• Ursulines of Brown County

The Journey Continues: The Decision

Making the Decision to Establish a Community in Brown County


From the pages of “The Cross in the Wilderness” we read:

“From the moment they set foot on American soil until they arrive on the plains of peace in Brown County, the forlorn newcomers were torn by hesitation and uncertainty, just as during the preceding weeks they had been tossed by tempests at sea. To some minds, nothing is more painful than uncertainty, and Julia Chatfield possessed the British lucidity which could ill brook indecision. Was their destination to be Toledo? Or was it Cincinnati? Were they to go to their old friend Monsieur Rappe on Lake Erie? Or were they to stay in southern Ohio among total strangers?”


“People whom the nuns met in Cincinnati made every effort to deter them from a foolhardy settling in St. Martin; they pointed out that even the Bishop had been obliged to withdraw his Seminary from that place. Some considered it the last place in creation, so remote from conveniences, from indispensable advantages. The French women listened, not daring to glance at one another. The visit of Sisters Julia and St. Pierre with M. Macheboeuf to Brown County was but an added deterrent.”


“At last, about the middle of the month, the Bishop had a confidential talk with them. “Which place would you prefer now, do you think?” he asked. “Shall it be Chillicothe or Dayton? Louisville, or St. Martin?”


Julia Chatfield’s steady gaze revealed nothing of the pang at her heart. “My Lord, we have no choice whatsoever,” came the answer. “We are content to go wherever you wish. Your orders will always be agreeable to us. Yes, we shall look upon them as the will of God.”


“Her reply seemed to please the Bishop. It was decided that he was to say the Mass of the Holy Ghost next morning and then tell them his thoughts on the subject.”


“Next morning after Mass,” writes Sister St. Pierre, “His Lordship came to tell us that Saint Martin was the place where he believed God willed us to be. From that moment our one thought was how to get there as quickly as possible.””

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