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  • Writer's pictureUrsulines of Brown County

The Journey Begins: Julia Chatfield and Her 29-Day Trip to America

On May 4th, 1845, Julia Chatfield and her 10 companions left France for the United States of America, becoming missionaries to the New World. The trip lasted 29 days. As a way to commemorate the initial journey of The Foundresses of the Ursulines of Brown County we will share stories from their travels.

A translation from French to English of the document entitled: An Old Account of New Beginnings, shares the journey from the perspective of one of the travelers. Completed 2019, Sister Ruth Podesta’s translation is not interlinear, but an effort to provide some understanding of the earliest document we have of the stories of our foundation.

“The Ursuline Sisters in Beaulieu spent three months listening to what missionary life might be like in far off America. Before a positive response could be made, Msgr. Macheboeuf agreed to write the Superior in Boulogne that the Beaulieu Sisters felt it most important that there be an English Superior for the Missionary Sisters, and perhaps a novice and postulant. He felt sure that this could be possible.”

“The Beaulieu Sisters (Sister Stanislaus Lauier, Sister Bernard Bouyon, Sister Augustine Bouret, Sister St. Pierre Andral, Sister Angela Demota, Sister Mary Bonnet, Sister Christine Veyssiere and Sister Martial Soulier) and the Sisters from Boulogne (Mother Julia Chatfield, Sister Hyacinth Eiffe, a novice and Miss Matilda Dunn, an English postulant) met each other for the first time in Le Havre, France, the port city.

“The Zurich set sail for America on Sunday, May 4th, 1845. At five o’clock that morning, Msgr. Machebouef celebrated Mass for the travelers, offering them “the happiness of receiving Holy Communion.” After breakfast, Mother St. Ursula, the Superior from Boulogne, gave them all her blessing, and then the time came to say thank you and farewell. “Our eyes were full of tears.”

The Sisters of St. Vincent (where the travelers had lodged) had come to Le Harve to say farewell and to give the travelers some good advice for their voyage on the Zurich. At last the Sisters climbed the ladder onto the ship. They stayed a long time watching and waving to the people who had gathered on the shore. Finally, that time came to say farewell and adieu to la belle France.”

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1 Comment

Lucia Castellini
Lucia Castellini
May 04, 2020

Thanks much. I believe we know a bit about what a 29 day journey is like.

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