University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


(Brother Gatian; about 1845; Provincial Archives) "The Brothers are never sent except at least two at once, nor for less than $100 per year, for each Brother, unless they take the school at their own risk. Their Novitiate is of one year in full; they cannot be admitted to perpetual vows before the age of twenty-five."

"Rev. John Dillon"
"N.D., 1857; Sorin's Defense"
"N.D. 1860"
"Sorin to Purcell, 1848"
"Sorin's Vocation Appeal, 1860"

"This college (N.D.) Will be one of the most powerful means of doing good in this country, and, at the same time, will offer every year, a most useful resource for the Brothers' Novitiate . . . and who knows but that God has prepared for them here, like at St. Peter's, some good and devoted novices?" -- Sorin to Moreau, Dec. 5, 1842.

(Brother Gatian; written before 1845; Provincial Archives) "The following sketch has been written in answer to many inquiries of pious clergymen, on the end and nature of our institution; doubtless, an attentive perusal of it will present to many zealous pastors an opportunity of forwarding the impulse of a divine call in some chosen souls of their flocks, and thus also of sharing the good, the sole object it has in view.

"The Association of the Holy Cross, whose Mother House is in Le Mans, France, was established at Notre Dame du Lac in 1842, where it possesses an extensive farm, a college, a novitiate for the priests and for the Brothers, and a Manual Labor School in which orphan boys are taught by the Brothers the most useful trades of the country, together with a good common school English education.

"This institution consists of 3 distinct branches, with the same end, nearly the same Rules, the same vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, the same interests, the same Government, viz., 1) The Priests of the Holy Cross consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Their Constitutions are nearly those of St. Ignatius of Loyola. They devote themselves to Missions, and to Education, assisted by the Brothers. 2) The Brothers, similar to the Christian Brothers, are consecrated to the Most Holy Heart of St. Joseph. They were chiefly instituted to teach the poor and the destitute. Besides, the object of their Institute is to take charge of Male Orphan Asylums, where they may teach useful trades, such as tailoring, shoemaking, etc.; and also discharge all the manual offices connected with a college and a farm. 3) The Sisters of the Holy Cross, consecrated to the Most Sacred and Immaculate Heart of Mary are devoted to the education of youth . . . . The most suitable age to be admitted into this Society is from 18 to 40, and the qualifications are chiefly: a blameless character, a sound constitution, a true piety, pure morals, a firm and conciliating temper, a great desire of self-sanctification in a spirit of obedience."

"With Sister M. Cenacle eight other Sisters of postulants left France with Sorin for Notre Dame, besides 1 priest, 1 seminarian, with 3 professed Brothers and 1 postulant. They brought 60 chests which contained a number of articles needed in the house. Not so many vocations as Sorin had planned.

"A delay of several weeks prevented him from visiting Ireland, to which country he had several recommendations that carried weight with them, and where he would have found vocations for the missions." -- Provincial Archives, 1846.

"For what is more delicate and more sacred than a vocation? What a terrible crime it would be to divert it from its path, or even influence it in any way whatsoever! Vocations come from God; men cannot give them." -- Father Moreau, 1849.

See also "Novitiates, 1846".

1850's: Chicago: "We hope with the blessing of God and the zealous protection of the worthy Bishop of Chicago, to multiply our parochial schools through his large diocese. May God inspire you with the desire to procure us vocations, and increase the number of our teachers." -- From Circular addressed to Chicago pastors by Prov. Sorin. They are asked to convey its contents to their people.

(Archbishop [Cardinal] Cullen to Sorin; 1852; Provincial Archives) "It is not so easy now as it was some years ago to get subjects in Ireland. I am persuaded, however, that if you come over and visit Maynooth, Carlow, and All Hallows Colleges, you will succeed in obtaining some few to join you. It will be necessary to visit these places yourself, otherwise no one will go to America. I think that the superiors of these colleges, and all the bishops will do anything they can to promote your views."

"Rev. J.A. Walter to Sorin", 1864
"Galveston, 1869"
"Volume 2 of Moreau's Letters, p. 146".

"The Brothers' Institute was in itself an enterprise full of difficulties and very doubtful in a country where there are nothing but obstacles in the way of a young man possessed of the necessary talents to perform his duty and to come up to what is expected of him. Msgr. Hughes, Bishop of New York, being consulted in this matter by Father Sorin fifteen years ago (1843) did not believe in the possibility of success. One of his reasons was this: If you have subjects of ability, they will want to become priests. All the difficulties pointed out by the illustrious Bishop of New York have been met with in turn, and often all together.

"Real vocations are rare, and, so far from being encouraged, they are either held in check, either because of the indifference of a great number of directors, or from their desire to keep them in their own house, or at least in their neighborhood the few young men of edifying lives to be found in the world.

"When they have entered the novitiate, where they can no longer enjoy the liberty and the comforts of people in the world, they are ever haunted by the thought of the pleasures which they could enjoy and of the money they could easily earn.

"If they persevere for awhile and are sent out on the missions, dangers multiply and helps disappear. Most frequently they are ill provided with what is necessary for the success of the school. Here, for instance, it is a poor cabin with nothing whatsoever attractive about it; elsewhere it ir a damp and unhealthy basement; again it is desks, benches, maps, text books, etc., that are lacking, and which are delayed for whole months. Meanwhile the patience of teachers and of scholars is exhausted.

"If the Brothers live with the pastor they are generally well treated, but they sometime there learn more than is good for them. If, on the other hand, they have their own house, they are often left too much to themselves, and soon become disgusted with everything.

"The Brothers undertaken alone would probably have been a complete failure. It would not have been able to support itself, and would not have developed. Far from losing any chances of success, therefore~ from its union with the other branches which were added to it here, as well as in France, it has therein a new element of life for itself. It is in this union of the three branches that we find the development of each, every member being interested in the welfare of the three Societies.

"If the number of foundations is not greater, what we have just written ought rather to show the protection of heaven on what has been done and the bright hopes of doing still more in future, since in two years alone the Society of the Brothers has almost doubled in numbers and the novitiate has more subjects than ever.

"The first thing to be thought of was to live, that is, to create the means of susistence for the subjects and for the novitiate. Up to the present time the schools have made a poor showing financially. It was found necessary to put a number of the Brothers at works that were better calculated to pay our expenses than teaching. Hence, Brothers were taught to be farmers, tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths, bakers, coopers, and gardeners. And when a college was started wherein all these branches could be utilised, another colony of Brothers had to be organised to do the work of the college.

"Meanwhile the business of teaching was never lost sight of. Whenever a candidate presented himself in the institution who had the talents necessary for a teacher, he was put to study.

"Once more, we say, a work of this kind was most difficult. Time was required to lay the foundations before thinking of raising the edifice. This work is now founded, and if heaven continues to bless it, it is ready for development. God be blessed for the contradictions it has met with.

"Meanwhile Providence was bringing to the novitiates of the Congregation so many subjects that there was not room for them. In the month of April everything was crowded, and it became necessary to find larger quarters. The Novitiate of the Brothers had not only become too small, but also unsafe for the number crowded into it.

"Immediately after Easter it became necessary to remove the large portion of the little army, beaded by their brave captain, to the Western part of the Brothers' House, north of the college, until there should be on hand the means to build a new novitiate. However, it was resolved that about 15 novices should continue to live under the old roof, that they might watch over the precious treasures of St. Joseph's Island."

(The Preceding defense was made by Father Sorin in answer to charges leveled at him by the Bishop of Vincennes, (St. Palais) at the Provincial Council of Cincinnati, from which Sorin was unavoidably absent).

"Towards the beginning of this same year (1860), the administration thought it well to make an effort to fill the new novitiate of the Brothers, which was nearly completed, and which appeared to justify new sacrifices to procure for it additional promising subjects. The Rev. James Dillon, Vice-Preeidswt of the college, was chosen to preach the new crusade against the inroads of infidelity and of Protestantism, and to seek young men of faith and zeal who desired to enroll under the banner of Holy Cross. Some months of this work showed that it was worth continuing and that the Congregation would be richly benefited by it. In America people must make themselves known, must show themselves to me if they expect anything from the world." -- Sorin's Chronicles 1860.

(February 17, 1860) Circular letter asking priests to direct young men who wish to become teaching brothers to Notre Dame. Sorin says he hasn't enough to fulfill all the requests he receives for Brothers. (Mimeographed letter in German.)

(Rev. James S. Dillon to Sorin; February 27, 1860; Provincial Archives) New York (where F.D. was obviously on a recruiting mission): "Speaking before a Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society I stated the nature and end of our Congregation . . . and of the great field for the instruction of youth that was open in the West. The Diocese of Alton afforded me a capital instance. It comprises half the state of Illinois, has not one Catholic school to which Catholics can point with pride. I mentioned also the general dislike in which the schools were held by non-Catholics, and their willingness to aid in erecting and supporting Catholic schools; I then mentioned the fact of one tendering 30 acres of land for Catholic educational purposes. I mentioned the further fact of the pro rata of school funds being allowed us in some instances for our Catholic children.

"I do not (see) much prospect to dispose scholarships so far. But I cannot expect everything in a day."

"Recruitment: Rev. Father Dillon, Director of Studies, shall start immediately in search of candidates for the Congregation, and of students and apprentices, and remain on his mission until the end of May." -- Local Council, Feb. 6, 1860.

". . . The Apostolic Delegate (Bishop Luers) suggested that hereafter an agreement shall be entered into with the Right Reverend Bishops in whose parishes the Brothers shall be employed in teaching, to the following effect, namely, that the Brothers shall never be encouraged to abandon their vocation to become priests, either secular or regular; that all reasonable evidence be used in case of such temptations, to persuade them to remain faithful to their vocation; and that, futhermore, should thay finally depart from the Congregation that they shall not be received into the diocesan seminary, nor recommended to other bishops, nor sent to seminaries as subjects of the diocese." -- Minutes of the Provincial Chapter, 1865.

"Inspired by the general movement of Christian education, the Congregation of Holy Cross, is not behind hand. Her work at Notre Dame and in parish schools is well known. But there is something more not so well known. The general Chapter, held at Notre Dame in August, 1886, composed of the best minds of the Community from Rome, France, Canada, and the United States and presided over by the venerable and illustrious Father Sorin, Superior General . . . set aside one of our most beautiful colleges exclusively for the education of teaching Brothers. This college located at Watertown, Wisconsin, is the most delightful spot that could be desired, and it is famous for its healthy location. Now what the Community wants can be easily surmised -- young men, good boys desirous to devote their lives to a work which will bring forth blossoms in time and fruit in eternity. To teach the young not only the sciences, but, in addition, to teach them how to serve God, is a work not too low for the angels in heaven. Great rewards may be expected by those who thus devote themselves, 'And they shall shine as stars for all eternity' (Daniel 12:3) . . . . In other words, to make known the Kingdom of Christ to little ones is in the very highest order of human effort. Consequently, St. Paul, quoting from Isaias in praise of such labors says, "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things" (Romans, 10:15). . . . "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who bringeth good tidings" (Isaias 50:11) --Circular Letter, Rev. W. Corby, c.s.c., 1886.

(Bishop Alerding's pastoral on Vocations: 1906) (Provincial Archives) "It is they (religious teachers) next to priests who keep alive the faith and quicken the spiritual life of the church. Pastors of souls will readily testify of what immense influence for good these religious are in parishes. Indeed, what would have become of our schools if we had not these teachers. The vows they have taken qualify them in character and the special training received makes them the best educators for our children. The providence of God has given the Church these religious comuunities as an endowaent upon which no money value can be put. There is not enough money on earth to furnish one religious. God's vocation alone and His grace together with faithful cooperation train these religious, both Brothers and Sisters . . . . It is my wish to bring to your notice that the Church is being hampered in her work of educating her youth because the number of teachers -- Brothers and Sisters -- is inadequate. . . . though the work is increasing, the number of workers is not increasing in proportion. The cry all over the land is: We must have more Brothers and Sisters to teach in our schools. To carry on the work of high schools for boys, the number of Brothers is woefully deficient, out of all proportion to the number needed" -- "Diocese of Fort Wayne", pp. 496-7 (1906).

"True, there are older communities, and many which are better known, but this is the one that God has selected for me." -- Sister St. Francis Xavier, S.P., "Life and Letters of . . .", p. 87.

See letter on vocations to Brothers of Holy Cross in Brothers Aidan's scrapbook.

See also "Brother Edward, Toledo, 1855". "Alumnus", 3:112

"(Brother Jarlath to Sorin; 1837; Provincial Archives) "It is true that I have been canvassing several years and have been instrumental in sending only a few subjects. There are several reasons why: first, it is difficult to get boys who want to be Brothers. Now all want to be priests. I have had some promise me that they would go, just as soon as they saw the pastor or some other priest, they changed their minds. One or two priests told me that it was a delicate matter for a Brother to meddle with as that was the mission of a priest. I have failed to find a priest that wanted good subjects to leave his parish . . . you can't reason with some secular priests."

"Associate of St. Joseph", April, 1940.

How did you first learn of the religious Brotherhood?

40% . . . . advertisements in Catholic newspapers and magazines.

32% . . . . religious teachers.

16% . . . . Vocational talks by visiting Brothers.

10% . . . . Confessors and Directors.

2% . . . . Parents and friends.

See: Burns:"Immigration Period". "Novitiate, 1846". "M. F. Egan".

(Circular of September 10, 1892) "Such a promising opening justifies the expectation that we may soon see at our university, 450 boarders. "Would to God that we could say that our Novitiates were in the same measure filling with pious candidates somewhat adequate in number to the immense and daily increasing wants of our missions, and the urgent applications made upon us from almost every direction by Bishops and priests, whose distressing needs we would be so happy to relieve had we only the means. Could we add 500 Brothers to the 500 that Providence has given us, they would all be usefully located in 32 months. The great question of the day, the vital question of Society, is that of education. It is not alone in the classroom pious and devoted men could serve us with a holy purpose our Manual Labor Schools call for an increased number of mechanics, as our Catholic domestic employments, our printing office, our farms and gardens, require a much larger number of devoted hands, whose first merit must be devotedness and piety." -- Sorin, 1892.

"The Very Rev. Provincial (Zahm) spoke of the difficulty of getting vocations to the Brotherhood, telling of the efforts made by the Provincial Administration in this direction, and discussed the general causes which had brought about this condition. He told also of the difficulty experienced by other communities in getting vocations to the Brotherhood. Upon his calling for suggestions as to how the problem of vocations could best be met under present circumstances, Brother Peter proposed that recourse be had to prayer, and that each member of the Community, should offer up special prayers each month for this intention, in order that God, the author of all vocations, might vouchsafe to send to the Congregation those vocations for the teaching Brotherhood, which are so necessary for the work He has appointed the Congregation to do. Brother Paul suggested also that advertisements be inserted in the Catholic papers and magazines for that purposes which suggestion likewise was agreed to. The Chapter decreed that each priest should offer up the Holy Mass once a month, and each member not a priest should offer Holy Communion, the beads, and the way of the Cross once a month, for this intention." -- Provincial Chapter, July 6, 1904.

"Father Spillard suggested, anent the discussion of the previous session regarding vocations to the Brotherhood, that a letter be prepared and sent to those pastors throughout the country who are known to be especially friendly to the Congregation, asking their cooperation in this work, and offering to send someone to preach a sermon on the subject of religious vocation, occasionally should such be their wish. The motion was adopted. Frs. Spillard, Burma, and Brother Albinus were appointed as a Committee to draft the letter." -- Provincial Chapter, July 7, 1904.

(From "The Associate of St. Joseph", 1934) "It is quite evident that if we expect most religious to be priests, and minimize the beauty and excellence of the vocation of the Brotherhood, we are making it difficult, if not impossible, for the many young men who have religious vocations to follow them. The requisites for the priesthood are much less found than the fitness for the religious vocation, and the Church does not need, and cannot support, more than a certain number of priests engaged in priestly ministries.

"Thus, taking our own country, for example, we have here perhaps 25,000 priests, including all those in religious communities and the secular clergy as well, whereas there are four or five times as many religious Sisters in our Communities.

"Considering that there are about a million boys already in our parish schools, and for the most part being taught by Sisters, and that a million more Catholic boys and a million more Catholic girls are going to the public schools, we can readily see that 100,000 more teaching Brothers could find fruitful occupations in our schools alone." -- Rev. Edward Garesche, S.J.

See: "Bishop Loras to Sorin." "Bishop Hughes on Vocations". "Father Francais' Letters". "Cardinal Mundelein", 1917.

"The vocation of a Religious to teach young pupils can scarcely be over-estimated. I have always feared, on the contrary, that its importance may not be sufficiently appreciated by some. Let us all pray humbly and fervently to God and to Our Lady of Good Counsel that we may more and more fully realise, day after day, the beauty and momentous responsibility of our Holy Mission as teachers of God's precious ones." -- Sorin's Letters, pp. 218-9.

"Holy Cross Brothers" -- a booklet by Brothers Emil (text) and Theophane (pictures). Second printing, March, 1946.

See under: "Brothers, Pressure for".

"Providence, which places heroic designs in the hearts of the saints, knows how to furnish means for executing these same designs. Called from above to enlighten souls, and cause them to produce fruit, saints never remain solitary. Around them, as around stars, appear, at the time marked by God, docile satellites who follow them in their revolutions." -- Anon.

(First Vocations, 1841-2) "Providence before long sent them some helpers. Besides Mr. Rother, who was expecting them, two young men of the neighborhood presented themselves and were received into the Novitiate. Some months later two others of a more advanced age came to increase the number of the children of St. Joseph; several others in the spring of 1842 arrived from Jasper, Indiana, from New York, and other places and were received. Hardly a year had passed before nine postulants were admitted to the Novitiate.

"Eight of these were received into the Society by the conferring on them the religious habit at the close of the first general retreat, Aug. 21, 1842 . . . . Thus, 12 vestures took place at St. Peter's in the space of 15 months." -- Sorin Chronicles.

(1843) See appeal in "Freeman's Journal" articles in Large File, under "Brothers of St. Joseph".

(1860) See Sorin: "Vocation Appeal."

(Vocations, N.D.) See letter of Father L'Etourneau in Large File.

(1858) "Meanwhile Providence was bringing to the novitiates of the Congregation so many subjects that there was not room for them. In the month of April everywhere was crowded, and it became necessary to find more spacious quarters. The novitiate of the Brothers had become not only too small but also unsafe for the number crowded into it."

(Brotherhoods and Sisterhood. -- Catholic Vigil, Notre Dame, Daily, Dec. 10, 1923) "The Sisterhoods have long been overworked and the demand for teaching Brothers far exceeds the supply. Yet one-half of the Catholic children in the United States are in attendance at public schools. Many who received their early training in the parish grade schools are thrown upon the world with wills unformed and entirely unfitted to face the dangers and evils so apparent all around.

"The Catholic high school is necessary if only to conserve the good that is done so well in our parochial schools. It is evident, then, that the workers in this field are all too few."

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›