History of the US Province of the DHS part 3

The first Daughters of the Holy Ghost had arrived in the U.S. in December. Getting adjusted to their new life as well as to New England’s bleak, snowy weather was definitely a hardship for them. Nevertheless, the Sisters continued being “Americanized”. Toward the end of April, 1903, Sr. Yves de Blois was sent to St. Edward School in Stafford Springs, staffed by the Sisters of Mercy, to prepare children for their First Communion.

womens home school

By this time, things were improving for all the sisters - winter was dying out; spring blossomed with new life and hope, and as the Sisters settled in, a new lay organization sprang up to assist them. When Bishop Harkins invited the Sisters to the Providence Diocese, he established the Queen’s Daughters to care for the Sisters’ material needs. Connecticut’s Bishop Tierney did the same. The Queen’s Daughters in the Hartford Diocese assisted the Sisters in Hartford, Waterbury, Bridgeport and New Haven.
Bishop Tierney had wanted Sisters in Waterbury, and  Srs. Jean d’Avila and Ste. Armelle were chosen. After some confusion they finally arrived in their new home which was in terrible condition and the Sisters had no funds to fix it up. The Queen’s Daughters came to the rescue. Since the cleaning had begun on the feast of John the Baptist, the convent was named St. John. By July of 1903, more Daughters of the Holy Ghost had arrived. Money was earned by the Sisters who offered French and sewing lessons. By fall they were teaching at the future St. Joseph School. Another twist for this group of Sisters was that St. Joseph was a Lithuanian parish giving them a new language challenge.

Another early foundation was in Swanton, VT. The parish which was under the Edmundite Fathers had a school, but the Sisters (Daughters of the Heart of Mary) who had staffed the school could no longer do so. The new sisters from France would be replacing them. The Sisters were warmly welcomed and assisted by the Ladies of St. Anne. Asif to keep life interesting for the Sisters and those they were serving, an ironic situation arose. Although many of the people of Swanton were French-speaking, there was difficulty with communication because the Canadian French dialect is quite different from the Breton French. The newcomers actually understood one another better in English. In spite of this, the Sisters eventually taught in both high and elementary schools.

At the beginning of July, 1903 five more Sisters arrived in Bridgeport. The Bishop had wanted them to care for the sick poor. When the Sisters arrived their house was not quite ready, and once again the Sisters of Mercy provided hospitality until the beginning of August when the Daughters moved into St. Michael’s on Milne St. from where they carried on  their ministry of visiting the sick in their homes.  It was not long before the Sisters of St. Michael’s were asked to take on other types of work. By June of 1905 the pastor of St. Anthony’s had opened a school with two Daughters on staff. Then, the pastor of St. Stephen’s did likewise.

Bishop Tierney also wanted religious for New Haven. As elsewhere, the Sisters were welcomed by the Sisters of Mercy. The newly established Queen’s Daughters helped the Sisters get settled at 177 Hamilton St. in the middle of the Italian section of the city where their main work was to visit the sick. Eventually they began to teach catechism in the local French parish. In addition to nursing the sick, the Bishop also wanted to involve the Sisters in  a home for Catholic working girls. Thus a twelve room house was purchased and an addition for forty women was constructed at 133 Green St. The house was ready by 1905, and full by the end of that year. It was now obvious that the Daughters of the Holy Ghost now had a good foothold in New England.

For more information about this segment or any part of the history of the US Province, you may contact Sr. Marian St. Marie at marianst.marie@gmail.com


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