With the Saints. |
"The saints are in heaven."
WITH the saints! --
With the saints in their bliss! --
-- ELIZA ALLEN STARR.
OCTOBER 31 -- NOVEMBER 3, 1893.
More than fifty years have passed since Father Sorin, imbued with the spirit of an apostolic missionary, began his great life work in the wilds of Northern Indiana. During that long period of time he devoted himself assiduously to the development and perfection of his grand undertaking, never faltering or wavering, although the most trying difficulties and obstacles beset his path, but ever filled with an unbounded confidence in the protection of Heaven, and instilling the same spirit into the hearts of those whom he gathered around him to co-operate with him in carrying out the great designs which his noble mind conceived. His faith and piety and zeal were signally blessed by God, and it was given him to see in his declining years the child of his heart -- his beloved Notre Dame, his glory and his crown -- nobly realizing the hopes and expectations of his early years -- a grand home of Religion and Education, a centre of piety and learning, whence issue forth year after year bands of devoted souls to diffuse her influence throughout the land.
It was the exceptional privilege of Father Sorin to be blessed with health, strength, and length of years to begin, to direct the progress and witness the perfection of one of the greatest undertakings of the nineteenth century. It was to be expected that such unremitting and long - continued labor should tell upon his bodily frame. But it was not until about three years ago that he first gave signs of impaired health. At that time, in fulfilment of a long-cherished pious desire, and in the hope of amelioration in health, he visited the Holy Land, the impressions of which are embodied in a manual of "The Way of the Cross," which he composed and published on his return. He was greatly benefited by the voyage, and continued the active exercise of the duties of his office until within a few months ago. After that, while the great mind retained its noble powers, the hitherto tireless body, despite all the care and attention which scientific skill could command and faithful, loving devotion could give, began to yield and steadily lose its strength.
On Saturday, the 28th ult., he was unable to rise from his bed, and through that and the following day his condition became gradually more serious and alarming. On Monday he received, with the most edifying devotion, the last sacraments in the presence of most of the priests and many devoted religious who were gathered around his death-bed. He lingered through the night, constantly attended by numbers of his spiritual children, his eyes closed as if oblivious to all things earthly, whilst the fervent aspirations that at times escaped his lips showed that his soul was absorbed in prayer and communion with Heaven. Sometimes, too, a smile would light up his countenance, as if he were favored with some heavenly vision, or enjoying a foretaste of the ineffable bliss which awaited him. So the night passed, and Tuesday, the vigil of All Saints, dawned, the venerable Father gradually sinking until at a quarter to ten o'clock, when he opened his eyes slowly, looked upon the kneeling religious surrounding him as if bidding them a fond farewell, then gently closing his eyes again, without struggle or motion, he gave forth his great soul into the hands of his Maker. Our Father Founder was dead! The end had come calmly and peacefully, and, as befitting the close of such a noble, devoted life, it coincided with the end of the month consecrated to his most cherished devotion, the Rosary of the Queen of Heaven, whose client and champion he had been all through his years upon earth. It was, too, the eve of the great festival of All Saints, when the Church upon earth was preparing to celebrate the glory and happiness of her triumphant members in the celestial kingdom, and the happy death of the venerable Superior, crowning a prayerful, devoted life, gave to his spiritual children the consoling assurance that to him the God of goodness and of mercy must have given a speedy admission into the company of the blessed.
The sad intelligence of his death was quickly wired to the houses of the Order throughout the world, and to prelates and friends in this country. Telegrams and letters of sympathy began to be received, showing the universal appreciation in which the lamented dead had been held. Quickly, too, loving hearts and willing hands proceeded to drape the various University buildings, expressing, in part, the deep affliction with which all at Notre Dame were oppressed. The main building, Sorin Hall, St. Edward's Hall -- the home of Father General's little favorites, the Minims -- the Chapel of Our Lady, where the lamented Superior was accustomed to offer up the Holy Sacrifice, and his own residence, were heavily covered with the emblems of mourning. And on Wednesday, immediately after the close of the services appropriate to the solemnity of the day, a great transformation took place within the magnificent Church of the Sacred Heart -- the building of which was so largely due to the exertions of Father General. A large, beautiful catafalque was erected at the head of the centre aisle, near the altar railing, to receive and retain the precious remains until they should be carried forth to their last resting-place. The whole interior of the sacred edifice, the walls, pillars and paintings were heavily draped, while from the centre of the arched ceiling, immediately over the nave, immense streamers of black flowed in melancholy beauty to the different extremities of the floor below. In the meantime the body of our departed Father had been prepared, clothed in the cassock and cape which he had worn during his sojourn in the Holy Land and vested in the habiliments of his priestly office.
During the whole of Tuesday and Wednesday the precious remains lay in state in the parlor of his residence and were constantly attended by the religious kneeling in prayer and visited by friends from near and far. The Mayor and members of the City Council of South Bend were among the first to appear at the bier of the dead and give expression to their sympathy and regret at the departure of one whose life work contributed so much to the prosperity of our neighboring city.
On the evening of Wednesday, after the Vespers of the Dead had been chanted, the body in its casket was borne to the catafalque which had been prepared for it in the church. There it was placed, surrounded by lights, to he constantly watched over night and day by prayerful religious until it should be carried to the grave.
On Friday morning, at nine o'clock, the last sad rites of the Church were begun by the solemn Office -- Matins and Lauds -- of the Dead, at which the Right Rev. Bishop Rademacher officiated. The members of the clergy who assisted completely occupied the large sanctuary, and very many were obliged to take chairs outside the railings. The choir, led by the Rev. Fathers Klein, Hurth, M. Lauth, A. Kirsch and L. Moench sang with touching expressiveness the beautiful music so appropriately designed in the ecclesiastical liturgy to accompany the prayers and aspirations of the Church militant for her departed faithful children. During the office the crowds of friends and sympathizers that filled the large temple to its portals and extended far without were permitted to file past the catafalque and view the remains. The large numbers of the poor who formed part of that mournful procession, all anxious to look for the last time on the face of him whom they had known and loved so well, was a pathetic but deeply impressive tribute to the large - heartedness and noble charity which characterized the life and work of Father General.
After the Office, the University band, stationed in the choir gallery, under the direction of Prof. Preston, played a beautiful dirge with organ accompaniment. The Pontifical Requiem Mass was then begun, by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Rademacher who was attended by the Very Rev. Provincial Corby, as assistant priest; the Rev. President Morrissey and the Rev. Vice-President French, as deacon and sub-deacon of the Mass, the Rev. J. M. Toohey and N. J. Stoffel, C.S.C., as deacons of honor; the Rev. D. J. Spillard, C.S.C., Master of Ceremonies and the Rev. J. M. Just, C.S.C., assistant Master of Ceremonies. The Most Rev. Archbishop Elder, vested in Cappa Magna, assisted from a throne on the Epistle side, attended by the Very Rev. Vicar-General Braminer, of Fort Wayne, and the Very Rev. J. F. Frieden, Provincial of the Society of Jesus for the Province of St. Louis. The beautiful music of the Mass was well sung by the choir, while Bro. Basil, C.S.C., presided at the organ.
After the last Gospel, His Grace the Most Rev. Archbishop Elder of Cincinnati ascended the pulpit and delivered the sermon. His discourse was marked by fervor, piety and a thorough, heartfelt appreciation of the grand qualities and gifts of the departed, and it was delivered with an eloquence that brought every thought and expression home to the hearts of his auditors whom he held in rapt attention throughout. On another page we reproduce substantially, the touching and appropriate sermon of the distinguished prelate.
When he had concluded, the Archbishop, vested in cope and mitre, proceeded to give the last Absolution over the remains. And then the great mournful cortege was formed escorting all that was mortal of Father General to the last silent resting-place. The pall-bearers were the Rev. P. P. Cooney, C.S.C., the Rev. P.W. Condon, C.S.C., the Rev. T. Maher, C.S.C., the Rev. J. A. O'Connell, C.S.C., the Rev. M. Robinson, C.S.C., and the Rev. P. Johannes, C.S.C. Reverently they lifted the casket from the catafalque and bore it slowly down the aisle to the hearse in waiting at the door. The funeral procession was then formed as follows:
At length the cemetery was reached, and the pall-bearers removed the casket from the hearse and place their precious burden beside the open grave which had been prepared for it. The Rt. Rev. Bishop recited the last prayers of the Church, and, while all knelt in prayer, the remains of the loved Father General were lowered, slowly and sadly into the tomb, there to await the summons of a glorious resurrection. May his soul enjoy light and rest and peace eternal!
COME forth, then, O Mary, Our Lady most dear!
Stand forth on thy Dome, 'neath the welkin so clear!
Stand forth, crowned with stars, the whole world at thy feet;
Thyself must to-day thy leal champion greet;
Thyself, as his Mother, his Lady alway --
Come forth, Notre Dame, to meet him to-day!
RIGHT REV. BISHOP, REV. FATHERS, DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, BELOVED BRETHREN:
I do not know how to speak on this occasion to you who knew him so much better than I did; to you who saw every day the manifestation of that great mind and of that deep feeling heart which made him so admirable and so lovable; who were blessed by the examples of his virtues -- you who feel yourselves indebted to him for so large a share of that knowledge and training which make up your intellectual and your spiritual life. It seems like a cold intrusion on the sacredness of your own emotions for me -- who knew him indeed and knew his works (for who does not know them?), but so much less than you -- for me to interrupt the sweet flow of your own feelings by my words. And yet I have no choice but to do so. He who now occupies his place among you has seen fit to ask me to say something on the occasion. And although to comply seems almost out of place, yet to refuse would certainly be worse.
Pardon me, then, if I distract you from your own sad feelings of sorrow and of gratitude. For life must not be all spent in communing with our feelings. Our life is work. His own life was all work -- wondrous work! -- and it is God's will that every event in our lives, sorrowful or joyous, should be an occasion to animate ourselves to the accomplishment of the work that lies before us. This is pre-eminently an occasion when our feelings should be turned to good account by bracing ourselves up to work and duty. For these remains tell us of a life of extraordinary and untiring labor and self-sacrificing devotion to duty. They teach us to profit by the lessons of his example and to walk in his footsteps. Not in the footsteps, indeed, of his intellectual greatness, of his wonderful natural power. Oh, no! they are beyond the reach of an ordinary man; but in those footsteps which constituted for him the highest effort of his life -- the footsteps of the love of God; of devotion to duty; of self-sacrifice; of indomitable trust in God; of tender love for all men for God's sake. For God and man he did his great work, and he did it marvellously well. Let me mention briefly an outline of his life, most of which has been spent right here before you.
It was in the year 1814 that he was born in the town of Ahuillé, France. He was blessed with good parents who knew the value of a good, Catholic education, and of good early teaching in the sciences, and gave to him, therefore, an opportunity of advancement by which he profited even in his early childhood, and devoted himself to the study of everything which would elevate him. He applied himself assiduously to acquiring a knowledge of that which would fit him for the service of his God and of his fellowman, and to aid him in the development of his intellectual powers. He had accurate observation; clear, sound reasoning; diligence in application; and, still more valuable, he acquired that higher education without which all the rest cannot but be a failure -- the education of the soul, teaching it to trust in God; to bring out the power of the inner life and to serve God as He deserves. He in his youth devoted himself to all that was required for the training of body, mind and soul.
Very early in his life he felt that Almighty God had called him to the sacred priesthood, and with that extraordinary zeal and activity which have so wonderfully marked his whole life, he offered himself to that community -- that young community which had just been raised up and begun its existence in France, devoted to the great work of education and of evangelizing the people. He joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross, then founded by the venerable and beloved Father Moreau, in Mans, France. Almost at the earliest possible age he received the holy priesthood; he was already so well prepared that the sacred unction was laid upon him at the age of twenty-four. In the meantime he had imbibed a zeal and a strong desire to come over to this New World of ours and help the struggling Church of God here.
Because of this that great man, who was so very much like himself in his unusual ability, but still more like himself in his ardent devotion to the cause of God and of the Church and in his love of souls, the saintly Bishop de la Hailandière, of the Diocese of Vincennes, was attracted to him. This good man went to Europe, seeking after zealous souls to aid him in the work of his diocese. He depicted to the young priest the great need of laborers in this new field of God, and the great harvest of souls that awaited the reaper. Unto him he likewise depicted his love of God the Father, and said, as did Saint Paul, how many great things must be patiently suffered for His dear sake; how that the love of souls would call for sacrifices and sufferings from him. And, animated by his love of God and man, Father Sorin offered himself a willing servant even in the face of the unknown tasks and suffering, and with the thought perhaps never again would he be permitted to return to France.
In the year 1841, then but twenty-seven years of age, and only three years a priest, his superiors saw, in his abilities, his intellectual powers and his untiring energy, and still more in his self-sacrificing love of God, that he would be a mami in every way suited to lead the little band of missionaries into this new country. He therefore came. A young priest -- only three years before had he taken the sacred vows -- he came with a band of seven good, devoted Brothers of the society, having in their breasts the spirit, the same spirit of God as their noble leader. One of that brave, God-fearing band still survives among you -- survives as a monument of the zeal which led that entire community to devote themselves to us, to carry the spirit of God into our country.
Vincennes was the Episcopal See, and the diocese embraced the whole State of Indiana. When he arrived in Vincennes there had been some pioneers before him who had labored with and greatly benefited the Indian inhabitants. The former mission band had been carried on with more or less success; but under the pressure then put upon it, it had been reduced to a little community of God's servants, and, frankly, it had been, as a separate mission, abandoned. But the venerable Father Badin, one of the brave pioneers of God's Gospel in this part of the country, had secured a tract of land which he conveyed to the Bishop of Vincennes. When Father Sorin arrived with his band of missionaries, it was proposed by the bishop that the tract be dedicated to the new society, on the condition that a college for the education of youth should be erected here. A college of arts and sciences in a wilderness, still uninhabited except by Indians and some few scattered whites! Not a town of any importance within reach; few if any roads, that could be called roads, around it! To erect in that wilderness a temple, a college for the education of youth; to erect a college to teach the arts and sciences! Was it not a dream? Yes, it was one of the dreams of the saints. Bishop de la Hailandière was pre-eminently a man of education and a man of God. So was Father Sorin. I have no doubt but his sagacity enabled him to understand the man. He recognized in that young priest, scarce twenty-eight years of age, scarce four years a priest -- recognized in him, as Samuel recognized in the youthful David -- the person selected by God to do God's work.
And how could that young man, with any prudence, accept such a burthen, and bind himself to such a contract? Why, by the same spirit that gave courage to David before the giant Goliath -- the spirit of undoubting trust in God -- when God called him to His work. "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts. The Lord will deliver thee into my hand, that all the earth may know there is a God in Israel."
I need not tell you how that trust has been rewarded, what work he has done. You know better than I, and a part of it we see around us and above us. This grand temple of God, with its majestic proportions, its soul-moving decorations; this altar of the living Sacrifice, enriched with all that art and skill could lay out upon it -- these are the creations of his genius animated by his zeal for the glory of God. This University around us with its numerous grand buildings -- each one of them itself a monument of which any man might well be proud -- these spacious halls of science equipped with all the best appliances of the age, these are but some of the material monuments of his ability and untiring labor.
There are cities in our country -- the most remarkable perhaps very near to us -- which have grown with wondrous rapidity. But I do not think that in all our country, nor in any other country, there is a place where one single man has transformed a savage wilderness into such a city of material splendor, intellectual culture, and spiritual life as this University of Notre Dame -- one single man, aided, it is true, by able, earnest fellow-laborers. But almost all these fellow - laborers are themselves a part of his own work. He formed his own tools -- the instruments of his work. You know it, Rev. Fathers, and you, good, holy Brothers, and you, devoted Sisters; you yourselves have loved to tell how it was he that led you here, he that trained you to the work, and inspired you with his own burning zeal for God's glory and the welfare of men. He fired you with his own enthusiasm in great and difficult enterprises; his own immovable confidence in God's assistance; his own humble distrust of himself and reliance on prayer; his own strong spirit of meeting great obstacles by greater efforts. It is from yourselves I have learned these things -- that you yourselves are a part of his great work, and all that has been accomplished here is due, under God, to Father Sorin. But it was under God it was effected, because he took his work as imposed by God, and because in success and in disappontment he trusted all to God.
Here then lies our duty -- yours and mine on this occasion -- to praise God for giving such power and such faithfulness to His servant, and to follow his example in our own place and measure as God may grant us.
He certainly had extraordinary powers of mind and extraordinary energy of will. So far as these were gifts of nature we can only have as much as God has been pleased to grant us.
But his natural gifts would never have accomplished such extraordinary things if he had not cultivated and improved them by untiring diligence, and if he had not elevated and sanctified them with God's grace and devoted them most faithfully to God's service. And here let our sorrow over his remains sink his example deeply into our hearts, amid move us to profit by it.
In the world around, those who heard of the great work he was continually engaged in might naturally think that with so many other cares he would necessarily be distracted from the interior life, amid could with difficulty find time even for the prayers imposed by the obligations of the priesthood and of his religious rule. But those who were nearest him knew best how munch time he spent before the Blessed Sacrament. One who is now a man tells how when he was a boy he was often impressed with devotion by seeing Father Sorin kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament in some retired part of the church where he would be least noticed, and observing how deeply he was absorbed in his adoration. When he was travelling and had his time free from business, he would often pass hours and hours of the day in prayer, much of the time reciting the Rosary over and over again. When he visited the Holy Land, a few years ago, he spent his time at Bethlehem in making a spiritual retreat, and in his journey afterwards he was almost continually occupied with the Rosary. His companion in travel made attempts to talk with him about what they had seen; but he quietly shook his head and said: "I am in the Holy Land; I want to entertain myself with the life of Our Lord, in company with His Blessed Mother." He was a man of prayer, and his logical mind and loving heart led him to make the Blessed Virgin the ordinary channel of his prayers to God. The power of our prayers all comes from the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His merits flow from the sufferings of His human nature -- His human body and soul. St. Paul says: "We are redeemed by His Blood." But it was from His Blessed Mother that he was pleased to receive His human nature. She is then "the gate of heaven," through which He came to our help, and by the same gate He wills that we come to Him. Amid since, as the model of sons, He loves His Mother above all His other creatures, so he listens most favorably to the prayers offered to Him through her.
This made the Rosary to be Father Sorin's favorite form of prayer. And he had not only a love, but a chivalrous devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He would willingly speak of her many times a day. He was jealous of anything that might affect the honor due to her. He was sensitive even to innocent remarks which might seeni to be less reverential towards her, and he never tired of devising ways to show her honor.
When this building was in course of erection after the disastrous fire of 1879, even while they were yet struggling for means to build the walls, already he declared that it must be crowned by a dome, which should serve as a pedestal for a colossal statue of the Blessed Virgin, and that the statue and the dome must be covered with gold. And, whether by his confidemice in science or by a spirit of prophecy, or both, he designed the crown of stars over her head and the crescent under her feet to be lighted by electricity, although at that time the incandescent light had not been invented, amid there was no way then known by which such lighting could be accomplished. Those around him, still fearful whether they could get means to finish the building at all, regarded this talk of gilded dome and statue and electric light as a pious fancy; but, like the early dream of a college, his fancy was a fruit of his love of God amid of God's holiest Creature. We all see how God rewarded his love.
Another outgrowth of his love of God was his extraordinary zeal for the souls in Purgatory. Many of you have heard his exhortations to this work of charity. Many of you, dear boys, no doubt are observing now the pious compact he made with you to repeat every day, at least in November, some of those short aspirations which carry indulgences for the suffering souls. He felt happy afterwards in calculating and telling how many of these aspirations would be offered in thie month, and conjecturing what relief they would give to those prisoners of love.
One act shows most remarkably both his love of these souls and his exceeding trust in God more than in human means. Soon after the fire a friend, moved by his distress, sent him a donation of one thousand dollars, Those around him regarded it as an omen from heaven, and expected, of course, it would be safely deposited, or perhaps invested, as a nucleus till more could be obtained for restoring the ruined buildings. Father Sorin immediately laid out the whole amount in charity, to be applied for the souls in Purgatory. "And now," he said, "we shall have not only the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph to aid us, but all those souls and their guardian angels will help us in the building." This is one of those extraordinary acts which even pious men might hesitate to copy. But the result seems to show that in this case it was inspired by God, and these devotions were the outward growth of the interior spirit which made the true riches and greatness of his soul -- his union with God. Those among you who have heard his spiritual instructions -- you, particularly, the religious of his own community, and you, good Sisters, whom he trained in the ways of spirituality, -- you know how deep and pure was his love of God.
Was it not in reward for his devotion to the Rosary and his zeal for the souls in Purgatory, that God fixed the time of his death on the very last day of the month of the Rosary, and only two days before the commemoration of all the souls in Purgatory? Had the Blessed Virgin obtained for him such sacrifices and crosses in this life that his soul was perfectly purified, and me passed at once to celebrate in heaven the Feast of all the saints? Or had he still some debts to the divine justice, and did God wish him to have the benefit of all the Masses and Holy Communions and prayers offered all over the world on All Souls' Day?
But perhaps it is not wise to indulge too much in these pious conjectures. They might have the cruel effect of making us less diligent in praying for his soul. Our judgments are not God's judgments. His purity is infinite; and even in the lives that seem to us all holiness His all - searching eye may see faults that we do not suspect. When Moses in obedience to God's command struck the rock and there gushed forth water to satisfy time countless hosts of Israel, even in the working of this miracle God saw a defect which His divine justice decreed to punish. The Fathers are perplexed to find out what the fault could have been. God has not been pleased to tell us; but He has told us the punishment, and we may well be terrified to see how severe are his judgments on faults so imperceptible to human eyes. The chastisement was that Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, After his forty years of faithful labor and sufferings to head God's people to the home prepared for them, he himself was permitted only to see it from a distance: not to enjoy the beauties and riches of the country which he so ardently desired, and for which he had so long labored.
Pray, then, my dearly beloved, pray for the souls even of those whose lives have been most saintly. We know not what hidden debt they may owe to divine justice. Pray particularly for your priests, for they have to render a rigorous account both of their own souls and of yours. They have to answer, not only for what they have done, but for what more they might have done by the diligent use of those divine powers which God has given them -- not for their own glory, but for the service of His people; and as God requires them to use their priestly powers for you, so He requires you to use your power of prayer for them.
This, then, is the fruit which we all must draw from this sad occasion: to pay our debt of gratitude to him for the great work he has done among us by offering our fervent prayers for him, and to show our gratitude to God for all these works by imitating the virtues which God's grace enabled him to practise -- his spirit of charity for the living and the dead, his spirit of prayer, his immovable trust mi God even under the heaviest crosses and disappointments, -- in a word, his faithfulness to the command to love God above all things and to love all men for God's sake; and so may we all come to enjoy with him the promise of Our Lord: "He that liveth and believeth in Me, shall not die forever."
May 27, 1838, Father Sorin was elevated to the priesthood, and on June 9, the same year, he celebrated his first Mass in the land of his nativity. It was an epoch in the long life of the grand, good man, always referred to by him with a heart filled with joyous emotions at the sacred remembrance. But he was not destined to remain long in France. His energetic, never-failing nature was needed elsewhere, and the Bishop of Vincennes, knowing the qualities of the man, asked him to establish a branch of the Order in America. Accordingly in August, 1841, Father Sorin, accompanied by seven other members of the society -- Brothers Francis Xavier, Gatien, Patrick, William, Pierre, Basil and Vincent -- all gone but Brother Francis Xavier -- sailed from France landing in New York September 13, the eve of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The young, zealous priest looked upon it as a signal favor from Heaven to land on the eve of the great festival consecrated to the Sacred Symbol of man's Redemption whose name the Congregation bears, and to exalt which he had left country and home. Father Sorin, the leader of the brave band, at once turned his steps toward the great undeveloped West.
In 1830 Rev. Theodore Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States, purchased from the Government St. Mary of the Lakes -- a portion of the present Notre Dame, -- and for some time dwelt in the lone wilderness, teaching and preaching to the Indians and the few whites. The mission was finally abandoned.
Some time after the Bishop of Vincennes offered it to the Congregation of the Holy Cross on condition that it would erect and maintain a college. Father Sorin saw other places in his travels towards the West, but St. Mary's of the Lake impressed him with its beauty, its grandeur, although nothing but a mission in the wilderness. Doubtless foreseeing the good that might be done he accepted the gift, first setting foot on the-to-be celebrated ground Nov. 27, 1842, over a year after landing in America. His presence seemed inspiring. By his touch the wilderness was transformed. On that cold November day he gazed on ground that few had seen and but few more heard of. To-day we look upon the great, the grand, the inspiring result of a master.
His first efforts were to reclaim the abandoned mission of Father Badin. With the aid of the Catholic inhabitants he cleared some ground and erected a church of hewn timber 40 x 24 ft. The ground floor served as a residence for the young priest, while the upper story was the only church or chapel possessed by the Catholics of South Bend or vicinity. Clinging to this large log-house was a smaller one occupied by the family of a man who acted as interpreter between the Indians and whites.
Notwithstanding limited means Father Sorin determined to fulfil the terms of the contract entered into with the Bishop of Vincennes and establish a college. The name was changed to Notre Dame du Lac, now generally shortened to Notre Dame. After months and months of hard labor the corner-stone of the first college edifice at Notre Dame was laid August 28, 1843. Before winter the building was under roof and by the following spring it was completed. In June the few students who eagerly sought education in the old farm house or church were removed to the new structure, and in August, 1844, the first commencement exercises took place. Just before this, and through the efforts of the late Hon. John D. Defrees, then a member of the legislature, the college was granted a charter with all the rights and privileges of a university.
In 1844 Father Sorin organized a manual labor school. His labors were shared by the late Fathers Cointet and Granger, the latter arriving in 1844. Father Sorin became the first president of the University of Notre Dame in this year continuing until 1865, Father Granger being his first vice-president and Father Cointet his second. To these three men, therefore, is largely due the rapid and successful early development of the now great University. Father Sorin laid deeply and solidly the foundation of the institution. With willing hand he did whatever would advance it; and in his last days it was one of his greatest pleasures that from his cozy room he could look out on the solid, massive and magnificent buildings that now speak to the world through the scores of young men sent out into the vast arena of progressive civilization.
Although this original edifice was 80 x 36 feet and four stories high it soon became too small. In 1853 two wings 40 x 60 were added. Father Sorin thought the building now large enough for many years; but the error was discovered, and in 1865, under President Dillon, the structure was in two months' time transformed into an imposing edifice 160 feet long by 80 and six stories high surmounted by a colossal statue of Our Lady. The new building was dedicated May 31, 1866. On April 23, 1879, Father Sorin saw this handsome edifice destroyed by fire together with nearly all the surrounding buildings that had been erected from time to time. Not discouraged, Father Sorin and his many able assistants at once prepared to rebuild Notre Dame. With what a grand result need not be told, for the great University is known wherever civilization exists, and is a greater earthly monument to the life just passed away than his admirers on both sides of the Atlantic can ever hope to erect.
It is a remarkable fact that Father Sorin, during his long life, never left Notre Dame for any great length of time. Many times, perhaps fifty, he crossed the Atlantic on his pilgrimages to Rome. These trips were happy remembrances in his eventful life and were looked on with the greatest pleasure. Father Sorin was elected to the office of Superior-General on July 22, 1868. One of the brightest events in his life was the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of his priesthood. The anniversary occurred Sunday, May 27, 1888, but was not celebrated until August 15 following. The occasion was observed with great splendor and magnificence and was attended by scores of well-known priests from all parts of the United States. For years he acted as Provincial, having been elected August 15, 1865.
Father Sorin was a good man and he had thousands of warm admirers in all parts of the civilized globe. None at the University but loved and admired the great man, and none but now feel that the world's loss is also their individual loss. Those who were not intimately acquainted with him cannot realize his inward greatness. He was a man of deep learning, a great thinker, an energetic worker, a man who transformed thoughts into deeds and with what result can best be told in the illustrations herewith of Notre Dame in 1842 and Notre Dame in 1893. Few knew Father Sorin's pen. When it was guided by his hand the thoughts were almost sublime and clothed in language whose sweetness fondly lingered in the mind. His private letters were literary efforts, perfect in composition and with a rhythmical effect charming in the extreme. His inner life is admirably revealed in the "Circular Letters" which from time to time he addressed to his spiritual children throughout the world, and many of which, we are glad to say, have been published in book form.
In the death of this grand man, says the South Bend Tribune, the world loses a character that has done much to make it better. He was the fountain-head whence flow the splendid results daily achieved at the University of Notre Dame. His hand made the initial stroke, and to-day its magnificence, its grandness, its marvellousness echo and re-echo far and near. Notre Dame then, Notre Dame now! What a sermon in those six words! What greater honor could mortal man desire than is embodied in them? Nothing, everything. That is what they express. No greater, no more magnificent, no more lasting monument can ever be reared in honor of Very Rev. Father Sorin than the University of Notre Dame!
Most Rev. Archbishop Elder, Cincinnati; Rt. Rev. Bishop Rademacher, Fort Wayne; Rt. Rev. Bishop-elect Dunne, Dallas, Texas; Mgr. Beessonies, Indianapolis, Ind.; Very Rev. J. Brammer, V. G., Fort Wayne; Very Rev. A. B. Oechtering, Mishawaka, Ind.; Very Rev. Dean P. Condon, Watertown, Wis.; Rev. F. B. Kilroy, D. D., Stratford, Ont.; Very Rev. Dean McGinnity, Janesville, Wis.; Rev. B. Baldi, Vicar-General, O. S., Chicago; Rev. L Baroux, Cadillac, Mich.; Rev. J. H. Guendling, Lafayette, Ind.; Rev. J. E. Hogan, Harvard, Ill.; Rev. A. M. Ellering, Columbia City, Ind.; Rev. J. O'Keeffe, C. S. C., Watertown, Wis.; Rev. Thomas Moreschini, O. S., Chicago; Rev. Edward Hannin, Toledo, Ohio; Rev. G. M. Kelly, Logansport, Ind.; Rev. J. M. Scherer, C. S. C.; Rev. P. Paradis, Kankakee, Ill.; Rev. J. Leduc, Notre Dame Church, Chicago; Rev. S. Venn, Goshen, Ind.; Rev. L. J. P. McManus, Port Huron, Mich.; Rev. Patrick J. Bohamid, Minneapolis, Minn.; Rev. F. Reid, Valleyfield, Canada; Rev. A. R. Dooling, Niles, Mich.; Rev. J. Rathz, Chicago; Rev T. Sullivan, Chicago; Rev. Thiele, Arcola, Ind.; Rev. J. McGlaughlin, Niles, Mich.; Rev. J. F. Nugent, Des Moines, Iowa; Very Rev. J. J. Brown, Mobile; Rev. J. W. Clarke, C. S. C., South Bend, Ind.; Rev. L. Geoffrion, C. S. C., Superior, Notre Dame, Côtes des Neiges, Canada; Rev. L. Moench, Plymouth, Ind.; Rev. J. Wrobel, Michigan City; Rev. J. Bleckmann, Michigan City; Rev. J. B. Crawley, Laporte, Ind.; Very Rev, J. Frieden, S. J., St. Louis; Revs. J. Toohey, Academy, Ind. ; M. Robinson, Cincinnati; P. Hurth, Austin, Texas; and M. Lauth, C. S. C., Milwaukee, Wis.; Rev. D. A. Clarke, Columbus O.; Rev. F. M. Cullinane, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Rev. F. A. O'Brien, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Rev. M. J. P. Dempsey, Detroit, Mich.; Rev. James F. Clancy, Woodstock, Ill.; Rev. John R. Dinnen, Crawfordsville, Ind.; Rev. Hugh O'Gara McShane, Chicago; Rev. John W. Malaney, Jackson, Mich.; Rev. H. Meissner, Peru, Ind.; Rev. N. J. Mooney, Cathedral, Chicago; Rev. D. J. Riordan, St. Ehizabeth's, Chicago; Rev. D. A. Tighe, Holy Angels', Chicago; Mr. Wm. S McLaughlin, New York; Miss Eliza Allen Starr, Chicago; Miss M. Dana, Boston, were among those who attended the funeral of our departed Father Founder.
Among former students we noticed: Hon. Mr. W. J. Onahan, LL. D., Lucius Tong, Orville T. Chamberlain, John P. Lauth, Mark Foote, George Houck, Joseph Wile, P. J. Barry, and J. Guthrie.
Resolved, That no praise in their power to give was great enough for this man and priest who was foremost in his championship of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception and in reverence for the Mother of God in an age when such championship is much needed.
Resolved, That the Founder of the University of Notre Dame, the Very Rev. Edward Sorin, gave a practical example of devotion to Christian education which in no century and no land has been surpassed.
Resolved, That as the University is the best monument of Father Sorin's intentions and sacrifices, the lay members of the Faculty thereof desire to testify to the deep interest they feel in the continuance of his work, and their profound respect and gratitude to one of the greatest men of an epoch which he helped to make.