Good Shepherd Gracenter

The Arrival of the Sisters in the U.S.

“The Sisters left Angers on October 10, and Paris on October 14 (1842).  After two days with the Ursuline Sisters in Le Havre, they embark on October 16 on the sailing ship UTICA. . . .

“A fair wind at departure hour did not continue.  The next day the sea was terrible, the winds raged.  For nine days the Sisters were prostrated by sea-sickness.  It was ten days before they could go up on the vessel’s deck.  There were several hurricanes.  One storm continued to toss the ship for a day and a night.  Ten days were spent wind-swept and wave-rocked out of course, with death at every moment imminent.

“At last after 31 days on the sea, the Sisters reached New York on November 17, 1842. . . . [By] the advice of Archbishop Hughes, they for the first time laid aside their habits and assumed secular garb, for he assured  them that the religious dress might be a source of danger to them on their journey.

“More travel by water, this time from New York to Philadelphia by steamer, setting sail November 21.  Then from Philadelphia by train on November 25 to a place called Chambersburg; then the journey continued by stage-coach. . . .

“The route is over the Allegheny Mountains, the season is grim; the frost-wind freezes to the marrow; the Sisters who have been cloistered in the mild climate of Angers are now insufficiently provided with heavy traveling clothing and famish with cold.  There was no inn, not even a bakery on the road they traveled.  They were gnawed by hunger; they could not get a morsel of bread.  Nearly perishing with cold and half-starved, they reached Pittsburgh on November 26 and stayed with the Sisters of Mercy.  Again to a steamer, and on to Cincinnati.  At last, December 1, 1842 they arrived at what they called THE PROMISED LAND – Louisville.

“They remained nine months in Portland with the Sisters of Loretto.  In the meantime, the Sisters studied English and tried to become acquainted with the customs and manners of the country.

“When the weather became less severe, . . . Bishop [Flaget] accompanied Sr. M. des Anges . . . to look for a house.  They found one, but when the lease was about to be signed the landlord refused to complete the contract, fearing that the girls to be housed there might burn the place down.

“Humanly speaking, conditions continued to look almost hopeless.  But finally the Coadjutor, Bishop Chabrat, decided to go ahead and build.  He selected a large plot of ground at the corner of 8th and Madison Streets in Louisville, and in the spring of 1843 work was begun on the building.

“Finally, on Sept. 4, 1843, the Sisters moved into their large convent.  But in the monastery there was no food.  Two gracious ladies generously provided meals.  The first Mass was offered Sept. 8 by Bishop Flaget in a temporary chapel. . . .

“In the beginning the townspeople were not friendly.  The nuns were jeered and mocked at.  Until they were able to build a complete enclosure they had no rest from scoffers.

“The first girl arrived Sept. 15, 1843 . . . .  ‘She came, broken in health, from a sin-cursed haunt.’”