FROM A PASTOR'S BREVIARY

The following is a memorandum written by Father John Macdonald, of St. Raphael's, on the front page of his Breviary:

Born:-

1st February 1751-my father.

1st January 1759-my mother.

26th May 1777-their marriage.

13th April 1778-Mary, and departed at the age of 7 days

29th September 1779-Angus.

12th June 1782 John.

12th May 1784-Mary.

19th November 1786-Donald.

2nd July 1786---departed from Scotland and

31st August came to Quebec and

1st October to the town of Cornwall.

About 15th February 1789-a boy, and departed at age of 7 days.

19th April 1790-Catherine.

12th May 1792-Lachija.

24th March 1795-Margaret.

1st June 1797-Duncan.

28th July 1799-Nancy.

6th July 1802-Roderick.

23rd September 1805-Exvan.

-THE power of self-control means to do on all occasions the right thing because it is right. Keeping back the harsh word uttering the tender one, when every impulse of our nature tends to force us to do otherwise, is indeed hard, Wit it can be done.

TRADITION has preserved the story of the voyage of the settlers in a somewhat different form. The tradition as embodied in a very lengthy Gaelic song written by one of the party over one hundred years ago says that they left Scotland on the 29th of June the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul-1786. Before embarking they knelt on the seashore and their priest invoked the aid of St. Raphael the Archangel, patron of wanderers. For five months they battled wind and wave. They experienced the terrors of being lost on the pathless ocean. These were the hardships incident to ocean travel in that period to which were added sickness, weariness, the lonesomeness of exile and fear of the unknown.

The first land they reached was Prince Edward Island. Here there were friends from Scotland already well established, who advised them not to proceed up the St. Lawrence to face the long severe winter months. Yielding to the judgment of the Island friends, they remained as guests for the winter, and only in the Spring of 1787, continued their journey to Glengarry. At Cornwall they were received by relatives who had come previously from the Mohawk Valley. The Crown gave them grants of land in the higher country in what is now known as tile parish of St. Raphael's. Father Alexander Scotus Macdonell, their priest chose the site of St. Raphael's Church and lona Convent for a religious centre and gave it the name of the Archangel who had guided them. Homes were built literally hewed out of the wilderness of bush-a church was built and a parish formed. Father Roderick Macdonell of St. Regis obtained faculties from the Bishop of Quebec for the new missionary cemeteries were blessed at Lochiel, Lancaster and Williamstown. A stone church-for many years known as the "Blue Chapel"-was commenced. Father Roderick and Father Alexander-priests and cadets of the best families of the Highlands, gentle by birth and gentle by their education-had full charge of all missionary work in all the vast district north and south of the Great Lakes. From 1786 until 1802 the work done for Church and State must have been heroic. We, to-day, cannot realize how much we owe in gratitude to these two priests. Those of us who are from Glengarry look to Father Alexander as the founder of our Church-those of St. Andrew's and Cornwall cherish the name of Father Roderick. Unfortunately, the records of the first years have been lost- except for one register kept by Father Roderick at St. Regis. From 1783 until 1804, the entries of baptismal ceremonies performed by Father Roderick may be seen-entries in Indian, in Gaelic, in English, in Latin, in Spanish and in French, according as the child was of Indian extraction, or of Scotch or of French. Indeed the birth-places are often recorded, as far distant as Albany, Malone, Buffalo, Niagara, the Ottawa River, St. Andrew's, Cornwall, Glengarry, Brockville, Toronto and Sandwich.

For St. Raphael's the earliest authentic document we have found was sent to us by Father MacGillivray, of Pictou, Nova Scotia. He discovered it in an attic in one of the church buildings. We give a free translation:

"Peter Denaut, by the Mercy of God and the Favor of the Apostolic See, Bishop of Quebec.

"To all the inhabitants of the County of Glengarry and other places in the Province of Upper Canada served by Father Alexander Macdonell (Scotus), Missionary, health and Benediction.

"It was with great pleasure, our dearly beloved brethren, that we witnessed on the occasion of our visit among you- last February, the firmness of your Faith, the earnestness of your desire to profit by the graces of the visit and the evident wish on the part of all to have the mission placed on solid footing and governed according to the rules in vogue throughout this Diocese.

If we were grieved by the dissentions created by a few mis-guided souls, we were on the other hand relieved by the evidences of piety and religion manifested by the great majority. Your submissiveness to your pastor, particularily, shows that God has in store for you many blessings and intends to use a people placed in a new country to spread the Kingdom of Christ and to spread the Light of Faith among those who, unfortunately, sit in the shadow of error and death.

"It was with the view of establishing parochial discipline that we made our first visit. Our second visit next year will perfect such organization. Meantime, as lack of organized effort might cause great harm because of your circumstances, we have decided to lay down certain regulations for the government of your parish,

"We therefore declare and ordain:--

"I. That all inhabitants of the County of Glengarry and other places of the Province of Upper Canada served up to the present time by Father Alexander Macdonell, shall continue to apply for spiritual help to the said priest, and shall constitute the members of a parish under the invocation of the Archangel St. Raphael.

"II. While we do not deem it expedient at present to fix the limits of the parish, nor to erect it canonically, we declare that for matters of Ecclesiastical discipline, it shall be a parish of which the missionary in charge shall be revocable at our will and which shall he ruled as all other parishes or missions of our Diocese.

"III. That all heads of families shall pay regularly tithes and stole fees as elsewhere in this diocese. The tithes shall be paid after the next harvest, but the stole fees shall be payable when called for by the above named missionary or his successors after the publication of these presents.

"IV. That in all temporal matters, three committee-men elected from twelve elders named by the parishioners shall assist the parish priest. One of these men shall render account of receipts and expenditures each year upon leaving office for which he shall have been chosen and elected. A copy of all minutes and business transactions shall be sent each year to us.

"V. That the parish shall be provided forthwith with proper registers and ledgers to be kept in a strong box and the keys of said box are to be kept by the parish priest in virtue of his office as committee-man in chief.

"VI. That the parish priest shall keep a register of baptisms, marriages and deaths as per our instructions hereunder given.

"VII. That the ornaments of the church shall he in keeping with the dignity of the ceremonies and as circumstances warrant.

"VIII. That in case of considerable reparation for church buildings or in case of a new church, presbytery, or cemetery, the parishioners and church committee shall meet the parish priest and us, to appoint all things according to the usage in this Diocese.

"This pastoral letter shall be translated into the Scottish language and read at the sermon of the Mass the first Sunday after its arrival.

"Given at Longueuil the twenty-fifth day of April, 1802, under our Seal and the Counter Seal of our Secretary."

(Signed), f P., Bishop of Quebec

J. J. LARTIGUE, Sec'ty.

From the date of this document we have a fairly good record of events so far as St. Raphael's is concerned. We know that Father Alexander Scotus Macdonell, worn out with his work as missionary in Scotland and in Canada, was stricken with a serious illness at St. Raphael's in 1804. They undertook to carry him by stretcher to Montreal, where they hoped to procure for him medical care. However, he died at Lachine and was buried in the Indian Cemetery at Caughnawaga. Father Roderick Macdonell of St. Regis sent Father Fitzsimmons, curate of St. Andrew's, to St. Raphael's, but he only remained there until the arrival of another Alexander Macdonell, priest and military chaplain. The new parish priest took up the work of the two great pastors of St. Regis and St. Raphael's. We are not going to attempt to give his life history he became the first Catholic Bishop of Upper Canada.

He was parish priest of St. Raphael's from 1805 until his installation as Bishop of Kingston. His history shall be given in a separate volume. It shall contain the record of his birth in the Highlands of Scotland, his education on the continent, his work as military chaplain in the industrial centres of Scotland, the Guernsy Islands and in Ireland. His labors throughout Ontario, his services to his country during the war with the United States in 1812, his elevation to the dignity of Bishop of Upper Canada, his zeal for the Church and Catholic education in Ontario, his patriotic foresight during the troubles in 1836, his death in 1840 and an appreciation of his character will all be embodied in this work.

While he remained in St. Raphael's, that parish was the most important in Ontario-perhaps in all of Canada, from a purely Catholic point of view. There a magnificent church was built, there vocations were fostered and priests were educated. From St. Raphael's all other parishes of Ontario, except St. Andrew's, trace their origin. We have in our possession documents showing the formation of parishes such as Perth, Brockville, Sandwich, Toronto, Hamilton and many others. We know that here were educated such men as Father Gordon, Father Hay, Vicar Angus Macdonell and Father William Macdonell. Here there grew up and lived and worked the great priest of St. Raphael's-Father John Macdonald. If we have decided to write the history of the great Bishop in a separate volume because of his national importance, we rather hesitate to write the life of Father John from sheer inability to appreciate his greatness as a priest and his saintly character.

 

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