Charles George Deuther.

The life and times of the Rt. Rev. John Timon, D. D. : first Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo online

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Online LibraryCharles George DeutherThe life and times of the Rt. Rev. John Timon, D. D. : first Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo → online text (page 19 of 30)
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the mental as well as moral culture of his flock.


But, unfortunately, the many complicated labors that engrossed
his mind, the numerous missions he had personally to attend to,
the pecuniary embarrassments in which he struggled, and the
insufficient interest and enthusiasm manifested on the part of the
laity in general, all these combined were so many agencies at
work that undermined the foundations upon which he had to
build for the education and culture of Catholic youth, and caused
the trembling superstructure to totter, with a prospect of finally
passing out of existence entirely. In this emergency, however,
that ever watchful interest and energy of purpose of the man
came to the rescue, and for a time prolonged the doom that
threatened the hopes of the college. Bishop Timon then invited
to his diocese the Oblate Fathers, and transferring the future of
the institution to their fosterina; care, removed the coUeore to
York street, on Prospect Hill, near to the church of the Holy
Angels. But in spite, as it were, of the zeal and determination
of the good Bishop, the institution did not seem to " grow. " It
lingered along spasmodically, as we have seen, and although the
good Oblate Fathers brought the best of talent to bear, (par-
ticularly during the administration of Father Chevalier,) it
did not prosper. There seemed to be a general apathy among
tlie Catholics at large; education, although a necessity and an
advantage in their estimation, did not awaken a corresponding
enthusiasm in their callous bosoms. Like a ship leaking at every
pore, gradually sinks as she tills with water, although lier crew
labor incessantly at the pumps, and finally engulfs beneatli the
closing waters of the ocean, thus St. Joseph's College, gradually
sinking for want of sufficient support and encouragement, finally
eno;ulfed in the darkness of obscuritv, and was blotted out of
existence for the time being.

It was a source of great grief to the feelings of Bishop Timon,
to witness this result of his labors thus far in the cause of edu-
cation in the diocese, and although the prospects were dubious
and the future uncertain, he relied firmly in the Providence
of God, "who doeth all things for the best." ]!»^othing daunted,


therefore, by the adversities and ill-success of his efforts in this
particular, he, subsequently, by dint of renewed energy, succeeded
in re-establishing the colJege, though on another basis. Grown
wise by experience, and having witnessed in his travels, both on
this continent and in Europe, the grand results that were ac-
quired by the children of the Yenerable Father De Salle, or, as
they are more generally known, the "Christian Brothers," Bishop
Tinion opened negotiations for introducing a community of these
religious persons into his diocese.

In these efforts he was successful. Six brothers, from New
York and Montreal, under the charge of Brother Crispian, arrived
in August, 1861. The fine buildings in the rear of St. Joseph's
Cathedral, are mute but eloquent testimonials of the success that
has attended their efforts in a diocese hitherto apparently indif-
ferent, or aj^athetic to the requirements of good education. The
introduction of Christian Brothers into different dioceses, and the
encouragement given them by several Bishops in the United
States, was similarly imitated by Bishop Timon. He encouraged
an establishment at Rochester, in St. Patrick's parish, from which,
as a central house, each morning the brothers went to the differ-
ent parish schools to teach.

The same was done at first in Buffalo, when, in the Fall of
1861, the erection of an academy was commenced, dedicated to
St. Joseph.

But the solicitude of Bishop Timon for the establishment of
schools, was not local. He endeavored to infuse his zeal for
learning into other parts of his diocese; perhaps not upon so
extensive a scale, but at least as interestedly. Nor were his
efforts exerted mainly for the boys. He provided for the girls in
the various institutions that still survive, some of which subserve
other objects, such as caring for the deaf and the dumb, the
infirm, the poor, and the abandoned. Among several worthy
institutions that he introduced into his diocese, the first one that
suggests itself is that known as Miss Nardin's Academy. It is a
religious community of educated ladies, bound together in the


same way as any other religious order, by rules, with this excep-
tion, that the ladies wear no habit and are secular. Their duties
are to instruct the young particularly.

Bishop Tinion knew the community originally in France, but
secured the present number of ladies in 1855, from their estab-
lished mother house at Cleveland, It will be amusing, as well
as interesting, to review the labors and the zeal that the Bishop
exerted in establishing this community in his diocese. After
having invited the ladies to come to Buffalo, with the promise
that a house would be prepared to receive them, he was con-
siderably astonished to discover, on their arrival, that the
instructions he had given to another person to provide the house
and furnish the same, at least sufficiently to receive the ladies,
had been almost entirely neglected.

On their arrival they proceeded to the Hydraulics, near the
junction of Swan and Seneca streets, where they found the house
provided for them, but nothing in it with which to commence
housekeeping, not even an ordinary article of furniture. Nothing
but the bare walls greeted them. The poor Bishop was in
despair, and felt sad that his instructions had not been fulfilled.
But the indomitable energy of purpose that had so often
triumphed over sterner embarrassments, immediately asserted
itself. Going across the street, to a house opposite, he obtained
a tallow candle, in order to throw light upon the situation, and
see what was to be done. He also ordered some hot water to be
sent over, with which the travel-worn ladies might be refreshed
with a cup of tea at least. Without stopping in his work, he
next sent down mattresses and some other articles, and from his
own personal furniture he added sheets and bed clothing. With
these the good ladies made a faint beginning, and not long
after, true to their mission, began to take young ladies to instruct
them. In this first place of residence the connnunity remained
for some time, although it was soon discovered that the loca-
tion of their institution was not a good one. Consequently,
they removed to premises on Pearl street, south of Seneca street,
and subsequently again removed their home from thence to the


corner of ElHc5tt and South Division streets, at present the
residence of Dr. Miner. Here thej remained a few years, with
varying success, until their present permanent location was
procured on the corner of Church and Franklin streets, where
a very fine and commodious building is in process of erection.

It was always the special desire of the Bishop that this
religious community should prosper, and on many and repeated
occasions he has extended towards these talented ladies marked
and favorable expressions of his sympathy and interest.

One morning, during the winter of 1859, when Buffalo had
been visited with very severe weather, the surface of the streets
and sidewalks of the city were like one vast sheet of ice. It had
been raining very severely the day before, and during the night
following it froze so hard that it was dangerous to venture abroad.
It being a pious practice to be present at holy mass early every
morning during the week, the community, in consequence of the
state of the streets, and the danger of going out on this morning,
had very prudently remained at home. The watchful Bishop
missed them, accustomed as he was to see them together in the
church at that early hour, (six o'clock,) and immediately afier
mass, in his solicitude, went, at great personal risk, to call
and inquire whether any thing had happened. Advanced in
years, and tottering under the infirmities and cares of age, he
could not rest until he had done this duty, and at the same time
ascertain whether the community had provisions and necessaries
of life in the house sufficient for the day. This duty performed,
he returned again to his residence.

Nor was his interest in this community abated when, on Ash
Wednesday of 1867, the year of his saintly death, he, in person,
called at the academy to give his permission to the ladies not to
fast ; and this he chose to do himself, if he could thereby only
spare the trouble to the community of calling on him to ask the
pei mission. A few weeks afterwards and he, whose zeal and
charity were ever warm and attached to his institutions, was a
cold and inanimate corpse. But it was Bishop Timon's nature
to be continually busy. He seemed to scorn fatigue, and his


whole heart and soul were enlisted in the cause of the Church
and charity. Besjdes the many beautiful religious edifices erected
in the diocese, directly by the main efforts of clergymen and
religious orders, but indirectly sanctioned and encouraged by the
good Bishop himself, there are many institutions that may be
considered, directly speaking, as the result of his own pious
labors and encouragement. For instance, he introduced the
religious order of the Sisters of St, Jose])h for the Deaf and
Dumb. To begin this institution upon a proper basis, he visited
the various asylums for the deaf and dumb in this country and
in Europe, in order to bring his experience and knowledge of the
M^orkings of these similar institutions to bear directly on his own.
Frequently, when suffering under embarrassments arising from
the want of the necessaries of life, he has taken from his pocket,
or sent from his residence, means amounting to a hundred dollars
at a time. He took a decided interest in the condition of the
poor orphans gathered there, who could neither hear nor speak,
and very frequently his sympathy for their unfortunate situation
was such that he was scarcely able to repress his emotions and

The following circular will best explain the history of this
noble institution, from its beginning:

"7b the Honorable^ The Senate cmd House of Representatives of

the State of New Torh :

"Mr. a. p. Lecouteulx, a distinguished benefactor, generously
presented Rt. Rev. Bishop Timon an acre lot on the south-west
corner of Morgan and Edward streets, Buffalo, for the purpose
of establishing, in Western New York, an Asylum for the
instruction of the Deaf and Dumb. Having no building on
the lot, nor sufficient means to erect a suitable edifice, the Bishop
found it was necessary to purchase three small frame houses
which were in the neighborhood, and caused them to be moved
on the lot in the Spring of 1856. Three Sisters of St. Joseph
took charge of the new Asylum, and immediately opened a day


Bchool for the support of the house, to enable them to prepare it
for the reception of mutes. In October, 1857, the instruction of
the deaf and dumb commenced, with four females who lived* in.
the house, and a few males who lived in the vicinity, and attended
as day pupils ; but were it not for the benevolence of the E,t. Rev.
Bishop Timon, whose charity for those atHicted children was
unbounded, every idea of its continuini^ to exist would have been
abandoned. However, it was thought well to suspend the
instruction of the deaf and dumb for the space of one year,
during which time efforts would be made to erect a suitable
building for this noble object. Those in charge received their
knowledge of the sign language from a graduate of the Deat
and Dumb Asylum of Caen, France. In the meantime one of
the community was sent to the well known and excellent insti-
tution of Philadelphia, to become acquainted with the mode
which the institutions of the United States have adopted. AYe
have now the pleasure of announcing that the building has been
some time completed. The building is four stories, twenty-eight
by thirty-four, affording a spacious dormitory, refectory, kitchen,
etc., capable of accommodating thirty children, and has cost
eight thousand dollars. The frame houses we have converted
into class rooms. So far the progress of the children has been
encouraging and gpatifying. They are daily exercised in all
useful branches of education, besides reading and writing ; the
females are taught needle work and other fancy work, and are
exercised in household and culinary duties. The males, (' who
can only be admitted as externs, the building not affording, as
yet, space to divide sufficiently the sleeping apartments of both
sexes,') are also exercised in habits of industry. All the pupils
are preparing for the duties and practical business of life. The
hours of the day are apportioned to study, work, exercise and
amusement, which latter takes place in the open air when the
weather permits. For the male department, little has yet been
done. Many applications which we receive we are obliged to
reject for want of suitable apartments, and also sufficient means
for their support. The generality of the applicants, being in


indigent circumstances, are in no way able to assist us. The
jiupils who have attended since the establishment of the Asylum
are poor, and unable to defray their own expenses.

" We received no appropriation, collection or donation, except-
ino; from the same charitable source before mentioned. Havinor
briefly stated our circumstances, we now appeal to your right
honorable body in behalf of the poor deaf and dumb children
who are and will be benefitted by the continuance of this
institution ; having been encouraged by the approbation and
signature of the most prominent citizens of the city of Buftklo, to
appeal to you for an appropriation of five thousand dollars to
erect an addition to this building, for the accommodation of the
male portion who wish to be boarded in the institution, and who
are anxiously seeking for admittance. It would be also greatly
for the good of society if your honorable body would allow a
small animal appropriation for the clothing and maintenance of
poor deaf and dumb children.

" The lots on which the institution is built are valued at . . $10,000 00

The buildings are worth about 10,000 00

''Furniture, books, etc., 2,000 00


"$22,000 00


Thirteen poor deaf and dumb children have been received,
and about sixty other poor children have been instructed gra-
tuitously by the institution.

"Sister M. MAGDALEN, Superintendent,
"Sister M. ALOYSIUS, Secretary.
"Buffalo, Feb. 4th, 1865,"

In the dedication sermon of St. Joseph's Cathedral, delivered
by His Grace Archbishop Hughes, (since deceased,) the latter
took occasion to observe that he considered Bishop Timon the
most humble man he ever met. He evinced no ostentation or
outward ceremony, but was always plain, simple and unassuming
in his manner and habits. In addition to this compliment, tfe«
good Archbishop might have added another, not less deserved,


and equally as true. He might have said that Bishop Timon
was the most charitable man he ever met, for he was continually
planning what new charitable feature he might introduce into his
diocese for the good of humanity. He had provided for the sick,
the orphan, the foundling and the youth. But these did not suf-
fice for his view of charity. He nmst provide as well for the
abandoned and the fallen of unfortunate females. For the estab-
lishment of such an institution of charity Bishop Timon made
ample preparation. He spared no leisure hour in contriving
plans by which to make a beginning, even to drawing upon his
own slender resources for aid.

In the institution known as " House of the Good Shepherd,"
what an admirable example of his zeal and charity. As early as
1854 and 1855, he saw the actual necessity of a house devoted to
rescuing abandoned women from vice, and by dint of due teach-
ing and the exercise of christian morals and piety, to stem at
least in part this torrent of destruction and sensuality with which,
alas, our large cities in particular are afflicted. This convent
was the first of the order sent as a filiation from the convent at
Kennes. Hence a detailed report of their beginnings in this
country will be very interesting :

" On the 1st of June, 1855, four Sisters of Charity of ' Our Lady
of Refuge,' arrived in Buffalo for the holy functions of their in-
strtute. They had been selected by the Right Rev. Bishop from
their noble house near Reimes, in France. The Superioress,
Mother Mary of Jerome Tournais, stands high in her order for
talents and piety, and for having had much experience in found-
ing new houses. On the 8th July, 1855, the good Sisters opened
their institution of mercy in a rented house on Ellicott street,
God blessed the efforts of ladies who had left their native coun-
ti'y, relations and friends of distinguished rank, and, not leasts
their language, to come amongst strangers, to endure poverty and
want, and learn again, like children, to lisp the first elements of
*an unknown tongue,' in order to lead to the Good Shepherd
lost sheep that had wandered through muddy, foul, and thorny
paths. Whilst learning, in English, their A, B, C, the Sisters


took in a number of houseless, unprotected females, and some
lost outcasts; and, to earn their daily bread, labored for and with
them, in sewing and in doing such work as the charitable might
send to them.

"The Right Rev. Bishop paid their passage from France, their
house rent, etc., procured them their first scanty furniture, and
what the Sisters valued most of all, had an altar erected and fur-
nished, and gave them permission to keep the adorable sacrament
in their poor but neat chapel. Often has the Bisliop been heard
to speak in admiration of their cheerful, uncomplaining resigna-
tion to privations wiiich they were even studious to conceal,
because they were most willing to suffer, from the effects of
poverty, with Him 'who became poor that, by His poverty,
we might be made rich.' From first to last, the outlay of the
Bishop for this institution has been nearly three thousand dollars.
It would have been greater if the Sisters had not hidden their
wants from him, and to his frequent enquiry if they needed help,
answered so as to persuade him that they were getting on well
enough; often, however, he had almost to force them to accept
help, when he suspected, and subsequently knew, that they had
not means to pay for their bread.

" The house on Ellicott street being too small to lodge the in-
creased numbers that flocked to their refuge^ the Sisters rented
two houses on Washington street, whither they removed on the
1st May, 1856, the adjoining French church of St. Peter having
been, through the kindness of its pastor, so arranged as to
afford them nearly as much facility for worship as if it was their
own private chapel.

"Most dear to humanity, to religion, to the Good Sliepherd,
whose sacred mission it especially embraces, must be institutions
like this! In Europe they have done immense good. On this
continent, in Louisville, St. Louis, Montreal, etc., the piety, zeal,
devotedness, and spirit of self-sacrifice of the Ladies of the Good
Shepherd are well known. In all those places they have saved
many poor young women from danger and from ruin, and


reclaimed many from vice. We have already evidences that the
results of their labors in Buffalo will be equally consoling. Up
to the 1st of March, 1857, the Sisters of our Ladj- of Refuge
have received in their house of the Good Shepherd, sixteen peni-
tents. All have been reclaimed, six have been given back to
their parents or friends, two have been placed out, eight remain.

" In the class of preservation, which is strictly separated from
the class of penitents, twenty-five have been received, four have
returned to their friends, twenty-one remain.

"Thirty poor houseless women or girls have also been received,
nourished and lodged, for a longer or shorter period, until situa-
tions were found for them; often, indeed, they had also to be

" If even in its poor beginning, under many disadvantages, the
institution has already achieved so much, what may we not,
through God's blessings, expect in the future? With reason may
its benefactors thank God, who has deigned to make them His
instruments for His own work of ' The Good Shepherd ! ' ' He who
causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his ways, shall
save his soul from death, and cover a multitude of his sins.'
— St. James, vi.

"An invariable rule forbids the Sisters ever to admit into their
order any woman who has once fallen, though years of penitence
and most exemplary life may have intervened. Yet, reclaimed
' Magdalenes,' who feel themselves called to a religious life, may,
under the inspection of the Sisters, and in a separate house, form
what is called 'the Magdalene Society;' their dress is black,
whilst that of the Sisters is white. Nothing of the kind has yet
been done in Buffalo; indeed, most of the reclaimed 'Magdalenes'
prefer, when their good habits are sutJiciently assured, to return
to the world and embrace decent employments, for which the in-
struction they receive in tbe institution well qualifies them.

"The Sisters rejoice at becoming the instruments of God in
making known, for His glory, the generous, zealous and charitable


spirit of the venerable clergy, of different nations, in this city,
who deigned to associate themselves together to aid and encour-
age the Sisters in their holy work of the Good Shepherd. In
several meetings, those ministers of a pardoning God devised a
plan of a •■ Society of the Good Shepherd,' composed solely of
ladies of exemplary life, who have a holy wish to aid the Good
Shepherd in saving souls.

"Twelve respectable ladies in each congregation form an
apostolic band of charity, which meets once a month in each
parish, whilst general meetings are only required twice a year.
The ladies use their influence to procure work for tlie inmates of
the House of the Good Shepherd; direct to it females who are
exposed to danger, or lost ones who wish again to find their God.
The ladies also receive and hand over such alms as the charitable
choose to offer for this holy work. This beneficent and most
respectable society has already greatly aided the institute. May
God bless these young ladies and their families for their sake!

"Twice, in the church of St. Peter, has the Bishop officiated
in the most solemn rite of receiving postulants into the novitiate
of the order; the crowded audience at each time, seemed deeply
affected, as those ladies, renouncing the world, put off the dress
and ornaments of worldly pomp, to clothe themselves with the
poor and simple habit of the order, as if visibly dying to the
world and its vain hopes, and putting on the plain attire of the
penitent's God, who says, 'I am the Good Shepherd.' Four
novices are now in the novitiate; one postulant pleads for ad-

"The subjoined account of receipts and expenses will prove
how the' Holy Providence of God has protected the institution.
A new institution was to be founded ; few understood its object or
its aim; all had to be begun, much had to be purchased in haste
and at a disadvantage. Yet, when we look at the outlay and see
the blessed results, we are forced to cry out, ' the finger of God
is here:'


From July 1st, 1855, to January 1st, 1857.


" For passage from France, • $520 00

"For rent on EUicott street, 320 00

" For rent on Washington street, 525 00

"For furniture, beds, bedding, etc., 375 00

•'For bill of S. Bettinger, Esq., 8100

" For fence, 70 00

" For charges on box from Paris, ... 13 97

"For fuel, ' . . . 219 41

<' For bread, 475 81

"For other provisions, 537 98

" Alms to poor women on leaving, 62 11

"Clothing, 170 77

"Total, $3,371 05


" Donation frc m Righ Rev. Bishop, $2,500 00

" Donation from Ladies' Society, 94 51

"Collection in churches, 59 00

"Alms, 209 50

"Work, ^ 477 17

"Total, $3,340 18"

To this accession of labor in the vineyard of religion and charity,
were added other pious communities. The Brothers of the Holy
Infancy of Jesus were introduced into the diocese to direct the Or-

Online LibraryCharles George DeutherThe life and times of the Rt. Rev. John Timon, D. D. : first Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo → online text (page 19 of 30)