University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


See Vol. I of Catalogues of Notre Dame University. (Also out of place) 1862 (1844) -- As the preliminary to his education school, he secured from the Illinois Legislature an act dated December 19, 1844, incorporating "The University of St. Mary of the Lake." One can't but be surprised at this boldness of the Bishop's educational venture undertaken within six months of his arrival in Chicago, and amid conditions that seemed utterly out of keeping with such an ambitious scale of preparation. CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHICAGO, Gilbert J. Garraghan S.J., p. 113

Catholic Education in Chicago owes its beginning to Bishop Quarter. On June 3, 1844, scarcely a month after coming to the West, he opened in St. Cyr's old frame church, which had been removed from its original site to the north side of Madison Street between Wabash and Michigan Ave. a Catholic School for boys, the first of its kind in Chicago, which he dignified by the name of the College of St. Mary's. The college opened with five students, Tim Sullivan making the 6th . . . . CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHICAGO, p. 112

. . . .to remove the dangers that now began to threaten the moderate measure of prosperity which the University that hitherto enjoyed, Bishop Van de Vlede looked to a change of management. He accordingly visited Notre Dame in 1852 to solicit the Fathers of the Holy Cross to assume charge of the University. This well-known Congregation had been established by the Ven. Father Edward Sorin, a Frenchman, near South Bend, Indiana in the early '40's, and Notre Dame University, the work of his hands, had already won for itself a place of distinction in the Catholic educational life of the country. But the Congregation over which he presided was still in its merest infancy and for the moment at least in no position to extend its field of operation. Bishop Van de Velde's offer was consequently declined.

. . . .Bishop O'Regan now (1855) reopened negotiations with the FAthers of the Holy Cross pending which Father Matthew Dillon was in charge of the University, assisted by Father McLaughlin, Father Hurley and Father Aylward. A proposition was made by the Bishop to the Fathers of the Holy Cross to sell them the University and its belongings for $60,000 payable in 12 installments of $5,000 each without interest, met at first with favor from the Fathers but was eventually declined. (1852 - 1855) -- An invitation to take over the University which the bishop extended to the Society of Jesus was likewise declined. Finally, as a result of a personal visit made to Notre Dame in 1856, Bishop O'Regan prevailed upon the Holy Cross Fathers to take a 50 year lease on the university property and building at an annual rental of $2,100. The lease was signed August 4, 1856. The Fathers stipulated, it would appear, to conduct a day school only and not an institution of college or university grade. With them also came to Chicago in the summer of 1856 a number of Brothers and Sisters of Holy Cross to conduct schools in St. Joseph and other parishes of the city. The Brothers took over the management of the boys' schools of St. Joseph's, St. Patrick's and St. Mary's parishes.

Though professedly only a preparatory day school of lower school grades, the University still continued to give the title of President to its principal officer. Father E.B. Kilroy was the first president during the period the Congregation of Holy Cross was in charge of the University, and he was succeeded by Fathers Shortis, Patrick Dillon, J. Dillon, and Neil Gilespie. In 1856 there were 35 students in attendance at the University so-called; but by the end of 1859 this number had risen to 120. But the spectre of financial distress hovered at all times over the institution. The panic of 1857 added notably to the embarrassment of the Fathers. A Collection ordered by the Bishop O'Regan in all the churches of the city toward helping them to pay their rent, through which means he hoped to realize at least $1,000 brought only sixth. Under his successor, Bishop Driggavi, the Fathers of Holy Cross, feeling themselves no longer able to maintain the unequal struggle, resolved to discontinue their educational and parochial labors in Chicago, where their zeal had merited general commendation and return to Notre Dame. This they did at the close of the school session 1860-1, the Brothers and Sisters of Holy Cross also withdrew from the city and returned at the same time. CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHICAGO, p.210-13, 1921

(Chicago Institutions)

Parochial schools for boys under the direction of the Brothers of Holy Cross. Brothers 10; pupils 740. METROPOLIC CATHOLIC ALMANAC AND LAITY'S DIRECTORY, 1859, p. 180

In September 1856, the Fathers of the Holy Cross, established since the early 1840's at Notre Dame, Indiana, arrived in Chicago to take over the management of the University of St. Mary of the Lake. St. Joseph's Church, directly across from the University property on Chicago Avenue, was at the same time committed to their charge. Father J.B. Mager at once assumed the duties of pastor with Fr. E.B. Kilroy as assistant. In May, 1857, Father Mager was succeeded by Father A. Tusch who in turn was followed by other priests of the Congregation including Fathers Force, Schuyler, and Gillespie. Father Mager subsequently returned to St. Joseph's as pastor and was apparently in charge at the time the Holy Cross Fathers withdrew from Chicago, the up-keep of the University having entailed financial burdens too great for them to continue to bear. They were succeeded at St. Joseph's by the O.S.B. Fathers from St. Vincents, Pennsylvania, who took over the parish in 1861. CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHICAGO, pp. 193-4

" . . . the foundation of Chicago, consisting of one college, 3 Brothers' schools." SORIN CHRONICLES

"The Cathedral School (Holy Name) was also given up, seeing that no Brother had the courage to continue it in the state of total abandonment in which it was left. The three other Brothers of St. Patrick's (school) and of the old cathedral (St. Mary's) remained at their posts, but till the present have not received the least part of their salary. Last Christmas, with the help of the pastor, they got up an exhibition at St. Patrick's for their own benefit. It bought in $200, which His Reverence (Bishop Duggan) took for himself without leaving them a cent. And this is the gentleman who tells all that will listen to him that the Congregation does not pay its rent and should consequently retire! SORIN CHRONICLES

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›