Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Note of Some Confusion

As we saw yesterday, on September 19, 1862, Bishop Frederic Baraga had just secured for his Michigan diocese two additional priests, by virtue of ordaining one—Father James Sweeney—and sending the other on ahead for ordination at his home church.
P. M. Flannigan, who wished to be raised to priesthood in his parish church at the Minesota Mine, also left for home on the day of his elevation to the deaconate [September 16].
Why this ceremony was not immediately attended to is unclear. A puzzling explanation is introduced later in Antoine Rezek’s narrative in the History of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette that causes me, once again, to have that uneasy feeling that there might be two P. M. Flannigans under discussion. Keeping in mind that on September 16 the book reports that Mr. Flannigan was sent home for his upcoming ordination, we see nothing written on the matter until two months later:
The season was far advanced towards the winter; all the boats were up and in less than a week’s time they would be bidding their farewell along the ports of Lake Superior. On Sunday, November 9, the Iron City, on her last trip down, brought Rev. P. M. Flannigan to Hancock. He was a deacon and came down with the intention of returning to the seminary. Father Jacker suggested his immediate ordination, but the Bishop little favored the proposition, while Rev. Flannigan himself strenuously opposed it.
Wait! Didn’t they already have this discussion? Like two months previously?

And why was Patrick Flannigan intending to head to seminary again? Hadn’t the Bishop sent him home to prepare for ordination in his home parish in September? And where was he coming from when he arrived on the “last trip down” to Hancock?

We can hardly dismiss this as a tale of two Flannigans, though. There are too many telltale hallmarks of our Patrick’s story in each of the narratives—September’s and November’s. This may have to be one of those times when we must refer to source documentation—if there is indeed any at this time and from this rugged outpost of the Catholic Church in America.

Just as he had on behalf of James Sweeney, in this narrative, Father Jacker once again asserts himself—this time, on behalf of Patrick Flannigan:
In the course of the evening the Bishop allowed himself to be persuaded that the scarcity of priests would not only allow but even demand the shortening of the student’s course, particularly in this instance where the subject had already had a good course. Not being able to resist the persistence of Father Jacker, and respecting the wish of the Bishop, Rev. Flannigan consented to his ordination but reminded the Bishop of the promise he had made to his mother to ordain him in the parish church of Rockland. To this the Bishop agreed.
It may seem like the mention of the different villages indicates two different stories. Here, Patrick is pleading for the Bishop to honor his promise to his mother for ordination in Rockland, whereas before, the Bishop had designated the event to be at the man’s parish at the Minesota Mine. Which place is it?

Keep in mind that this slight twist in the sequence of events is merely owing to two sets of names for the same location. Remember the discussion about Patrick’s father, Captain James Flannigan, and how his home was located in Maple Grove? Rezek’s History notes that what was once called Maple Grove in the 1850s was, by the 1906 publication of the book, labeled Greenland, Michigan. So it was with the Minesota Mine (which, according to local tradition, was registered with the misspelled single “n” owing to an error in paperwork). Remember the 1860 census record for Ontonagon County in Michigan in which we found Patrick Flannigan at the home of Rev. Martin Fox? The heading for that census page was actually labeled for the Minesota Mine. Other records also show that the designation of Minesota Mine, now on the list of state historic places in Michigan, was located to the southeast of the town of Rockland. While I don’t know for sure, perhaps in the boom time of mining in that wilderness region, the location of the parish, at first, might have been closer to the mine than to the town that followed.

That doesn’t yet complete the litany of inconsistencies for this episode, though. The story continues as the threesome now set off from the Bishop’s present location at Hancock:
On the morning of October 10th after celebrating Mass early, the Bishop started afoot from Hancock for the Minesota Mine.
Check that: it was November 9 when Patrick Flannigan arrived in Hancock, so it must be November 10 when the three men start on their journey.

And at this late date in the year, what a journey it turns out to be—not only on account of the encroaching winter weather, but also owing to the aging Bishop’s own health problems.

Above right: a much-younger Bishop Frederic Baraga, at the time of his consecration; from History of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette, page 20; in the public domain.

1 comment:

  1. The comment about wanting to be near his mother is enligtening. Patrick must have felt close to his family and respected his parents. His brothers and sisters must have admired him for the course he chose to take.


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