The Sigoyne Memorial

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The Sigoyne Memorial
C. O. O'Brien
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THE SIGOYNE MEMORIAL Letter from His Grace Archbishop O’Brien Editor of L'Évangéline, I enclose herewith for publication the letter of His Grace the Archbishop approving of the project for founding an Academy in Clare. Written as it was on the Feast of the Assumption, the Patronal Feast of the Acadians, it is an omen of success for the good work —as well as at the same time, an incentive to action in subscribing and collecting funds. Yours truly, ALPH. B. PARKER. St. Bernards, Digby Co., N. S., Aug. 22, 1889. P. S.—An official French translation of His Grace’s letter will appear in a succeeding issue. A. B. P. HALIFAX, Aug. 15, 1889. Dear Father Parker,—Many circumstances have conspired to prevent me from stating more fully to you my views on the “Sigoyne Monument.” As you know, I approved of the idea of a Memorial to that pioneer priest of St. Mary’s Bay, as well as the form which it should take, viz.: an Academy for boys, to be established by me in Digby County. I heartily recommend this project to our people, and trust it will meet with a large share of success. But it must be understood that as the Ecclesiastical Superior of the Diocese, time and manner for founding such an institution must be wholly in my discretion. Whilst on this subject, I would wish to correct some false notions and dissipate some prejudices and misapprehensions. I cannot for one moment admit that less provision has been made in the Maritime Provinces for the education of our Acadian fellow-Catholics than for that of any other class. All the schools of higher education in these provinces, established by the Bishops, have been equally open to all Catholics. We cannot, so far as spiritual affairs go, admit race distinctions. We are simply Catholics; not Irish, nor Scotch, nor Acadians. We know whereof we speak, when we assert that an Acadian boy could receive, as many have received, as good an education in our various Diocesan Colleges, as he possibly could in any college in the province of Quebec. It is true that only within comparatively recent times have the Acadians begun to take advantage of these opportunities. The reason is not far to seek. They were a conquered people, dispoiled of their worldly goods; abandoned by France; neglected by their kinsmen in Quebec, they naturally shrank from their conquerors and became a community apart. Once, however, that Bishops were consecrated for these Provinces, the faithful Acadians awoke to a new Spring. Priests were placed in their midst; churches established; then came schools and finally convents. No people were ever more fully provided in a missionary country with the aids of religion; and no people ever appreciated them more fully. “Historians,” whether in France or Quebec, should make themselves conversant with the facts of history, and then perchance they would employ their trenchant pens in rebuking the long indifference of their countrymen to the fate of the Acadians; or at least they would do justice to those “Irish” bishops whom they now revile. With no aid, and with little sympathy from France or Quebec, the Bishops of the Maritime Provinces provided abundantly for the spiritual needs of the Acadians; broke down the barriers between them and the rest of the community; put the opportunity of education, as far as their means would permit, within their reach, and thus helped to make them what they are to-day, viz.: a power in the land—a virtuous, law-abiding, intelligent people. Such a people is not likely to forget their best friends; nor to be misled by political “kitefliers” or intemperate writers who gather their facts in a flying visit, and dress them out in the usual embellishments of an overheated gallic imagination. But whilst much has been done in the past, I fully recognize the needs of the times for still greater facilities of education amongst our people. Hence it is that for more than two years I have been feeling my way to the establishing of an Academy for boys in Clare. If your monument be generously supported, it will be a sign that the people recognize these needs as well as I. Hoping you will have a large measure of success, I remain, Dear Father Parker, Yours in Christ, C. O’BRIEN, Archbishop of Halifax.