Brothers on class period a day, commencing at 9:00 and ending at 2:30, merely giving the boys twenty minutes for dinner as is done in other schools? Then we would be sure to have all the boys in the afternoon. Mr. Bacon, the Brothers, and I prefer this method."

"I think Mr. Bacon ought also to furnish a stove for each classroom and a clock for each. I forgot to put them in the agreement."

"I have not yet asked Mr. Bacon to hear the Boy's confessions once a month, because I have understood he hears them only once a year . . . "

"You will therefore have to prepare another Brother next year. He should know the principles of Writing, Bookkeeping, Algebra, and Geometry perfectly. I will not have time to teach Bro. Aloysius Algebra and Geometry because I will undertake to show the two Brothers how to keep their schools according to the "Concuite" (thought I don't know it myself), like two children and consequently will have to teach before them, to inspect their children and classify them. They must absolutely adopt the system which is also followed in the other Catholic schools of Brooklyn, or the establishment will soon be ruined."

"I have agreed to take the school on our own, which was, as I understand from Mr. Bacon, your first agreement. I enclose the plan, which you will please return with the corrections you think ABSOLUTELY necessary, and an authorization that I may conclude it. For my part, I prefer this plan much to Bro. Vincent's. Mr. Bacon has read the plan, striking out only one line as you may see, and he is very willing to sign the agreement. You will do well when you write him to appear to attach great importance to having the desks, tables, privy, and place in Church regulated promptly in accordance with the regulations, because the two Brothers (Basil, Aloysius) are disgusted at his neglect in this respect. The Brothers dislike very much the Sunday School, composed of over 100 boys that don't come to school on weekdays, who are exceedingly wicked, and who mingle with our own boys in the schoolroom and the Church. Mr. Bacon will not give up on this point, and I think he is partly right. He says he will give them as soon as possible a separate school room and a place in the Church.

"As to revenue I calculate as follows: Two smart Brothers, one of them knowing Bookkeeping, Algebra, and Geometry can teach 150 boys, and they will have this number at Assumption Church. But supposing the average to be 100 pupils, and taking Mr. Bacon's prices, which, however, we may double, if we have a mind to, as is done in some other schools, we will have about twenty- five boys at $1.50 - $50.00: 25 @ $2.25 = $62.50: 25 @ $4 = $100.00. But there are four quarters, $350 x 4 = $1,000.

"Two Brothers will cost, taking highest prices for Board, lodging, and fuel @ 7 a week, $364: clothing each $25.00 = $50.00: Traveling each $60.00 equals $120: Rewards to boys (mostly covered by sales of books and other small articles), let us say = $66. Total $600 or a net gain of $400.

"I have taken the lowest receipts and the highest expenses. If we kept house we could save nearly one-third. Properly carried on, each Brother could honor a draft of $300 a year. At present the school shows a net profit of only $16.15."

"To terminate what I have to say at present about the school, I will add I do not promise to have your Constitutions translated before August. I will have to drill two Brothers and 200 boys, and also very likely to teach 5 1/2 hours of class, besides giving 2 1/2 hours to Brother Aloysius, to manage all the affairs of the school, which will require frequent journeys to New York City, taking 2 1/2 hours each time, and also spending about 1 1/2 hours each day going to the schoolroom from the Boarding house, etc . . .

"Being so far from the school, the Brothers cannot take their dinner before five o'clock. They have been unable to find a place nearer the school." Bro. Gatian to Fr. Sorin, 1849

" . . . .I don't know more than they in this respect, but if I retrieve your affairs, as I have hopes of doing, it will be the result of my innate capacity and energy, or rather a real miracle. I don't see, Rev. Father Superior, how you manage to be continually getting yourself and others into scraper, while if you would profit by experience and get a man to do business for you, with the necessary business nicety, you would avoid these petty difficulties, which greatly endanger the reputation of the Institute. No one, however, is as responsible for success of your establishment here as Brother Vincent and yourself. Permit me to speak frankly: you generally do things by halves and you require real miracles from your subjects and then blame them when the miracles are not really wrought." 1849

"Rev. E. Sorin is to be blamed for having undertaken foundations which he is not able to sustain; for sending his Brothers before agreements had been concluded and set down in writing; and for putting Bro. Vincent at the head of the establishment without giving him the necessary instructions."

"Bro. Vincent's first fault was his attempt at making an agreement contrary to the promises or understandings you had with the priests . . . . Mr. Bacon had never understood things clearly from you until yesterday morning when I had a four hours conversation with him . . . "

"Brother Vincent's third fault was his leaving Bro. Basil at the head of the establishment . . . ."

"Mr. Bacon received me well and said there was no occasion of despairing, that he had always told the Brothers that he wondered you had sent me so quickly, as the Brothers and himself would have been satisfied to wait till the end of March. He did not lay any heavy, specific complaints against the Brothers. He praised Bro. Aloysius for his good conduct, but regretted his ignorance of bookkeeping, algebra, and geometry, and his inexperience . . . He wished merely to have a good understanding with the Institute and that everything would be right. When next day I repeated to him the complaints of the Brothers he merely answered that he had not been properly informed . . . . Mr. Bacon is, I think, generally well disposed, but he seems to be exceedingly quick. ( he says Mass in 15 or even 14 minutes) and somewhat hot-tempered."

"For a few weeks before I arrived, the Brothers and the priest had been on very good terms. When I first saw the Brothers on Wednesday morning they were in good spirits, and only said they had not asked for me so quickly, but that they were glad to have me. They then related their sorrows to me without excessive bitterness, with the exception that Brother Basil said that if he did not get tables for his class, a desk, etc. he would not teach for another grade. Brother Basil and himself had been several times on the point of abandoning their school for want of support from the Pastor and relief from Notre Dame du Lac." Brother Gatian to Fr. Sorin, February 23, 1849

Visitor's Report (Gatian)

2. That no agreement of any kind had been made with Rev. D. Bacon, the founder of the establishment and that the Brothers were on that account a burden to each other.

3. That the Brothers had not sufficient rooms for their children on Sunday, nor in the school rooms . . . that the classes were not provided with tables, benches, pictures, seats for the teachers, blackboards, window curtains, and a play yard, and that the teachers and pupils were not encouraged by the Rev. D. Bacon: That, in a word, the school was in a state of destitution.

4. That the Brothers were charged with the care of the Sunday School, to the great detriment of their own pupils and of the peace of their minds.

6. That the Brothers were homesick and lonely, protesting that they would not teach any longer at Rev. D. Bacon's Church.

8. That the Brothers did not perform their religious exercises regularly, omitting particular examen, spiritual reading, Visit, and chapter.

9. And finally, that most of the above disorders were the natural results of Rev. Fr. Superior's unfortunate precipitancy in sending Brothers to Brooklyn before having procured them the necessary instruction in science and in the method of conducting class, before having made any agreements, or so much as procured lodging for them. Bro. Gaitian, 1849

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›