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The Youngstown Interlude - 1887

Posted 3/24/2019

How did the Toledo Ursulines become involved in the Youngstown foundation?


In 1874, at the entreaty of Father Henry Brown of St. Columba’s Parish, Youngstown, Ohio, the Cleveland Ursulines opened a house in that city.

The taint of nationalism unfortunately affected the first group of Ursulines to take up residence in Youngstown—that same evil which brought about the resignation of Bishop Rappe. Because of the dissension that resulted, Mother Theresa Foley asked to be replaced and Mother Mary Louis Molin, co-founder of the Tiffin group went to Youngstown. When dissension persisted, however, Bishop Gilmore, seeing no peace in sight, went to the Convent to disband it.

When he was about to leave, Sister Felix Polion, while conducting him to the gate, asked him to reconsider. Surprised he told her only infrequently did he change his mind. “Your Lordship,” she said, “even God himself changed his mind.”

Somewhat calmed by this time, the Bishop said, “My child, what can I do?” She said, “My Lord, give us a superior from Toledo.” Recalling that the Toledo nuns had never been involved in the controversy over ethnic supremacy, he said he had never thought of that, and returned with her to the house to put the proposition before the nuns. He gave the nuns the option of staying or returning to Cleveland. Three returned and five stayed.

In answer to Bishop Gilmore’s request, Mother Amadeus sent from Toledo Sisters Lawrence McCaffrey, St. Joseph Waters, Frances de Sales Barron, Gertrude Welsh. Reverend Edward Mears, Pastor of St. Columba’s, met them at the train station and escorted them to the Convent, where they received a warm welcome from the five residents.
It was thus, that on July 22, 1878, that the Toledo Ursulines, temporarily assumed the government of the Youngstown Convent in the person of Mother Lawrence McCaffrey, superior, who spent the remainder of her life there serving numerous terms as Superior.


The material quoted here is taken from A Tree in the Valley by Sr. Lelia Mahoney.