University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


(1929) "Brother Onesimus (James Hoagland), aged 82, has just died at the mother house of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Notre Dame, where

"For over 35 years he was steward at the University of Notre Dame, the largest boarding school in the world. A convert to the Catholic Faith, he entered the religious life when over 44 years of age. After teaching for awhile at Springfield, Illinois, it was found that his previous experience and his native cleverness in practical affairs qualifies him best for the important position of steward he later filled for so long at Notre Dame. Brother Onesimus was of Dutch extraction, his family having been of the first to settle in New York City. He was particularly noted for his fervor and devotion and 'never betrayed' the mere business man clothed in the garb of a monk."

"There are those who look with disfavor on the belated vocation, but it is the contention of the present writer that there are many good men of mature age who feel they have no desire for the priesthood, who would not only sanctify themselves, but would prove a real asset in the Brotherhood of most of our religious communities of men. That religious orders will gladly receive men of mature age who desire to serve God in the religious life as Brothers is evident, for right here in our home state of Louisiana, the Right Reverend Abbot of St. Benedict advertises for just this type of candidate for the Order of St. Benedict. When Christ said 'Come, follow Me', He did not set an age limit. Following his example -- having no age limit, and any men possessing the necessary qualifications of health, good sense, and the desire to lead a religious life, is admitted and given ample opportunities to learn its duties and to prove his ability to fit into a specific community during a period of postulancy and novitiate before being admitted to the profession of vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience."Brother Gilbert, C.S.C.,

-- "Morning Star", New Orleans. (1929)

"...but Lincoln's birthday revives a memory more tender and more deeply appreciated than all others, because it is living. It is the recollection of Brother Onesimus, University Steward, who despite his shrunken and faded beard, still looks back through the decades to the days when Abraham Lincoln was a struggling lawyer before the Springfield bar.

"Brother Onesimus, whose family name is Hoagland, saw the emancipator in 1845, at the period of his candidacy for the second nomination to Congress. Living with his family on a farm near Jacksonville, he was present one day, at a stump speech of Lincoln's. 'Lincoln looked long and dangling then', recalls the Brother, 'His face was thin, and appeared to go mostly to nose. But his shining eyes looked through you, and were almost as impressive as his talk.' So he seemed to the lad who is now the University Steward.

"Lincoln's oratory, according to the Brother, was superior to the average of the time in only one thing. His facility for anecdote had even in those early days gained him a reputation, and his speeches always contained some homely analogy that usually convinced his hearers more than any of his arguments.

"Being no more than a boy of 15, Brother seldom saw Lincoln, however, and knew him face to face never. In fact, the steward later became a Democrat and in the tumultuous campaign of 1860 voted for Douglas....

"Brother Onesimus gives a thrilling account of the occurrences of the famous presidential campaign. Floats showing men hacking away at a pile of rails would parade the street continually. Partisans of Lincoln wore souvenirs of split rails for watch fobs or lapel ornaments."

This was quite as officially the emblem of the Republicans then as the miniature elephant is today..."

-- Scholastic, 54:275

"Brother Onesimus, of the Congregation of Holy Cross, died last Thursday at the Community House after a protracted illness. He was 92 years old, and had been a steward at the University, a post he held for 35 years."

-- Scholastic, Oct. 4, 1929.

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›