Open main menu

Page:Quarterlyoforego10oreg 1.djvu/278

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
254
Edwin V. O'Hara

which all communicated. Finally, the 17th, about eleven o'clock, we came in sight of our dear mission of Willamette. A cart was procured to conduct the nuns to their dwelling, which is about five miles from the river. In two hours we were all assembled in the chapel of Willamette, to adore and thank our Divine Saviour by the solemn chanting of the Te Deiim."

On arriving at St. Paul, DeSmet's first care was to seek a convenient location for what was intended to be the base of missionary activities in Oregon. The Methodists offered to sell him their Academy, which they had decided to close. Ten years had passed since Jason and Daniel Lee founded the Methodist mission in the Willamette Valley; a large sum of money had been expended in the enterprise, but as an Indian mission it was confessedly a failure. Hence it was decided to suppress it and sell all the property in 1844. Father DeSmet, however, secured a more advantageous location, where he laid the foundations of the St. Francis Xavier Mission on the Willamette.

When winter came on, Father DeSmet was again among his Indians in the mountains. He re-visited the Sacred Heart mission, founded among the Coeur d'Alenes by Father Point in 1842. Leaving the Pointed Hearts, he set out for St. Mary's mission in the Bitter Root Valley, but was twice foiled in the attempt by the heavy snows and swollen mountain torrents. He was thus compelled to pass Christmas, 1844, among the Kalispels. He gives us an interesting description of the manner in which the day was passed. He writes: "The great festival of Christmas, the day on which the little band (of 144 adults) was to be added to the number of the true children of God, will never be effaced from the memory of our good Indians. The manner in which we celebrated midnight Mass may give you an idea of our festival. The signal for rising, which was to be given a few minutes before midnight, was to be the firing of a pistol, announcing to the Indians that the House of Prayer would soon be open. This was followed----