University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


Sorin writes Bishop Le Blanc of New Orleans to ask him 1) if he thinks boys and girls should be admitted to the Brothers' schools; 2) if such schools should be free, and 3) if the Brothers should be confined to one diocese?

At the beginning in France, wrote Sorin, our Brothers were confined to a single diocese, but soon Bishops asked for their services in other dioceses. "At present I am not under any obligation nor has anything occurred since my residence in this country to induce me to wish it. On the contrary, the many demands I have lately had urge me to reserve the privilege of supplying as many dioceses as shall cooperate with the Institute."

Sorin thinks also that the schools should be free to children of every denomination, and that the priests or other parties requiring the Brothers should pay their traveling expense and $40 a year for clothing, but he is open to the Bishop's advice.

Bishop Le Blanc's reply: "1) Little girls should not be admitted as pupils with boys, unless by exception as a matter of quasi-necessity. 2) Schools should be free, but it is to be expected that a charge will have to be imposed. In the case, let it be so nominal as to be altogether gratuitous for the poor and only a trifle for the better off parents. 3) by all means, the Brothers should not confine their labors to one diocese. The Brothers of St. Joseph is the first Institute of its kind in this country and there is every indication that its beneficent services are intended by Providence to have no other limits in this Union but those of its efficient members. Indeed, I would feel extremely happy and grateful to you could you spare two Brothers for New Orleans. We have a Catholic Boy's Orphan Asylum wherein we have not been able so far to retain a teacher for more than six months because we can't afford a good salary. The Institution is out for the city, quite near the Ursuline Convent at whose church the boys attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day. The Children are mostly Irish with a few French. I would be glad to fulfill your conditions.

New Orleans


Sorin also wrote Bishop Hughes on the mixture of sexes in the schools. The Bishop replied on April 20, 1844: "Whereever it can be avoided no mixture of sexes should exist, but rather the school should be composed of boys alone; cases might occur, however, particularly in the West, where such would be inexpedient if not impossible. To second question: I do not think that the schools might to be free, but at a price so moderate as not to impose either a burden or a humiliation on the parent. To the third: I think that the labors of the Brothers need not at first be especially confined to any one diocese, for should the experiment succeed there is no reason why, at a later period, each diocese might not have a house of its own to supply its own wants." Bishop Hughes to Sorin, 1844

Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick, writing under date of March 18, 1844, replied: 1. I do not think that girls should be received into schools, conducted by men . . . .In no circumstances would I admit boys and girls of tender age in the same schools. 2. Gratuitous schools are the most suitable to the character of our religion, and the best calculated to promote piety among the people generally. We have colleges already. We need schools for the poor. 3. I should think it advisable to spread the labors of the Brothers to any diocese that may desire them. 4. I think schools should be strictly Catholic. By admitting other children, the Brothers will be embarrassed in the religious instruction of Catholics, who will be laughed out of their religion by their Protestant schoolmates. This is the sad experience of Catholic colleges open to all . . . . I should be glad to have some of your Brothers in this diocese as soon as we can make the necessary arrangements to receive them . . . . Philadelphia (See also under Bishop Hailandiere and Brothers), Provincial Archives, 1844

Sorin wrote also the Archbishop Purceil of Cincinnati for advice. Sorin said that he demands for teachers are so numerous and urgent that they seem to call forth on our part every posssible effort to meet some at least of those great needs.

"I have thought of giving up all missionary and pastoral duties and of consecrating to one single purpose the exclusive attention of our Congregation."

" . . . .at the same time I wrote to Mr. (Father) Martin (Later Bishop) saying that I shall never consent to the admission of small girls into the Brothers' school over which the Bishop wishes to reserve the privilege to make exceptions when the localities will demand it -- a privilege he will not have." Sorin to Moreau, July 2, 1844

See under "Sorin -- Free Mixed Schools", 1844

See under "Hailandiere"

See under "Brother' Novitiate"

See under "Dubuque"

See under "Bishop Hailandiere" "Manual Labor School"

See under "St. Peter's 1841; Father Sorin 1888; St. Peter's (Kennedy)


See Moreau's Life by his nephew, 1844, Book 2, Chap. 15, p. 68

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›