He Baptized His Mother / He Married His Father

June 8, 2018

St. Anthony's Church, Bloomfield, PEI





















Deanery meeting at Bloomfield, mid-1920’s.   After the meeting, over a light lunch, Father John Archie, PP at St. Mark’s, announced that he had a very unique experience quite recently.   SILENCE. He related that a week earlier, he had baptized his mother. Just then Father Mike Rooney, curate at Tignish, announced that he also had a strange experience a short time ago.  SILENCE.  He stated that a couple of weeks ago he had married his father.  Mrs. MacDonald, Father John Archie’s widowed mother in Indian River, had been a staunch Presbyterian but getting on in years now she announced to her son while visiting her that it was time for her to join the Catholic Church and so it soon happened with the assistance of her priestly son.   On the other hand, Father Rooney’s mother had died in Iona when Michael was quite young.   His father eventually settled in Boston where this second marriage took place, the official witness being the groom’s priestly son from P.E.I.


Tragedy at Vernon River, September 12, 1897.   It was a Sunday morning around 10 o’clock as the parishioners were gathering for Mass.   Mary Genevieve Fraser, aged 12, was standing near the church with her mother and a neighbour woman when suddenly one of the heavy stone/concrete ornaments in the turret fell from its place, striking the girl on the head and crushing her skull.   The child died within 20 minutes.   Dr. Collins, a parishioner, along with PP Father Pat Doyle and others did what they could to assist the young girl but the injury was indeed fatal.   The bright point, however, was her anointing with holy oils, other prayers and much truly Christian support.   The parents were Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Fraser.


A tale of two parishes, Montague and Cardigan.   Back in the early 1970s both parishes were faced with century-old churches requiring extensive updates.   The people in Montague decided to build a new church and in 1972 their new church-rectory complex was opened.   The old church, constructed in 1872, and the century-old rectory were demolished.   Then in the late 1990s a new and separate priest’s house was built nearby.   Over in Cardigan the church, built in 1874, maintained its rather stylish appearance despite its need for tender, loving care all over. The parishioners there decided to keep it and spend whatever high costs might be required.   Over nearly a decade wide expenditures were laid out, including a splendid new full basement, used extensively ever since, with one section available for parish wakes.   The old church today is very attractive inside and out.   Meanwhile, the old rectory has been removed and not replaced.   Thus two nearby parishes, following different pathways, have achieved their objectives with a minimum of flutter.


Two American bishops with close P.E.I. connections.

Thomas Gorman was born in Pasadena, California in 1892. At age 20 he was sent off to Rome for seminary training.   Alas, that very day as he was heading east, Britain declared war on Germany and World War I was on.   Young Tom was enrolled instead at St, Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore.  He was ordained in Fall River in 1917 for the Diocese of Los Angeles.   Later he received a doctorate in history from the University of Louvain.  He was appointed first Bishop of Reno, Nevada in 1931 and was Bishop of Dallas, Texas from 1952 to 1969.   When President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Bishop Gorman was in Rome at the Second Vatican Council.   Bishop Gorman’s father was John Gorman from Indian River, P.E.I.   One summer while a seminarian young Tom visited Indian River and area.


Eric MacKenzie was born in Boston in 1893.   He attended St. John’s Seminary there and was ordained in 1918.   He obtained a doctorate in theology from the Catholic University in Washington and taught for long years at St. John’s Seminary.   There he was a teacher of special merit and remained a student at heart, up late at night burning the midnight oil while reviewing the great works of the masters.   Later he was pastor in two large Boston parishes. In 1950 he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Boston.   A fine violin player and daily walker, he felt he must give up both since as a bishop he would have little time for leisure!   Bishop MacKenzie’s mother was Angeline Hogan from St. Patrick’s Parish, Grand River, P.E.I. who lived to be 97.


Church anniversaries this year:   St. Brigid’s, 150   and   Palmer Road, 125


Quite a sermon.   The Charlottetown minister worked long hours in preparing the sermon for this major congregation’s anniversary.   Afterwards at the church door he received much praise for his fine message.   Back in the office, however, as he was leaving for home he met the janitor and asked him joyfully what he had thought of the sermon.  The janitor was brief.   “In the first place, your sermon was too long.   In the second place you read too much and in the third place it wasn’t worth reading in the first place.”


Island pastors who became bishops:

Bernard MacDonald, Rustico, Bishop of Charlottetown;

Peter MacIntyre, Tignish and missions, Bishop of Charlottetown;

Cornelius O’Brien, Indian River/Summerfield, Archbishop of Halifax;

James Morrison, Vernon River, Bishop of Antigonish;

Faber MacDonald, St. Pius X, Bishop of Grand Falls, NF and of Saint John.

St. Paulinus of Nola

A beautiful description of what it means to be Christian, to be the Body of Christ, to live within the Church’s communion:

“It is not surprising if, despite being far apart, we are present to each other and,      without being acquainted, know each other because we are members of one       body, we have one head, we are steeped in one grace, we live on one loaf, we walk on one road and we dwell in the same house.”

(St. Paulinus of Nola to St. Augustine)


Best wishes to all priests moving shortly to new fields.  These are not moves up or down, but just a bit sideways!


   Father O’Shea’s Diocesan Reflections                   #32 June 7, 2018