Mount St. Scholastica's French Refugees:
In Search Of Liberty

Junior Essay Winner

Atchison

In July 1904, Mother Aloysia Northman, prioress of Mount St. Scholastica, received a letter from Abbot Felix DeGrasse of Shawnee, Oklahoma. Abbot Felix was a native of Lorraine, and had already helped several French sisters to America.

On my return from Europe about 4 weeks ago, when I went to see you at Atchison you gave me to read the application which Madame the Abbess had written to you asking you to receive some of her Sisters. I told you my opinion which is to receive them without fear because I know them. They will never give you any trouble. On the contrary they will be greatly useful to your community.10

Mother Aloysia accepted their application. On October 19, the Mount St. Scholastica Academy catalogue remarks: "Five11 Benedictine Sisters, exiled from France, arrived at the Convent to-day. . . . The French Government has for the past few years been expelling religious from their convents and confiscating their property. . . . It seems cruel that such things must be; but frequently they are only the means for fulfilling God's designs."12

The choir sisters had departed France less than a month before the expulsion.

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10MSSA. Letter to Mother Aloysia Northman, July 28, 1904. return

11The fifth sister was Mary Louis Unkel who transferred after two years to a community in Ramsay, LA. return

12MSSA. Catalogue of Mount St. Scholastica's Academy, Atchison, Kansas (Atchison: Abbey Student Press 1905) 37. return

© 2003 by The American Benedictine Academy / www.osb.org/aba/