Friday, June 8, 2012

An Overnight Interlude


It must have been with great relief that the struggling threesome—Bishop Baraga, assisted in his weak state by Father Jacker and the soon-to-be-ordained Patrick Flannigan—arrived at the end of their journey during near-winter conditions in the Upper Peninsula. All told, the Bishop’s journey entailed a multi-staged itinerary covering just over three hundred miles. All this, of course, could not have been completed without several overnight stays.

After the Bishop met up with Father Jacker and Patrick Flannigan in Hancock, and embarked by foot from there,
Exhausted, the trio arrived at the half-way house at ten o’clock at night. From this point the country being more level, the walking was much better; they reached Maple Grove, Flannigan’s home, at five o’clock next day. The following morning after celebrating Mass, the last seven of the forty miles were made with as much leisure as possible. Minesota Mine was reached at eleven o’clock.
One would think that the Bishop would have gratefully seen this as the end of his travels, but that was not the case. He intended to continue to yet another destination:
The happy completion of the journey could not but imbue the venerable Bishop with new strength. After a few hours rest he drove unaccompanied to Ontonagon and stayed over night in the house of Mr. Schick….
Minesota Mine—the location near Rockland which was to be the site of the upcoming ordination—was the domain of Father Martin Fox, who would most willingly have received his three guests—if his humble home would have permitted such hospitality.
That our readers might not wonder why the Bishop did not remain as the guest of Father Fox, we must add, in explanation, that the rectory was so small and contained but one bed and that on this occasion there were four persons having legal claim to it.
Until the night preceding the actual ceremony, the Bishop was satisfied to seek rest in that nearby location which more conveniently could accommodate him. He returned to the Minesota Mine on that Saturday, November 15, 1862, and the notes for that evening’s repose—for there was little sleep—demonstrate how humble, indeed, the parish pastor’s residence actually was.
This night the Bishop’s presence precluded all contests for the only bedstead. Father Jacker, as the next guest in honor, took possession of an old lounge, Father Fox settled for the night on the bare floor, unfortunately selecting the door leading to the Episcopal bedroom for a pillow and was early in the morning, at three o’clock, when the Bishop opened his door, unceremoniously disturbed in his slumbers. The neo-ordinandus lodged at the neighbors and the student Frederick Eis…did not sleep at all, or if he did, he stole his sleep under the trees in the graveyard. But we reckon and are willing to believe that he did not sleep that night, for at nine o’clock Saturday night there was not a piece of meat nor a morsel of bread in the house, and yet both had to be provided for the feast.
What to do for food for the next day’s feast? It wouldn’t do to have so many gather to witness a ceremony as significant as an ordination without being able to share a meal with the entire company.

It is sometimes amazing to witness the inventiveness of those skilled in ministering in such challenging conditions.


Above right: Still-life with Figs, oil on canvas by Luis Egidio Melendez; via Wikipedia; in the public domain.

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