Michael Power

Michael Power: The Struggle to Build the Catholic Church on the Canadian Frontier

Mark G. McGown
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Michael Power
    Book Description:

    Setting his account against the dramatic backdrop of pre-Confederation Canada, McGowan traces the challenges Power faced as a young priest helping to establish and sustain the Catholic Church in the newly settled areas of the continent. Power was appointed first bishop of Toronto in 1841 and became an ardent proponent of the Ultramontane reforms and disciplines that were to revitalize the Roman Catholic Church. McGowan explores the way in which Power established frameworks for Catholic institutions, schools, and religious life that are still relevant to English Canada today.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7296-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION Eulogy for a Bishop
    (pp. 3-13)

    THEY HAD BARELY KNOWN HIM. Yet hundreds of Torontonians stood ankle-deep in the muck of Queen Street enjoying a brief appearance of the noonday sun and a respite from the torrents of rain that had been falling since the previous evening. Those in the crowd who had read the papers leading up to 5 October 1847 or engaged in gossip amid the stalls at the St Lawrence Market would have known only the basics about the man for whom they waited.¹ He was born in Nova Scotia, educated in Montreal, ordained a priest of Quebec, appointed first Roman Catholic bishop...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Land and Sea
    (pp. 14-36)

    EACH SPRING, THE MEN OF WATERFORD put out into the deep. As had been their ritual for decades, wives, children, and kin would crowd the wharves and quays of Waterford City and wave as their menfolk slipped away for another season in the fishery. One by one, the sails disappeared on the Atlantic horizon, the currents of the great ocean carrying the vessels to their final destination–Talamh an eisc, or, “land of fish.” Some of the men would drop their nets into the cod-rich waters off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Others would spend months on the inhospitable rocks...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Forming the Heart, the Spirit, and the Body
    (pp. 37-56)

    EVERYTHING WAS DIFFERENT. Michael Power was not quite twelve years old in August 1816, when he and his companions set out from Halifax for Quebec. Behind him was the comfort and security of his home, his family, his parish, and the streets and parks of his birthplace. Ahead was the unknown – a foreign colony, a foreign people who spoke a foreign language, and no familiar faces save for his two companions. He was putting out to sea for the first time. In Montreal, he would be educated, and if God’s will be done – and Mary Power’s dreams fulfilled – he would...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Saddlebag Christianity
    (pp. 57-83)

    EUROPEAN-STYLE SEMINARIES did not prepare young men very well for what would greet them on the North American frontier. Curricula based on tried-and-true models originating in France, Rome, Austria, or Spain offered adequate theological and pastoral foundations for men who would end up in urban parish settings, villages, and towns, or in well-established rural areas. In most western European dioceses, recently ordained men would apprentice as curates in a variety of parish settings under the watchful eye of an elder or more experienced priest. With this type of mentorship, the young man–sometimes one of a number–would gain the...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR “Clip the Gowns of the Clergy”
    (pp. 84-106)

    STE-MARTINE PRESENTED MICHAEL POWER with the challenges of a new parish on a settlement frontier. For six years, a time equal to his service in missions on a more open frontier, Power undertook the dayto-day routines of a parishcuré‚a task for which the seminary had prepared him well. He traded in his saddle and paddle for a more ordered set of responsibilities: there were tithes to collect in the village and on the surrounding farms,marguilliersto supervise, pews to allocate, marriages to regularize, and buildings to maintain. Had this been all he had endeavoured on the south...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Ultramontane Revolution
    (pp. 107-135)

    NO SOONER HAD ONE REVOLUTION ENDED in Lower Canada than another one began stirring. Michael Power would have little time to help repair the damage wreaked by the insurrection and trials of 1838 and 1839 before he was called to serve the diocese in a new way. On 15 September 1839, nearly six years after Power’s appointment to Ste-Martine, the sickly and frail Jean-Jacques Lartigue transferred him to Parish of La Nativité de Très Sainte-Vièrge at Laprairie. Power had only about two weeks to pack his things, complete his unfinished business, and say farewell to his parishioners.¹

    La Nativité, where...

  10. CHAPTER SIX At the Edge of Civilization
    (pp. 136-166)

    MICHAEL POWER DID NOT KNOW very much about Upper Canada, which in 1841 was Canada West in the new Province of Canada. He had been there only on short missions to Hawkesbury and Plantagenet while serving at Petite-Nation a decade before. Then, he had had little enthusiasm for that type of mission, but it paled in comparison to the one awaiting him beyond Toronto. In June 1842, as he waited on the dock at Lachine for his steamship, he prepared himself, yet again, to make a great leap into the unknown.

    What he did know about Upper Canada he had...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN The Fifth Age
    (pp. 167-198)

    IT WAS BECOMING INCREASINGLY evident to his priests and to the laity that Michael Power had been seized by the spirit of the church “militant and triumphant” that had marked his consecration ceremonies at Laprairie. With the 1841 appointment of William Dollard as bishop of New Brunswick, Power understood that the Catholic conquest of North America was well underway. Knowing that his vision was shared by many of the colleagues he had left behind in Lower Canada, Power wrote with passion to his old friend Joseph Marcoux, “I hope that soon we will have an unbroken chain of Bishops and...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Virtually a Canadian
    (pp. 199-226)

    IN THE HISTORY OF THE western Christian Church, there is often a fine line between the duties of a bishop as a pastor and as a politician. Some bishops have natural political instincts; they enjoy the thrust and parry of public debate, sometimes venturing freely into the public sphere to defend positions or to assert issues of great import to the church. At times, these men cross the boundary between the sacred and the profane. They display a near insatiable appetite to be the centre of public attention, often in relation to matters only tangential to their ordained role as...

  13. CHAPTER NINE The Year of the Irish
    (pp. 227-258)

    ON NEW YEAR’S DAY 1847, theMirrorpublished a sombre message to its readers. Editor Charles Donlevy wrote that while the “blessings of Providence” had been “profusely bestowed” upon Canadians in 1846, this had not been the case elsewhere in the world. Cholera had crippled India, claiming tens of thousands of lives each day; some members of the British military stationed there had been reduced to “mere skeletons.” The “plains of Mexico [were] crimson with gore” and her churches desecrated by “the Army of a Nation, calling itselfChristian.” Donlevy also reviled this “Nation,” the United States, for enslaving millions...

  14. CONCLUSION Seeking Stability
    (pp. 259-272)

    THE DEATH OF Michael Power created an air of crisis in the Canadian church. His sudden loss not only panicked his closest colleagues in the Diocese of Toronto, but it also caused shock waves among his fellow bishops and missionaries across the province. Anticipating his own death, Power had appointed J.J. Hay, John Carroll, and Pierre Point as joint administrators of the diocese, although the young and sickly Hay, as secretary and archdeacon, took on the lion’s share of the responsibility. Within days of Power’s death, Hay–whom Vincent Quiblier once described as a man “in a continued state of...

  15. APPENDIX ONE Toronto Diocesan Regulations, 1842
    (pp. 273-286)
  16. APPENDIX TWO The Prisoners from Ste-Martine, 1838
    (pp. 287-288)
  17. APPENDIX THREE Population of the Diocese of Toronto, 1842-48
    (pp. 289-290)
  18. Abbreviations
    (pp. 291-292)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 293-368)
  20. Index
    (pp. 369-378)