University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


NOTRE DAME'S BEGINNING . . . . "Permit me then to say at once that I am by no means disposed to admit that Notre Dame owes her actual development to the exertions of any man whether the one who came first or those who were his companions or who joined him in the field of his labors, however great or unceasing you may suppose their zeal and devotedness. Such is my honest and unshakable conviction on this point that in presence of some of my first and most faithful companions and of many more who subsequently came to increase our little band and who have since persevered with us through many tribulations, I will simply declare within their hearing that neither to them nor to me the present state of Notre Dame is to be assigned; we may have done what we could, but even then we feel one must confess that we are useless servants: 'servi inutiles sumus.' For unless God bless and edify Himself the House in vain do they labor who try to erect it: 'Nisi Dominus aedificaverat domus, in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eum.'" Sorin

"The delay of two years in the departure of the colony was caused, not so much by lack of subjects as by want of pecuniary resources to meet the expenses of departure, and the delay would probably have been prolonged indefinitely had not Providence inspired a pious lady of Le Mans with an idea whose execution unexpectedly furnished Fr. Moreau with the means of starting the new missionaries on their journey. Mme. ________ put up a golden chain to be disposed of by lottery for the new colony, which produced 1500 francs. A sum equal to this was added by private donations, and it was with this modest capital that the seven travelers started on their journey of 1500 leagues, under the protection of Our Lady of the Snow and of their Guardian Angels . . . .

"And then according to their ideas, America was a land of savages, where besides death and la cangue, a missionary might expect at every step to make extraordinary sacrifices.

"Agent at Harve secured cabin places at 500 francs each -- more money than they had. Content with a compartment for themselves of 20' x 10' between decks among the poor emigrants. By means of this instead of a debt of 500 francs they should have in New York they set up a reserve of 1500 francs. Meant sacrifices and inconveniences. Grateful to God for all. Two hundred passengers of the packet boat "Iowa". By little donations to the indigent "the good Brothers came to be looked upon as the benefactors of the steerage. Captain of "Iowa" was Pell, an Episcopalian. Allowed Fr. Sorin and Brothers up on deck -- a privilege reserved exclusively for cabin passengers. No bigot.

"Ship left port Sunday, August 8, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

"Eight days in English Channel. Rough waters, much sea-sickness. Only Brother Vincent escaped. Without him they would have had no attendance. When all were well, he was laid low.

"On deck a room 8' x 6' for use of cabin passengers used by Brothers for their religious exercises. Instructions given here, chapters held, confessions heard, mass said when the sea permitted. Our pious pilgrims came to receive the Bread of Angels and to fortify themselves against the daily and nightly dangers of the treacherous elements, and this was done eleven times during the voyage.

"Arrived in New York September 13 at sunset, landed next day, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Mr. and Mrs. Byerly received Brothers with a hospitality that surprised as much as it edified them. Mr. Byerly, a prosperous New York Merchant, a convert of but a week . . . stayed three days in New York, -- spent a day with Bishop Dubois at St. Paul's Rectory, Brooklyn.

"Bought provisions for journey to Vincennes." SORIN'S CHRONICLES

"When Father Sorin viewed the snow-covered ground of Notre Dame, the 26th of November, 1842, he had just arrived from Vincennes, near which he had one year before, founded a religious establishment of Brothers, who had accompanied him from the city of LeMans and whose numbers had been increased by several postulants. Leaving this establishment -- St. Peter's it was called -- in the care of Brother Vincent, Fr. Sorin took seven Brothers with him and started for his new mission. His companions were Brothers Francis Xavier, Gatian, Patrick, William, Basil, Peter and Francis, all of whom have gone to their last rest except Brother Francis Xavier, who has made coffins for all who have died at Notre Dame, and most likely will do the same kind office for many more yet before he drives the last nail in his own." LYONS, SILVER JUBILEE BOOK

"November 2, 1842, Father Sorin and seven Brothers set out for their new home, he on horse-back, the others with ox-team. Because of bad roads and bad weather, it was 24 days before the vanguard with the superior looked for the first time on the little lakes." NOTRE DAME LAKES, DAVID R. LEEPER

"November 19, 1842: On Thursday afternoon there was a sudden change in the weather, and for 48 hours it has been the coldest weather we have ever witnessed at this season of the year." SOUTH BEND PRESS

"Today I made a firm resolution to found no new houses for several years, but rathe rconsolidate those already in existence." FR. MOREAU -- JANUARY 1, 1851

Several foundations made this year. One at Louisville among Germans where two Brothers took charge of 150 children in a Franciscan Parish.

Toledo -- a parish school for English-speaking children.

Michigan City and La Porte -- fifty children.

. . . "It was decided not to have any new foundations, nor even to increase the number of Brothers in the establishments already formed." MINUTES OF PROVINCIAL CHAPTER, 1861

Nothing definite, however, was decided as no means could at the time be found to carry it into execution and at the same time given an opportunity to the Novice Brothers, now engaged in teaching, to make their novitiate. It was thoughthighly advisable to have Brothers Ignatius, Daniel, Gregory, Philip, and Nicholas to make their novitiates this year if their places could be filled by others. MINUTES OF PROVINCIAL CHAPTER, 1861

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›