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BOSTON


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BOSTON


ligious feelings of the Canadians with whom friendship and an alliance was then being sought. The stay of the French fleet in New England waters and the settling of some of the allies there after the war had ended laid the foundations of the first Catholic parish in the heart of Xew England. There appeared in Boston, in 1788, a Frenc-li priest who called himself Claudius Florent Bouchard de la Poterie, "Priest, Doctor of Divinity, Clerk, and Apostolic Missionary". He had faculties from the prefect Apostolic, Dr. Carroll, and aimomiced his advent in a pompous "pastoral letter". He secured the old French Hu- guenot church at wliat is now No. 18 School Street and opened there on All Saints' Day, 1788, imder the patronage of the Holy Cross, the first Catholic church in New England. The report of the celebration of the first Mass on that date can be read in the Boston "Independent Chronicle", 6 November, 1788. To the aid of this church subscriptions were received from Canada, and the .A.rchbishop of Paris, in answer to an appeal from the little French colony in Boston, sent a needed outfit of vestments and vessels for the altar. He also notified them that the Abbe de la Poterie was an unworthy priest (Campbell in U. S. Cath. Magazine, VHI, 102). His conduct in Boston proved this, and the prefect Apostolic, finding he had been imposed on, sent the Rev. William O'Brien, O. P., of New York to Boston to depose de la Poterie. A violent pamplilet printed in Philadelphia (1789) followed. It was dedicated "To the new Laurent Ricci in America the Rev. Fr. John Carroll, Superior of the Jesuits in the United States also to the friar- monk-inquisitor William O'Brien", and represented de la Poterie as a victim to their wiles.

After his suspension de la Poterie went to Canada and was succeeded in Boston by the Rev. Louis Rousselet, who was in turn suspended and went to Guadeloupe, where he was killed in a revolution. In 1790 the Catholic colony numbered less than two hundred, and the Rev. John Thayer, a convert, was sent to take charge of the church which he found "dilapidated and deserted" after his predecessor's departure. Thayer had been a Congregationalist minister, and chaplain to Governor Hancock. At the close of the Revolution, being in his twenty-sixth year, he went abroad, and became a convert in Rome 25 May, 1783. He determined to become a priest in order to labour for the conversion of New England to the Catholic Faith and was ordained at St. Sulpice in Paris, in 17S7. He returned to Boston 4 Januarj', 1790. The first of a genuine New England family to enter the priesthood, he retained much of his inherited Puritanical oppressiveness, and, as Bishop Carroll said of him, he lacked "amiable and con- ciliatorj' manners" and was not a success as an ad- ministrator. Rousselet, who did not lea\'e Boston immediately, set up a rival church and divided the little congregation, the French element siding ^ith him and the Irish with Thayer. In the spring of 1791 Bishop Carroll had to visit the parish to restore unity. He was received with courtesy by all citizens and was made the guest of honour at the annual dinner of the most important social and militarj' organization there, the Ancient and Honorable Ar- tillerj- Company. Governor Jolm Hancock attended Mass as a mark of respect for him. " It is wonderful ", the bishop ■nTote, "to tell what great civilities have been done to me in this town, where a few years ago a Popish priest was thought to be the greatest mon- ster in the creation. ... If all the Catholics here were united their number would be about one hun- dred and twenty" (V. S. Cath. Magazine, Baltimore, VIII, 149).

Father Thayer having failed as a pastor he was relieved by the Rev. Francis A. Matignon, one of the many French priests exiled by the Revolution, and to whom the Church in the United States owes so


much. Bom in Paris, in 175.3, he was ordained pries in 1773 and taught theology in the College of Navarre Having arrived in Boston, 20 August, 1792, he sooi healed all the local dissensions and by his zeal, elo quence, piety, and winning courtesy made an ini mediate success of his pastorship. In 1796 he in vited his old friend and associate, the Rev. Johi Louis de Cheverus, then an exile in England, t' Boston to help him, and to his great joy the call wa heeded. The Abbe de Cheverus arrived on the thiri of October of that year. He remained in Bostoi with Father Matignon vmtil July, 1797, when h went at Bishop Carroll's request to visit the India missions in Maine. On his way, he looked after th scattered Catholics between Boston and the Pt nobscot. According to a report then made to Bisho Carroll of the Easter Communions of 179S ther were 210 Catholics in Boston; 15 in Phnnouth; 21 i: Newbur j-port , and 3 in Salem. Outside Boston th only important Catholic colony was at Damariscotta Lincoln County, Maine, where Roger and Patric Hanly, two Irishmen, had settled some time before and their descendants and friends made up the com munity. The leading merchants and shipbuilder of Newcastle, James Kavanagh (father of Edwan Ka\-anagh. later Governor of Maine, the hero c Longfellow's novel "Kavanagh", and the first Cathc lie governor of a New England State) and Matthei Cottrill, built a chapel and later, in 1808, a brie structure, St. Patrick's church, for the use of thei fellow Catholics. This was the only church in Nei England outside Boston. Having put these mission in order Father Cheverus returned to Boston an with Father JIatignon exhibited heroic courage an charity during the yellow fever epidemic of 179J By this time the old church in School Street was n longer fit for Divine service and another site o Franklin Street near Devonshire Street, was seciu-e for S2,o00. Speaking at the centennial observanc (29 September, 1903) of the dedication of this churcl Archbishop Williams said: "We bought that Ian from the Boston Theatre. Remember the site c the old cathedral was in the most beautiful part of th tovm — at the end of Franklin Square — and th theatre o^\Tled both sides of the lower part of th street. The theatre people agreed to sell us that Ic at one-half what they could get for it when we bougl it. And remember in that street in those days wer some of the principal families of the city. I remen ber the Bradleys, the Wigglesworths. the Amory and others who lived each side of the street, showin what a choice spot it was and one of the select street of the city." The Spanish consul-general, Don Jua Stoughton, father of the Don Tomas Stoughton, wh had so much to do with the building of St. Peter' the first church in New York, lived opposite the sit selected. .A.t a meeting held 31 March. 1799, he an John Magner, Patrick Campbell, Michael Burn: Owen Callahan, John Duggan, and Edmund Connc were named the committee to take charge of the nc project. From the congregation they collecte S16.000. Members of the leading Protestant familic headed by President John Adams added SI 1,000 t this, and from Catholics in other places and othc sources .?5,500 more was received. The famov architect Charles Bulfinch. also a Protestant, wh designed the capitol at Washington and the Stat House in Boston, supplied the plans without chars for a brick building 80 feet long and 60 wide of loni style, severely simple but impressive. Ground w£ broken for it on St. Patrick's Day ISOO and it \vs ready for dedication 29 September, 1803, havin cost S20,000. Prominent among this first congrc gation, besides those already mentioned, were Jam( Kavanagh, John Ward. David Fitzgerald, Stephe Roberts, John DriscoU, William Daly, Daniel Englisl Thomas Miu-phy, Jolm Hanly, Abraham Fittoi