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 22 of 30)
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silence, joined to noiseless awe, that follow the Catholic priesthood
through all their ceremonies, was observed by all ; nor did any
thing occur (excepting the heavy rain sent by God for man's
benefit,) to mar the happy observance of them by priesthood or
people. All hearts were gladdened, and praised the Lord for
His goodness in blessing the city by so grand a tabernacle of His
covenant with men, where they may pray and He may hear."

The dedication of the cathedral and church was performed by
the *Bishops of Albany and Brooklyn, assisted by numerous
priests, deacons, and acolytes.

The sermon was preached by the f Archbishop of ]S"ew York,
who took for his text Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, ii, 13 :

" 13. But now in Christ Jesus, you, who sometime were afar
off, are made near by the blood of Christ.

" 19. Now, therefore, you are no more strangers and foreigners;
but you are fellow- citizens with the saints, and the domestics
of God ;

" 20. Built upon the foundation of the apostles and j>rophets,
Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone ;

" 21. In whom all the building framed together, groweth into
a holy temple in the Lord ;

"22. In whom you also are built together into a habitation
of God in the Spirit."

The Archbishop delivered a very eloquent sermon on this
occasion, saying, among other things, that "he could not neglect
this opportunity to congratulate the brethren of the Catholic
Church of "Western New York, on the completion of this beau-
tiful edifice. The work had been accomplished in spite of
difficulties that would have discouraged one less devoted than
the honored Bishop of Buffalo. It was a triumph of architectural
beauty. The evidences of genius, apart from religion, were all

* Kt. Revs. McCloakey and O'Loughlin.
t Rt. Rev. John Hughes.


around, but thej are devoted forever in the service of God. This
beautiful cathedral, so perfect in proportion, so complete in every
j)art, the ornaments that embellish it, all are consecrated. No
man can mistake this for a court room, or a senate chamber. It
is a house built for God, and to be His forever."

In the afternoon, grand Pontifical vespers' were celebrated, and
the *Bishop of Milwaukee preached in the German language.

In the evening, service again was held, at which the fBishop
of Louisville preached a most eloquent and impressive sermon.

Bishop Timon also took occasion to remark that the immense
stained window now in the rear of the cathedral, was the7i q,t
Munich on exhibition, where crowds, from all parts of Europe,
flocked to see its beautiful and perfect workmanship, and which
was said to be the most magnificent stained glass window in
America. The entire cost of the cathedral, when the towers
should be completed, at that time was estimated would reach one
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. On Monday, Sept. 24th,
1855, Bishop Timon convened the first Diocesan Synod of his
clergy in St. Joseph's cathedral. Bishop Young, of Erie, and a
numerous body of the clergy, assisted in the solemn and import-
ant ceremonies. On the Sunday following, at ten o'clock A. M.,
the clergy moved in procession from the Episcopal residence to
tlie front door of the cathedral, repeating the sacred Psalms as
they proceeded, with religious pomp, through the streets. Whilst
the Bishop was vesting, the clergy sung the Tiercel the venerable
ceremonies of the Pontifical high mass were carefully executed,
the clergy receiving communion at the hands of the Bishop.
After mass the Diocesan Synod was solemnly opened, with all
those ancient, mysterious rites by which the Church marks her
deep conviction of a Divine, Adorable Presence, in official
reunion of the consecrated mmisters of the " Body of Christ " in
His "Body, the Church," for the salvation of souls. Next fol-
lowed the solemn chant of the Litanies, invoking all the saints of
God to pray for the assembled patrons and their flocks; invoking

Rt. Rev. Bishop Henni.
t Rt. Rev. Martin John Spalding.


the Son of God to be merciful to His people, and hear the prayer?
of the Church and the singing of the sacred hymn of the Holy
Ghost, to beg His help and His holy inspirations upon the people.
Tlie Bishop sang the Pontifical vespers. Several private sessions
of the synod were held at stateil intervals, merging, finally, into one
grand and solemn session. Only a few decrees were passed, and
in a pastoral letter afterwards, Bishop Timon took occasion to
speak of them, and also of the affairs of his diocese, from which
we gather that three thousand dollars of debt still hung over the
cathedral. He had in vain tried to borrow money to meet this
sum, and now appealed to his people to make the combined effort
at least to reduce it. He also contrasted the state of the diocese
when he first assumed charge of it, with its (then) present pro-
gressing condition, and humbly thanked God for His many
blessings, both temporal and spiritual. On another subject he

" In the cup of life, God ever mixes bitter and sweet; He is
good, goodness itself, goodness infinite and unbounded. But we
are on trial; life is a battle, wounds and bruises, weariness and
sorrow, must be felt, but He comforts His soldiers; He binds up
every wound. He often fills with joy in the midst of tribulation.
Such was it with us, dearly beloved, when, on the occasion of the
Triduan, or retreat, in honor of the Immaculate Conception of
Mary, the congregation of St. Louis, under the powerful and most
touching preaching of the Rev. Father Weniger, S. J,, unani-
mously accepted the regulations which we had ordained, and by
which there is best reason to hope that such difficulties as have
existed between Bishops and the trustees of that church, will
never more occur; this consolation, then deeply felt, has more
than once been renewed in our hearts, by the proofs of a truly
Catholic spirit, which the congregation has since frequently

Bisho]) Timon by no means was pleased to think that as soon
as the building was erected, and ready for Divine worship, that
his cathedral would be entirely finished. His high aspiration for
the glory of God and religion, as well as his own tastes for the


gratification of the human ear, led him to make a crowning effort
for his beautiful church. In the delightful music that may be
heard at times sweeping over the city, when played by skilled
and musical fingers, will be found a living witness of the effort
he made, but which he did not live to realize. Without doubt,
the carillon of bells that swings within the tower of St. Joseph's
cathedral, is the finest on the continent, and ranks third in num-
ber in the world. It is to be regretted that the compass of the
tower is such as to obstruct the melody that dwells in rich and
magnificent chords in the carillon, although this difficulty could
be some what obviated, by widening or increasing the number of
the apertures in the tower, so far as not to endanger the strength
of the latter.



Forth from a choir of harmonizing tongues,
A multitude of chorded strains arise ;

The silver bells, like perfumed censers swung,
Evolve their tribute praises to the skies.

On every hand, 'tis magic art conspires.
And wakes a sleeping world to prayer and God ;

'Tis music calling with her wonted fires
To christians in the paths their fathers trod.

Upward on soaring wing the anthem swells,
Whilst naught but echo rifts the stilly air ;

From limpid throats of three and forty bells,
Ceaseless peals the Sabbath morning's prayer.

How eloquent these soul-subduing strains.
Whose echoes kiss the ambient wave afar.

Whose music o'er the distant landscape rains,
As sweet as fall the beams of evening star !

What sense of happy ease pervades the hour,
What solace to the heart, this Sabbath morn ;

More sweet, more rare than perfume of the flower,
This flood of sacred music, newly born !

O! sacred bells, how soothing to the ear.
When world and sin we leave afar behind.

To sit and listen to thy tones of cheer,
And in thy heavenly language comfort find I


There comes an hour in life we least expect,
When sadness casts a shadow on our joys;

"When hopes, like stranded vessels, lie abject,
And pale adversity our work destroys ;

E'en then, in hours most solemn for our years,
Perchance at night, when all abroad is still.

Thy voice will wake our slumbering, languid ears,
And with reanimated hope instill.

Then voices from a fairer sky awake.
And on the waiting zephyrs flood the lea.

Bid sadness from our midst its flight betake.
Before thy grand prospective jubilee.

When streams of melody invade the air,
What molten notes in golden waves expand;

As, wedded with the christian's vesper prayer,
The sacred stillness throbs on every hand.

Within the precincts of that solemn pile.
Where sombre shadows fitful vigils keep,

'Bound fretted arch, and through the long drawn aisle,
How sweetly do thy whispering echoes sweep !

Ring on, oh bells ! ye heralds of that bourne,
Unknown to mind, unseen by mortal eye ;

Your mellow tongues shall solace those who mourn,
And build a bridge of hope 'tween earth and sky.

Buffalo, January 20th, 1870.

The intention of Bishop Timon originany embodied a carillon
of twenty-eight bells only, and an order for this number was
accordingly given. Subsequently, however, through some induce-
ments held out to the Bishop, he concluded to increase the
number to forty-three. *

But amidst all this advancement of the church at home, Bishop
Timon did not forget the rest of his diocese. All his leisure time
was spent in Episcopal visitations, the record of which alone
would fill a volume. Among many interesting reminiscences
that occurred, none will be more eagerly read than the following:

" On Saturday, the 21st of July, 1855, the Kt. Kev, Dr. Timon
reached Elmira, according to previous engagement, and was re-
ceived at the depot by the Rev. Mr. Boyle. iN'o sooner had the
venerable prelate reached his destination and alighted from the
carriage, than he bent his way, (as he was wont to do,) to the sanc-
tuary, to pay his respects to the Incarnate Word, and obtain

*See appendix to this work for a full description of these bells, etc.


that refreshment which the world cannot give. The Bishop
assisted in the confessional in the evening, where crowds con-
tinued to flock. The rising of the sun next morning, found the
good Bishop again in the confessional, where he remained
until nine o'clock. At the half-past ten o'clock mass, the Bishop
preached; in the evening he visited the Sunday school, * * *
■3fr -If * * r^j^(j never have I heard or seen the words of the
great Apostle of the Gentiles, who made himself 'all to all, in
order to give all to Christ,' more strikingly realized, than on this
occasion; among the children, the Bishop seemed as though he
had never been elsewhere, and as if divested for the time beinor
of all Episcopal dignity and authority. Among children he
becomes like a child, enters into their feelings, speaks to them in
the language of children, adapting himself to their various capa-
cities, calling to his aid the most familiar similes and parables,
and from things of earth leads captive their minds to heaven.

" In the evening, at the benediction of the blessed sacrament,
he preached again on the conversion of Mary Magdalene. This
was one of the most admirable and aftecting discourses I have
ever heard the Bishop deliver; never have I seen a picture drawn
with such appropriate colorings; the Saviour and the sinner placed
in such striking contrast, majesty and misery, side by side. Ex-
cessive sorrow, blended with most ardent love on the one side,
infinite justice outweighed by infinite mercy on the other. For
more than an hour the Bishop spoke on this consoling subject,
during which a death-like stillness reijj'ned throughout the church,
save now and again, when the sigh or sob of some penitent soid
was heard in sympathy, perchance for Magdalene, or, like Tier^
yearning to do homage at the feet of an offended Saviour."

In the interim, the decrees passed at the Provincial Synod,
held in the Fall of 1854, had been subn^itted to the Pope for
approval. The latter, in reply, sent a letter to all the Bishops of
the province, a part of which we copy :

" The letter, subscribed by you all, was delivered to us by our
Yenerable Brother John, Bishop of Bufildo, whom we received
most kindly, and listened to with great pleasure, speaking of


your affairs. Certainly, it was no small joy to us to learn more
and more from that venerable brotlier, as well as from your let-
ter, how great piety, love and obedience you bear towards us and
this chair of Peter, the centre of Catholic truth and unity. Most
gladly we learned with what Episcopal solicitude you provided
for the celebration of the first Provincial Synod of Kew York,
whose acts, according to ancient rule, you have sent to us, and
asked that we would vouchsafe to approve, or even, where need
be, to correct."

The Holy Father expressed his gratification at the new Bishop
for Portland, and encouraged all of the Provincial Synod to
stimulate their efforts to renewed zeal in the vineyard of Christ
and His holy faith, and to this end proposed and encouraged the
establishment of an American college at Rome, where the youth
may be sent, to receive ecclesiastical education to fit them for
the i^roper discharge of sacred duties in the broad fields of
America. Bishop Timon, through diversified cares and perplex-
ities, yielded obedience to the wishes of the Sovereign Pontiff in
every respect, particularly in his zeal for the spread of the light
of true faith. He continued his visitations to all parts of the
diocese, administering confirmation to children and adults, giving
lectures, assisting in tiie confessional, dedicating churches, and
laying the corner-stones thereof

In the Winter of 1856, despite the inclemency of the weather,
he visited various parts of his diocese in these exercises of his
sacred functions, and such was the attractiveness of his eloquence
in the pulpit, whenever it was known among Protestants that he
would preach, that they flocked in crowds to listen to his sermonn,
leaving their own " meeting houses " deserted.

In the Spring of 1856, however, business called Bishop Timon
to St. Louis, Mo. From a letter, descriptive of his visit whilst
there and at the Barrens, we glean the following:

"Shortly after his arrival at the Cape, he was greeted with
expressions of gratitude and respect, by a large number of the
citizens, and expressed his surprise and joy at seeing the place,
which, twenty years ago, was the field of his apostolic labors, so


much improved, and to jfind the number of Catholics, then small,
so much increased. Arriving at St. Vincent's College, (a favorite
place of his affections, for he founded it, and by his wise admin-
istration, raised it to that flourishing condition in which we see
it now, ranking among the first literary institutions of our coun-
try, provided with able and efficient professors, and attended by
a large number of students from different parts of the Union,) he
was received by the inmates of the college with all the love and
respect that gratitude and veneration could inspire. He was ad-
dressed by some of the students in five different languages, viz.,
Latin, English, French, Spanish, and German, and replying in his
usual happy style, he impressed them at the same time with strong
motives or becoming truly pious christians and diligent scholars,
whilst to give greater expression to their joy on this occasion, the
students had in attendance a band of music, which, at intervals,
played appropriate airs.

" On the morning of the 21st ult., (April,) the Bishop left for
St. Mary's Seminary, Perry county, at which place his reception
by the Superior, professors and students, was no less cordial and
respectful than it was at the Cape. On the evening previous to
his departure from the seminary, the students and the members
from that institution assembled in their hall to partake of some
refreshments ordered by the Superior. It might be called a
family feast, and was occasionally interrupted by some fine
French, English, and German songs by the students. At the
close, a French discourse was addressed to the Bishop, thanking
him for his visit, and for the benefits conferred on the establish-
ment when he was its Superior, which are truly appreciated by
all the members, to which he responded, reminding the students
in particular of the great advantages they possess in that secluded
place, the nurse of piety and of learning, and exhorting them to
make good use of their time and opportunities. On the 25th ult.,
(April, 1856,) the Bishop left for St. Louis."

On the 23d of August, 1856, there occurred a very interesting
event in which Bishop Timon participated. It was the ceremony


of laying the corner stone of the Franciscan College at Alleghany,
New York. Bishop Timon was assisted by the Bishop of
Brooklyn, * and a number of Catholic clergymen.

Lieutenant S. B. Seward and corps, Captain S. W. Johnson,
of Company "K," Sixty-fourth Regiment, joined in the religious
exercises, at intervals, with the booming of their cannon. Over
two thousand persons were present, although the rain fell heavily
during the day.

The land on which this college stands contains two hundred
acres, whilst the building itself is of the Doric Corinthian style.
This land was generously donated by Nicholas Devereux, of
Utica, New York, whose memory, for acts of liberality and
christian charity, deserves to be handed down to posterity with
lasting honor and praise.

During the civil elections of the Fall of 1856, when the spirit
of the "Know Nothing party" was still rampant. Bishop Timon
issued a pastoral letter, earnestly beseeching his flock on the
day of the election to cast their vote and immediately leave the
precincts of the polls. Above all, he exhorted them to refrain
from the use of intoxicating drinks, and in all things to conduct
themselves like well behaved and christian people.

"Remember, dearly beloved," said the Bishop, "that the Al-
mighty, who will call us to a strict account of all our actions, will
certainly call each voter to a strict account for this most impor-
tant act. Yote, then, according to your conscience, and as you
will answer to God for it. We take no part in politics; we refrain
from expressing an opinion of candidates. Should, indeed, a so
called political party denounce the Church of God, and become
an almost anti- Catholic persecuting sect, we would be recreant
to our duty did we not raise a warning voice. May God, in His
mercy, grant that no such party may be perpetuated to tarnish
the lustre of the 'Star Spangled Banner.'"

Notwithstanding the foregoing expressed wishes of the Bishop,
a daily paper, f after election, took occasion to say in its columns

* Right Rev. John O'Loughlin.
t Buffalo Republic,


that Bishop Tiraon " had issued, or caused to be issued, in the
churches in this city, precisely similar orders,"* Bishop Timon,
however, soon silenced this political viper, by placing a copy of the
pastoral letter referred to before the editor's attention, which the
latter did not dare to publish, but contented himself with merely
apologizing for his statements, based upon the misinformation
of others.

We now approach the consideration of another circumstance
in the " history of past events," in which, as of old. Bishop Timon
became a zealous participator in the interests of religion and
justice. If we find him in his early missionary career, fearlessly
asserting the truths of religion before its enemies; if we see him
dissipating, as chaff before the wind, the errors and malice of
false prophets and teachers, even within the very circle of their
"camp meetings" and assemblies; if, owing to his zeal, we observe
the Church militant, struggling under heavy embarrassment, rise
np free of its encumbrances, and glittering more beautifully and
bright in the refulgence of holy principles; if, with his usual inde-
pendence of spirit, we sae him stamp the impress of his character
upon the institutions and works of his brain; so shall we ever find
him, in this instance, and even to the day of his holy death, the
sacred defender of the faith, as well as of the justice and civil
rights of man.

On the Tth of April, 1856, " an act to incorporate the Buffalo
Juvenile Asylum," passed the Legislature. By this act the
" Children's Aid and Reform Society, " of the city of Buffalo,
(incorporated in January, 1854, under the general act for " the
incorporation of benevolent, charitable, scientific and missionary
societies," ) was merged into the corporation therein erected.
The act further authorized this corporation to procure, within the
city of Buffalo, suitable buildings, sites and lands, for the purposes
of the corporation, and to enable it to pay for the same, (section
27,) provided that the Common Council may, from time to time,
authorise and direct the Mayor of the city, " whenever it shall

* This paper had accused Archbishop Hughes, of New York, of commanding his people to
TOte the Buchanan ticket.



be made to appear to the satisfaction of said Mayor, that there
has .been raised or obtained by, or donated to the corporation
created by this act, lands, moneys and securities to tlie value of
at least fifteen thousand dollars, to issue the bonds of said city,
bearing interest at seven per cent, payable annually, for such
sum or sums, not exceeding in the aggregate forty-five thousand
dollars, as to the said Common Council may seem meet."

Besides this pecuniary burden, it would thus necessarily im-
pose upon the shoulders of the people, in an increased taxation
of sixty thousand dollars, there were other more serious and grave
considerations in the bill that were hidden in the character
(charitable, heaven save the mark!) in which it was sought to
establish its existence. In the very origin of its existence, its
dark purposes were plain to the keen sighted eye of justice and
right. It was a private, a dose corporation, 9iot one of its " twenty-
nine directors " being a Catholic.

Looking at the features of the bill, even at this late day, with
a calm and dispassionate eye, it must not be cited to the discredit
of a neutral but logical inference, that the existence of this
" Asylum " was indirectly intended as another blow at the
Catholic Clmrch. Evidence of a grave weight substantiates this
opinion, in the fact that in a city where at least one-half, if not
three- fourths of the population were Catholics, nearly all of whom
were citizens and tax-payers, there should be established an
institution directly supported by the people, but in which they
had no ascertainable or conceivable rights beyond what these
twenty-nine directors chose to give them, and that of the board
of directors not one of them should be a Catholic. Further,
" both the vicious and virtuous children were to meet there, and
form an assemblage far too vast (if filled up,) for safety, since
they could receive

'■'•First. Children whose parents or guardians may surrender to it.

''^Second. Children from seven to fourteen years of age from
the county poor house.

" Third. Children found in any public house, lane, alley, street,
highwa3' or public place in said city.


" Fou7'th. Children found on any wharf, dock, boat or vessel in
a state of want.

" Fifth. Children being abandoned or improperly exposed, or
neglected by his or her parent or parents, or such other persons
who may have them in charge.

" Sixth. Children soliciting alms without being licensed by the
Mayor or City Council.

''^Seventh. Children in any of the aforesaid places, that are idle
and truant and without lawful occupation, or in violation of the
ordinances* of said city of Buffalo."

Hence the interest and fears entertained by Bishop Timon for
the morals, culture, and future of little children committed to the
care of the asylum, (many of whom would be Catholics,) were
well founded. In a meeting of the board of directors, held on
Monday, December 22d, 1856, at the Common Council rooms, a
petition signed by George A. Deuther, Patrick Milton, and others,

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 22 of 30)