University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


"Brother John, who wrote description of journey from St. Peter's to Notre Dame, 1843, accompanied Sorin in his rounds to various congregations for a radius of fourteen leagues. Often Protestant missionaries offered their churches for Sorin to preach, and after Sorin began with a big sign of the cross, and spoke a few words, he let Brother John explain at length the Catholic doctrine.

"Brother John left Notre Dame at the end of May, 1843, to get the second colony from Ste. Croix, but they had already left when he arrived there. He returned in September." "Etrienne Spir.", 1844, pp. 88-104, Second colony left France on June 3, 1843

"Sorin's catechist and companion in travels. English teachers for all, our everything . . . of English origin. Met Sorn in New York with Byerly. Baptized with Byerly. Eight months later joined the Community. Rendered greatest services. Great hope of the house. Sorin's favorite." cf. "Brother John's visit to France", (cf. "Sorin-Moreau") April 10, 1843

(Died in 1858) "Brother John, Jeremiah Cronin, a zealous and able religious. Delegated by Father Sorin, in 1843, to go to France in quest of funds and to fetch the second colony of missionaries destined for the United States.

"In the 'Etrennes Spirituelles' of 1843, we find this entry: The following letter is a faithful translation of the one written by an English speaking novice. St. Peter's, 23, September, 1842

"'My dear Father, you cannot form an idea of our delightful little Community: we now number 15, all very happy, and indeed it could not be otherwise under the direction of a man so eminently suited to the duties of his offices, as is our good and lovable Superior. Our retreat was all too short for me, and you may believe that we were all sorry to see its end. As you watch constantly over us, we have united our prayers to those of the Community in France. It is superflous to say more on this score, and so I should pass on to something more interesting, by telling you that many conversions occur here daily, thanks to the efforts of our dear Superior. I was present the other day with him at the baptism of a father and his children; it was, I assure you, a charming spectacle; several Protestants were present.

Then it was, my dear Father, that the poor missionary from the Far West, gathered the fruit of his toil and was recompensesd at the hands of God Almighty, for all his trials and crosses. At such times one realized what is owed for the good wrought by the missionary, and feverently prays to Him that sent him, with sentiments that can be fully appreciated only by those who enjoy a similar happiness.

"'Dear Father, you know that here we are obliged to speak English, and you can hardly realize the progress in it the Brothers have made since their arrival. As for me, I am of English origin and speak very little French. Brother Gatian speaks English very well, and has a very fine school at a distance of four miles from St. Peter's. I doubt if you can correctly visualize a school house in America; I do not believe you can, and I shall try to picture one for you. Imagine a huge pile of logs lying one above the other, with openings necessary to let in the air and light; for there are no windows. From this, you can easily conclude that the log house is not very comfortable in summer and also very cold in winter.

"'As I have nothing else to write about, you will please pardon the brevity of this letter; I hope the next one will be more agreeable.

I am forever, my dear Father,

Your devoted son in Jesus Christ,

Brother John."

"The 'Etrainnes Spirituelles' gives a French version of an English description written by Brother John of the journey made by him and the other Brothers who moved from old St. Peter's to Notre Dame du Lac. Then it adds: 'The Brother who wrote this account accompanies Father Sorin in his journeys to outlying missions within a radius of fourteen leagues . . . . . . . '".

"'This good Brother left America at the end of last May (1843), for the purpose of fetching the second colony, for which Father Sorin had long yearned; but it was already on the high seas when he arrived in Le Mans, and so he returned to Notre Dame, in the fall, September'".

"But the record of his departure from Le Mans for America states that he was accompanied by a Sister of Holy Cross, Mary of Providence, the date given being August 30, 1843. So, in reality, Brother John must be credited with bringing the third colony (a colony of one) from France to Indiana . . . the second colony (Father Francis Cointet, Fr. Marivault, Mr. Gouesse, and four Sisters of Holy Cross) had arrived at Notre Dame, a month before, July 30.

"Brother John lived for fifteen years after his return from France. 'The Community obituary Register gives the date of his death as October 4, 1858. A check of the graves in the cemetery failed to show that he is buried there. Perhaps a search of the records of burial in New Orleans or Austin, Texas, would yield some information'" BROTHER EPHREM'S NOTES

(See "Cointet and Brother John")

1842: See his letter quoted in full in the "Associate of St. Joseph", Vol. 13, No. 3

(Notre Dame site, 1844) "Notre Dame du Lac. Our house is built of large logs of trees of equal length placed on top of one another. The chimney is also of wood, covered with clay to prevent fire. It is fifteen minutes walk from South Bend, a town of 3,000 souls. There are several Protestant churches. Bridge over the river, high enough to let a 120' steam boat pass underneath. Boat comes from St. Joseph, Michigan. Land nearly 300 hectares, raised 13 meters above river. Before our house are two lakes, connected, surrounding an island crowned with trees. Larger lake 18 hectars, smaller 13. They empty into St. Joseph river by a cascade of about 2 miles which we plan to use for a mill. 43 hectares already cultivated, rest covered with woods. We have thirteen or fourteen head of cattle, 6 horses" Desciption written in English by a Brother coming from Notre Dame to Ste. Croix, 1844 -- Brother John

"The washhouse at Notre Dame, which was only a shed, was built on the edge of St. Joseph's Lake, so that the clothes could be washed therein . . . Bro. John made the fire, took the clothes in a wheelbarow from the laundry -- if we can call it such -- to the clothesroom and in his leisure moments made soap" Sr. Eleanore: "ON THE KING'S HIGHWAY", p. 145, 1845

"Brother John, 44, tending the lime-kiln. A good Brother; a zealous and exemplary religious" SORIN MEMO

1842: "Pioneer Brother of Holy Cross", -- Associate", 13:3

1843: See "On the King's Highway", p. 120

1843: " . . . We had the sorrow to leave Le Mans without being accompanied by Brother John, whom they had made us hope for and who is now sailing toward Holy Cross; and here we are happy enough to end our voyage in the company of the family of the same Brother. His approaching arrival at Holy Cross dispenses me from giving you many details concerning Notre Dame du Lac. he will tell you that Father Sorin is already at the head of twenty-four Brothers; he will speak to you of the good Indians who are occupied with the construction of the College and with the cultivation of our lands" Rev. F. Cointet to Father Moreau, New York, July 16, 1843

" . . . Brother John, who had gone to meet this colony at the Motherhouse and had, all unknowing, passed them in mid-ocean, returned to Notre Dame in November, bringing with him Sister Mary of Providence" "ON THE KING'S HIGHWAY", pp. 126-7

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›