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Friday, September 11, 2009

Back to that extraordinary woman, Aloysia Hardey

Yesterday was the dedication of our new building at St. Thomas University. It is called the the Fernandez Family Center for Wellness and Leadership. Our Archbishop came for the blessing and spoke beautifully about the need for relaxation and rest. The gym was filled with students, faculty, alums, and friends and each of our sport teams came out on the floor in uniform at the end and led cheers. Then there was a festive lunch for all and then the rain. We had rain most of the afternoon but there was a faculty-student basketball game and then a faculty-student volley-ball game. I had to come home to see someone for spiritual direction and then we had our first Reflection Group meeting of the year. I realized this morning that I did not write a blog yesterday so you are getting a longer one today as I did promise to finish the life of Mother Hardey, a great American pioneer that is not known by many outside of the Society of the Sacred Heart.
The General Council of 1841 did not take place as the Archbishop of Paris forbad having it outside of Paris. Father Joseph Barelle, S.J. gave the delegates a retreat that was a turning point in the life of Aloysia Hardey. He continued to direct her by letter.
On October 12, 1842, Aloysia set sail for America; she arrived in New York only on November 18 and four days later set out with a small band for McSherrystown in Pennsylvania. This foundation soon received the novices from Florissant, but after the death of several nuns and students, the house was closed in 1846, but again tried in 1848-1852 when it was closed for good.
Actually, Mother Hardey only was there for less than a month as we find her back in New York as Superior of the house on Houston Street by December 11. The house was too small for the boarding school and day school so another property was found and the boarding school opened at Astoria.
By the Spring of 1844, Aloysia was charged with all the houses in the East; Mother Cutts, an Englishwoman, had the houses in the Mississippi Valley. At the General Council of 1851 both were given the title of vice-vicar. By this time there were ten houses in the East with Canada under Mother Hardey, and there were seven in the West.

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