University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


"Resolved: That Fr. Superior should accompany Mr. Voors to Chicago to confer with the Rt. Rev. Bishop on a proposal he himself made relating to the establishment of our Brothers in his diocese." Local Council, Sept. 25, 1850

"In 1851 Msgr. Van de Velde, Bishop of Chicago, the protector and devoted friend of Holy Cross in the United States, invited us to make an establishment in Chicago. To help he had bought near the city a magnificent piece of land, which he offered the Brothers. Next year he offered Sorin his University of St. Mary's without conditions. Lack of men delayed accomplishing the project.

"As his illustrious predecessor, Bishop O'Regan, who had visited Notre Dame and so became a sincere friend of Holy Cross, said he hoped one day to see us doing in Chicago what we were doing in Indiana. On May 26, 1856, he made a formal proposal to realize his desires on the subject. This was to sell St. Mary's College to the Congregation for $60,000, payable in twelve installments, yearly without interest, of $5,000. After deliberations the main points of the contract were written and signed by both parties in duplicate. Here it is: Msgr. O'Regan, wishing to introduce us into his diocese, came to an understanding with the Congregation in the following terms:

May 28, 1856, Anthony O'Reagan, Bp. of Chicago
E. Sorin, Provincial

"This signed, O'Regan promised to have papers drawn up and to assemble the legal officers of the University of obtain in writing their consent to the sale. Soon all was ready and Sorin was invited to Chicago to sign. Thereupon, a distinguished lawyer, Mr. H. Ewing, St. Louis, son of the Secretary of State of the United States and a devoted friend of Holy Cross, came to Notre Dame. He was put in charge of the affair, examined it carefully and went to Chicago to assure legality of all. Two days later, after having had long interviews with the Bishop and his lawyer, Ewing returned to Notre Dame and advised Sorin not to go any further in the deal, as the Bishop couldn't legally give title, and that in signing the contract the Society exposed itself to serious difficulties, adding that he had tried in vain to convince the Bishop of it. Naturally, Ewing's opinion was followed and the contract set aside. O'Regan, not satisfied and submitted the idea of renting the College to the Congregation for a number of years, saying to himself, the way of getting Holy Cross in is of no importance just so long as they are there, and that he would do all that he had promised. New proposal examined at Notre Dame. O'Regan was most impatient. He wrote several times on the delay. Here is one of his letters:

July 26, 1856

Very Reverend and dear Father,

I regret you make me recall to you again the need of ending the

affair of the College. It is expedient that all be finished without

further delays, for all delays, I assure you, embarrass me very much and

have caused me considerable loss.

"Surely it is needless to recall to you that this ought to be

finished, otherwise the financial loss would become most serious. Be good

enough to come and finish it . . . . "

"Notre Dame Chapter remained undecided. The Bishop couldn't brook delay and came himself (August 3) with all documents prepared and ready for signing. The Bishop repeated his promises and renewed encouragement. On August 4 the contract was signed at Notre Dame, for an annual rent of $2150 for fifty years. The Bishop required that this sum be paid in advance this time because of his urgent need and said that nothing more in rent need be paid for eighteen months. So far all was agreeable.

"Soon the Congregation realized it had engaged itself more deeply than it imagined. Instead of $50 reparations (?) as foretold, they had to contract for $700 for one thing. Besides, Bishop required Congregation to take old furniture which amounted to $500 more, including a piano.

"According to contract, the Congregation was obliged to maintain only in buildings or on college land, not a University "en regle", but a respectable school for day students. It was only this the first year and the Bishop made no complaints, and in the fifteen months that he remained in Chicago after opening of the school, he made no complaint of either Brothers or Sisters Schools. On the contrary he praised them until his departure for Europe.

"More than once orally and in writing, Sorin reminded the Bishop of his promise to build new school, but he always replied that he was obliged to delay the expense no matter how urgent it was.

"The condition of the buildings was so deplorable that the Brothers couldn't expect any but poor children, especially since the public schools were in fine buildings which lacked nothing. Besides, the Brothers had to suffer with the pupils from the negligence and poverty of the Pastors who often left these miserable huts without either coal or wood even in mid-winter. In 1857 when Fr. Moreau was here and visited Chicago, the only school house he went to, that of the Cathedral itself, was so wretched that he forbade the Brothers to continue teaching in it until it was repaired. This, he told the Bishop when thanking him for a favor received. When Fr. Moreau went with Fr. Sorin to see O'Regan, the Bishop praised Sorin. Fr. Moreau remarked, however, that he didn't think Sorin deserved praise in the contract he had made with the Bishop and that unless he got help he didn't see how the establishment could afford to pay an annual rent of $2150. The Bishop replied that he knew the schools earned very little, but that to remedy it he was going to order a collection in all churches each year to make up for it, and that it would produce a thousand dollars. He could count on this. A circular was issued and sent to the pastors, but the collection was taken in only one church and produced $66 instead of $1000.

"Soon the Bishop left for Europe, depression broke, monthly earnings of schools grew less, Community debts increased. Yet the Bishop's agent asked for rent six months in advance, contrary to promise made Sorin. Sorin felt justified in refusing. Some time afterward, Msgr. Duggan, administrator of the diocese, asked for some payment and for the same motive received the same reply. Everything was explained to him in an interview and Duggan concluded that things should stay as they were until the regular nomination of a Bishop for Chicago, which as done in all confidence. But hardly had Duggan been named for the See than he spread the rumor he was going to take back the College. Sorin wrote to assure himself of the fact and received this reply:

April 18, 1859

Very Reverend and dear Monsieur,

It was my intention before receiving your letter to write you immediately after Easter, but your letter makes me do so sooner than I had decided. I write there fore to tell you to withdraw your Community and to have the college and land evacuated as soon as vacation starts, which, I believe, begins as soon as summer comes.

Since I have been here I have always wanted this property returned to the diocese, and as you have not fulfilled the contract you leave me no other alternative than to rescind it. I don't think that the gain received by the diocese by the presence of your community compensates for the property it holds. We know nothing of the youth of this city, and we haven't the place to teach it; it is forced to go elsewhere for it, which can easily do at home.

Without further useless discussion of what has been decided in my mind in an unalterable way, I wish that your measures be taken, because I am beginning myself to take measures.

-- Duggan, Bishop of Chicago

"Sorin couldn't pay rent as he hadn't been helped as promised. Duggan took advantage of fact to bring St. Mary's back into diocese.

"Sorin finally on point of giving in to avoid scandal, when happily the Archbishop of Baltimore came to Notre Dame. He had heard of the affair. Sorin, faced with a great loss ($4,000, Sisters, Bookshop, etc.). The Archbishop stayed a day, learned of all in detail, assured Sorin all would be arranged. Efforts futile till Sorin sent to Duggan for a "Memoire" on the matter, which the Archbishop of Baltimore told him to get and bring to the Metropolitan of St. Louis. But when Fr. Dillon saw Bishop Duggan for the "memoire" he was all smiles and wanted to help Sorin as much as possible. All settled and the Congregation established there better than ever. A triumph for the Congregation felt Sorin.

"Ten thousand francs were spent in the next five months to establish the congregation permanently. The two schools developed more than ever. 120 students by the end of December in the College.

"Again the Superior (Kilroy ?) suspected of being prime cause of all the trouble ended nicely. He thought parishoners of St. Joseph's liked him but found out differently. They wanted return of Fr. Mayer, who always regretted change from Chicago and gladly returned. This was a means also of bringing him back to the Society. In a few months all was well in the college and the wonderful parish of St. Joseph's with its more than 4000 souls. Future of Congregation in Illinois brilliant, especially since founding of Diocese of Alton, Illinois, bound to become a great center of Catholicity in the Union. 25 years ago Chicago was like the limits of the United States on the west. Today it is the center of a civilized territory.

"(1860) Chicago still under yoke of financial difficulties; its debts considerably increased. Yet its condition gave more satisfaction and confidence for the future. The college had 125 day pupils and the parish schools were in better condition than ever . . . .In spite of the increasing of debts of this establishment, considering the improvement of the two schools recently established on land rented by the Bishop, considering his disposition, the condition of the schools, the future of the Congregation there is better than it has been in the last two or three years. Money scarce in Chicago, center of the West.

"Another fair held for the establishment of Holy Cross in Chicago -- four days -- brilliant, favorable, impressive; netted $1,000.

"End of the school year showed a deficit of $3,000 for the College alone. True, repairs cost $2,000 plus $1,000 rent paid in advance. Next year would save the $2,000 and $3,000 of rent, total $5,000. Decided to continue college for one year more as last attempt. 1851-1860

"In 1856 Reverend E. Be. Kilroy was appointed President of St. Mary's on- the-Lake, Chicago, which position he held for two years."

-- THE BECON, Ontario, Candada. -- SCHOLASTIC, January 12, 1895

"We now come to the most important of all the dependencies of the Province of Indiana . . . .Now it is the opinion of the public that Chicago will be one of the first cities of the Union. Fifteen years ago it had only 7,000 inhabitants; today, more tahn 100,000. SORIN CHRONICLES, 1856

"Last September the Congregation established itself in Chicago; priest, Brothers, and Sisters, in virtue of an agreement for fifty years with the Ordinary, Bishop O'Regan. Points of the agreement:

"One of the most promising offers for a foundation came from the most Reverend Anthony O'Regan, Bishop of Chicago, who early in 1856 asked the Holy Cross priests to take over St. Mary of the Lake University. Fr. Sorin promptly accepted the charge. He agreed to pay the Bishop a yearly rental of $2,000 for the College building -- a frame structure on the north side of the city." FLAME IN THE WILDERNESS, p. 143, Anna S. McAllister, 1856

"University of St. Mary of the Lake"

Reverend Mr. Dillon, C.S.C., President

Fathers Aylward, McLaughlin, Montague, and Hurly, Professors.

This University is under the direction of members of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, who conduct it in a very efficient manner." CATHOLIC DIRECTORY, 1857, p.221, 1856

"Catholic population of Chicago 35,000; there are 340 pupils in the girls' school." PROVINCIAL ARCHIVES, 1856

"Scarcely had the Holy Cross priests taken over St. Mary's University . . . . when Bishop O'Regan resigned his See . . . . The supervision of an immense diocese with its numerous churches and institutions, together with the want of harmony among a hastily gathered and constantly shifting clergy, proved beyond his strength and administrative skill . . . .

"The change in Ordinary, known to be temporary, created many difficulties for the Holy Cross priests and Sisters . . . ." FLAME IN THE WILDERNESS, p.145, 1856

"St. Mary of the Lake University was in what is now Holy Name Catholic Parish in Chicago. ON THE KINGS HIGHWAY, p. 292, Sister Eleanore, 1856

"In the fall of '56, diocesan affairs had been placed under the administration of the Most Rev. James Duggan, coadjutor Bishop of St. Louis. Two years later, when Bishop Duggan was appointed to the See of Chicago, the affairs of the rapidly growing diocese began to wear a more hopeful aspect. The affable Bishop attracted to himself a body of able and learned priests, and with their zealous aid inaugurated many important works. Unfortunately troubles soon arose between the new Bishop and Father Sorin. According to the original understanding with Bishop O'Regan the Holy Cross Congregation was to have charge of all Catholic schools in the city; but Bishop Duggan had other plans in mind, and declared he was not bound to respect the agreement. He gave Father Sorin until August 10, 1859 to comply with his wishes and leave the city. Archbishop Kenrick fo Baltimore interceded in Fr. Sorin's behalf, and friendly relations were reviewed. The truce was not lasting, however; the Holy Cross priests and Brothers withdrew . . . " FLAME IN THE WILDERNESS, p. 164

"The Council assembled to listen to the reading of a letter directed to the Rt. Rev. Archbishop of St. Louis in order to know from his Lordship what we are bound to do with regard to our establishment in Chicago, as everything had turned contrary to our expectations, as the present crisis places us in the impossibility of paying the rent for the college.

"The Council also decides that Brother Bernardine be sent to Philadelphia to replace Brother John Chrysostom whom the Council of Administration desires here for Bookkeeper and Treasurer." MINUTES OF PROVINCIAL COUNCIL, 1857

(St. Patrick's Church)

Bishop O'Regan to Sorin: "I enclose a letter about the school collection and the residence for your Brothers at St. Patrick's Church . . . . We know that the College (St. Mary's of the Lake) and schools, if managed as we most earnestly desire them to be, and as the interests of our people require, will not only pay, but also yield a profit, and this is all that can be desired . . . ." PROVINCIAL ARCHIVES, 1857

(St. Patrick's)

Brother Gregory, director; Brother Paul, Brother Philip.

1860 -- Brother Philip: 84 pupils PROVINCIAL ARCHIVES, 1859

(Jesuit Holy Family Parish)

" . . . . could you not let me have two of your Brothers to take charge of the school? It would be too bad to let over 200 boys go to the public school . . . " Fr. Truyens to Sorin, Provincial Archives, Jan. 26, 1859

Chicago -- Parochial schools for boys under the Direction of the Brothers of Holy Cross. Pupils 740: Brother 10. CATHOLIC DIRECTORY, 1859

La Salle, taught by Brothers of Holy Cross; Attendance 175. 1874

St. Pius -- Brother Simeon, director. Five Brothers, 315 boys. 1887

See under "H.S. Chicago,"

"The Council made several arrangements for the various schools of Chicago and elsewhere, but without any definite manner as the Provincial has to see the Bishop of Chicago (Duggan) for the College and schools of this city." Local Chapter, 1859

"Our various lots in Chicago shall be exchanged, if possible, for one in St. Patrick's Parish, with the view of establishing there a boarding house for our Brothers and a high school." Local Chapter, 1859

"The Council decides that a lot shall be secured at St. Patricks in Chicago for a house for the Brothers . . . .Brother Stephen will attend the study room in the College of Chicago." Local Council, 1859

"St. Mary's of the Lake College. In 1859 Rev. N.H. Gillespie was appointed President of the College." AVE MARIA, 10:797, 1859

Reverend P. Dillon to Sorin -- "The number of entries since our commencement is fifty-six, but five have discontinued . . .

"Next Saturday the rent will be due and we should be prepared to meet it unless we wish to be at least exposed to ejectment.

" . . . if it be possible for you to come, please send me about $2,000 by express." PROVINCIAL ARCHIVES, Sept. 28, 1859

"Our college at Chicago shall be kept by all possible means were we to continue to pay a high rent, and that Fr. Leveque shall remain there to say Mass for the Community and to preside at the exercises. Brother Amadeus will go there as soon as possible to fix the compatibility in a proper order according to the Rules." Local Council, April 11, 1859

"Besides that every possible improvement shall be made in our College at Chicago and in the schools of the Brothers there. Every possible attention shall be paid to the food of the College." Local Council, May 2, 1859

St. Mary's of the Lake

Rev. N. Gillespie, President

Mr. Thomas Gorlsberry, Vice-President 1859

Rev. Pat. Dillon ssc., President

Rev. P. Cooney, ssc., Vice-President 1860-1

"According to the contract drawn up by Bishop O'Regan and Father Sroin, the Congregation of Holy Cross was to have charge of all Catholic schools opened in the city of Chicago. When Bishop Duggan succeeded to the bishopric, he objected to the agreement and declared the diocese was not bound to respect it. In 1859 he ordered the Community to leave the city by August tenth and threatened the law if they did not comply within the ten allotted days. The Archbishop of Baltimore intervened on behalf of Fr. Sorin and friendly relations were established but not for long. On June 26, 1861, the Congregation left Chicago and its promising institutions." PIONEERS AND BUILDERS, p. 17, 1861

"The Congregation having vountarily given up all its missions (parishes) except Lowell and South Bend, all its efforts are directed to one end: education.

"At Chicago, 86 miles from Notre Dame, it has a University and four parishes schools, where 15 members are employed. St. Mary's Chicago, the University, has earned nothing and the time of 15 members is taken up without pay. But indirectly by the influx drawn from the West to Notre Dame, it has not been a loss and there are hopes it will be beneficial to the Society. 125 day students last year.

"Parochial schools count 800 pupils this year. Very satisfactory. That of St. Patrick's is marvelous. Brothers teaching there earn $200. They have just rented a house there for five years at $200 a year for themselves, near St. Patrick's with the intention of having all the Brothers teaching in Chicago reside there. The Congregation has a large German parish adjoining the University. It is a means of doing good and supporting the University." Sorin, 1860

"First years (in Chicago) hard on Congregation, but in time probability that advances will be covered.

"Chicago is center of West. A house of the Congregation would daily become more and more important. Now Illinois, by its nearness and Catholic population, seems especially destined to become the granary of Notre Dame -- shouldn't hesitate at any sacrifice to take advantage of situation. For infallibly another religious congregation would settle there and cut off Notre Dame from its principal source to the West." SORIN CHRONICLES

"The Diocese of Chicago had St. Mary's of the Lake, begun by Bishop Quarter in 1846. The Holy Cross Congregation had control for a number of years, until 1861. The school was closed in 1866." Rev. J.A. Burns, C.S.C.

"It was the general opinion of the Chapter that the Holy Name School should be suppressed and an efficient director could not be provided without considerable changes in the personnel of the other schools. Brother Nicholas should come home and make his novitiate preparatory to profession. St. Patrick's and St. Mary's schools in Chicago should remain statusque. Minutes of Chapter, 1860

"The German school (St. Joseph's) depends upon the result of a conference to be held with the Rt. Rev. Bishop of Chicago (Duggan) concerning the German Parish. No Brother was appointed to take the school should it be continued." Ibid, 1860

"The Very Rev. Provincial announced that the affairs of Chicago were settled to his satisfactions: the college and schools are retained, and the Sisters also remain in their schools." Minutes of Provincial Chapter, 1860

"The Council consents to accept the charge of the orphan boys of Chicago now under the care of the Sisters of Mercy." Ibid, April 12, 1858

"Rev. Fr. Superior will write to the Bishop of Chicago to express our embarrassment at not being able to pay the rent of the College, and Rev. Patrick Dillon will write at the same time to Fr. Force, C.S.C., all the reasons for our declining to pay the said rent." Local Council, June 13, 1858

"The College of Chicago shall be given up, but one school of the Brothers, if possible, shall be retained." Local Council, June 13, 1859

"The Council is determined to preserve our College in Chicago if possible. Rev. Frs. Shortis and Dillon will start immediately for Illinois to sell scholarships both for the College (Notre Dame) and St. Mary's, and Fr. Corby and Mr. Lyons will do the same in Michigan." Local Council, July 4, 1859

"The Brothers of the Holy Cross having resigned control of the University of St. Mary's of the Lake, Bishop Duggan in 1861 appointed Rev. Dr. McMullen its president." THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHICAGO, 1890

"June 15, 1861 -- The Congregation gave up everything at Chicago, forced by Bishop Duggan, who wanted the college back. He gave Sorin three Days to decide to leave before bringing the case to the courts. Sorin squeezed out as he wished to avoid giving scandal, preferring to return, give up all his investment, and be beaten rather than have that. SORIN CHRONICLES

"There is certainly reason to be surprised that the Congregation held out so long against such opposition; but if we consider the expenses it had gone to and the considerable debts it had contracted to establish itself respectfully in Chicago, relying on the promises of two bishops, on which it tried to 'hope against hope', we shall perhaps better understand how, even to the last, it tried not to see what was only too plain, namely; that the Bishop would hold fast to his first declaration, that he was not bound by his predecessor's act, and that he was determined to take back the College without any regard as to what losses the Congregation might sustain.

" . . . Nothing was easier for him than to place the Congregation in a position to pay the rent, supposing he ought to exact such a sum, which many called 'a permission to do good in his diocese.' The school houses were left in a shocking state of neglect; the efforts of the most devoted members were thwarted; each superior lost heart when, year after year, he saw not only the precarious condition of the establishment, but the unmistakable proofs of bad will on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities, whose object, perseveringly followed up, was to drive the community out of the city by a system of mean and studied annoyances."

"Now Civil War broke out in the United States, money grew scarce. All understood that patience toward debtors became a necessity. But the Bishop, seizing the opportunity of the college's inability to meet the rent, declared since it did not it must leave the city. 'Otherwise he would take legal measures to have an ejectment made in form.'

"Replying to a letter of the Bishop's ordering the Community to leave, under date of July 12, 1861, Fr. Sorin wrote, in part,: 'I yield to your orders and to fear of scandal . . . You say we have not fulfilled our obligations. We believe, on the contrary, still less have you fulfilled yours. But since we must go, we will do it religiously, in peace and humility, I hope, and with your blessing.'

"Three day's afterward (July 25) the College, and the two Brothers' schools, the Sisters' day-school and their German parish school (St. Joseph's) were closed without the utterance of the least complaint of the Bishop's conduct.

"He shortened the time of our leaving from Six weeks to three, fearing public sentiment, he declared, if all the members were not gone in eight days, he would invoke the law. Further, that if the Congregation gave him the least trouble, he would forbid all his clergy to send even one student to Notre Dame and he would not even give permission to any of our priests to say Mass in his diocese." SORIN CHRONICLES, 1861

" . . . The dispositions of the Vicar General were hardly less discouraging. It had been agreed and convenanted with the Bishop (Duggan) that the teaching members whom the pastor's employed would be paid $200 each. The Brothers engaged at the Cathedral were thus entitled to $400, and the Sisters to the same amount. When the end of the school year came, he positively refused to pay the Sisters any salary. . . . As to the salary to the two Brothers, and of the three he had employed at St. Patrick's, he paid in notes on time, some of which were protested, and others have not been paid to this day." SORIN CHRONICLES, 1861

(Holy Name and St. Patrick's)

The Catholic school was also given up, seeing that no Brother had the courage to continue in it because of total abandonment in which it was left. The three Brothers at St. Patrick's and of the old Cathedral remained at their posts, but till the present day they have not received a dollar in salary. Last Christmas, for instance, they got up an exhibition at St. Patrick's for their own benefit. It brought $200, which His Reverence took for himself without leaving the Brothers a cent. And this is the gentleman who tells all that listen to him that the Congregation does not pay its rent and consequently should withdraw! (Bishop Duggan died in a sanatarium) 1861

" . . . .whereas the Congregation has given gratis for five years the services of thirty members, who are now forcibly ejected, with a debt of $8,000 which they must pay.

"And today they are not permitted to make known their grievances. On the contrary they must go their ways in silence, as if incapable or unworthy of the confidence of their Bishop, who would have neither arbitration nor reference to the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda, but who was always ready to appeal to the secular arm to force them to obey.

"Father Sorin would have carried the matter to Rome but for the fact that only three days were allowed him to submit his reply to Bishop Duggan; otherwise, he threatened to begin a suit whose disastrous consequences no one could foresee. Sorin Chronicles, 1861

"We have a full school numbering 120 boys and every prospect of a successful year. The pastor (Rev. J.M. Cartan) is very much pleased to have us and will call for two more Brothers in February." Nativity School; Brother Urban to Sorin; Oct. 1, 1885

Nativity School -- 1885 -- Brother Justinian, teacher.

(St. Pius School) -- "Very Rev. F. Conway, Vicar General feels very grateful to you for your kind promise of providing his school with teachers." Fr. O'Sullivan to Sorin, Provincial Archives, 1885

Brother Marcellus was chosen Superior of St. Pius' School PROVINCIAL ARCHIVES, 1892

(St. Columbkill's School) -- Opened September 4, 1886. Brother Urban, Superior. Brothers Tobias, Amandus, Hubert, and Hugh, teachers. Number of pupils: 456.

"In 1895: Personal -- Brother Marcellinus, Superior; Brothers Marcellus, Just, Wigbert, Pastor, Cassian, Joachim, Maurillius, and Columban. Pupils 500. SORIN CHRONICLES

"At St. Columbkille's School, corner of Pauline and Indiana Streets, there are seven Brothers. Brother Urban, Superior. Five hundred pupils, from four up. The building, one of the finest of its kind in the city, is four stories. The classrooms are large, well-lighted. Each holds 72. One of the most complete schools I have ever visited.

"The Brother are doing a vast amount of good, and trying to maintain reputation, they have already earned, of being one of the very best teaching bodies in the United States.

" . . . the boys who are large enough and who have good voices are trained to sing Benediction. They are under the direction of Brother Tobias." SCHOLASTIC, December 10, 1887

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›