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´╗┐Title: The Demands of Rome - Her Own Story of Thirty-One Years as a Sister of Charity - in the Order of the Sisters of Charity of Providence of - the Roman Catholic Church
Author: Schoffen, Elizabeth
Language: English
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[Illustration: _Elizabeth Schoffen as Sister Lucretia_]

[Illustration: _Elizabeth Schoffen, Lecturer and Author_]


In the name of all that is good, kind and Christian, I humbly dedicate
this book to those two dauntless Americans, my friends and benefactors,
Mr. and Mrs. E. U. Morrison.

"The Demands of Rome"



Second Edition

_Her Own Story of Thirty-One Years as a Sister of Charity in the Order
of the Sisters of Charity of Providence of the Roman Catholic Church_


Copyright, 1917, by ELIZABETH SCHOFFEN

(All rights reserved)


After many entreaties and a sincere vow, it is now "mine to tell the
story" of "THE DEMANDS OF ROME" as I have lived them during my long life
and faithful service in the Roman Catholic Church and sisterhood. I
would sound this story in the ear of everyone who has the interest of
the oppressed at heart--in the ear of everyone who has the interest of
disseminating knowledge, the light and power of which would be a great
help to the freeing of the captive from religious bondage. For as I view
it now, religious bondage is the most direful of all.

In a few words, "THE DEMANDS OF ROME" from the individual are from the
"cradle to the grave," and they do not stop there, he is followed
through "purgatory" and into eternity. In the commercial world, you must
listen to "THE DEMANDS OF ROME" or the Roman Catholic trade goes
elsewhere, and the anathema of the church is invoked upon you.

The church of Rome _demands_ property, and when they have it, _demand_
that they be not taxed for that privilege; they _demand_ wealth, never
being satisfied, but forever _demanding_; they _demand_ the suppression
of liberty; they _demand_ life; they _demand_ death.

Now, as a sister in the church of Rome, it is _demand_ from the very day
she enters the convent, as I have explained throughout this book. The
first _demand_ is the hair of the victim. The Word of God says, "If a
woman have long hair, it is a glory to her," but what does the church of
Rome care what the Bible says? It is the _demand_ from the church, and
blind obedience of the subject to that _demand_ that Rome cares about.
It is their endless _demands_ for supremacy of heaven, earth and hell.

We have all heard of the dumb animal which would run back to his stall
in case of fire; nevertheless, we must take an interest in the faithful
old horse and use every effort to save his life from the horrible death
that he would rush to.

How much more must we take an interest in the lives of the poor,
oppressed humans, the over-burdened, entrapped nuns behind the convent
walls, though she may imagine that she is enjoying the greatest freedom
and the happiest life. Yes, we must all look well to the doors that
stand between Liberty and bondage, even though those doors seem bright
with "religious" paint.

Let me say with the poet, that I cannot hope to "live but a few more
days, or years, at most," and my one aim is to give to the world a book
that will stand the crucial time of the changing years--a book that
shall be known and read long after the author is forgotten. I write it
with a fond hope that it may be helpful to "those who have a zeal for
God, but not according to knowledge," those who may be floundering in
the meshes of a crooked and perversed theology. I want no other


    February, 1917.


    Chapter.                                                      Page

        I. Introductory                                             11

       II.  My Early Life and Schooling                             17

      III. My Novitiate Life                                        23

       IV. A Virgin Spouse of Christ--My First Mission              37

        V. My Begging Expedition--St. Vincent's Hospital--Routine
           of a Sister                                              47

       VI. How I Educated Myself--I Become Superintendent
           of the Third Floor at St. Vincent's                      61

      VII. Sacrament of Penance--Mass and Communion--Extreme
           Retreat                                                  72

     VIII. My Trip to the General Mother House                      85

       IX. I Receive My Diploma for Nursing from St.
           Vincent's Hospital--Trouble Among the
           Sisters                                                  103

        X. My Removal from St. Vincent's Hospital                   122

       XI. Two Interesting Letters from Sisters--My
           Letters for Redress to Archbishop Christie               130

      XII. My Emancipation                                          144

     XIII. I Quit the Roman Catholic Church                         155

      XIV. Form for Dispensation of the "Holy" Vows--My
           Suit and Settlement With the Sisters
           of Charity                                               165

       XV. My Recommendation from the Doctors of
           Portland--The Good Samaritan--I Affiliate
           With a Protestant Church--My New
           Work                                                     181

      XVI. My "Advertisement" in the Catholic Sentinel              191

     XVII. The Care of Old Sisters by the Roman Catholic
           System                                                   199

    XVIII. Conclusion                                               205

           Appendix                                                 217

    LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS                                         Page

    Elizabeth Schoffen attired in the garb of a Sister              2

    Elizabeth Schoffen--Lecturer and Author                         3

    Elizabeth Schoffen one month before she entered the
    Convent                                                         25

    "Father" Louis de G. Schram                                     33

    Sister Ethelbert                                                49

    Caught in the Act of Kissing the Floor                          55

    St. Vincent's Hospital, Portland, Oregon                        65

    Mother House, Montreal, Canada                                  89

    Fac-simile of My Diploma                                        107

    Archbishop Alexander Christie of Portland, Oregon               139

    Fac-simile of the Check I received from the Sisters of
    Charity                                                         180

    A Gift from God                                                 195




In writing this story of thirty-one years of my service in the
Sisterhood of the Roman Catholic Church, I have no apologies to make.
From the treatment I received after I left the cruel and oppressive
Romish institution, I feel that there are thousands of Protestants,
so-called, that need to know what is required and demanded of the poor,
duped girls that are in these prisons of darkness that dot this
beautiful country of ours from one end to the other, guising themselves
under the cloak of religion.

Then, there is the Roman Catholic, who has been brought up in that
faith, and yet feels that the system as practiced in this country is not
in accord with the American principles. To these I wish to give my
message, that they might know the inner workings of these damnable
institutions, falsely called "charitable and religious."

With malice toward no one, but for love of God, charity and liberty to
all, I tell this story of my life, with a sincere hope that it may--in
some little way--help you, dear reader, and your posterity from drifting
into the now threatening condition of pagan darkness and the
indescribable, as well as uncalled for, unnatural, inhuman tortures I
escaped from.

Protestants are brought up in such grand freedom and liberty of spirit,
both civil and religious, that it is almost impossible for them to
believe that there can be anything to prevent Roman Catholics (I now
mean the good Roman Catholic) from enjoying the same rights and
privileges that they do. If my Protestant friends will just stop one
moment and think about the difference between Americanism and
Catholicism, then they will realize how it is that the good Roman
Catholic cannot enjoy the true liberal government that their forefathers
fought, bled and died for, and which they are enjoying today.

Americanism means true democracy--the rule of the majority in matters
civil, and the protection of the rights of the minority.

Americanism means freedom of thought, conscience, speech and press.

Americanism means the right to worship God according to the dictates of
your own conscience.

Americanism means that liberty of body, soul and spirit which tends to
the development of all that is noblest and best in the individual.

Does Roman Catholicism mean these great principles?

Let me say emphatically, NO.

Catholicism means the rule of the Pope.

Catholicism means restriction of thought, speech, and censorship of the

Catholicism means the worship of God in no other manner than set forth
by the Popes, and the persecution of heretics, even unto death. You weak
Protestants will probably say, "Oh, not that bad." Well, let me tell
you, that you had better open your eyes. Let me quote from the "Golden
Manual," a prayer book I used while a Sister. This book has the approval
of John Card. McCloskey, then Archbishop of New York, page 666: "That
thou wouldst vouchsafe to defeat the attempts of all Turks and heretics,
and bring them to naught." And according to the Roman Catholic Church, a
heretic is anyone who does not believe all the teachings of that church.
So you Protestants are each and every one heretics and the Roman
Catholic church has no use for you, so why should you cater to them?

Catholicism means repression of individuality and the subjection of the
body, soul and spirit to a ruling class (the priests) by the terrible
doctrine of infallibility, for we, as Catholics and sisters, believe
that the priest cannot sin, as priest.

With these Roman Catholic principles, which I learned and practiced as a
sister, so diabolically opposed to our American principles, it can
readily be seen why a good Roman Catholic cannot enjoy the freedom which
the Constitution gives to every American citizen. And, my dear American
Protestant, if you do not get any other thought from this book, I wish
to give you one here in the introductory which will be well worth your
earnest, thoughtful study: If these principles of the Roman Catholic
system are allowed to continue being put into practice, there is a
possibility that we may lose our precious heritage of freedom which has
been handed down to us. I was deprived of all the rights of an American
citizen till about five years ago. I was buried in pagan darkness and
superstition and my soul longed and was dying for light and life, and I
did not know how to obtain freedom because of the ignorant manner in
which I was raised in the parochial school, and the damnable
instructions I received from the so-called representative of Christ on
earth, the priest. I have heard that there are about eighty thousand
sisters in the convents of the Roman Catholic system in the United
States, and if this power can keep that number of girls in subjection
and ignorance, do you not think that they will do the same with the
seculars, if they had a little more power?

Just think it over, and read of the demands of Rome I had to yield to
for thirty-one years. Read the dark history of the Roman Catholic
Church, and remember that Rome never changes; 'Semper eadem--' "As it
was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen." Then maybe you will cease being Protestant in name only, and
begin to protest.

Why are we Protestants? What is the meaning of the word Protestant?

Protestant is one who protests, and we are called Protestants because at
the time of the Reformation the people who protested against the
cruelties and superstitious practices of Rome took the name Protestant,
and we are supposed to protest against the same teachings and cruelties

But how many true Protestants have we today? Very few, indeed. If you
would be a true Protestant, you must protest twenty-four hours a day,
and seven days in every week in the year. Thank God, the American people
have, in the last few years, begun to wake up, and see the evils of this
terrible system, which is gnawing at the very vitals of our free
institutions. And, if the American people do not become indifferent, as
they have in the past, Rome will meet the same fate here that she has
met, or is meeting, in nearly every country where she has held sway for
any length of time.

History tells us in no uncertain language of the downfall of the once
powerful country of Spain, of the suppression of the convents and
monasteries in Portugal, Italy and France, and without the system of
convents and monasteries, priestcraft can amount to naught. With these
historical facts staring us in the face, the convent and monastery
system is becoming a power in this land, and the inevitable is sure to
come--the suppression of all closed institutions. "History repeats."

Therefore, I wish to give to the world my experience of thirty-one years
in a convent, that I may help hasten the time when these institutions
will be open, and the captive set free; that I may help, if I can, the
real true, red-blooded American citizens from returning to sleepy

I cannot write this story in the language of an educated person, for as
you will learn in the succeeding chapters, my education was sadly
neglected. There will, no doubt, be many grammatical errors, which I ask
my readers to overlook, as it is not intended as a work of rhetoric, but
a message from the heart. I will write it in my own language, that which
I had to learn mostly by myself, and it took a great many years of hard
work and a great deal of deception on my part to be able to tell it even
as well as I will. And, if I can convey to my American brothers and
sisters any new light on the workings of these damnable institutions,
or, if I may be the means of influencing a few more to be real, true,
honest Protestants, then this effort will not be in vain.

I have no tale of immorality to tell, as the order of which I was a
member was what may be classed as one of the "open orders," and the
institutions in which I worked most of my so-called "religious" career,
were among the most modern operated by the Roman Catholic system in this
country. I have heard and read a great deal about the nameless infamies
and the degradation of the "cloistered" orders, but that story I must
leave for some other to tell. I will tell the unvarnished, plain truth
of my experience in the "modern" institutions, and let the reader draw
his or her own conclusion as to the life the sisters in the closed
orders have to live.



I was born in 1861, in Minnesota, of German parents, who had come from
Germany in quest of greater liberty and a home in a free land.

My mother was a most devout Roman Catholic, absolutely under priest
guidance, and by his instructions to her the children were reared and
schooled. My father was a broad-minded Roman Catholic, not very strong
in the faith. I have heard him speak of the teachings and superstitious
practices, as "priest foolishness." But, that there might be peace in
the family, he would leave matters regarding the children to mother, and
leaving these things with her was leaving them with the priest.

When I was five years old, we migrated to the State of Washington near
Walla Walla (then called Fort Walla Walla).

I was the eighth child of a large family, and as my parents could not
afford to send all of us to the convent or parochial school, it was my
lot to go to the public school a few weeks occasionally for three years.
This was when I was at the age of eight, nine and ten years. But, for
fear of imbibing the "Protestant godless spirit," as my mother called
it, I was given only a reader and speller. Nearly every day my mother
would question me as to what the Protestant children would say to me at
school. She cautioned me many, many times not to talk to them, as they
were the children of bad Protestants, that they would grow up bad and
wicked the same as their parents were, without belief in God and church,
as Protestants were people who fell away from God by leaving the true
church and following a very wicked man, named Luther, who became proud
and disobedient to the Pope.

These Protestant godless (public) schools were greatly deplored in my
home by my mother, and yet my father was a teacher and director in these
public schools for a great many years. Because the Roman Catholic people
had to pay taxes to keep these schools running, there was much murmuring
against that unjust government of an infidel people, as it was called.
With these contentions continually wrangling in my home, it did not
require serious excuses for my being kept out of school. I have heard my
mother make the statement many times that it would be better to have no
education than to have this Protestant godless public school education.

When I was eleven years old, my mother and the priest decided that it
was time for me to go to the convent school to learn my catechism,
confession, my first communion, the rosary--my religion. In fact, during
the three years I attended this school, that was about all I learned.
True, there were classes of reading, spelling and arithmetic, but the
books I used in these studies were of a lesser grade than those I used
during the short time I went to the public school. By the order of the
sister who taught arithmetic, I had to teach smaller children what
little arithmetic I learned from blackboard study in the public school,
having my class in the back of the room we occupied. The sister who
taught reading (Sister Agnes) told us that before she came to that
school to teach, she had been a cook in an Indian Mission. Well
qualified, wasn't she? The catechism teacher (Sister Mary Rosary) taught
sewing and catechism alternately, in that part of the building known as
the wash-house.

Three years of my life were wasted in this manner, learning practically
nothing but Roman Catholic catechism and pagan religion. Three years of
just that time of a child's life which should be spent laying the
foundation for something nobler and grander.

And now, after all is said and done, I was prepared to take my first
communion. This was administered to me on May 23d, 1875, by "Father"
Duffy, in the parish church of Walla Walla. I was confirmed the same
day, in the same church, by Bishop Blanchet, of Vancouver, Washington.

I thought that I now had religion, and as I thought that was the one
objective of the convent schooling, I took my few books home and told my
mother that I would not go to that school any longer. I wanted to return
to the public school, but mother said we were Catholics, and as such, we
had to go to the Catholic school. Finally, after a great deal of
persistence, I was permitted to go to the public school, but it was only
for a very short time again. Mother took sick, and regardless of the
fact that there were two sisters and a brother younger than I, and a
sister and brother older, at home, this was a very good excuse to get me
out of school.

From this time till I was twenty years old, six years, I did nothing but
idle away the most precious time of one's existence. Oh, what stupid,
lonely, sorrowful girlhood years they were. I knew in a dreamy way that
I was being cheated out of my right of education, but what was I to do?
I was tempted many times to leave home and work for schooling. I once
made mention of this intention to mother. I was threatened with all
sorts of punishments if I ever attempted a thing of this nature. She
told me that I could study the catechism at home, that that was enough
for me to know--that I would not forget the things that would take me to
heaven and keep me from going to that terrible hell-fire with the
devils. If there would have been any reasonable excuse for all this, I
would have nothing to say. But there the school was at our very door,
free to all, without price, with the exception of the few books that
were needed, and yet I was denied that privilege. And why? All in the
name of religion.

Oh, my American friends, can you not see the folly of it all? Can you
not see the folly of allowing this one-man power to continue building
these institutions all over this fair land of ours? Every time you see a
parochial school in the shadow of a cross, just think that there is the
institution taking the place of our public schools, and you can rest
assured that even the parochial schools would not be here if it were not
for the public schools. Institutions supposed to be educational, when in
reality they are institutions for the purpose of teaching Roman Catholic

You may say that there are Roman Catholics who are well educated. Yes,
there are. But where you will see one who is well educated, there will
be hundreds and maybe thousands who have only a duped education, a
fooled education, so to speak. I have given you a fair example of Roman
Catholic education in my own life.

Six years before I entered the sisterhood, I had nothing to do outside
the few home chores, kept in inexcusable ignorance, deprived of every
opportunity for any enlightenment, even for my own future home life. I
could hear nothing but punishments, purgatory, hell-fire and everlasting
damnation. Prayer to the crucifix in honor of the five holy wounds, to
the holy Virgin Mary and her badge--the scapular--for protection;
confession, the church, the priest-Christ--these were my schooling. No
reading, no society, except one Catholic neighbor family, and I was
being continually cautioned to beware of them, as they had little of the
Roman Catholic religion, were too worldly and were given almost entirely
to dress and nice times.

Be assured that I had a real Roman Catholic raising, absolute ignorance,
steeped in Popery, superstition, idolatry filled with Roman fanaticism.
One of the Popes has said, "Ignorance is the mother of devotion." Yes,
superstition was the name of my Roman Catholic mother; indifference was
the name, in effect, of my Roman Catholic father. But the Lord God, the
pope, through the priest, the devil's hellish system, was the school I
was raised in. It was this cunningly devised, diabolical system which
was responsible for the ignorance and mental blindness of my good,
honest, but deluded parents, as it was to blame for the awful wrongs,
injustice and the wretched life of abject convent slavery I had to live
so many years.

So I had been compelled to hear and see nothing but the one sided
teaching of the Roman Catholic catechism, the priest's hell and
damnation preaching, had been held back and down in Roman Catholic
ignorance, darkness and superstition, until at length I became as one
deaf, dumb and blind, which very well explains the principle of the
teachings of the Roman Catholic system.

During the last few years of my home life, all home and priestly
influence was brought to bear on the convent life as the preferable
choice for a girl. I had a great ambition to be a teacher, and the
Jesuit priests (Father Jordan and Father Cathaldo) assured me that in
the convent the sisters taught everything a girl needed to know; music,
singing, needlework and the necessary education for teaching. The
beautiful, glowing picture of convent and a sister's life were
constantly being brought to my mind, till I could at last think of
nothing else.

The world was pictured as terrible and sinful; the people being educated
in the public schools, living under the influence of an unbelieving
government, parents having no religion, people of irresponsible
character and loose morals, caring for nothing but the material things
of this world and good times, which consisted of sinful pleasures. And,
living in this manner, there was no hope of eternal life for them, as
there was no one to whom they could confess their sins, and "nothing
defiled can enter heaven."

With these things constantly burdening my undeveloped mind, and the
thought of the great work I could do for the church and priests, and of
some day being a great sister-teacher, I at last consented to be a
sister for the Roman Catholic system.

Very natural, under this kind of home life and influence, when every
thing human, natural, ennobling, elevating and commonly decent and
Christian was withheld and kept out of my life, and all of nature's
endowments and rights distorted and put to my mind as something
deceptive and leading to sin and deplorable wrongs.



My last two confessions, in preparation to entering the convent were
made to "Father" Ceserri. When I had finished the last one, and he was
expounding and explaining my admirable choice of sisterhood life, he
raised his right hand while pronouncing the words, "I absolve thee,
etc." and then he put his arm around my neck and very "fatherly" kissed
me. In the midst of my sanctifying confusion I did not know whether it
was the Holy Ghost, or if it was meant in brotherly love. But, I quieted
my mind with the happy thought that as the priest was Christ in the
confessional, it must have been Him who had kissed me, and I believed
myself highly favored by this mark of His love.

This same priest, "Father" Ceserri, took me from my home, which was in
the Palouse country in the eastern part of Washington, to Walla Walla,
which was two days' travel by stage, and a few hours on the railroad. At
the end of the two days' stage travel, we were in Dayton, Washington. It
had been very warm and dusty all day. The clerk of the hotel showed us
to a large room prepared for two. "Father" Ceserri, in a laughing,
jolly, good-natured manner, remarked that the clerk took us for man and
wife. The priest left the room while I was dusting and arranging myself.
When he returned, he had a couple of bottles of porter, he called it,
and two big goblets. He opened the porter and filled the goblets, handed
one to me and kept the other himself. I would not take it, telling him
that I never took liquor. He pleaded that I should drink it as it would
do me good after the tiresome travel of the day. He could not prevail
upon me to take it, so he left the room again, returning soon with some
beer, saying that this was milder and insisted that I take it. I refused
as before. He told me that if I wanted to be a sister that I had to
learn to obey, as sisters made vows of obedience. So I consented to
taste it in obedience to him. He was then satisfied, as I had obeyed.

The next day we went to Walla Walla, where I remained about a month with
the Sisters of Charity, who took me to Vancouver, Washington, where I
entered the convent.

It was understood between the priest and my mother, before I left home,
that I would have a year's schooling before entering the Sisterhood.
This promise had also been made to me by the Reverend Mother John of the

On the day set by the sisters, July 30th, 1881, I was notified that I
was to be received into the novitiate that evening. I reminded the
reverend mother of her promise to me in regard to school, and she told
me that she had not forgotten it, that the two years' novitiate was all
schooling. I believed her, and, as I had already had a few lessons in
obedience, I thought it best for me to do as she directed. I had learned
that the reverend mother superior was the same over us in the convent as
the priest in the confessional and church. So I yielded in all
confidence to her for my future interests.

[Illustration: _Elizabeth Schoffen, One Month Before Leaving Home for
the Convent._]

On entering the novitiate, I was given a formula, which I said kneeling,
as follows: "Reverend Mother, I beg to enter this holy house, and will
submit to all the trials to prove myself worthy to become a servant of
the poor, and pray for perseverance." I was then led into a large,
barn-like hall or room, with a long, sort-of-workshop table in the
center, and a number of plain chairs--this was all the furniture. There
were a few holy pictures on the wall which broke the awful bareness. The
frames were black, coffin-like strips of wood, very forcibly impressing
the idea of death on my mind.

I was then led to a graded oratory where there were various statues and
lighted candles, before which I knelt, ahead of the novices and the
Mistress of Novices, and prayed: "Veni, Creator Spiritus," meaning,
"Come, O Holy Ghost," and the Litany of the Saints. With this
introductory ceremony over, the Mistress came to me with a large pair of
scissors and cut off my beautiful, golden-brown hair, my only beauty.
This was the first "mark of the beast," the first preparatory act for
Rome's "holy" institution.

I was then a "postulant" which means on probation. The postulant period
generally is six months. During that time the sisters decide whether or
not the candidate has a religious calling--that is, to find out more
intimately her character, disposition, temperament, inclinations,
disinclinations--to see if she has the bodily fitness and soul
requirements to be permitted the next step of advancement in this "holy"

I was told by the mistress that the closing of the door of that "holy"
house was a complete separation of myself from the sinful world. That if
I wanted to be a spouse of Christ and a good sister, I had to
absolutely forget everything outside the convent, even to my own parents
and relations. "He that is not willing to leave father and mother for my
sake is not worthy of me." The one important obligation that was
repeatedly impressed upon my mind was that I had entered the convent to
become a religious to save my soul. The quotation, "Let the dead bury
their dead," was translated literally to me, and I was not to worry
about any one outside the four walls that enclosed me.

As a postulant, I was to learn the fundamental virtues of the community
of the Sisters of Charity--Humility, Simplicity and Charity. For the
acquisition of these virtues I had to learn to diminish in my own
estimation; be glad whenever I was given an opportunity to abase, to
renounce or to mortify myself. By the interior and exterior practice of
these virtues I had to prove myself. By true humility of heart, I had to
bear all things and refuse the soul its desires. The poor and humble in
spirit pass their life in abundance of peace, I was taught.

One of the first humiliating experiences I had, to illustrate the above
teaching, was one Sunday evening soon after I entered. The sister who
was to relieve me in the department I was working in, had failed to
report and I had not had any supper. The next exercise was benediction
in the church and I could not absent myself from this without being
dispensed by my superior, and then for only very grave reasons. I went
to the novitiate room about eight o'clock, and the mistress of novices
rebuked me severely for not being in rank with the novices. I told her
that I had not had any supper yet, as the sister officer had failed to
replace me in time. I had broken a rule by being absent from supper
without permission, so I went on my knees and asked a penance. The
mistress told me that I could go to the pantry and get some eatables and
take them up to the novitiate room and eat my supper before the novices.
She also informed me that I had done wrong for blaming a professed
sister for the breach of the rule.

This seems like a very childish occurrence, and so it was. But it was
humiliating for me to sit before a number of novices eating a cold
supper, and Rome had made her point by demanding from one of her dupes,
and the dupe responded.

Almost from the first day I entered, I had to learn Latin prayers. This
was probably the education I was promised. It would have been alright
had I been taught Latin so it would have been of some benefit to me. But
these prayers were taught me in a sort of parrot-like manner, the
mistress of novices telling me how to pronounce the words in Latin, and
I knew what they meant in English, having learned the prayers
previously. If I were to see the same words written, explaining
something I had not previously memorized, I would not be able to read or
understand the meaning of them. I learned prayers in French in the same

I will give you an example of a Latin prayer. This is the Angelical
Salutation, or Hail! Mary:

Ave, Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus, et
benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora
mortis nostrae. Amen.

Quite often during my postulant period, while I was learning these Latin
prayers, I would have to do sewing. This was a beginning of the vow of
poverty, which I hoped to take in the near future--learning to be a
religious, and at the same time working my hands for the Roman Catholic

The candidate is assigned her work by the mistress of novices and goes
through a test to see in what way she can become useful in the service
of God as a Sister of Charity. It is a case of getting all the work
possible out of the girls from the very start, for these so-called
"holy" institutions.

My two years' novitiate training was served in the boys' department of
the Orphanage of the Sisters of Charity at Vancouver, Washington. There
was an average of about seventy boys in this institution, ranging in age
from three to fourteen years. Two sisters had all the care of these
children, except the cooking of the food. And, oh, the care these poor
children received. They were physically and mentally weak from having
been underfed and poorly cared for, and being taught by two sisters who
had a parochial school education such as I had.

One of my duties was to awaken these poor, little waif children for Mass
at five thirty in the morning. If, on arising, I found that any of them
had failed to get up during the night to attend to nature's call, it was
my duty to whip them with a substantial leather strap, which was
provided for that purpose. If some of the larger boys needed this
persuasive remedy for their ills, they would be taken to the attic,
stripped, and some sister would be there to administer the medicine in
prolific doses. With this kind of treatment, it was no wonder that we
had to be continually on our guard to keep them from running away. I
have known as many as six at one time to run away for two or three days,
and sometimes some of them would not come back at all.

On the twenty-fourth day of February, 1882, I was admitted to the "holy
habit," in most orders called the taking of the "white veil," the next
step to my "religious perfection."

I was now a "novice" and I must present myself every two weeks to the
mistress of novices, and in order that she may direct my soul in the
spiritual life, I must kneel to her in private and make what is called
"manifestation of conscience." That is, to lay bare my heart and mind in
everything I can possibly think of, excepting grave sins. If the
mistress, who is a cunning director, has any dislike for any of the
novices, this exercise is very cruel, for these "saintly" nuns know
better than any one on earth how to cunningly torture those in their
power--the system forcing them to it.

Every week I had to go to the priest for confession, whether I had
anything to confess or not. Very often I had to search my heart and mind
to find something to tell this "Christ" in the confessional.

Soon after I became a "novice," we were called to the novitiate for
spiritual instruction. "Father" Louis de G. Schram was the chaplain. An
orphan boy had been taken out of the orphanage on account of one of the
younger sisters having talked a little too much. "Father" Schram said,
"Now, sisters, always tell the truth, but to tell the truth you do not
have to tell everything you know. Suppose, Sister O'Brien, if somebody
would come and ask you, 'Is Johnny Morgan here?' you would not have to
say 'Yes, Johnny Morgan is here.' You place one hand in the sleeve of
the other hand, and you say, 'No, Johnny Morgan is not here,' and you
will mean that Johnny Morgan is not up your sleeve."

This story was given as a spiritual instruction, but it very truly
represents the system I lived for thirty-one years--deception, from
beginning to finish. With teachings of this nature constantly before us,
it was a case of lying, stealing, thieving and "swipping" among
ourselves, from morning till night, to make life a little more
comfortable for ourselves.

A novice is not allowed to talk in general conversation with a professed
sister during her novitiate period, with the exception of the mistress
of novices and the mother superior. These two sisters, and the priest,
are the only confidents we have, as we are taught to talk among
ourselves on religious subjects only, and if we hear another novice
talking in any other subject or breaking any other rule, it is our duty
by rule and conscience to report her to the mistress of novices. We are
told that we are all "monitors," which means, carry the reports to the
mistress of novices.

This practice destroys confidence and causes us to regard one another
with suspicion, the result of which is distrust and hatred, and a
general spy system. This is one of the most devilish practices taught in
this part of a sister's life, one that stays with her throughout her
whole sisterhood. Tattling, accusing, charging one another with the most
trivial, cruel, and very often wicked acts. Many times the sister
accused is innocent of any wrong doing, but there is nearly always a
penance imposed upon her, and if she is not in the good grace of the
mother superior, the penance is often very severe.

[Illustration: _"Father" Louis de G. Schram_ (Johnny Morgan Story)]

From the first day we enter, we are not allowed to send or receive mail,
without it first being censored. This is another manner Rome has of
keeping the girls in the convent after they are once there. The practice
of censorship of mail is absolutely against the postal laws of the
country, but it is done in the convents every day. Why should the postal
authorities permit the continuous disregard for the laws? Are the
sisters in the convents American citizens and under the protection of
the laws of the country, or are they not American citizens? If _you_
would open mail belonging to some other person, unless you could give a
very good reason for so doing, you would find yourself in the clutches
of the law, and would have to account to the Federal government. But you
never hear of a superior of a convent being held for opening another
sister's mail. Why this discrimination? Is it not breaking the law in
one instance the same as the other?

While I was in the novitiate, a letter that I had written to my parents,
was returned to me by the mistress of novices, with the instruction that
I rewrite it and leave certain parts out, as it would cause my people to
think that I was not happy. Yes, dear reader, that is it exactly. It did
not make any difference how I felt, whether I was happy or not, the fact
was that I was in the convent, seemingly, for better or worse. It was
the impression I left on the outer world that Rome was most interested

The fact of the matter is, that I was not happy and wished to leave, but
did not know what to do or where to go. I knew that I would not be
welcomed in my own home or among Roman Catholics, and with the bringing
up I had received and under the influence of this religious training, I
believed it impossible to be saved among Protestants. Several times I
made mention of my unhappiness to the Master of Novices in the
confessional. He implored me to be faithful and God would reward me, and
if I was not faithful there was small chance of saving my soul.

Nearly always after telling the Master of Novices of the unhappiness in
the convent, he would, at the next "spiritual" instruction, give us a
long talk about girls who had lost their vocation by leaving the
convent, and that they nearly all came to a bad end.

My dear reader, you can readily understand why more of these poor,
deluded sisters do not leave these institutions, when, from the very
beginning these principles are ground in their very hearts and minds
until they become as one bound, tied and gagged.



My novitiate training of two years being finished, I was now ready to be
prepared to become a "Virgin Spouse of Christ." My "canonical
examination" was conducted by "The Right Reverend" Aegedius Jounger,
Bishop of Nesqually. This examination was a very private affair. It
consisted of rigid questioning in regard to the vows I was about to
take, poverty, chastity and obedience, and especially the vow of
chastity. I was asked what I understood by the vow of chastity, and if I
thought I could keep it through my life. I was also questioned very
closely as to my fitness to take a vow of this nature.

I was informed that my examination had been satisfactory, and on the
sixth day of August, 1883, I made my profession as a Sister of Charity
of Providence, in the convent of that order, the House of Providence, in
Vancouver, Washington. Bishop Jounger officiated at this ceremony,
assisted by "Father" Schram and several other priests.

This ceremony included the "nuptial mass" which is the wedding ceremony
between the novice, or candidate, as the bride, and Jesus Christ, the
absent bridegroom. At this ceremony I received my wedding ring (which I
have yet) and took the perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and
obedience. These three things--the wedding ceremony, receiving the ring
and the taking of the vows--made me a "virgin bride of Jesus Christ."
The head-gear of the garb was changed at this ceremony of my "religious
profession," which was the only difference between the garb of the
novice and the professed sister in the order I had entered. I also
received my number, 554, which meant that I was the 554th sister to
enter that order, and which I kept throughout my sisterhood life. All
clothes and articles assigned to us for our use are marked with the
sister's number, just as seculars (people of the world) use their names
or initials, or the numbering of convicts in the penitentiary.

The following is, in substance, the form of the final and perpetual vows
I took:

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. I,
Elizabeth Schoffen, in religion Sister Lucretia, wishing to consecrate
myself to God as a daughter of charity, a servant of the poor, do hereby
make to the Divine Majesty the perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and
obedience, under the authority of the General Superior, and according to
the constitution and laws of the institute and organization.

"I humbly beg the Divine mercy through the infinite merits of our Lord
Jesus Christ, the intercession of His glorious Mother and the prayers of
the Patron Saints of this Institute, to grant me the grace of being
faithful to these vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; for the
dispensation of which I will humbly submit to my Mother General and the
Holy Father, the Pope. Amen."

After the taking of these vows, there is more mass during which the act
of "Consecration to the Holy Virgin Mary" takes place. I had just been
consecrated to Jesus Christ as His virgin spouse, but now I must be
consecrated to His mother. Let me say right here that once each year the
sisters are required to renew their vows of poverty, chastity and
obedience, and the act of consecration to the Holy Virgin Mary.

The act of consecration to the Holy Virgin Mary is as follows:

'O, Holy Virgin, virgin among all virgins, and queen of all religious
associations, we humbly prostrate ourselves at your feet in order to
acknowledge that after God, it is to you, O good mother of ours, that we
owe the grace of our vocation--devoted and consecrated in a special
manner to the devotion of your sorrows. Being called to take care of
your dear Son in His poverty, His suffering and to assist Him when
dying, we desire that you make us share in your feelings as a mother.
Therefore, please make us partake of your compassion for all the
spiritual and physical miseries of the children that you have begotten
on the cross. Be pleased to look at us as the daughters of sorrow. Deign
to receive us in your most amiable heart--this heart of yours that was
pierced with the seven swords of sorrow We willingly love this heart of
yours so good. You know the dangers we go through in the exercise of
Charity; take great care of us in the midst of our perils, O you who are
the helper of all Christians. In acknowledgment of your kindness, we
shall work with all our strength to make all people love, serve and
glorify thee. Amen.'

Allow me to explain, in a concise manner, the three vows, poverty,
chastity and obedience:

By the vow of poverty, I had to give up all the material goods I
possessed and all that I ever hoped to possess either by service or
inheritance--being guided according to the Lord's counsel, "If thou wilt
be perfect, go, sell all thou hast and give it to the poor." Even my
material body no longer belonged to myself, I was an inherent part of
the order. Nothing belonged to me--the clothes I wore, even to a pin,
belonged to the community. I had to always say, "This is _ours_," never
say "This is _mine_." If any presents were given to me in any of the
work I was to do, I had to turn them over to the superior. Not a minute
of time is mine any longer, the twenty-four hours of the day belongs to
the community, and if I wish to do anything other than the daily
routine, I must be dispensed by my superior.

By the vow of chastity I was forbidden to think of a man or marriage. I
was not allowed to kiss and fondle children, especially male children,
or to kiss another sister. After a long absence, sisters may embrace and
greet each other by rubbing head-gears against the cheeks. I was not
allowed to enter the curtained-off apartment of another sister in the
dormitory. I was not allowed any more liberty towards even my mother or
any of my relatives than I was towards strangers. I may, as my book of
rule reads, see them for one-half an hour, upon permission from my
superior, and if the time is extended I must be dispensed by my superior
for the non-observance of this point of the "holy" rule. Now, when I had
this permission to speak to some of my relatives, or some one else, I
must never speak in a language not understood by the sister in near
surveillance. If these visits occur more than once or twice a year, it
is ample ground for humility, and mean, cutting things said by the
superior and sisters. This is also a breach of the vow of poverty, as
the time spent talking does not belong to the sister but to the
community. She is told that it is a bad example to others who may wish
the same privilege. It is a continual determined vigilance, keeping the
sisters from any communication with the outside world. The rule
particularly emphasizes that the sisters shall not keep birds or pet
animals, as it would take time, which is not hers, and divert her
affection which, as a sister spouse, must be given entirely to her
heavenly spouse, Jesus Christ.

Another great teaching of this vow of chastity is modesty. A sister is
taught to keep her eyes modestly cast down, fold her hands in the big
sleeves of her garb when in the presence of the "opposite sex" (as men
are called), and never look them in the face any higher than the chin. I
tried this teaching for some time, but somehow Mother Nature was still
with me, and every once in a while I would take a quick look at a man
full in the face to see if he was good-looking, and if I could not see a
good-looking man, I would look at the priest to see if he was handsome.

As an example for this virtue of modesty, we were told of the young
Jesuit priest, St. Aloysius, who was so good and pure and holy, that he
never looked his own mother full in the face.

By the vow of obedience a sister is to yield entire obedience of
thought, word and understanding to her superior. The will of her
superior must be her will, believing that black was white if the
superior said so. Literally, she was like a corpse in her superior's
hands, and still a tool to work for the Roman Catholic system. What is
worse than mental slavery, the stultifying of all our intellectual
powers and bringing them under the despotic will of another, and this
behind the prison walls and barred doors of the Romish religious

Obligations to convent life and practices crush all natural instinct. If
the sister desires to aim at the high "ideals" taught in the sisterhood,
she must abase and humiliate herself. If she has not the courage to make
a fool of herself, by abasing and humiliating herself, she must ask her
superior to give her some humiliating penance to suppress her feelings
of higher nature as proud and coming from the devil. The more sinful and
criminal a sister can believe herself in the eyes of God, and the more
deserving of prisonlike treatment, and as a worm under the feet of all
her companions, the more perfect and saintly she becomes in her own eyes
and in the eyes of her superior, who can then use her as a better tool
for the benefit of the system.

Any one who knows anything about nuns knows that they are nearly all
like children, for under the ironclad, narrow and restricted rule, the
sisters retrograde from the day they enter, and as time goes on they
become as the rule itself--bitter and heartless, from a sense of
morbidness and from the unnatural conditions, circumstances and
environment surrounding them. There are the sisters who are childish and
silly; others who are the cunning hypocrite. The latter type become the
schemers among the sisters for the system, and believe me, they will
leave nothing undone to gain favor with the heads of the order and the
priests that they might gain some high office for themselves.

For nearly a year after I took my vows, I remained at the Orphanage in

As you already know, I was raised on a ranch, and was accustomed to
being in the open air and having plenty of sunshine. These three years
of almost complete confinement in this institution, and the long hours
of hard, tedious work had begun to tell on my health. And, now as I
could hardly attend to my duties, I was transferred to an Indian
Mission at Tulalip, Washington, about June, 1884.

I was at this Mission five years. The first eight months I worked in the
boys' department, assisting in the industrial training of about
seventy-five Indian boys. The part I had in training these boys was more
manual service than real instruction. But my labors kept me out of doors
considerably and at the end of the eight months, my health was
practically restored.

I was then given charge of the girls' department of the Mission where
the work was again very confining.

Imagine, if you can, the terrible conditions I had to contend with at
this school. There were about sixty girls, ranging in age from five to
twenty-five years. They all slept in one large dormitory with beds so
close together, that there was barely passing space, and I occupied one
corner of that room. The accommodations for cleanliness were very poor,
and the stench in that sleeping room was simply nauseating, and there
was no remedy for it, with the existing conditions. In the morning, I
had to dress about twenty-five of these girls, and care for the running,
mattering sores of many, who were diseased (scrofulous), with an
ointment supplied for that purpose by the government physician.

After this doctor had made a few visits and I had become a little
acquainted with him, the superior came to me and asked me about our
conversation. When she found out that we had talked about some things
that were not strictly business, I was not allowed to be in the room
when he came again. She told me that I should be very careful around a
man, that I might lose my vocation.

I had to take my turn in the laundry nearly every week, and I remember
one instance which occurred which will illustrate how the Roman Catholic
system makes a "mountain out of a mole hill" and causes so much sorrow
over practically nothing. I had damaged a little red-flannel shirt
belonging to one of the children, while washing it, and I never heard
the end of this terrible thing until after I wrote to my father and
asked him to send me five dollars, that I might replace it. A very
trivial thing in itself but the superior kept talking about it, causing
me very much sorrow and grief that I shed many tears over it.

While I was at this Mission, I received a letter from my father
informing me that my mother was very ill, and that in all probability
would soon pass away. This letter had been addressed to Vancouver, and
my Mother Superior had opened it and knew the contents. When she
forwarded it to me, she inclosed a letter to my superior at Tulalip,
telling her to tell me that if I could get some one to take my place and
get the money necessary for my fare from my father, she would give me
permission to go home to see my mother before she died. She knew very
well that it was an impossibility to get any other to take my place, as
I did not have the assigning of sisters to work of any nature, and none
but sisters were allowed in the Mission. The answer was simply that my
mother died and I never saw her after the day I left home to enter the
"holy" convent.

Again, after four years of confining work in this department of the
mission, my health absolutely failed. I asked to be transferred to some
other house where I might have a chance to recuperate. About the first
of September, 1889, I was transferred to the Indian Mission at
Colville, Washington. At this Mission I had charge of the sewing and
assisted in the dining-room. The responsibility was much less than it
had been at Tulalip, and, having been relieved of this strain, and
depressing conditions, I gradually regained my health.

I had now spent a little over six years in Mission work, and being
naturally of an active disposition, both mentally and physically, I knew
that I could not endure this banishment much longer. I say "banishment"
very thoughtfully, for banishment it was. No companions with whom to
converse, as the other sisters in these Missions were generally
foreigners who could speak very little English, and as for being
companions they were little better than no one. Then, the work was very
tiresome and monotonous, with no physical exercise attached to it,
nearly all being done in a sitting posture, with nothing to use or
enlighten the mentality.

So, realizing these conditions, I asked to be given some work of a more
active nature. And, about the first of December, 1890, I was transferred
to the Sacred Heart Hospital, Spokane, Washington.

I was at this hospital only a short time, but while there I had charge
of the laundry, which meant doing most of the work in that department,
and also charge of a ward of fourteen patients, regardless of the fact
that I had never had any previous experience of this nature. And,
believe me, there were many trying, disagreeable experiences both to
myself and the sick, due to my being untrained.

I recall one instance when I nearly injured myself for life lifting a
patient when I did not know how to handle a person in a helpless
condition. My back was crippled for about a month, but they say
experience is the best teacher, and I had had my first lesson of this

A physician had prescribed a seidlitz powder for a patient I was
attending, but I had never given one and did not know how to proceed. I
asked the sister superior, and then endeavored to carry out her orders.
I took two large tumblers half filled with water and a powder in each.
Hurriedly I poured the contents of one tumbler into the other and the
effervescing saline ran all over the poor man and bed, while he was
making desperate efforts to drink a little. All the men in the ward
raised their heads to see the experiment and enjoyed a hearty laugh,
while the patient received his prescription and a shower bath, both at
the same time.

This was one time in my convent life that I received what I had asked
for, in fact, it was just the opposite extreme of what I had been
experiencing in my previous Mission. I was on my feet from morning till
night, and even for recreation and diversion, I was sent to the kitchen
to assist in the work there.



During the spring of 1891, the Province of the Sisters of Charity of
Providence of the Pacific Northwest was divided, and by an order from
the head Mother House at Montreal, the sisters were to remain in the
provinces where they were when the division went into effect. I was
ordered to report to the Mother House at Vancouver, Washington. This was
in March, 1891. On my way to Vancouver from Spokane, I had to pass
through Portland, Oregon, and while there the order went into effect,
and the sister superior of St. Vincent's Hospital claimed me as a
subject of the Oregon Province.

I was at St. Vincent's Hospital about a month, when I was transferred to
Astoria, Oregon, to St. Mary's Hospital, where I practiced on typhoid
patients and became more efficient in laundry work, for a little over a

In June, 1892, I was missioned to St. Mary's Hospital, New Westminster,
B. C. My duties in this hospital were practically the same as in the
other hospitals I had worked in.

It was while I was at this hospital that I was sent on my principal
begging expedition. On July fourth, 1892, Sister Ethelbert and myself
were commissioned to go north to the logging camps on the islands in the
Gulf of Georgia (near Alaska) to secure contributions in the name of
Charity for the Roman Catholic Church and to sell tickets for ten
dollars each, which would entitle the holder to care in St. Mary's
Hospital, New Westminter, B. C., for a specified time.

The hardship and terrors of this trip are indescribable. Crossing the
stormy straights in small canoes, camping out at night in the wildest
woods, our lives were endangered many times. Arriving at the camps at
all hours of the night, tired, wet, cold and hungry; being lifted into
bunks by the men when we were so cold, in fact nearly frozen, that we
could hardly move; being carried on the backs of the men across muddy
and wet places where the water was too shallow for the canoe, or boat,
to land. Oh, yes, in the convent we were taught to be so modest--modesty
to the very extreme, but it is all right, in the Roman Catholic Church,
to send sisters to such places as this, where, as some of the men told
me, they had not seen a woman for from three to eight years. It was all
right in the Roman Catholic Church because we were getting the money for
the fat living of the priests and to enrich the coffers of the Pope of
Rome. Believe me, dear reader, no benefit do the sisters ever get from
the hardships and indignities imposed upon them on a trip of this

[Illustration: _Sister Ethelbert, my companion on the "begging trip" to
the Gulf of Georgia, near Alaska. She told me this was her seventh trip
to this part of the country on a mission of this nature. She died at the
age of thirty-six years._]

At one camp we visited, the men refused to keep us over night, so the
men who had rowed us all day, began to row us to the next camp. About
ten o'clock in the night, a storm arose, and we had to land, as it was
too rough to go farther. The shore space was very limited, as there were
huge mountains on one side and the breakers on the other. Dry wood was
very scarce so the fire we had was little better than none at all. There
were four of us--two sisters and two men--and all the covering we had
was one double blanket, with the rough, rocky shore for a bed. About two
o'clock in the morning, the storm subsided and we embarked again and
continued our journey, arriving at the next camp about four o'clock. Two
of the workmen very kindly gave us their bunk, but because of the cold
there was very little sleep. When we arose, the Chinese cook took us to
the kitchen and had us warm our feet in the large oven. He was a very
good and kind sympathetic friend for he looked so sorry for us and said,
"You have hard time."

Since I had to go begging, I was very pleased to have Sister Ethelbert
for a companion because I knew that she was not a trouble-maker, but a
truly good and sisterly person. I had hungered and longed for many years
to be with some sister that I could talk with on some other than the
written religious subjects and I was sure that this was the opportunity.
I tried to talk to her, and she would smile at me, and she tried to talk
to me, and I would smile at her. It was very apparent that our
vocabulary was very limited and simple, when it came to talking on
outside subjects. It was not till some years later that I realized why
this condition existed. It was from the long silence and suppression, of
not only speech, but our very thoughts, having been in bondage so long.

We were away from St. Mary's Hospital just three weeks and brought back
a little over eleven hundred dollars in checks and cash. Is it any
wonder that Rome can build such magnificent institutions?

As a result of the exposure and hardships on this trip I contracted
sickness from which I did not completely recover during the remainder of
my convent life. And oh, if I could only explain what it means to be a
sick sister! I was not receiving the proper care, so I wrote to my
Mother House, located in Portland, Oregon, pleading that something might
be done for me. I waited for three weeks for an answer, but received
none. I wrote to my Superior again, and told her that if the community
could not give me the care I needed, I would write to my father and ask
him to see that I received medical assistance. This was a very bold
thing for a sister to do, but I was certainly very sick and little did I
care what the community would do to me.

When the Mother Superior received this letter, I was immediately
recalled to the Mother House by telegram. I arrived at the Mother House,
St. Vincent's Hospital, Portland, on the seventh day of July, 1893.

I received fairly good care for a short time; then I was handed a
picture of our suffering Lord, and told by the Mother Provincial, Sister
Mary Theresa, to practice resignation and make novenas to this
miraculous picture for help. (Novena means nine days' prayer.)

For years I was not sick enough to be confined to my bed, although I
should have been there many times when I was drudging away, working for
the Church of Rome. A sick sister need not look for any care until she
is about ready to pass to the Great Beyond. The climax of my sickness
came many years later when I had to submit to an operation.

During the first eight months I was at St. Vincent's Hospital, I had
very little use of my left hand and arm. I thought it was partial
paralysis. A very prominent physician of the hospital staff, whose name
I purposely withhold, diagnosed my case and gave it a technical name,
which my unintelligible mind could not comprehend. But in my presence he
told Sister Mary Bonsecours, who was my officer and who had received
orders to see what the doctor could do for me, that I would never be any
better. Nevertheless, he prescribed for me which improved my condition
to a certain extent.

In this condition I assisted in the caring of patients, doing the best I
could, experimenting, as it were, and learning a little here and there
at the expense of the suffering sick. We had no instructors or books on
nursing until after I had been there about three years, when we were
furnished one book, a manual of nursing, and whenever a sister was lucky
enough to get it she would keep it until some other sister would have a
chance to "swipe" it. A sister once "swiped" it from me, and it took me
eight months to get a chance to "swipe" it back. Also, about this time
we were allowed to attend certain lectures given by the staff doctors.
One of the "certain" lectures we were _not_ allowed to attend were those
given on maternity, and yet the sisters were held responsible for any
errors in caring for cases of this nature. To sum it all up in short, we
were instructed to pray that God would bless us and our work and that
nothing wrong would happen to the patients.

During the first six years of my experience at St. Vincent's Hospital
and after I had recovered sufficiently from my sickness, I was sent to
St. Mary's Hospital, Astoria, Oregon, off and on, for short periods to
assist in the work there.

In 1895 the new magnificent, six-story brick St. Vincent's Hospital was
finished, and we took charge in September of that year.

Here I had charge of ten rooms, and had the serving of two meals daily
to the entire floor, which meant about fifty patients, and the only
assistance I had was one girl who was neither sister nor nurse, but very
good and kind to me. Besides these duties, I had to take my turn in the
laundry, do sewing, and above all else, attend to the numberless
religious obligations.

In order that you might realize of what these numberless religious
obligations consisted, I will here give a program of the daily routine
which I had to follow throughout my Sisterhood career:

    Rise at                                                       5:00 A.M.
    Morning prayer, followed by meditation                        5:30 A.M.
    Mass                                                          6:00 A.M.
    Breakfast                                                     7:00 A.M.
    Spiritual reading                                             9:00 A.M.
    Examination of conscience                                    11:25 A.M.
    Dinner                                                       11:30 A.M.
    Beads                                                        11:35 A.M.
    Recreation for one hour beginning at                         12:00 noon
    Spiritual reading                                             1:30 P.M.
    Prostration                                                   3:00 P.M.
    Meditation                                                    4:00 P.M.
    Examination of conscience                                     5:55 P.M.
    Supper                                                        6:00 P.M.
    Beads                                                         6:25 P.M.
    Recreation for one hour beginning at                          7:00 P.M.
    Evening prayer and examination of conscience                  8:00 P.M.
    Followed by a visit to the blessed Sacrament in the Chapel.
    Retire--lights out and silence                                9:00 P.M.

[Illustration: _Caught in the Act of Kissing the Floor, a Very Common
Penance for the Sisters in the Order I Was a Member of._]

In addition to these, the following must be observed:

Every hour of the day when the clock strikes, each sister must rise to
her feet and say, "Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of
God. Blessed be the hours of the birth, death and resurrection of our
Lord, Jesus Christ. O my God, I give thee my heart, grant me the grace
to pass this hour, and the rest of this day in thy holy love and without
offending thee," and one "Hail, Mary."

An hour each week must be spent in the chapel in honor of the Blessed

From fifteen to thirty minutes every Friday evening after evening prayer
for the exercise called the "culp," in some orders called "chapter."
This exercise consists of each sister kneeling before the superior, and
all the other sisters charges her with every mean, contemptible, petty
wrong, usually a breach of some rule of the order, which they have
remarked in her during the past week. Then the "culprit" so charged
acknowledges some of these faults, adds a few more herself, and, kissing
the floor, asks a penance of the superior. The superior has the
authority to impose any of the accustomed penances.

One Sunday of each month is called "retreat day," which means additional
prayer and devotion, that the sister may be fortified spiritually for
the next month. During this day there are three meditations in addition
to the regular daily routine. Each sister must present herself to the
superior to tell her spiritual advancement and the difficulties she has
had in the work. Sometimes all the sisters do not have the time to
appear before the superior on this day, but she must do so the first
opportunity she has during the week, and then it is generally a
reprimand for not being there sooner. This retreat day is ended with a
long Te Deum, which means a canticle of thanksgiving.

An explanation of some of the daily exercises will no doubt be of
interest to most of my readers.

The morning meal is eaten in silence, except on Feast days or unusual
occasions. During the noon and evening meal some sister is appointed to
read, generally from the "Lives of the Saints" or "Roman Martyrology,"
narrations very repulsive and revolting to nature. In this manner we
mortify the senses. If we wish something passed while we are eating, we
make signs for it. Ten minutes is about the time spent in consuming the
gout defying food supplied us. There is a dish-pan with about two quarts
of warm water in it on the table, and the first sister finished eating
has this pan passed to her and she washes her dishes, dries them and
places them in her private drawer in the table at her place. From six to
ten sisters wash their own dishes in this same water, and no difference
if some of these sisters are diseased, as I have seen them, they would
be wasting time to make a change of water, and that would be a breach of
the vow of poverty. In all my thirty-one years of convent life, I never
had a chair with a back to it more than a dozen times in the refectory
(as the dining-room is called). It was either benches or stools.

The following will show the spirit in which a sister should receive her
food, given at my spiritual instruction during retreat:


"Attention and devotion in saying the prayers before and after meals,
eyes modestly cast down, a deep sense of my own misery, a pure intention
in this animal exercise. Never to pick or choose of what comes to table.
If anything is disagreeable, to thank God for having given me an
opportunity of mortification."

According to rule, we are allowed two hours' recreation each day, which,
in reality, are about the busiest two hours of the day. Oh, no, Rome
does not give her sisters any two hours' real recreation, or rest,
during her long hours of labor. Such work as preparing fruit for canning
or vegetables for cooking, folding clothes that are often very damp,
picking over unsanitary gauze, tearing rags for carpet, picking over
feathers from old pillows, and other undesirable work is done during
these two hours; and then they say the sisters have plenty of recreation
and rest.

At three o'clock every afternoon the sister must repair to some private
place for profound prostration. That is, she must kneel and bend forward
and say: "Jesus Christ became obedient unto death, even unto the death
of the cross. Son of God, dying upon the cross for the salvation of
souls, we adore thee; eternal Father, we offer Thee this, thy divine
Son; accept, we beseech thee, His merits in behalf of the suffering
souls in purgatory, for the conversion of all poor sinners, and of all
in their agony." In addition to this prayer, she must say the "Hail!
Mary" and the "Our Father" three times each, or remain kneeling the time
it would take to say them and meditate on the prayer said. Then, this
exercise is completed by kissing the floor.

Three times each day, five minutes is spent in examining our conscience.
We write in a little book provided for that purpose, our faults and
imperfections. Before going to confession we are supposed to look over
this book and in this manner we forget nothing the priest should know.

A bell called the "regulation bell" calls us to each and every one of
these "holy" exercises, and no matter what the sister is doing when
this bell rings, even if a patient is sorely in need of her care, she
must stop and go to her religious duties. If she is late to any of them,
it means punishment, either by reprimand or penance, or maybe both. My
readers can draw their own conclusions as to the care a patient gets
from a sister-nurse, when these religious duties comes before the duties
of nursing.

One of the great inconveniences and discomforts of a sister-nurse is the
clothes which she is compelled to wear. The garb which I wore for
thirty-one years weighed about fifteen pounds, and there is no change of
weight in this "holy habit" for cold or warm weather. Our petticoats and
stockings are the only garments that are changed in weight for the
different temperatures. We are allowed two garbs at a time, but a sister
wears one nearly all the time until it is worn out. All the cleaning
these garbs get is a little brushing with soap and water, and when it
gets discolored, it is dyed to its original color. One of these garbs I
had for twelve years, and when I discarded it, there was only a small
piece of the original left. Think of the cleanliness and sanitation of
these poor girls, wearing such clothes, perspiring over the sick, and
from cooking and doing laundry work, and even being under the rule of
asking permission to take a bath. Over all this when we cared for the
sick, we tied a large white apron, slipped on a pair of white sleeves,
and then the patients would say, "How sanitary these sisters were."
Poor, deluded public; poor, secluded girls; they are not to blame, they
do the very best they can under the gag-rule of Rome. Is it any wonder
to you that the average sister dies between the ages of twenty-one and
thirty-five years, when they are compelled to live in this manner and
endure the terrible practices I have mentioned in this chapter?



In the order of the Sisters of Charity of Providence, the rules restrict
the members to certain reading. The books we were allowed to read were
those on the Roman Catholic religious practices, such as "Christian
Perfection" by the Jesuit, Alphonsus Rodriguez, a set of books on
"Meditation" by St. Ignatius, also a Jesuit, a book on the "Conferences
of St. Vincent de Paul," a prayer book, a manual of community prayers,
and a book of rule. If a sister should wish to read any other books,
outside of a few like these I have named, she must have permission from
her superior, even to the reading of "The Lives of the Saints."

The reading of secular, or profane, as it is called, books are never
allowed under any conditions. No magazines, newspapers or periodicals
are they ever allowed to read. If there happened to be an article in
some religious magazine or paper that it was decided to let the sisters
read, it was cut out and handed to them, hereby having permission to
read it. Think of the terrible darkness the poor girls are kept in,
with nothing to develop their mental faculties, nothing to read except
the few chosen books, and when you have read one you have read all, and
this over and over again, year in and year out.

When I came to St. Vincent's Hospital, I had been in the order about
twelve years. Twelve years of almost silence; twelve years of Latin
prayers; twelve years of communion and confession; twelve years of Roman
convent-slavery; twelve years of retrogression.

I found myself almost lost as to how to talk intelligibly to the doctors
and patients. My vocabulary was certainly very limited. I felt the grave
necessity of doing something to aid me in my work. But how? That was the
great question in my mind for some time. I had been taught that God
would punish me if I dared to read anything except what I was allowed.
And, believe me, even twelve years' experience in the convent had
changed my views of Romanism but very little, if any.

Finally, one day while on the daily routine, a newspaper came to my
notice, and I dared to read just one line. I waited a day or two to see
if God would punish me. Then, when nothing extraordinary happened, I
dared to read a few lines more, and I waited a few days again to see
what God would do.

At last the opportunity came. In one of the rooms I found a book, by the
name of "At the Mercy of Tiberius." I dared to read it, and oh, how I
enjoyed that novel. It was the first book of that nature, profane
reading, that I had ever read. But trouble was brewing. Some sister had
seen me reading, and although she did not know exactly what it was, she
knew that it was not a religious book, and she reported me to the
superior. When the superior asked me about it, I told her I had been
reading a book, where it could be found and offered to go and get it for
her. But I had her "bluffed" and she told me to never mind.

It took me about six months to read this first book, as I had to steal
away and read for only a few minutes at a time. Where do you suppose I
went to do this un-Roman, "un-Christian" act of endeavoring to enlighten
my mind? In dark closets, bath-rooms, and in fact any place I could
secret myself, so I would not be seen by some of the other sisters. For
it would mean a reprimand and very often a penance, and the sister thus
charged with having broken this point of the "holy" rules, is held under

For some time after this it was a problem to my mind as to how I was to
obtain other reading. In time I made friends among those who came to the
hospital, and very often these good people, mostly Protestant or
non-Catholic, would present me with some little token, showing their
appreciation of the kindness shown them, as is done to most sisters.
Instead of accepting money or other gifts, which by rule had to be
turned over to the superior, I would ask them to give me some book,
generally leaving the nature of it to their discretion, if I thought I
could trust them. Then I would warn them to be very careful when they
gave it to me that no sister saw them do so, as it would mean trouble
for me.

In this manner I received much good reading, books that were very
instructive. When a book was too large to carry around in my big
pockets, I would cut or tear off a piece of it, and throw the remaining
portion on some old, dusty cupboard in the attic, until I had read the
piece torn off, then get a small ladder or box and tear off another
piece, and so on until I had finished reading the entire book. One good
friend gave me a small dictionary, which was a great help to me. Another
gave me a book of word study, which I covered with a prayer-book cover
and studied in chapel. This was a case of "Johnny Morgan wasn't here."

By stealing, thieving and lying, so to speak, in this manner I read and
studied for a great many years, and I credit my final escape from
darkness and ignorance largely to the fact that I had independence
enough to read and friends kind enough to give me these books.

During the summer of 1899, I was appointed to the superintendency of the
third floor of St. Vincent's Hospital. In this position, which I held
for twelve years, I found a few more minutes occasionally to read, and
to exercise the little independence I possessed. The result, the more I
read, the more independent I became, and this was one of the grave
charges brought against me when I was at last transferred, or, I might
say, dragged from Portland.

One of the great responsibilities of the office of superintendent was the
caring of the priest's apartment which was on my floor. There was the
chaplain of the hospital who resided in this apartment, and he nearly
always had from one to four "wafer God manufacturers" visiting him, and
you may be sure it was not a small care to see that these "gentlemen"
had everything of the best, principally in the dining-room. I always had
to take particular care to see that there was plenty of cream for their
tables when possibly some of the patients had to do without or take
skimmed milk, and many times the over supply would sour before it could
be used. I just mention cream, but it was the same about many other
things, it was always the very best of everything obtainable--cigars and
liquors included. Yes, I have carried many bottles of wine to these
priests, as well as carrying baskets of empty bottles down the back
stairs, that had been emptied by these "holy celibate men of God." A
large refrigerator was kept especially for this apartment with a large
padlock on the door. It might have contaminated these "holy men of God"
if their food had happened to have been mixed with that of a wicked
secular, you know.

[Illustration: _St. Vincent's Hospital, Portland, Oregon, Where I Served
Eighteen Years of My Sisterhood Life._]

Another very interesting feature of this new office was the care I had
to give sick priests. There was nearly always some priest occupying a
private room on my floor, sometimes sick, as they are only human and
susceptible to the same ills as others, but many times on "sick leave,"
in other words, just plain drunk. Many times they would stay with us a
month at a time, and once I remember, one made a nice long stay of a
year, or more, but he was not drunk. I had to help these "gentlemen"
many times, when they were much more able to help themselves than I was.
But I was a woman, "a spouse of Christ," and these so-called men were
the "representatives of Christ," and that made the difference.

Soon after I had received the appointment of officer of the third floor
there were many complaints from the patients and physicians about the
food and the manner in which it was prepared. So it was decided that
some of the sisters should go to a cooking school which was being
conducted by a woman by the name of Miss Porter, in the Exposition
Building, Nineteenth and Washington Streets. I happened to be one of the
chosen number, and we took a series of twelve lessons, principally on
preparing dainty dishes such as could be used for the sick.

After I had completed this course, I was appointed to teach cooking to
the nurses in the training school and the young sisters in addition to
my other duties. I conducted this class from two to three-thirty in the

Our rules prescribe that the hour from two to three be observed by
profound silence, and also that no sister shall partake of any food
outside of the dining-room without special permission from the superior.
During the teaching of this class on cooking, I was compelled to talk to
the sisters, and it was also quite necessary that they should talk to
me, in order that they could get the proper instruction. When they would
cook some dish I would request them to taste it, that they might judge
for themselves as to the seasoning. These were serious breaks of the
rules, and it caused trouble for me after I had been instructing the
class about six weeks.

My young sister pupils plotted with the superior to cause my removal,
and wrote to the Mother Provincial, Sister Mary Theresa, who was at that
time in Oakland, California, instituting a new house of the order.
Sister Mary Theresa did not write to me about the matter, but took it up
with my superior, who came to me and said that there was so much
complaint about me causing the sisters to break the rule that she would
have to change me. She was going to take the superintendency of the
third floor away from me and send me to the basement to the fruit
cannery to teach cooking. I told her that I could not do that. I had
learned how to cook because she had wanted me to, and that if I was
going to teach it, I was going to teach it right; and if she would
delegate some other sister, I would teach her all I knew about cooking
and I would be through with it. But she did not want me to do that, she
wanted me to keep the class.

I had done the very best I could with the class, and all this trouble
was caused, not because I was unsuccessful, but because the sisters
broke some of the rules of the order, which could not be avoided if they
wished to learn. The action of the superior had caused me much distress,
both of heart and mind, and with the assistance of two stewards of my
floor, I placed all the cooking utensils and supplies of the school in a
large box and sent it to the superior's room. For weeks she tried to
prevail upon me to take the school back, but I refused to have anything
more to do with it.

This instance may not be very interesting to my readers, but I relate it
to show how little petty happenings cause so very much trouble, and very
often serious trouble for the poor girls in these institutions. There
are many more instances of this nature I could relate, but I do not care
to burden you with them. My action in this little matter caused me to be
looked upon with great suspicion and a certain amount of contempt from
the other sisters. It was this sort of treatment that caused me to write
notes of the cruelties I, with other sisters, had to endure. I expected
to give these notes to some trust-worthy friend to read after my death,
but for some unknown reason I kept them and have them at the present

About this time, also, I had a class of about twenty young sisters to
whom I taught what nursing I had acquired, principally from experience.
This was soon abandoned, for the reason that it interfered with evening
prayer and retirement at nine o'clock, the only time that could be found
during the day to hold the class.

Of all the superstitious and pagan practices that enforces the vow of
obedience, is the traditional exercise of penances or penalties. The
most inhuman, unjust, humiliating and very often torturing punishments
are imposed upon the sisters for breaking any of the many childish
rules--rules that just as really and truly bind the poor victim as
though she was a criminal in the penitentiary.

A sister is only human. The "holy" black garb she wears does not change
her. She is subject to the same sorrows, the same joys, the same love,
the same hate, the same humility, the same pain as you. But here in
these hellish, soul-destroying institutions, walled high "to keep the
Protestants out," they say, there is a system in vogue that holds women
in servitude--yes, slavery--and for failing to heed the "voice of God,"
which is the voice of the priest, or superior, or the toll of the
religious bell, or the observance of the book of rule, there is a
penalty imposed, penalties such as will torture or humiliate the poor

Some of the torturing penances are the wearing of the armlet--a chain
with little prongs on it to prick the flesh; the scourging of the bare
body with the "discipline" or cat-o'-nine-tails--constructed of heavy,
knotted cord; kneeling and praying with arms extended in the shape of a
cross; and the wearing of the chastity cord--constructed of heavy,
knotted cord. This practice ties up our virtues and keeps us chaste and

Some of the humiliating penances are the kissing of the floor many times
a day, kissing the feet of our companions, fasting, silence, eating off
the floor, and many other little, petty practices and self-denials too
numerous to mention.

Think of it, a system here in free, Protestant America, in this day of
advanced civilization, holding women in subjection and demanding
practices of this nature!

To illustrate the teaching of this system in regard to penances, I wish
to quote from "St. Rita's Prayer Book," compiled by Rev. Chas. Ferina,
D.D., and this publication has the imprimatur cross of John M. Farley,
then Archbishop elect of New York. On pages 35-36: "She (St. Rita)
renounced her property in favor of the poor, renounced every earthly tie
to devote herself entirely to austere penance. She professed to have no
compassion for her body. She scourged herself thrice every day, the
first time being the longest and the instrument composed of little iron
chains. Vigils, hair-shirt, the discipline, and rigid fasts were the
arms used to afflict her body, knowing that penance is the only means of
expiation and salvation for fallen man, although our material age would
utterly ignore it. In changing her costume Rita had no need to change
her habits, for, as we have seen, as a girl, a wife and widow, she had
ever led a stainless life. Her aim now was to attain the height of
perfection. But amidst her penances, she had the sweetest consolations;
and during her lengthy prayers, her fervent colloquies with God, her
daily and nightly meditations on the passions of our Lord Jesus Christ,
rapt in her Creator, her soul totally absorbed in Him and almost
detached from her body, experienced heavenly delights."



I have previously mentioned that I was compelled by rule to go to
confession every eight days. I wish to comment on this Sacrament of
Penance, as confession is called, and some of the other practices and
ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion.

Of all the practices that holds adherents to the Roman Catholic system,
the telling of the many faults to the so-called mediator between God and
man--the priest--stands paramount. Why not? Roman Catholics are raised
to think and believe that by confessing their sins to the man
representative of Christ in the confessional and receiving absolution,
God has also forgiven them. God's Word says in 1st Timothy, second
chapter, fifth verse, "For there is one God, and one mediator between
God and man, the man Christ Jesus." Not any representative of Christ,
but Christ Himself.

The confessional box is a trap for the convent, and after the poor girls
are once there they are shackled more than ever in the faith of the
religion by the priest in the confessional. The girls abandon
themselves, body, heart and soul, to the instructions and directions of
this ungentlemanly man--for no true gentleman would ever ask the dirty,
filthy, indecent questions in public or private that these men ask many
of the girls and women in this so-called holy private place, the
confessional--this man, whom we, as sisters and Roman Catholics look to
as the mediator between us and God, often in the form of a drunken man.
Yes, I have known not a few, and have waited on them in my work at the
hospital for a great many years, and I cannot call to my mind one of
these "holy men of God" who did not partake of the best liquors
obtainable, and I have had to protect more than one from the people
there so there would be no scandal.

Then to these liquor-soaked priests I was forced to turn and kneel to
confess my sins, to lay bare the innermost thoughts of my soul and most
sensitive feelings of the heart and then submit to the most humiliating,
shameful questions--so shameful and degrading that I am not permitted to
print them or to repeat them.

The priest is the sister's only confident--she must talk to him on
subjects that she would not tell her mother. He is to her what Christ
would be if He would come from Heaven and sit there with her. He is her
justifier, as she is absolutely in his wily meshes and victimized in his
hellish power--for nothing less than hell on earth is the confessional
to sisters. It is the destroyer of womanly purity, womanly
refinement--destroying the higher instincts and ennobling qualities. A
sister does not talk in the confessional of what is best and noblest in
her, but is racking her brain all week preparing and gathering
everything that is mean, low, degrading, contemptible--digging up secret
things to tell and talk about to the priest. The thought of having to
stoop and grovel so low and worm-like is sickening, not only soul
sickening, but often agonizing physically to the extreme, in the act of
ejecting and getting rid of a vast amount of much imaginary wrong and
scruples. It keeps the mind poisoned and enslaved in the powers of
darkness, busily endeavoring to become sanctified on the mistaken road
of pagan degradation, dispair and hell.

A form of beginning and finishing confession. This is precisely the same
form I used all my life in the church of Rome, but I will copy from
Deharbe's Catechism, translated from the German by a Father of the
Society of Jesus, of the Province of Missouri, published by Benziger
Brothers, Printers to the Holy Apostolic See, and with the Imprimatur of
John Card. McCloskey, then Archbishop of New York. Page 110, question

"How do you begin Confession?

"Having knelt down, I make the sign of the cross and say: 'Bless me,
Father, for I have sinned. I confess to Almighty God, and to you,
Father, in His stead, that since my last confession, which was ... I
have committed the following sins.' (Here I confess my sins.)"

Question 56. "How do you conclude your confession?

"I conclude by saying, 'For these and all my other (P. III) sins which I
cannot at present call to mind, and also for the sins of my past life,
especially for ... I am heartily sorry. I most humbly ask pardon of God,
and penance and absolution of you, my Ghostly Father.'"

Question 57. "What must you do then?

"I must listen with attention to the advice which my Confessor may think
proper to give me, and to the Penance he enjoins; and whilst he gives
me absolution I must excite my heart to true sorrow."

Now, if the priest is good and kind enough to say the magic words, "I
absolve the, etc." and absolve the penitent, he is just as pure and free
from sin, according to the Roman Catholic belief, as if he had submitted
to baptism, and he can go and sin again, so long as he will return to
the priest for absolution.

Jeremiah J. Crowley, in his book, 'Romanism--A Menace to the Nation,'
tells of the "moral theology" which the priests have to study to become
priests, and which I think will interest my readers. Mr. Crowley was a
priest in the church of Rome for twenty years.

Page 74. "Moral Theology of the Roman Catholic Church, printed in Latin,
a dead language, containing instructions for auricular confession, is so
viciously obscene that it could not be transmitted through the mails
were it printed in a living language; neither would priests and bishops
dare to propound said obscene matter in the form of questions to female
penitents if their fathers, husbands and brothers were cognizant of the
satanic evils lurking therein; in fact, they would cause the suppression
of auricular confession by penal enactment.

* * * Confessors search the secrets of the home, and so are worshiped
there, and feared for what they know.

(Page 76.) "If it is the purpose of state or government to prevent crime
and eradicate its causes, the whole of this diabolical system called the
Confessional, which is known to worm out the secrets of families, the
weaknesses of public men, and thereby get them under control--to either
silence them or make them active agents in the Roman Catholic
cause--above all, the debauching of maids and matrons by means of vile
interrogatories prescribed by Liguori, and sanctioned by the
Church--should be abrogated by a national law in every civilized country
on the globe."

While I was a novice, the Master of Novices in his religious
instructions to the novices, told us that the worst Catholic stood a
better chance of saving his soul than the best Protestant, because the
Catholic, no matter how many or grievous the sins he might commit, could
confess them to the priest and be forgiven; while the Protestant, though
he might be a very good man, had no priest to confess his sins to, and
cannot be forgiven. Therefore, he dies in sin, as every man is sinful,
and is lost, for the Scripture says, "Nothing defiled can enter Heaven."

Three things are necessary for absolution--contrition, confession and
penance. Of course, the priest pronounces the words of absolution before
the penance is performed, but the remission of the sins confessed is not
complete until the penance is performed. Every sin must be confessed to
the priest, the most secret and grievous, or there can be no remission,
according to the Roman Catholic teaching.

With these teachings and this papal practice of confession you can
readily understand how this one sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church,
more than any other binds the people to it. Let me say as Mr. Crowley
said to the American brothers, husbands and fathers who have sisters,
wives and daughters being entrapped in this terror of all terrors, the
confessional--get educated on this subject. And let me say that when you
do, if there is any manhood in you, the confessional in the Roman
Catholic Church will cease.

"Mass is the perpetual sacrifice of the New Law, in which Christ offers
Himself in an unbloody manner, as He once offered Himself in a bloody
manner on the Cross." (Deharbe's Catechism, page 98.)

To hear mass, we are witnessing in a sort of "mummyfied" manner, a show
at the altar, which is lighted with candles, decorated with flowers,
costly images of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saints, holy pictures,
relics of the saints, gold or silver ciboriums and ostensoriums, and
many other articles of altar and sanctuary use too many to enumerate.

During this or other ceremonies, the priest is dressed in a long
oriental robe covered with a kimona-style surplice--which is often
nearly all costly lace--chasuble, cope, maniple, stole, mitre, and other
gaudy-colored, gold-fringed, embroidered pieces of apparel.

The mass must be recited in Latin. The priest at the altar with his back
to the congregation, recites Latin prayers for from one-half to
three-quarters of an hour. During these prayers the act of
"transubstantiation" takes place. That is, the changing of the wine and
bread into the actual body, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. That is
the actual belief of the Roman Catholic adherents, as in the creed of
Pope Pius V, it says, "I profess, likewise, that in the Mass there is
offered to God a true, proper and propitiatary sacrifice for the living
and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there
is truly, really, and substantially the Body and Blood, together with
the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a
conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the
whole substance of the wine into the Blood; which conversion the
Catholic Church calleth Transubstantiation. I also confess that under
either kind alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true
sacrament." (Chamber's Ency., Collier 1890, under Roman Catholic

To receive communion, the sisters in the convents where I have been,
marched to the altar by twos, knelt and received the "body of Christ,"
but never the "blood." No one is allowed any of the wine, or "blood,"
except the priest or "substitute Christ."

If, during this ceremony, a crumb of the "body of Christ" should happen
to drop on the communion cloth, that spot must be marked, and after the
ceremony is completed, the priest sprinkles some "holy water" on the
spot, says a few Latin words, makes a few signs with his "holy hands,"
then it is purified, and whatever is used in this purification is
burned, or sometimes washed. The Corporal, which is a piece of linen
used for handling the "body and blood of Christ" in the mass, must
always be washed or rinsed by the priest before it goes to the laundry,
because the sisters who do the work in the laundries have not "holy
hands," and the priest's fingers have been consecrated and are therefore

In speaking on transubstantiation, William Cathcart, in his book, "The
Papal System," says (pages 170-171), "The priests scorn the idea that
there could be any figure in the declaration: 'This is my body,' but
when Paul says: 'For as often as you shall eat and _drink the chalice_,'
they must grant that it is not the _chalice_ but its _contents_ that are
to be drunk. If it is not a figurative expression, the priests of Rome
should swallow the cup as well as the contents. The words, 'I am the
vine, I am the door,' are literal if the expression is not figurative,
'This is my body.' No community would suffer more than the Catholic
Church from a non-figurative interpretation of every scripture word. In
the Catholic New Testament, Matt. xvi. 22, 23, it is said: 'And Peter
taking him began to rebuke him, saying: 'Lord, be it far from thee, this
shall not be unto thee'; who turning said to Peter: 'GO BEHIND ME,
SATAN, THOU ART A SCANDAL UNTO ME, because thou savourest not the things
that are of God, but the things that are of men.' If the words, 'This is
my body,' must be taken literally, we would mildly insist that Christ's
address to Peter shall be taken literally too when He said to him: 'Go
behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me.' According to that
interpretation, Peter is the chief of devils, and the Church of Rome,
built on Simon, is founded on Beelzebub himself. A literal
interpretation of the words, 'This is my body,' leads to sacred
cannibalism; and of the saying in Matt. xvi. 22, 23, makes Peter the
devil, and Lucifer the foundation of the Papal Church. A figurative view
of both passages is the true one."

"Extreme Unction is a Sacrament, in which by the annointing with holy
oil and by the prayers of the priest, the sick receive the grace of God,
for the good of their souls, and often also of their bodies." (Deharbe's
Catechism, Page 114.)

Extreme Unction is commonly known as the Last Sacrament of the Roman
Catholic Church. It is administered only when there is danger of death.

I often had to prepare the dying for this sacrament. The articles used
were a crucifix, holy water, lighted candles, a piece of bread, and five
"wads" of absorbing cotton. The priest would come, unwrap his silk bag
containing the holy oil (chrism), dip the cotton in the holy oil and
apply to the parts of the body where the five senses are located--the
forehead, to cleanse the mind of the sins of thought; the eyes, for the
sins committed by the sight; the mouth, for the sins of speech; the
ears, for the sins of hearing; and the hands and feet, for the sins of
feeling. The last members of the poor suffering, I often had a difficult
time to get handy for the priest to apply his chrism, particularily in
paralysis or accident cases. During all the ceremony the priest is
reciting Latin prayers.

The piece of bread is for the priest to cleanse his fingers after the
ceremony. It must be destroyed, together with the cotton used, by fire
so that no particle of the holy oil will be desecrated.

This sacrament is supposed to help the soul of the person receiving it
to heaven, but it does not keep him from the torments of purgatory.

Before a person is entitled or can accept this sacrament he must be
baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. The sisters in the hospital must
do all in their power to convert Protestants to the Roman Catholic faith
before death. I was instructed that I was not a secular nurse, but a
religious and Sister of Charity, and as such it was my duty to convert
all Protestants and non-Catholics possible.

I remember one very interesting case of this kind that happened soon
after I went to St. Vincent's Hospital. My officer, Sister Mary
Bonsecours, requested me to go with her to a room occupied by a
Methodist lady who was dying, and she would show me how to make
converts. In addressing the lady, among other things, she said that the
Roman Catholic Church was the only true church. All who were not
baptized in it would not be saved and would surely never see God. The
lady simply remarked that she was satisfied with her religion. About
the third time I accompanied the sister to the lady's room, she was
passing into the last agony, and the sister leaned over her and shouted
into her ear that her soul was going to hell forever for not being a
Roman Catholic. That is the manner in which many of the sisters endeavor
to obtain the patient's consent for baptism into the Roman Catholic
Church, and if they are yet rational, they are entitled to the last
sacrament, Extreme Unction.

A very convenient practice for the Roman Catholic adherents is that of
gaining Indulgences.

"An Indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment due to our
sins, which the church grants outside of the Sacrament of Penance."
(Deharbe's Catechism, Page 112.)

"Can Indulgences be applied also to the Souls in Purgatory?"

"Yes, all those which the Pope has declared to be applicable to them."
(Deharbe's Catechism, Page 113.)

"Temporal punishment due to our sins" is that which we have to suffer
here on earth or in purgatory. This includes the penance imposed upon
the penitent by the priest after confession. If the penitent is truly
contrite for his crime, the priest has the privilege to relax the
penance and grant indulgence, that is, he cannot be granted indulgence
unless he is in a "state of grace," which is after having confessed and
having been absolved, and fulfilled the requirements of the absolution.

One of the means of gaining indulgences for the sisters was the saying
of short prayers, for each one said, so many days indulgence being
gained. For instance, for saying:

"My Jesus, mercy! Mary, help!" 200 days' indulgence.

"Sweet Heart of Jesus, be my love." 300 days' indulgence.

"Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation." 300 days' indulgence.

If we should have some friend or relative dead whom we thought was in
purgatory, we could offer these prayers, with many others, for them and
in that manner shorten their days of torment in that middle region, as
well as shorten our own sufferings there.

Once each year every sister is required to spend eight days in what is
called "annual retreat." That is, eight days' religious exercises and
spiritual instructions by a priest--generally a Jesuit priest in the
order I was a member of--conferences, the performance of penances, etc.

The priest gives five spiritual instructions each day of this retreat,
each one lasting about an hour. We must keep absolute silence during
these eight days, except to speak to the Mother Provincial on our
shortcomings and to the priest in confession. At this confession the
poor sister is supposed to tell all the wrongs and sins committed during
the past year, and hours are spent in preparing and waiting, kneeling
outside the confessional box, crouching in fear and trembling, hoping
and praying that she may escape some of the indignities of this terrible

At these "retreats" the sisters were allowed to take notes of the
spiritual instructions, and I will copy from some of the notes I took.
These instructions were given by "Father" McGuckin at the Mother House
at Vancouver, Washington, on the subject of "Poverty."

"It is not according to the spirit of poverty if we think we must
require a remedy for every little ache or suffering or pain. We must
bear those things with Christian fortitude without a remedy or
alleviation. We must not make a superfluous use of things, even of
things we are allowed to have for our use of necessity. If we have
things that we are attached to, we should take them to the superior,
even if she should make us take them back, then we have made the
sacrifice, and God accepts the will for the deed.

"Why deprive ourselves of that merit? There is nothing small in regard
to poverty, even to a piece of thread. We cannot be too scrupulous in
detaching ourselves from the world and ourselves.

"The things of the community do not belong to us and we have no right to
anything at all nor to dispose of anything--everything belongs to God
and should be used as such and taken care of just the same as the sacred
vestments. We have no right to make any agreements with any person in
the world, where we, personally, would have any responsibility, for we
have nothing and it would be shifting the responsibility upon the

"We cannot accept a present for ourselves without permission, but we can
and ought, whenever no condition is expressed, with the intention to
give it to the superior to dispose of for the congregation. We must
never refuse an offer when it is for the congregation. It is our duty to
accept and let that person do his good work. Every congregation is
generally or always in need of means to perform good works. Let
everybody contribute to good.

"We must do our work with anxiety or solicitude, doing our best. Cast
your care on the Lord and He will take care of you."

In this chapter I have endeavored to explain some of the many practices
and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic system, as I have found that there
are very few Protestants who understand the import of these in the Roman
Catholic religion.

The Roman Catholic definition for "ceremonies of the Church," is
"Certain significant signs and actions, ordained by the Church for the
celebration of the Divine Service." (Deharbe's Catechism, Page 127.) So
you see that these various ceremonies must be observed by the Roman
Catholics because the church says so, not that Christ instituted any
such practices while He was here. And, whenever the _Church_ wishes, she
can add a few more to her already long list of ceremonies, and the Roman
Catholic must believe in it and practice it, or he cannot continue to be
Roman Catholic.



The sisters of the order to which I belonged were given a visit to the
Mother House in Montreal, Canada, once during their sisterhood life,
providing they could outlive their turn, as the older sisters came
first. This was a great privilege for the sisters, an opportunity to
drink deep in their souls the spirit of "holiness" emanating from the
saintly sisters who had been spiritually formed and perfected in
conventual practices--the Mother Foundresses of the Order.

I will now tell you how I received this privilege.

       *       *       *       *       *

My father died in 1896, and when his estate was settled I received
$500.00 in cash. It was understood long before this between the sisters
and myself that when he died, if I would receive anything from him, I
would pay my dowry of $300.00 to the community. Out of the $500.00 I
received from him, I paid my promised $300.00 to the community, and
placed the remaining $200.00 on deposit at St. Vincent's Hospital for
safe keeping, as I had promised it to the Abbott of Mt. Angel College
for the education of a nephew of mine.

While this money was on deposit at the hospital, the Superior General,
Mother Antoinette, tried to induce me to take my trip to the Mother
House. There were several sisters who wanted the office I filled at that
time, superintendent of the third floor, and they also thought it was a
good time for me to go on this trip. I could see that it was the $200.00
and my office they were after, so I refused to take the trip at that

A few years later, 1907, Sister Rita and myself decided it was then time
for us to go to the Mother House, so we began to plan in order that we
would not be refused when we asked permission of the Superior General,
Mother Antoinette.

Sister Rita had been at the hospital all the years I had been there, and
we had become very friendly and chummy--that is, as friendly and chummy
as sisters can be. We had agreed not to make trouble for each other by
telling tales to the superior, and this agreement made it possible for
us to come together on some common, sisterly interests with just a
little less suspicion. So, on account of this friendly feeling, and
because we could talk on a few subjects other than the _Sainte Vierge_
and miraculous medals, we were determined to take the trip together.

We made our desire known to one of the leading doctors of St. Vincent's
Hospital, whose name I purposely withhold, and he promised to see the
officials of the transportation companies, and arrange, if possible, for
our transportation. He returned with a very favorable report, and then
we asked Mother Antoinette for the permission to go to Montreal, which
was granted. Our doctor friend told us that we should visit New York
while in the East, and asked us if we would go if he would get
transportation. We told him we certainly would if we could get the
consent of the Superior General. He informed us a little later that
arrangements had been made for the trip to New York. He then suggested
that we should return by way of the South, but we feared that we could
not get the consent of the officer of the order. Mother Antoinette did
not care about giving us the permission to take the trip to New York and
through the South, but she knew that the transportation had been
arranged, and that Sister Rita and myself were popular with the patients
and doctors at the hospital, so she consented, fearing that if she did
otherwise it would injure the interests of the institution with the
business people and doctors of Portland, who were our friends.

As soon as our many friends learned of our plans to go East, they very
readily came to our rescue with money for our berths, meals and other
expenses while stopping at the various cities we expected to visit. One
very good friend of Sister Rita's gave her a check of $200.00. She also
had some money from her relatives and friends. I had received some money
from relatives and from my friends, and this, together with some "Johnny
Morgan" money made several hundred dollars we had between us. I had
heard of sisters taking trips East with the so-called "Johnny Morgan"
money, and I had also seen one of the superiors of St. Vincent's, Sister
Frederick, send presents which had been given to me and been turned over
to her by me as our rule prescribes, to her people in Canada, so I
decided to use my "Johnny Morgan" teaching now, and I found it very
handy. A nurse friend who had trained at St. Vincent's presented each of
us with a very fine Japanese suitcase, so we were well equipped for our

I had been sick for a long time before this, several times sick enough
to die, and Sister Rita told me that she was almost afraid to go with me
for fear that she would have to bury me on the way. I told her not to
worry about me; that if I died to see that I was put under ground, and
say, "Good-bye, Lucretia," and go on with the journey.

On the evening of June third, 1907, we were prepared to start and were
met by a few friends at the Union Depot, who presented us with dainty
lunch baskets with enough good things to eat until we arrived at
Chicago, our first stop.

We were met at Chicago by some of my relatives, Mr. and Mrs. Gorman, who
entertained us during our stay of ten days. I had a relative in the
Notre Dame Convent, whom I visited while there. Her sister, a married
woman, asked me if I could do anything for her sister's (the nun)
sickness, which I found to be nervousness. I told her the best thing to
do for her was to take her out of the convent and let her live like
other people live.

The next stop was the Mother House, Montreal, Canada. This building was
an immense, dark stone structure, six stories in height, a sure enough
penitentiary-looking Roman fortification. The walls of this enormous
building encloses a large novitiate, which has about one hundred novices
most of the time; large dormitories for the sisters, some of them fitted
to accommodate forty, and dark except when lighted by artificial light;
a printing plant operated by the sisters, used to print the books and
other literature for the many houses of the order; sewing rooms, where
clothes are made for the novices in the novitiate and other inmates of
the Mother House; a department where the sisters make slippers for the
inmates of the house; a chapel, community room, large kitchens,
dining-rooms for the chaplain and sisters, bakeries, an infirmary and
operating room, and in fact a department for nearly everything used for
the sisters in this institution.

[Illustration: _Head Mother House of the Sisters of Charity of
Providence, Montreal, Canada._]

Most of the professed sisters at this house are those who have passed
their years of usefulness in the work done by the order, such as
hospital work, teaching, orphanage, etc., or are sickly sisters who
cannot do the outside work. There are always several hundred sisters at
the Mother House sent from the numerous houses of the order from all
over the country, many of which pass their few remaining years in

There are about six sisters who attend to the business of this house,
which is the head of all the different houses of this particular order,
and all reports must be made to the head sister, who is called the
Mother General.

During our visit there, we were accompanied by two of the holy Maison
Mere (Mother House) nuns to an iron vault, to gaze upon and venerate the
fleshy heart of the Bishop Founder of the order, Monseigneur Ignase
Bourget, which was there preserved in about two quarts of alcohol. We
were told by the accompanying sisters that every year on Monseigneur
Bourget's feast day, this heart turned to its natural blood-color.

This Bishop was the Christ representative who said to the five foundress
sisters who first came to the Northwest to build prison convents here:
"Go, my daughters! Fear nothing--I send you in the name of the Sovereign
Pontiff. Multiply yourselves to the greater glory of God." (Nov. 1st,

We also had the privilege and honor of joining in a novena prayer for
the cure of a crippled girl. This novena was offered to Mother Gamelin,
a sister foundress of the order, who had been dead since September 23d,
1851, and who was now working miracles which was a final test to prove
she was worthy of canonization by the Mother Church. It being time for
our annual retreat, we were obliged to listen to eight days of French
preaching, confession, prayer and silence in the Mother House.

A large portion of the city of Montreal is now in the hands of the Roman
Catholic system--churches, convents, parochial schools or other Roman
institutions facing the streets every few blocks. These portions of the
city are inhabited by the French Canadians mostly, and as a general
thing they have very large families and are poor, almost to a degree of
poverty. The church bleeds them of their scanty earnings, then in the
winter open soup houses in the name of Charity. One of the sisters at
the Mother House told me that she had seen some of these people walk in
their bare feet in the snow to some of these "charitable soup houses" to
partake of the little bowl of soup that body and soul might be kept

The children in these families are nearly all raised in the parochial
schools and churches and know nothing but the Romish teaching and that
is the reason there are so many French Canadian priests and sisters. The
home and family life of the people are so closely related to monastic
life that it cannot be called taking a step in life when the boys and
girls enter the convent, it is just continuing from babyhood to the end
of life in the drudgery of the nunneries.

While at the Mother House, I was told that the French Canadian people
were fast loosing their faith and becoming infidels, leading a life of
worldliness and degradation. Who is to blame for this condition? Surely
not the poor people who have been priest-ridden all these years. It is
just the same story you hear of every country where Rome has had the
control for any length of time.

We visited the Hotel Dieu Nunnery where Maria Monk had her terrible
experiences as a black nun. The interior of this convent indicated the
truth of her description in her book. In the hospital part there were a
few rooms for patients, but principally wards--the beds having curtains
around them. We witnessed a doctor making his daily sick visit. He was
accompanied by sisters all in black, except a bit of the face and hands.
These sisters would handle the medicine and dressings which were kept in
a cabinetlike table, with nothing to protect them from the dust but a
curtain around the table. On top of these tables were oratories, such as
we had in the chapels, containing flowers, statues, holy water
fountains, etc. I asked what these oratories were for and was told they
were for the sick to pray to for their cures.

When we were ready to leave this institution, I asked the sister that
accompanied us through, if she would come to the gate with us. She came
to the threshold of the door and stopped and said that the sisters were
not allowed to pass the door without special dispensation from the

In another Black Nunnery Convent we visited there was a large ward,
probably one hundred feet long and sixty feet wide, filled with small,
low beds, for the accommodation of babies and children. I saw probably
forty or fifty children not older than six years. I asked the sister if
the sisters there were allowed to take care of babies of that age, for I
knew the sisters in my community were _not_, and she told me that they
were not; that they had nurse-girls to take care of them and that there
was a sister appointed to oversee the work.

We were taken to the basement of this institution and saw the private
burial places of the "holy" Mother Foundress of the order and several
other sisters particularly distinguished for great sanctity and
"supernaturally gifted" while living, as we were told. These burial
places were marked by a small, narrow board at one end, and a small
wooden cross, about a foot high at the other. The fourteen stations of
the cross were erected along the walls that surrounded this burial
ground. Special indulgences and blessings were supposed to come to
anyone praying in this "holy" place. We were also told that anything
that was placed on the grave of the holy Mother, and remained there for
some time, became holy, and that if these articles were kept and
venerated, the holy person or saint would be the means of special
blessings to us. I was given a small sprig of a flower made "holy" in
this manner, and Sister Rita and myself had a laugh over it. When I
reached the street, I discarded this holy relic.

We spent four days visiting the Longue Pointe Insane Asylum near
Montreal. This asylum included seven magnificent stone buildings, and
had four hundred and twenty acres of ground. At the time we were
visiting, there were two thousand inmates and two hundred sisters who
attended the sick. There were also a large number of uniformed men to
guard and attend the male patients. We were told that the institution
belonged to the government, but had been turned over to the Sisters of
Charity of Providence who had the sole supervision of it. A great many
sisters of the order I belonged to, and other orders as well, who became
drunkards and with other ailments, as well as being insane, are sent to
this institution from all over the United States and Canada.

I will give you an example of how some of the sisters go to this
institution. A sister I knew very well at Vancouver, Washington, after
an eight-days' retreat, was found in a closet by another sister,
"sawing" on her neck with a common, ordinary butcher-knife, and had
almost succeeded in putting an end to her troubles. When asked what she
was doing she just said, "Hell here or Hell hereafter, what is the
difference?" and kept on "sawing." Three older sisters sewed and
bandaged the wound and as soon as she had recovered sufficiently to
travel, was sent to this asylum at Longue Pointe. And this sister was
_not_ insane but was sick and needed a doctor and medicine, but in order
to kill the scandal, she was sent away so it would be forgotten.

We availed ourselves of the opportunity and went on a pilgrimage to St.
Anne de Beaupre, Quebec, about one hundred and sixty miles from Montreal
on the St. Lawrence River. There were about seven hundred people on the
steamer chartered for this pilgrimage. The steamer was equipped with
counters laden with small statues, pictures, rosaries, images magnified
and encased in pen-holders, lockets and other cheap trinkets for the
passengers to purchase as souvenirs. After buying them we would take
them to the priest and have them blessed. About every two hours during
the entire pilgrimage, we were assembled by order of the priest and made
to say the rosary and other prayers.

At eleven o'clock at night we arrived at Cape Holy Sacrament. Here we
were all requested to go ashore and assemble in the church for a special
benediction. Each passenger was required to purchase a candle, just a
simple tallow candle, for which was charged fifteen cents. When we were
assembled in the church the priest blessed these candles with some Latin
prayers, and then turned his back to us for about twenty minutes for
some more Latin prayers. After this "holy" benediction, which very few,
if any of us, understood, we returned to the boat and continued our

We arrived at the village of St. Anne de Beaupre about seven o'clock in
the morning and went direct to the wonderful basilica of St. Anne de
Beaupre, where we heard mass and received the consecrated wafter-god
before we could have any breakfast.

This basilica is a magnificent temple, probably six stories in height,
with two high spires, and wonderful chiming bells. In the interior there
is a large costly decorated altar, and above this on either side are
other altars. On either side of the main auditorium are rows of
installed chapels, ten on each side, making twenty in all. Each of these
chapels has its own altar and is dedicated to some saint and contains a
life-size statue of that special saint.

The statue of St. Anne which works the "miraculous cures" is located
about the centre of the basilica. It is about twice the size of a man,
and standing on an onyx pillar about four feet high. The open hands are
extended a little from the body, and from them stream rays of gold,
representing the great richness of St. Anne's dispensing power. It is to
this statue that hundreds of sufferers from all parts of Canada and this
country travel every year in search of a cure for their infirmities.
There were on exhibition hundreds and hundreds of crutches, canes,
sticks and supports for all kinds of infirmities hung on the walls in
the back of the church and on two immense pillars. These were supposed
to have been left there by people who had been cured by this wonderful
statue of St. Anne. Then upon believing themselves cured of their
ailment or infirmity they would pay whatever sum of money they could
afford, and that is the reason for such a magnificent institution in
this small village.

On an elevation near the church was a small building called the holy
Sanctum. Leading to this building were twelve steps, which, in order to
reach the entrance of the building, we had to ascend on our knees. The
images and statues in this building were most beautiful to
behold--costly shrines, life-sized statues of some of the martyred
saints, and our Lord, as represented in the tomb. The fourteen stations
of the cross were engraved in fine art on the walls, magnificent
paintings on the ceiling, such as the Angelical Salutation of the Virgin
Mary, and other views emblematic of religion. These things were all very
interesting to look upon, but the more I tried to pray and convince
myself in my heart that this show was religion, the more I found myself
losing what little belief I then had.

On leaving this holy Sanctum, we passed a spring which had been tapped
to make a fountain. This was known as St. Anne's fountain, and the water
was supposed to possess great curative qualities. I could not believe in
all this sort of "holy rot," it was getting too strong for me, but
Sister Rita took a small bottle of the water which she carried
throughout the remainder of the trip.

Next we looked in the basement of the church, which was fitted up very
much like the basements of our large department stores, where all kinds
of "holy" articles were for sale, everything from expensive statues and
priest's vestments to hundreds of devotional and superstitious trinkets
of the Romish belief.

There were thousands of people from the surrounding country at this
village that day, as it was one of the periodical pilgrimages to the St.
Anne Basilica.

Returning to Montreal we witnessed the grand processional parade of the
French Canadian people celebrating their National holiday, the Feast of
St. John the Baptist. This celebration, instead of being a civil affair,
seemed to be more of an ecclesiastical show, with all the various
societies and clubs of the church parading in all the pomp and
glittering raiment characteristic of the Church of Rome. It seemed to me
that it was more for the aggrandizement of the church than for the
kindling of patriotism in the hearts of the citizens.

In Quebec, Joliette, and other cities and towns, we could neither see
nor hear anything of interest except the greatness of the rich churches,
the halls and pavilions for the celebration of festival and saint's days
and nunneries, and to admire the self-sacrificing spirit of the French
Canadian people for the Romish superstition. Of course, the beauties of
nature were very grand at that time of the year, and we enjoyed it to a
certain extent, as much probably, as a sister could.

Thus seven weeks were spent in Canada and we both rejoiced in shaking
off the feeling of morbid depression of Romish domination even though
the trip was supposed to be one of pleasure.

In returning to the States, at St. Albans, on the state line, the
trainman announced "twenty minutes for lunch." Sister Rita and myself
hurriedly ordered some clam-chowder. In a few minutes it was served, and
we had just begun to eat it, when we heard "all aboard." We had a
forty-cent laugh, minus the stew, and a run for the train.

We stopped at Burlington, Vermont, at Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Albany,
New York City, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City. At Atlantic City,
Sister Rita took sick, so we went to Washington, D. C., to the
Providence Hospital which was conducted by the Sisters of Charity
whose Mother House was still in France.

In two weeks Sister Rita had sufficiently recovered to continue our
trip. We were determined to see what was dearest to our hearts in all
this trip--Washington's Tomb. We went as close as we could to the tomb,
knelt down and touched the cement floor inside the vault with our hands,
in feeling of gratitude for liberty to our country, even though we were
bound to the government of the Pope of Rome. For just after our visit to
priest-ridden Montreal, we were surely thankful for the liberty enjoyed
in this country, and we could see that it was this liberty that saved us
from a greater hell on earth than we were living.

We visited Washington's Monument, the Soldiers Home, the White House,
the Capitol Building and various other administration and government

Our respects were paid to St. Peter's Cathedral, which has become famous
for the Pan-American Mass held every Thanksgiving Day, and which has
been attended by several of our late Presidents.

Near the city, we visited a new monastery which was inhabited by French
Monks. The most interesting part of this place was that portion under
the main building where the basement ordinarily would have been. There
was a long, narrow zig-zag tunnel, or passage, about six feet wide and
probably seven or eight feet high. We were escorted through about one
hundred feet of this tunnel and then the accompanying Monk told us that
the remainder of it had not been finished, so we returned. Along the
sides of this tunnel were niches, in which were placed statues, which
were visible only by the aid of small burning tapers. In fact, most of
the tunnel was so dark that we were unable to find our way without the
aid of a light carried by the Monk. It was a crude, "spooky-looking"
place, and both Sister Rita and myself gave a sigh of relief when we
were once again in the light of day and on top of God's green

We were informed by the priest that these tunnels were to commemorate
the Catacombs of Rome at the time of the early Christians.

We went to Baltimore, then crossed the Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk,
Virginia, where we visited the Jamestown Exposition. The wonderful
exhibits at this exposition, the historic and other interesting places
visited while there, were a revelation of the achievements and
advancements of this great country, and the acquisition of much
historical enlightenment. We knew we were acquiring much knowledge
forbidden by the Pope of Rome, but we were greatly pleased to think that
we were defeating this self-styled ruler of heaven, earth and hell.

From Norfolk we went to New Orleans. For miles the streets of this large
city were lined with little, antiquated, unkept homes, many of which
seemed to be falling in ruin. The question came to my mind, "Why do
these people not advance?" The answer was very apparent when we saw the
strangle-hold the Roman Church had on them, and how they had built
immense churches, monasteries and convents for the glorification and
fat-living of the ecclesiastical gods. We visited the Jesuit church,
which was a structure magnificent and beautiful to behold--with its
altars and ornamentations of bronze. At that time this church was
considered one of the most costly in America.

During our stay in New Orleans, we stopped at the convent of the
Dominican Sisters. In conversing with some of these sisters, we learned
how they recruited their ranks. Some of the most trust-worthy sisters
would be sent to Ireland to talk the poor Irish girls into coming to
this country and living good, pure, holy lives as sisters. We were also
told that as a rule, these girls died very young, and generally of
consumption. We saw some of them, and they surely looked like caged
birds, sorry and discontented, home-sick and care-worn. Previous to
this, feelers had been placed before the sisters in my community to see
what sisters were willing to go to Europe to get recruits for the
Sisters of Charity of Providence, and when I saw these girls, once, no
doubt, rosy cheeked and beautiful, but now pale and care-worn from the
unnatural, caged life they were living, I made a vow that I would never
be the means of enticing any foreigners to leave their homes to become
slaves for the Roman Hierarchy.

When we were in Burlington, Vermont, a sister-member of the same order I
belonged to, asked me to visit a relative sister of hers in the Ursuline
Convent in New Orleans. On the twelfth day of September, 1907, we
visited this convent--a monstrous prison-looking institution, about five
hundred feet long. Within the entrance there was a hall along the outer
wall and on the other side of the hall there were a number of small
rooms, or "stalls," about eight by ten feet in size. These stalls were
separated from the hall by iron bars, about one-half inch in diameter,
running from the floor to the ceiling, about two inches apart. I asked
to see the sister by name, and when she came we had to talk to her from
the other side of these bars. She extended her hand through the bars to
shake hands, and we kissed her the best we could with that barrier
between us. This was a cloistered order, and yet there was a parochial
school within the enclosure. The children's parents and other visitors
were only permitted to see the children or sisters as we had seen this
sister. About five feet from the floor, in the center of the grating of
each of these stalls, was a little door about fifteen inches square,
with a padlock on the inside. We were told these were used for articles
brought there that were too large to pass between the bars.

We visited some of the large plantations for which the South is famous,
seeing the cotton plants in all their different stages, from the
flowering to the picking of the cotton.

Returning to the Pacific Coast we came by the southern route, through
Texas, Arizona and California. We stopped a few hours in Los Angeles,
and about ten days at San Francisco and Oakland. From Oakland we visited
Stanford University, which was still very much demolished from the
earthquake nearly eighteen months before.

We arrived home--at St. Vincent's Hospital, Portland--on September
thirtieth, after an absence of nearly four months, and I wish to impress
upon you that in all our travels we did not receive one cent from our
order--and they never once offered us any money to pay any of our
expenses or showed us any sisterly solicitude.



Hundreds of people take trips like Sister Rita and I took in 1907 every
year and there is nothing said about it, for it is only a common trip
for the people of the world. But for two nuns in their garb to travel
from one side of the continent to the other, and from the north to the
south, on a trip like this, is extraordinary. In all my sisterhood life,
I have never known any other two sisters to go on such a trip. I have
known them to take longer trips, some of them to Europe, but always on

Once more at the hospital where we had spent so many years in drudgery,
the smoldering pride and natural ambition which had been suppressed and
rudely beaten and forced into oblivion, came from the hiding place with
renewed vigor. We realized that a great _something_ had taken place
within us. We could not see things in the same light as before. The trip
had been educational for us, and the knowledge acquired had driven deep
into our hearts the conviction of the truth with such power that we
found a terrible battle raging within us--Romish convent "rot" on one
side and light on the other.

What were we to do? We had no homes, no place to go to live the
remainder of our earthly sojourn; we had served the best part of our
lives for the Roman institution and were no longer young; our health was
not the best; helpless from every point of view, it was a plain case of
go to work, "for better or for worse."

It was impossible for us to believe opened-eyed the foolishness of all
the silly superstitions we had so long lived, and yet from it there was
no escape, as it was by rule and practice and demand, compulsory. We
talked it over and realized that we stood in need of a remedy to
counteract the wiles of darkness--neither allopathic nor homeopathic
prescription could accomplish this for us, and we knew from experience
that the Romish priest could do nothing for us as he was the fountain
head of the darkness and ignorance, except perhaps administer a
spiritual emetic in the confessional. So we just took up our part of the
work as tools, grinding for the Roman machine.

Naturally, the conditions at the hospital were the same as they had
always been, but the great change that had taken place in my life caused
me to be more independent than I had ever been before. I saw that the
treatment accorded the sisters, doctors, nurses and patients was not
right, as well as they knew it. They soon realized the degree of
independence I had delegated to myself, and I was overburdened with
complaints of the wrongs that were going on. Not that I could directly
correct the irregularities, but that I might have some influence with
those in charge of the workings of the institution.

At St. Vincent's there were sixty sisters--simply women--in whose hearts
existed the same aspirations, cravings and desires inherent in all human
flesh. There were those sisters with their whole heart and soul
perfectly sincere in their religion. Others who were the schemers,
intriguing in the most cunningly devised plans imaginable, workers of
iniquity and the greatest injustices in the guise of religious show. To
your face this class would be so sanctified, always saying prayers and
looking to heaven, but when your back was turned, they would step on
you, trample you under their feet, or knife you to attain their end, and
that they might be glorified and exalted in the eyes of their companions
and superiors. The outside world will never know the real meaning of the
word "scheme" until they have the opportunity of seeing the hellish
plottings of a sister-schemer.

It is only natural that a sister will do her utmost to have work in
which she is interested and has some inclination toward, so that she can
see and hear those things pleasing to her. Then when she is in her
chosen work, she will do all in her power, just the same as other
people, to attain the best position possible that life might be brighter
and she do the most good, as well as to have a little more authority. In
order to gain her aspirations, a sister is compelled by the hell-bound
system to live in continual fire--the fire of fear and remorse--the fire
of fierce wrangling through pride, jealousy and ambition. Patients and
doctors have come to me many, many times, with proof of the awful
jealousy and inharmony among sisters. They could not understand that a
sister's world was so small and cramped by obedience that they could not
get away from their last scene of hell and latest oppression.

It was about this time, soon after my return from the East, that there
was a demand from the doctors and patients for more efficient nursing.
It had been public talk that the sisters did not train for the care of
the sick and consequently did not have diplomas. And yet, these sisters,
with only experimental knowledge of nursing, were head-nurses, as
superintendents and teachers in the training-school. Superiors were
appointed who never had any previous hospital experience, coming
directly from orphanages, schools or kitchen work. Others who came
direct from Canada, who could not speak a dozen words of English, would
be appointed to some high office. From these we would be compelled to
take orders which meant blind and military obedience under penalty for
the non-observance.

It was decided that some of the sisters should be given diplomas to show
their qualifications for nursing. I was one of the chosen few who
received a beautiful scroll of paper certifying that I had completed a
thorough course of training in medical and surgical nursing and had
undergone a satisfactory examination, in the branches taught in the
training school, before certain members of the hospital staff who had
attached their signatures. It was also signed by the Superior Provincial
and the local Superior. This diploma was a triple falsehood on the face
of it, as I had not taken a course of training, I had not taken an
examination before these doctors, or any other doctors, on the tenth day
of June, 1901, or any other time; and, moreover, I did not receive it
until after I had returned from my trip East, which was 1907, which
shows that it was either back-dated or had been kept in "cold storage"
for several years.

[Illustration: _Fac-simile of the Diploma I Received from St. Vincent's

This was simply another delusion of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy to
hood-wink the public and cause them to think that the Roman institutions
were as efficient as other institutions. Personally, I was qualified to
nurse in nearly all branches, as I will prove to my readers before I
close this book, but what I knew was not learned by a "thorough
training" by any teacher other than the teacher of experience, and now,
with over fifteen years of hospital work to my credit, I was receiving
what the ordinary nurse receives after three years' training--the

About 1910 the new addition to St. Vincent's was opened for occupancy
and it could then accommodate about four hundred patients.

The reports of the unfair treatment of the sisters and others as well,
were coming to me so fast that I decided to try to right them from
within the order. It was only the beginning of the end for me. I
appealed to all the women authorities, from the local superior to the
Mother General, but to no avail. It simply caused the sisters in
authority to look upon me with suspicion and disfavor, and from the very
first, reports were circulated about me losing my faith, and being a
"bad religious." Orders were given the sisters on my floor as to the
management and also as to the manner in which they were to treat me.

The reports of what was going on had reached the Mother House in
Montreal, and the assistant Mother General, who was a very good friend
of mine, and at the same time endeavoring to smooth matters over in the
community, asked me to take the office of superior at Astoria. It was
simply an attempt to get me out of St. Vincent's and I refused to take
the office, knowing that I could not treat the sisters as a superior had

A letter soon came from the Mother House, which I will here copy, with
others, showing how the news of strife within the community travels.
Also how cautious a sister must be with her letters. The envelope was
addressed to me, and on the top of it had these words: "P. S. If not
there return to me unopened."

    Providence Mother House,
    Montreal, Feb. 11th, 1910.

(This letter is for yourself alone.)

    Sr. Lucretia,
        Portland, Oregon.

    Dear Sister:

What's up? It seems people find you so very, very naughty--so naughty
that strong measures are required. Look out, the comet (Haley's Comet)
may play serious tricks! But nonsense apart, do write me what has
happened in that house? You cannot imagine how anxious I am, knowing
what injustice is sometimes meted out under the plea of good order and
merely for the sake of carrying out certain plans to attain ones end. Be
watchful. I love the community with all my soul, but I hate the iniquity
wrought by some of its members through jealousy and ambition. God help
the weak! I shall say no more today, but leave it all to the strong
right arm of the Almighty.

    Good-bye and believe me,

    Sincerely yours,


This letter is proof that I was not the only sister who knew of the
wrongs and injustices that were going on under the plea of religion. And
believe me, I was very grateful to receive this letter from one so high
in the order as Sister Wilfrid. It braced me up for the coming battle.

My reply was as follows:

    St. Vincent's Hospital,
    Portland, Oregon, Feb. 20, 1910.

    Rev. Mother Wilfrid, Asst. Gen.,
    Montreal, Canada.

    Dear Mother Wilfrid:

I am not aware of being so terribly naughty, and the same comet
(Haley's) that will play unfair tricks on me might get a few played on
it, when tricky cards will be played.

When these strange and strong measures will be put to me I will
certainly have to know of them and then it shall be my business to learn
the reason, and mine to employ whatever means I may require for justice
or peace of soul and body. Any grievous wrongs coming to me through
jealous and ambitious evil-doers will not be borne by me in a pent up
heart any more like in the past. Accusations, as also insinuations,
which falsify will have to come to light and proof. They can say all the
dirty, wicked remarks about me they please. I know but precious little
good has ever been said of me by the community representatives out here
in the past, and I do not expect better yet. If I am American in my
views and ways, it does not make me irreligious or disloyal. My faults
and shortcomings are not worse, nor of meaner character than those I am
with, and have lived with. With little effort I can produce plenty

I will not again suffer humiliating trials cast upon me without cause,
and worse, to no purpose, but to incur the displeasure of God and to
please deceitful, jealous, scheming spirits.

You ask me what has happened this house? It would take me six months to
put it in writing and make a nervous wreck of myself and then be
compelled to leave to others what I attempted to better. Time, and
sisters who will be trained by home religious, who will understand our
people and sisters, can only right things with us out here. Along these
lines the trouble lies in this house. We are even bad for knowing where
trouble lies, etc., etc., etc. You know as well as I do.

I work hard and know that I work well, and I do my duty the best I know.
The crime is, I haven't the "L'esprit de la religieuse," because I am
not French and they can't bake me over other than God made me. Amen.

    With love in prayer, I am,

    Yours very sincerely,

    S. C. S. P.

On March 10th, 1910, I wrote her again, further explaining what was
going on, as follows:

Dear Mother Wilfrid:

Another item which stands black against me is that I have been taking
care of Archbishop Christie this winter. Three weeks' special nurse and
for three months I went nearly every day to his residence to give his
arm massage treatment. I did my hospital work all but the entering of a
few names along with the extra work. I gave classes in nursing to the
sisters two evenings per week.

Now, of course, I should be made to feel very sorry that I have been
capable of giving agreeable service to such a distinguished patient. It
being out of the question to punish him for being pleased with my care
or an expression of a word of gratitude. So, it should behoove me to be
put through the expiatory system to atone for my sins of having done
well and more than the usual effort. I can't tell where the glory of
such Christ-like doings belong. No doubt it is the right spirit--too bad
I haven't it. What a grievous sin it must be to please, etc.

Another item, my name was cast a good many times in the ballot box on
election evening for the new superior. I suppose I might be called upon
to glorify God by expiating for this crime also, in some way or other.
Those brilliant gems are being added to other hallows, too. What
Paradise! minus innocence. Amen.

    As ever.

    Very truly yours,

    S. C. S. P.

Just a day or two after I mailed the foregoing letter, I received a note
from Mother Wilfrid asking me to write further, explaining more fully
the national hatred mentioned in my first letter--she not having
received this last one as yet. So on March 18th, 1910, I wrote at

    Dear Mother Wilfrid:

   The only reason French sisters have no use for me, and would never give
me a sign of prestige is that I am not French. That is my awful crime. I
am liked and approved of by all that I have dealings with--the doctors,
the people, the sick--great and lowly--the nurses, the help of the
floor--all express happiness and pleasure on seeing me. The
English-speaking sisters find a few minutes' comfort of mind and a
little peace and enjoyment in my company. In the eyes of jealous, evil
minds it must be wicked to possess gifts which radiate peace, happiness
and harmony.

I even admit that I am not dead to approbation or condemnation. I
naturally like to give to everybody of the best I have, whatever it may
be--to receive people well and friendly, to serve someone a lunch, or to
do some little favor of whatever kind, or if it were only a few kind
words of encouragement. If anyone wishes my secret, I am not jealous to
give my recipe. I always made it a particular point to do everything as
well as I could and know that I do it with as pleasing and cheerful
disposition as possible. But that is poison to the other side. I am and
always have been successful in my office. I taught a class of sisters
(nursing) since the beginning of last September, and I know that I did
it right and successful the times I could get them.

Why such national prejudice and jealousy? Really what the last election
(superior's election) here showed, after all the talking of doing away
with the spirit of nationality, the prayers and conferences to the same
purpose, then the nationality spirit manifested itself with more force
than ever before, at least openly, so that one knows what to call it. It
shows clearly, too, that there will never be harmony, and it is obvious
that one kind will predominate as long as they can, and when they
cannot, the next majority will.

Our community has failed to prove, up to now, that it is a success to
have mixed nationalities. In time, of course, anyone can see that one
kind will give way to the other, but not by means of harmony--probably
by the same methods as of the past, the stronger or the majority shall
control the weaker or minority. "As it was in the beginning, is now, and
ever shall be, world without end. Amen." Said this time in truth and

First of all, our people, the English-speaking sisters, have no one to
go to for redress, who understands them in their troubles and trials and
difficulties of a business or social nature, simply silence and
obedience without a faint feeling of even a little sympathy in common.

The Jews did not understand our Lord and His suffering, but the Blessed
Virgin did. I believe He had a few other household members who were not
only loyal, faithful and devoted to Him, but harmonious, too. If there
was jealousy and disagreement, I do not believe that a good and generous
worker was taken out of office by the Master and put aside as an evil
spirit or put through humiliating and heart-rending trials till there
would be nothing left but a grimace and distorted body or an insensible
being, an object of pity and sadness.

Should religion, if it was the right kind, make people wish and sigh for
death to come and put an end to their misery? Why all this profession of
religion if it cannot grow a few flowers and plants of joy and
happiness, if it has to legislate people so stiff and cramped in body
and mind that they cannot bend without breaking, or breath enough left
in them without looking haggard or half dead?

Religion and church are not to blame for want of breadth, harmony and
strength amongst ourselves in organizations. It is up to the majority of
us sisters to make life part Paradise or all Purgatory on earth, and all
the sermons on charity that could be preached in the world and all the
good will and generosity put together will fail to produce peace and
harmony in a community which cannot organize and legislate just and fair
dealings to begin with. Man knows and appreciates this.

With the other letters I have sent you, you can see the situation. With
love as ever.

    Sincerely yours,

    S. C. S. P.

The reply I received was as follows:

    My dear Sister Lucretia:

    Lest you worry about your letter of March 18th, I come,
    although I have but a few moments to myself, to say it reached
    me in due time. I have read and re-read it and find that what
    you say is true. Oh! if trying to please and comfort (without
    sacrificing one's religious principles) and succeeding therein
    were crime, I earnestly wish there were more criminals among
    us. In any case, I would urge you to continue to make other's
    lives happy, and not allow the narrow-mindedness of some and
    the unkindness of others to cast bitterness into your own life.
    It is hard, sometimes, but there are enough beauties and
    sweetnesses in life if we will only take them, and I am sure
    you have proved until now you know where they are to be found
    and how to make use of them. Continue, dear Sister Lucretia;
    nothing that is good ever dies; we have often heard this and
    perhaps so far have had occasions to experience its truth.
    Allow me to quote a few lines I found not long ago and find
    encouraging: "If you live the most devoted and disinterested
    life possible, you will find people sneering at you and
    imputing your actions to selfish motives and putting a cruel
    construction on all you do or say. Well, it does not matter,
    for we shall all be manifested at the Judgment seat of Christ,
    before God and men and angels. Let us live to please Him, for
    our integrity of motive will be known at the last, and put
    beyond all dispute."

    I have just learned that Sister Rita has been transferred to
    Oakland. I hope she will like the South and make herself happy.

    Believe me, dear Sister,

    Sincerely yours,

    S. C. S. P.

You will observe from the foregoing letters that we, as sisters, do not
hold the system accountable for the wrongs we have to endure in the
convent. We believe that the sisters alone are at fault, as I have
stated in my letters to Mother Wilfrid. But the man or woman with
ordinary intelligence, who reads these conditions as they were at that
time can readily see the real source. The heads of the institution, who
had the sole power, instead of the bettering conditions, tolerated and
permitted them to remain. At that, I have my grave doubts if the convent
system could _ever_ be harmonious. Think of housing a large number of
women under one roof, bound by the ironclad, childish rules and
precepts. They are a barrier to "life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness," which the Constitution of the United States guarantees every
citizen. They make progress an impossibility. The outside world thinks
the convent system is a success because they see the institutions grow
in size and number, which is due to the economic methods of free
sister-service. They never have the opportunity to see "success" from

As a further proof that the system is the cause of discord, strife and
inharmony among the sisters I will copy another letter I wrote to
Mother Wilfrid. There is some repetition of portions of my former
letters, but I think the whole of the letter will interest my readers,
even though it is lengthy:

    Dear Mother Wilfrid:

     I will bring a few other points before you, Mother, which means
     inharmony in our order. I do not intend to convey to you the
     idea that I am an oracle of success. The intention being simply
     to consider some of the principal essentials required for
     success. Just a little mental view of things.

     We all admit that experience is a great teacher--observation
     its necessary accompaniment. Both are in vain unless a
     practical application can be made of the lessons to be learned
     from them.

     One of the first essentials of success is common honesty. If
     those who have had experience in one kind of work could only
     dare to be sincere enough to express the difficulties they
     meet, in such a manner as to better conditions. What's in the
     way? Prejudice, the fear of not standing high as a perfect
     religious, sisters, whether qualified for leadership or not,
     ambitious for high offices. If the companion should be a little
     more gifted in some things than the superior, she should make
     herself so small and subservient that she can scarcely think.
     If she cannot look scared, stand back and look perfectly mum.
     She is proud, independent, trespassing on the superior's
     rights, disloyal and rebelling against all rightful and lawful
     authority. She is placed in a responsible position and not
     permitted to be woman enough to be justified in her own
     actions. She has to of necessity, due to inorganization, make a
     blunder of herself and her work. We are constantly blundering
     and straightening out after each other. Experience should have
     taught some of us how to improve upon blundering ways. Take for
     one thing, the frequent changing of the sisters without system
     or method, often for no reason--then because some have put
     their heads together to bare so-and-so out, they have to eat
     "black bread." She has given offence--God alone knows for what
     trifle. She must be punished and made unsuccessful even if the
     house and place where she is will suffer the loss of her good
     and successful work. This might be saying a good deal for a
     subordinate, but it is the price paid for lessons taught by
     experience. We will have better organization only when we will
     have our sisters taught from the time they enter the work for
     which they have aptitude, talent and inclination, and leave
     them generally where they are contented and successful and not
     shift them about from house to house, pillar to post, without
     serious reason. We ought to know by this time that a work one
     does not care anything about she will not put much effort or
     interest in.

     To stand the hardships in connection with every occupation, one
     must have some liking for it and be qualified to succeed. And
     then there will be plenty of room to love God and suffer for
     Him, and any number of chances to practice the highest degree
     of religious perfection--entire abnegation, if you will. Such a
     one can be on the way to Gethsemane every day with greater
     fervor rather than murmurs.

     As a general rule, people who have worked the greater part of
     their lives or years in certain works, particularly when they
     reach the years of about forty, adapt themselves with great
     difficulty to an entirely different kind. They need the
     efforts and thoughts as well, of younger years to correspond
     with their generosity and good will. First of all to grasp the
     situation, and then a renewing of energy, as it were, they need
     new thoughts to keep in progress with the changing conditions.
     I cannot see that we have to be a misfit to be a good
     religious, and to cripple every natural gift--physically or

     It takes years of study, practice and experience to acquire the
     knowledge to fit ones self for the proper and successful way of
     handling any work or business. People who are every year, or
     every few years, starting something new, are always beginners,
     possessing a superficial or smattering knowledge of many
     things, and thorough in none.

     This is the way our house is largely represented here now--and
     we wonder what is the matter! "What has happened, St.
     Vincent's?" The greater wonder is that things go on as well as
     they do.

     Another mistake our people make is that of ousting out of
     office those who do have the good will and energy to capacitate
     themselves for their work and prove a success all round by
     making a little more of themselves than the ordinary hum-drum
     routine sisters. The spirit of the rule is one kind of
     spirit--and there are other spirits. If I have not the spirit,
     God forgive me. There are plenty of others who have not the
     spirit. Is it the spirit when one is successful in an office
     and in all her dealings with the people she comes in contact
     with, to not even make an effort to have harmony and
     understanding on the part of her superiors if misunderstanding
     and discord exists? They are not able to face you with one
     correction or complaint, but through the religious system,
     under cover of all that is holy, to oust her and throw her
     down and out, as it were, regardless of human feelings or sense
     of righteousness--no, not even common civility. Anyone not made
     of cast-iron is bound to break--body and spirit--under such
     tremendous pressure.

     Such is Sister Rita's case, for one.

    Yours as ever,

    S. C. S. P.

I want it strictly understood by my readers that all the letters I have
here produced were written by me while I was yet a sister at St.
Vincent's Hospital, and superintendent of the third floor of that
institution. I could tell the same facts without the evidence of these
letters, and in a great many less words, but I wish to let the world
know that I knew while there that the governing heads of the institution
were doing nothing to better the then existing conditions of inharmony
and discord among the sisters; but, on the other hand, were making
matters worse for them by transferring older sisters who were acquainted
with the work and supplanting them with younger sisters who were
ignorant in the care of the sick.

In a few words the wrongs could be summed up as follows:

National hatred and jealousy;

The rule of the system compelling the sisters to report on the other
sisters to the superior, which means a great many false reports;

The employment of sisters who had no previous experience, and the
transferring of those who did know about the care of the sick;

Superiors who were absolutely unqualified for hospital work;

Non-care of sick sisters;

Ignorance and blind obedience;

The numberless religious practices which took us away from the sick,
very often when they needed the most careful attention;

Besides the taking care of the sick, the many other obligations which
the sisters were called upon to perform--such as laundry work, janitor
work, kitchen work, etc.

And no one to go to for redress in case of wrong.



On the tenth of July, 1911, I went to Vancouver, Washington, for my
annual retreat. Immediately upon my return to St. Vincent's, July 19, I
was summoned to the room of the Provincial Superior, Mother Nazareth,
and she informed me that I had been "nominated" to go to Cranbrook, B.
C., saying that as my health had not been very good for some time, the
change would be good for me. I had undergone a very serious operation
some time before this, from which I had not fully recovered. The nervous
strain caused by the troubles within the order had not been of any
physical benefit to me, owing to the weakened condition of my system
from the operation. So I told Mother Nazareth that I did not think that
going up in the mountains where the climate was so cold would be very
beneficial to my health. I also told her that I did not think that my
health was the reason for my removal, but that it was on account of
reports, and I wished to know what some of them were. She refused to
tell me, and I told her that if she did not care to, or would not, I
would go to higher authority, the Superior General.

Talk about system, and the traveling of news! On July 21st, two days
after I was informed that I was to go to Cranbrook, I received the
following letter:

    House of Providence,
    Vancouver, Wash., July 20, 1911.

    Sister Lucretia,
    St. Vincent's Hospital, Portland, Ore.

    Dear Sister:

I am informed by your Provincial Superior that you refuse to accept your
nomination to another house.

Please write me to that effect.

Awaiting your answer within a reasonable time, I am,

    Very sincerely yours,

    Superior General.

Can you see how the sisters work to keep ahead of all the other sisters?
Using, if necessary, unfair and unjust methods to attain their ends. I
had told Mother Nazareth that I would go over her head, and from all
evidence she must have immediately sent a messenger to the Superior
General with the message that was written me in that letter, which was
not true. I had not refused to accept the appointment, but had asked the
reason for such a change. Our rule on "Fraternal Charity" and the "Roman
Circular" from the Pope, says to "tell the wrongdoer of her faults." So
I had the right to be given the reason for my change, after all the
reports I had received of my very "irreligious conduct."

Instead of writing to the Superior General, as requested in her letter,
I went in person. I asked her to tell me some of the reports she had
against me. She informed me that she had heard many reports about me,
but that she did not have to tell me. I told her that if I was to
correct myself of my faults, I should know what some of them were. She
told me that she had heard reports about me counseling a young sister to
leave the community, when she was in Missoula, Montana, long before she
was Superior General. This I flatly denied, as I had not done so, and I
asked her to name the sister, but she refused to do so. She also
informed me that a great fault of mine was that I would not report on
the other sisters. I told her that this was very true, and that I would
not report on the other sisters unless there was something very wrong to
report, as I did not think it was right. She became very angry after me
questioning her, and said, "I am the authority and you are the subject,
and you have nothing to do but to obey your superiors." I said, "All
right, I made a vow of obedience, and I will obey; I will go where you
send me, and I will do what I am told, but it will be mine to tell the

On my return to St. Vincent's, I went direct to Mother Nazareth and
asked her if she had any fault to find with my work. She replied, "No."
I asked her if she had any fault to find with my character. She replied

I then went to my local superior, Sister Alexander, to whom by rule I
was obliged to go every month to give an account of my spiritual and
material progress or difficulties. It was her duty to tell me if she had
any fault to find. She had never found any fault with me all the time
she had been my superior, except that I had once given some food to an
employee without her permission. I asked her the same questions I had
asked Mother Nazareth in regard to my work and character, and she
answered the same as Mother Nazareth had. I told her that no one ever
had any faults against me before, why all the reports and faults now?
To this she made no reply.

My rule gave me the right to appeal to ecclesiastical authority for
redress of grievances if I was not satisfied with the decision of my
women superiors. So I next went to Archbishop Alexander Christie.

I told him of the wrongs which were causing me many heartaches and
sorrows, and also the report the Superior General had told me she had
heard so many years before. He told me that the Superior General had no
right to handle me on reports she had heard before she had been in
office, according to Church or Canon law. He said that I had made a vow
of obedience and that the best thing I could do was to obey for the
present and maybe he could do something for me later.

I had heard from priests about the justice of Archbishop Christie's
Coadjutor, or Vicar General, as he is called, Monsignor Rauw, so I
decided to go to him and see if he could intercede for me, or at least
cause an investigation. He listened very intently and, seemingly, with
much interest to my story of the injust treatment I was receiving, how I
had spent so many years in the service of the community and church. In
tears and sorrow I appealed to him to see that the right was done, not
that I was complaining about my appointment to another mission, but I
was complaining about my appointment to this particular mission on
account of the climatic conditions, and in the manner in which I was
being sent. There must have been some reason for all this--and I knew
well what it was--but I could get no one to tell me so I could defend
myself. When I had finished telling my story to this great "holy
father," he stood up, and holding himself together with both hands,
said, with much force, "In religion we have to make big sacrifices!"

Sacrifice! I was all but sacrificed then, and to get an answer like that
from the last one I could appeal to for right! It is impossible to find
words to express the feeling that came over me. My heart and very being
became chilled. I shuddered at the very thought of religion. In my
novitiate I had been taught that if at any time during my community life
I would be in need of fatherly kindness and redress, I was free to go in
all childlike simplicity to authorized priests or bishops. This was the
first time in all my service to the church that I had asked anything of
the priestly "fathers." It had always been _my_ service and sacrificing
for them. And now, when it was my turn to look for some assistance in my
extreme oppression--when only a few words from any one of them would
have caused the sun of justice to shine on my life--they stood by and
did not say a word in my behalf.

"His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs,
they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are
greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that
cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his
gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we
will fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow shall be as this
day, and much more abundant." (Isaiah, 56:10,12.)

In all my attempts for redress, the only word of encouragement I had
received was from Archbishop Christie, who had said that he "might be
able to do something for me later." But, as for the present, I could
clearly see that nothing could be done, except for me to reconcile
myself to my removal and go.

Remember, dear reader, that I had served eighteen years at St.
Vincent's, and it had become as a home to me. Not only had eighteen
years of my service been utilized in building this institution, but I
had sold hundreds and hundreds of little cards to my friends and
patients for five cents each, each card representing a brick in the
building. More than that, I loved the work and had made hundreds of
friends from every part of Oregon, administering to them in sickness.
But laying all these things aside, I wanted to go and have it over with.

So I packed the wreck of a trunk that was assigned to me with what few
belongings I had, stealing in a few forbidden books and pictures. In all
cases of removals of sisters, the superior is supposed to examine the
trunk, but for some reason, unknown to me, the superior did not examine
mine, so I succeeded in keeping a great many little articles which
otherwise I would not have.

During the last two days, I avoided meeting everyone possible for the
final adieu, as the despotic and un-Christian manner of my removal was
too sensibly present to me. The friends I did meet expressed great
sympathy for me and often there was bitterness of tears from both of us.
One of the leading physicians of the staff halted me near the main
office, and in the presence of Sister Rita, told me that it was criminal
to me after the years of service to that institution and at my years and
poor health. He said that it was heartless and most un-Christian
treatment. This little speech caused me to think differently of
Protestants than I had in the past--that in the end I would rather go to
the Protestant heaven than to ever again meet some of these "holy
fathers and religious saints."

On July 26th, I left for Cranbrook in company with Mother Nazareth. On
leaving St. Vincent's, I placed my arm over my eyes so that I could not
see the sisters, or other friends, or even the building where I had
lived so long. This was the first of many long, sad, sorrowful days for

We arrived at our destination on July 28th, at one o'clock in the
morning. The institution which was to be my new home, was a small
hospital, which could accommodate about sixty patients.

The next morning, Mother Nazareth and my new superior, Sister Mary
Vincent, assigned me to my new work. I was to serve in the
dining-rooms--including the priest's--wash dishes, take care of the
halls, the sister's community room and the priest's apartment, and to do
the work that would be necessary in and about the building. Then, to
make everything more "pleasing" for me, they told me that in the near
future I could go begging as I had done in my younger years. To this, I
told them that I would go, _providing_ that I could be home every night,
as I did not think I was physically able to be out nights as I had in
years past.

This was all for the benefit of my health, and this same Mother
Nazareth, who was helping the superior assign me to my work, was the one
that told me the change was for that purpose.

After years of struggle and convent slavery, endeavoring to make myself
efficient in nursing, this the reward. If I had not been strong and
robust, I could never have lasted as long as I had. The average girl in
this drudgery goes years before she reaches the age I was at that time.
But the years of grind and confinement had begun to tell on me, and the
heads of the institution--sly old foxes--could see it; so I had to go.

    "Authority intoxicates,
    And makes mere sots of magistrates;
    The fumes of it invade the brain,
    And make men giddy, proud and vain;
    By this the fool commands the wise,
    The noble with the base complies,
    The sot assumes the rule of wit,
    And cowards make the brave submit."



I was now permitted to be on mission with my own blood sister, Sister
Cassilda. After having been estranged and poisoned in mind against me by
the system for over twenty years, she was to be an example for making me
a "good religious." And, poor girl, she sure enough was a "good example"
of the products of the Roman convent system. She had been on Indian
mission nearly all of her sisterhood life. For five years, without ever
seeing civilization, she was kept at the Blackfoot Indian Mission, in
Alta Territory, B. C. I remember once when she came to Vancouver,
Washington, for her retreat, the poor, dear girl looked as primitive as
the American natives she had been taking care of. Her sensibilities were
dulled from the long practice of mortification and the endurance of
terrible hardships. She did not realize it, but she was verily an object
of pity. Oh, how sorry I felt, to have my sister there with me, and yet
no sister to talk to, owing to the moulding and shaping we had undergone
by the Roman Catholic system.

Even though she had never had any previous experience in caring for the
sick, she was, at the time I went to Cranbrook, assistant superior of
the hospital there. And after all the years I had served in nursing, I
was under her direction.

A short time after my arrival at my new mission I received a letter from
my dear friend, Sister Rita, as follows:

    Dear Lucretia:

     Another change. Now they say Mere General (Mother General)
     intends leaving for your place Thursday the 10th (August 10th).
     I am not stealing your letter out, as I read it to Mother
     Nazareth, also to Sister Alexander, then told them that I
     wanted to see that it got off.

     You need your reputation and I would make them prove the
     _lies_. You were missioned through reports of companions who
     were out of their rule for not warning you first. Then,
     superiors have their rule. You have obeyed. Now you sift the
     matter, though stay in the community and make them take good
     care of you. That is only fair and just before God and man.
     When they make use of religion to cover dirty politics it is
     time to make them face it. You may show this to Mother General
     or anybody else.

    With love, from


Another letter I received from Sister Mary Winifred, about this time,
will explain itself:

    Providence Academy, Vancouver, Wash.
    August 13, 1911.

    Dear Sister Lucretia:

     Last week I spent a few days in Portland and it is needless to
     say that I missed you very much, as do all your friends there.

     From conversations at recreation I understand that your change
     was made doubly painful by false charges. You have my heartfelt
     sympathy in this, for I have experienced that painful ordeal,
     and I say God help those who must go through it. Let me say to
     you what dear Father Schram said to me, "Be thankful that you
     are the accused rather than the accuser. I would rather be in
     your place than theirs." It is only a matter of time; justice
     will assert itself in spite of all human power. Your sorrow
     will be turned into joy. Be brave, dear sister, this will all
     be righted.

     There are some hard things in religious life. God knows why!
     The words of our dear Lord, "For which of my favors would you
     stone me," must come to the mind of some religious often during

     Now, dear sister, I must close.

     Believe me in union of prayer and suffering.

    Yours ever,


Mother General Julian visited Cranbrook on August 13, 1911, and I
endeavored to have her right matters, but to no avail. So I decided to
write my complaints to Archbishop Christie of Portland. These letters
also explain the most important points of the visit of Mother General
Julian of August 13th.

    St. Eugene Hospital,
    Cranbrook, B. C., August 17, 1911.

    Most Reverend A. Christie, D.D.,
    Portland, Oregon.

    Very Dear Bishop:

I am now here three weeks lacking one day; needless to say that I have
not been feeling very well, for in the manner I had to take my dismissal
from St. Vincent's and move out to mission, I do not think it hardly
possible for me to feel extra good, either mentally or physically,
unless one was made of cast-iron.

Your Grace, I hate to trouble you; I know you must have enough care on
your mind and heavy responsibilities. Nevertheless, I beg you to listen
to me a little while. I feel it an awful strain upon my mind and weight
upon my heart to have to submit to so much downright cruelty and
injustice. Power made use of to take advantage of others. My removal was
prompted through ambition and jealousy. I was too successful and well
liked, and no means could be found to break my influence except by
taking advantage of my sacred vow of obedience to get me out of their
way. Now what is this but making use of religion to play dirty politics?
This change was brought about over my provincial's head. Our rule says
reports are to go to the provincial and she is to make the change or
report for such to higher authority. In the visit of our Mother General
here, August 13, 1911, I told her I was not satisfied nor at peace in
the service of God about the way I had been changed, because I had to
feel too keenly that it was as a punishment influenced by reports. She
then said that she might have been influenced and talked to the effect
that she had all right to make any change, whatever the reasons were.
She said that she had reports and that she did not need to tell me where
they came from or what they were. I said that if she expected me to
correct myself for what was reported against me, I thought I should be
told. She insisted that I had been told. I said the only thing I had
been told, the one and only charge you already made "counseling a young
sister to leave the community," which I positively denied and said that
I might ask an investigation. Moreover, you had this against me before
you were in office and I did not believe you could use it against me,
even were it true.

Is it not convenient to get into power and take advantage of another for
all reports and remarks ever heard about you, years before they knew

When I spoke of investigation, she said that she did not say that I was
not telling the truth in denying the charge she made. I answered that it
was easy to say that now, but the mischief was done; that I was thrown
out of the occupation I worked so very hard to become efficient and
useful in, and that I did not feel that it should be required of me to
begin over as if I was twenty or twenty-five, neither did I think it was
required of me to mould myself over according to every new superior's
individual ways of thinking and liking, nor to run and jump about my
work like a young soldier on picket duty.

I don't claim perfection or sanctity, simply doing the best I know how,
and at the same time trying to make the most of myself, becoming a
decent human being and Sister of Charity. If I did not appear religious
enough to please every sister that knows or hears of me, I could not
help it. If I did good work and behaved myself in accordance with our
rules and constitution, I thought this was a good deal to be taken into
account; and that I did not think that one should be so easily trifled
with and annoyed to desperation over faults and imperfections that we
are all, more or less, subject to, and for me to be treated like this
was injurious to my mind and health.

She (Mother General) said this was a nice place for me, and I did not
need to work if I did not feel well, and that I could do the same work I
had done before if I wanted to do it and resign myself.

This is the kind of redress we have, Your Grace. They can even dispense
the subject from any or all activity when it could mean torment to some
one in their "black book."

I told her I wanted to find out if the church had nothing to say
concerning these matters, and also the way I had been removed from
office, without one bit of consideration, either for my years of service
in the community, which I thought was church service, or my ability or
experience. It made no difference in the least how I felt, or what it
had cost me to fit myself for my work. All that seemed required on their
part was to show me and give me to understand that I was not needed or
wanted any longer.

Dismissal in a heartless manner from the work in which I have suffered
all sorts of inconveniences, wretched trials due to narrowness, which I
could enumerate to you, but would be too lengthy to write. God alone
knows the circumstances under which I had to learn my lessons to fit
myself for the work I did and managed. I had to be orderly, diet-cook,
dish-washer, scrub-woman, painter, seamstress, account-keeper,
collector--also take names and history of the patients, nurse and
overseeing other nurses' work--these and other things have been my
daily round of duties.

Nice time of the day and years of my life for my superiors to say to my
face that they have no fault to find with my work and none of character,
and at the same time to do what they have done in the name of good under
cover of religion, claiming all right because authority is theirs. Must
unfit and unscrupulous ones be left to have their own way entirely? Has
justice no weight or meaning in the government of church organizations?

Does it seem fair to take one away from a work that she knows well and
gave satisfaction, without giving one a single reason, and put beginners
in her place and send the experienced one where beginners ought to start
from? If I were even needed here! It really seems as if pleasure had to
be taken in seeing how far one could be driven. It is maddening for the
victim who has to stand it. I could not have the good will I ought to
have, these things embitter one and in conscience I cannot hold myself
accountable before God. It is discouraging and checks the better
feelings, desires and efforts in doing their best, and in time the
result will be callousness, indifference and unfitness for any good
whatever. This way of doing is applying the system of authority in the
old accustomed way when they want to make a human machine of one--is to
deprive them of all chances of interest in life, the final result is
bound to be physical and mental break-down or nervous wreck--as I have
seen it too many times, unfortunately. Going through this process a
number of times hurries our sisters to some cemetery or asylum.

Your Grace, I feel to ask an investigation unless I can be given
assurance that I shall be reinstated in my former work and have my name

Our superiors claim that even an Archbishop has nothing to say in these
matters in an order governed by a Mother General. That would be news to
me. I thought he was our first ecclesiastical head of church affairs in
his domain. I know in Canada the Mother General is not over Archbishop
Bruchasie. There might be a big difference in the States, probably in
the West.

Your Grace, I am sorry and humiliated to have to trouble you in this
unpleasant manner about so much awful disagreeableness, but I could not
endure it without doing my utmost to get such unfairness righted. I
cannot tell you in words how much I appreciate knowing you as I do, and
that I feel perfectly at home in addressing myself to you during this
time of difficulties. I hope and pray that your health remains good,
Your Grace.

Awaiting an answer, with much esteem and very best regards,

    Yours sincerely and respectfully,

    S. C. S. P.

Letter No. 2:

    St. Eugene Hospital,
    Cranbrook, B. C., August 28, 1911.

    Very dear Archbishop Christie:

     Your Grace, the large letter enclosed in this envelope, dated
     August 17th, I intended to send at the time, and after I had
     written it, I thought it was better for me to come to Portland
     and see you, as some matters in it might require further
     explanation than I could express in writing, because I wanted
     you to know the true state of things, and for fear that I might
     induce you to do anything rash in regard to me, I thought it
     better to bring the letter myself.

     When Mother General was here on August 13, 1911, I told her
     that I might ask an investigation. She said it was alright,
     that I could do so if I wanted to. I supposed that this
     included my permission to come and see you when I decided to do
     so--if I needed permission from the lesser authority to speak
     to the higher. I had told Mother Nazareth that I wanted to go
     to Portland to see my higher superior on a matter of

     August 26th, last Saturday, I asked her for her pass or
     transportation to Portland. She said her pass was in Portland
     and that she would send for it and that it would be here by
     Wednesday. Instead of that she communicated with our Mother
     General, this morning she told me so, and that neither Mother
     General nor she could give me permission or money to go to
     Portland. I was frank with Mother Nazareth when she spoke of
     money; I said I could wait a few days for the pass. I cannot
     understand why this deception. I do not feel good over it,
     after telling her that I had Mother General's consent for what
     I was to do. Our people are afraid to make one move without
     Canada. I do not suppose from this transaction that Mother
     Nazareth gave Mother General an agreeable account of me since I
     am here.

[Illustration: _Most Reverend Alexander Christie, D.D., Archbishop of
Portland, Oregon._]

     I am having a much begrudged vacation. I am not any profit to
     the community just now, having been sick and unable to work for
     a few weeks. How could I be otherwise, or anyone else with a
     grain of sense or feeling, I cannot do things slipshod or by
     halves. Outside of my trip East, I cannot recollect of ever
     having had more than perhaps a couple of days cessation from
     hard work in all my thirty years of community life--without
     speaking of vacation, which I never dared to ask for, feeling
     sure of punishment of some sort to follow if I did.

     Mother Nazareth quoted Mother General as saying to me, "There
     was work here if I wanted to do it," and she added, "What was
     good enough for the sisters here was good enough for me." I
     told her "Yes, what was good enough for the sisters here was
     good enough for me, and it was not beneath me at all to do what
     the sisters here did, but it was out of the question and I do
     not wish to discuss it, as it is useless."

     You see they have determined together--our people having
     yielded to Canadian "todiers"--to show me that I am to take in
     silence as much, or as little, as it is theirs to demand. It
     belongs absolutely to them to subdue me in whatever way they
     please, to make me see and accept as right the one and only way
     they see it, and taking upon themselves to refuse me the right
     of speaking to our own archbishop. This is one of the reasons
     why I am out of Portland. They are uneasy as what I may say to
     you. They cannot see it in any other light than that I am
     telling wrong things and having a bad influence, hence it is
     better for me to be where there will be no such occasion. What
     a shame to have to talk of such narrow, childish treatment and
     small things, but, truths just the same which can make one's
     life very hard to live.

     I also enclose a short letter from Mother Wilfrid, one of our
     Western sisters General Assistant Councilor. Letter dated
     February 11, 1910, which is only a little over a year ago now.
     I found it amongst my things after my letter dated August 17,
     1911, was written. I cannot make use of it. It will show that I
     am not imagining things so terribly in mind, and it is positive
     proof that I am handled on reports, the nature of which and the
     numbers of years in gathering I am not permitted to know. They
     have the advantage of me by my vow of obedience. Your Grace, I
     leave everything to your wisdom and discretion. I do not want
     you to do anything hasty or by persuasion, which might be
     regrettable, though I do think they need to be taught the
     lesson that they are not God Almighty, even though power be
     entrusted them. I do not say on the minute--but in your own
     good time and judgment. Mother Nazareth is terribly frightened,
     and says I will regret going to you.

     Our people's talk is that Archbishop Bruchasie is the only
     ecclesiastical head above our superiors. It is that with them,
     or pine away out of life seems to be the only alternative
     permissible. I could address myself to him and then be ordered
     to go and sit in some dark corner in Montreal the remainder of
     my days, like poor Sister Paul of the Sacred Heart is doing,
     and like sickly Sister Gabriel was told that the sheriff would
     be called to take her to Montreal if she would not go by their

     Your Grace, it is a comfort and a miracle to me to be able to
     tell these things to you, because I know that you can have much
     good come out of all it now, and more for the future sisters of
     the country. I am sorry to have to bother you.

     Mother General did remark to me here when I told her that I did
     not feel right about the way this had been done to me, that it
     might not be for long. Your Grace, I will pray every day that
     God will bless you with good health and success, and that you
     will be with us many years to come.

    Awaiting an answer, I remain,

    Yours devotedly and respectfully,

    S. C. S. P.

These three letters (one from Mother Wilfrid to me) were enclosed in one
envelope and sent to Archbishop Christie by registered mail.



The many, long, dreary days of suspense that followed awaiting a reply
from Archbishop Christie were surely days of indescribable penance. No
one for a confident but myself, and my thoughts so pent up within me
that I had to contrive some means of relief. My heart was crushed and
broken. The suppression of my feelings and the burning sensation of the
physical pain I had to endure in the awful conflict of soul and body
were almost unbearable. I took advantage of the only remedy within this
Roman "house of correction." I would go to the garret, which was the
nurses' dormitory, and holding my garb up so that I could move freely, I
would pace the floor, hundreds of times, exhausting, so to speak, the
surplus energy caused by the unrighteous indignation. And, at the same
time, praying in my simple way to the saints for light as to the next
step to take. During the late hours of the sleepless nights, with the
heavy burden of my troubles on my mind, I would walk the floor of my
little room (about ten feet square) like some caged animal pacing his
den in quest of liberty.

At the holiday season I wrote a short letter to Archbishop Christie,
wishing him the greetings of the season, to which I received the
following reply:

    Portland, Oregon, January 2, 1912.

    Dear Sister:

     I thank you sincerely for your kind Xmas remembrance.

     My Xmas was an exceedingly busy one. But it brought me great
     consolation. The large number of men and women who received
     holy communion was most edifying. Asking God to grant you a
     blessed New Year, I am,

    Sincerely in Xto,


It had been over four months since I had written my letters for redress
to him, and he never once even acknowledged receipt of them, and in this
letter, as you can see, he never once mentioned anything about them.

In my depressing perplexities, I had begun to think that there was no
such thing as redress in the order, and that the clause in my book of
rule, "the right to apply to high ecclesiastical authority," was a blind
and a farce, as was the teaching of "fatherly" kindness.

As my eyes opened I realized that I might as well try to tear down the
mighty stone walls of the Rocky Mountains, which I could behold daily,
as to move the Roman Catholic "religious" machine to interest itself in
righting wrongs for a sister in the community. There was nothing for me
to do but live on and take whatever wrongs the system was pleased to
mete out to me to the end of my days, or to play the hypocrite for a few
years, waiting for something better, if those in authority saw fit to
give me a change.

I should have had the same privilege of receiving and sending mail in
Canada as other American citizens are accorded, but not so. The system,
as it always does, demanded and delegated to itself the right to
scrutinize all mail sent or received by its subjects. So, in order that
I might send and receive letters dealing with subjects other than the
Roman Catholic religion and convent, I had to gain the confidence of a
"secular" and receive my mail outside the convent.

I had written to a friend in Spokane, Washington, Mrs. A. J. Kearney,
who was a graduated nurse from St. Vincent's Hospital, telling her of my
trouble and that I was contemplating leaving the order, as I was at last
satisfied in my own mind that this was the only step to take. I received
an encouraging reply and wrote again, planning further.

In the meantime, I continued my novenas to the Blessed Virgin Mary, St.
Anthony and St. Joseph, in heart-breaking sorrow and tears--praying for
enlightenment, as I had been doing for weeks and months. In all
earnestness and sincerity I was bowing, scraping, kneeling, pleading to
the images, the statues and the fourteen stations of the cross.

At last, after so long a time, it came to me as if a thunderbolt had
come from Heaven, that these statues and images and relics could do me
no good. They were all clay and material. What I needed was something
divine, but after living what I had lived, I was now ready to believe in
nothing. I thought that if God was a just God, He could not and would
not permit such oppression and cruelties and injustices to be
perpetrated in the name of Christian religion and in His name. I decided
that if there was a God who was the Creator of heaven and earth and all
things therein, He would surely hear me if I would pour out my heart to
Him. So I fell upon my knees and prayed as I had never prayed
before--not to St. Anthony, not to St. Joseph, not to St. Vincent de
Paul, no, not even to the Blessed Virgin Mary or any other saint, but to
God Almighty, asking Him to show me the light and right; that "if what I
am living is right, give me strength and courage to live it and endure
it to the end, and I will try to believe it. But, O, God! if it is not
right, show me the right that I may do Thy will; be Thou my helper now
and forever," and I left my future in His hands, continuing to ask His
help and guidance each day.

I had been suffering for several months from eye trouble, caused by the
excessive cold temperature, it being such a decided change from what I
had been accustomed to for so many years. I was being treated by the
government physician, but I used the trouble as a pretext to get
permission from Mother Nazareth, who was in Portland, to go to Spokane
to obtain the services of a specialist. The real reason for which I
wished to go to Spokane was to see Mrs. Kearney and make the final
arrangements for my leaving the community.

About March 10, 1912, I went to Spokane. During my three weeks there I
stopped at the Sacred Heart Hospital. Mrs. Kearney was friendly to the
sisters of the hospital, so I had her accompany me to the office of Dr.
Hopkins, who was treating me. In that manner, Mrs. Kearney and I had
ample time to talk and perfect the plans for my emancipation from the
everlasting demands of Rome.

When the time came, I could not reconcile myself fully to the thought of
leaving. My childhood and novitiate teaching of the terrible sins of the
outside world would come to my mind, and I would then think that I could
never leave the convent. The final test came two days before I left
Spokane for my return trip to Cranbrook. I concluded that I could not
get worse treatment in the world than I had received in the community;
that I would not have to work any harder in the world than I had for
nearly thirty-one years for the Roman Catholic system; that I would not
have to live a more abasing or humiliating life in the world than I had
been subjected to, by serving the meanest despotism of government; and I
realized that death was preferable and a thousand times more honorable
than to remain living in this sort of injustice. I loved the name
"Sister of Charity," but I knew I could no longer be a real Sister of
Charity under the cruel, oppressive, authoritative guidance I had
endured for so many years. I knew that I could be a better Sister of
Charity in the world than I could under the dictation of the Pope or his

On April 2d, I returned to Cranbrook to get my few belongings and to
spend a few days with my sister before making the change. My heart was
so filled with what I had planned, that I could not refrain from telling
her almost as soon as I arrived from Spokane. When I told her of my
decision to leave the order, neither of us could restrain our feelings
and it was a day of tears and sorrow. We could neither eat nor talk. So
in the evening I told her that I had intended to spend several days with
her before going, but as it would do neither of us any particular good,
only causing grief, sorrow, and in the end probably nervous prostration,
I had decided to leave on the next train, which was on the following

The next morning I packed my trunk, then called my sister to my room and
asked her to read two letters which I had written while in Spokane,
excepting for the date, one to Archbishop Christie and one to Mother
Nazareth. I told her that the authorities and sisters of the order would
come to her with all kinds of reports in regard to my leaving, and that
I wanted her to read the letters so she would know for herself my
reasons for leaving. She read them and then said, "You will regret
this." I simply replied, "I cannot have more regrets than I have here."

I had my trunk taken to the railroad station, and after lunch, in
company of my sister, I went to the post office where I mailed the two
letters, sending them by registered mail. Then we went to the station
and in a very few minutes the train arrived that was to take me from a
darkness to light and liberty that I had no conception of at that time.

At 2:15 I boarded the train and left my poor, deluded sister standing
there alone, until the train started, and then watched her walk slowly
toward the hospital, until I was carried from her view.

During this last visit to Cranbrook, my sister was in authority at the
hospital, the sister superior, Sister Mary Vincent, being away on
retreat. This I did not know until I arrived from Spokane, but it would
have been just the same if the superior would have been there, as I had
made up my mind to leave.

My last letter written to Archbishop Christie, as Sister Lucretia, was
as follows:

    Cranbrook, B. C.
    St. Eugene Hospital, April 3, 1912.

    Most Reverend A. Christie, D.D.,
    Portland, Oregon.

    Very Dear Bishop:

     I have now had my situation before my eyes and present to my
     mind the past eight months. I cannot reconcile myself to live
     this punishment existence out, as I know others of my
     companions are doing in exiled corners of this earth, like
     five-year-old children who dare to speak when they should have
     been only seen. Really, this sort of treatment is equal to
     locking a grown woman advanced in years up in a closet as a
     child for misbehavior. The only difference the parent would
     tell the child what its punishment was for, while the woman in
     my case is not to be given a reason, except one false report by
     my higher superior, which she heard and held against me years
     before she knew me or was in authority, to knock me as she did
     shortly after she was in office.

     The mission I was sent to was alright as far as mission goes,
     but I will never believe that it was alright to me, under the
     circumstances. If this had to be done, the blow might just as
     well have been applied with a little less cruelty. Of all the
     houses our very prosperous order owns and controls, I had to go
     at my years of life to this place enclosed by snowy mountains,
     the weather temperature being twenty to forty degrees below
     zero about one-half the year. Having always lived in a warm
     climate and not feeling well, I was unable to resist the cold.
     It caused me systemic disturbance and the consequence was eye
     trouble. The government doctor of the place said the cold did

     I had to miss Sunday mass from the first of November to the
     first Sunday in March. I had to sit with a blanket around me
     near a radiator most of the winter and a comforter over the
     window to keep the cold out. Splendid remedy to get one over
     wretched loneliness and sorrow--to make one feel religious and
     grateful for having worked and sacrificed ones self nearly to
     the end of ones life and then hear from those over you, "now
     you can work if you want to," and a sister stays where she is
     sent, even if she dies, and more bold talk of that kind.

     I am not tired of being a Sister of Charity, but I am more than
     tired living it under the conditions that we have to live it. I
     will never be anything else at heart than a Sister of Charity;
     I was that from the age of fifteen, and I will be that to my
     dying day. It takes nothing short of a trained hypocrite to get
     along in here. I do not think myself so good or of such
     excellent worth--I lay no claim above being an ordinary person,
     but if I do not have the spirit of a good religious and Sister
     of Charity, I am sure not so many of those I have lived with
     have it, and I would have to be punished to death, and then I
     could not in my conscience copy the leading or guiding spirits
     I lived with knowing all I do from daily practical life and
     experience for years. If what was done to me in this change is
     the good spirit, then I have not the least idea what good or
     evil spirits mean. One thing I know it did for me; I have a
     dreadful horror of a repetition of anything of the kind and
     want to remove myself from its possibility. I was not only
     deprived of every right, but of the least share of interest in
     any one thing in the community.

     Now you know this is maddening and most cruel and
     disheartening. This usage kills the body and all ones
     personalities and fitness for anything. They have done to me
     in action what others have been told boldly, in so many words,
     when you are not wanted, get out of the way. After it is plain
     to see one is about to the end of doing the very hardest work,
     the meaning is, hurry up and die or get out of the order. It
     has all it wants of you and is not going to need you or have
     any further regard for you.

     I have made up my mind to leave and do what I can to get a new
     lease on a home of some sort, because this means neither home,
     occupation, nor pastime to me.

     I am asking the community two thousand dollars. That would be
     for my clothing and towards getting myself situated for my
     support. I cannot expect anyone to take me in on absolutely
     nothing at my years. I am not able to work like a beginner, but
     with that amount and with what I can do, I will arrange to get
     along the best I can.

     I have been the means through my economy and ingenuity, of much
     more than that to the community, without the regular earnings
     of my services. In Canada, I was told that our community is
     paying twenty dollars a month to some sisters that left, and
     have been doing that for years. My request does not come to as
     much, considering.

     I wish to get everything settled quietly. I dislike any
     publicity about it whatever. As soon as I can get it I intend
     to leave the country.

     I have asked dispensation, not that I intend to break any of
     God's commandments. I cannot tell you how much I am pained to
     have to leave you. I have shed many a tear since I left St.
     Vincent's, and before I could decide to write this letter. If I
     am to be exiled from friends, that would be only additional
     sorrow, etc. Or, even if I were stationed where you are and
     had to feel the uneasiness of some punishment coming upon me
     for speaking to my higher superiors, that would not add very
     much to making things agreeable. I appreciate your very great
     and fatherly kindness to me, and I will always remember you as
     a very dear friend.

     Begging a remembrance in your prayers,

    Most sincerely,


     P. S.--I leave here this afternoon at 2 p.m. My address until
     things are settled is 0707 Toledo St., Spokane, Wash.

My letter to Mother Nazareth was as follows:

    St. Eugene Hospital,
    Cranbrook, B. C., April 3, 1912.

    Mother M. Nazareth,
    Portland, Oregon.

    Dear Mother:

     I have decided to leave the community. Will you please see
     about obtaining the dispensation of my vows. I have written to
     His Grace Archbishop Christie.

     If authority is all that is necessary to constitute right, I
     think I can continue to save my soul better elsewhere, as that
     was what I took these obligations upon myself for. I am not
     tired of being a Sister of Charity, but I am more than tired of
     living it the way we have to do. I did not know until last
     summer that the spirit of a good religious and Sister of
     Charity meant to be the victim of evil reports, and that
     reports were for the satisfaction of the feelings of those in
     authority. I lay no claim to high perfection, but I cannot see
     virtue or religion in being taken advantage of as I was. I
     have always tried to do my best, but at last I see plainly that
     it is impossible to do enough or to sacrifice enough. The
     extreme cold has caused me systemic disturbance and the result
     is eye trouble. The doctor said it was the cold that did it.

     Well, I do not want to refer to too much useless talk. I have
     made arrangements with a friend of mine for a home. But as I
     cannot expect anyone to take me in on absolutely nothing at my
     years, not being able to work any more like I did twenty-five
     years ago, I must have some little means, and I ask two
     thousand dollars which would be for my clothing and towards my
     support. With that amount and with what little I can do, I will
     have to manage somehow.

     I wish to have things settled quietly, if possible, as I do not
     care to have publicity about this affair any more than the
     community I am leaving. I must have some means to go out on or
     I would not ask anything. As soon as I can get this little sum
     requested, I will leave the country.

     Begging a remembrance in your prayers, and those of the
     community and wishing the community and every one of the
     sisters God's blessing,

    Very sincerely and respectfully,

    S. C. S. P.

     P. S.--I leave here at two p.m. My address, until I get away
     will be 0707 Toledo St., Spokane, Wash. If I can get the
     business part settled as soon as possible, I can move on. This
     same address will forward my dispensation whenever it can be
     sent to same.

    Humbly yours, Sr. L.



After I had signed and sent these two letters, copied in the preceding
chapter, to the agents of the ecclesiastical system, I thought that I
had declared the independence of my personal liberty and freedom. I had
not the least intention of leaving the Church of Rome, as I still
believed that it was the only true church, outside of which there was no
salvation. But before many weeks had passed, conditions so shaped
themselves, through the persecutions of Rome's representatives, that I
decided that the liberty and freedom I hoped to have gained by leaving
the convent, was not to be found even in the church.

I arrived in Spokane at nine o'clock on the evening of April 3, 1912,
and went direct to the home of Mrs. Kearney. She received me very
cordially and we had a long talk before retiring. This first night in
the world was a long, sleepless one for me. Everything seemed reversed,
so to speak, and my heart was heavy from the terrible ordeal I had
endured for the last two days.

The following morning, April 4th, I discarded the burdensome garb, that
great load of black serge, and donned a large-flowered kimona, the only
other clothes I had, and this was given me. This was the first day
since July 30th, 1881, that I had attired myself in any other than the
garb of the Sisters of Charity of the Roman Catholic system--nearly
thirty-one years. My hair, which was about long enough to hang in my
eyes, I tied back with a pretty little red ribbon, which had been on a
candy box.

On Monday, April 8th, Sister Matilda of St. Vincent's telephoned to me,
saying that she was at the Sacred Heart Hospital with Mother Nazareth
and asked me to come there to see them. When they could not prevail upon
me to do so, they condescended to come to Mrs. Kearney's to see me.

Their visit lasted about three hours. In tears and, seemingly, great
sorrow at my leaving the community, they tried to get me to return to
Cranbrook, saying that none of the sisters except the superior and my
own sister knew anything about my leaving the order. Our rule says that
if a sister leaves the community of her own free will, she cannot return
without dispensation. So I told Mother Nazareth that I could not go
back, as it was against the rule. She then handed me a letter from
Archbishop Christie and said that that was my dispensation to return. I
read as follows:

    Portland, Oregon, April 7, 1912.

    Dear Sister:

     The contents of your letter was a great shock to me. I never
     thought you would give way to the temptation to leave your
     order. I have requested Mother N. (Nazareth) to go and see you.

     You did not become a sister in order to be appreciated and
     praised for the talents which God has given you. You entered
     religion to do God's work and to save your soul.

     Now, sister, return to your convent. Do not allow the evil one
     to induce you to leave it. Do as Mother N. directs to do.

     Asking God to direct and bless you, I am,

    Sincerely in Xto,


I flatly refused to do as Archbishop Christie requested. Mother Nazareth
then offered me my choice of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, or to
return to St. Vincent's Hospital in Portland. When I refused to go to
any house as a sister, she offered me my choice of any of the houses of
the order, as a home, or boarder, as long as I lived. I had seen too
many poor, old sisters, who had received a home such as they were
offering me, and knew too well what it meant--"hurry up and get off the
face of the earth"--and so I refused this, seemingly, very lucrative

After many more entreaties and the shedding of many tears, I finally
said to these two "holy scheming-spirits" of the Roman Catholic system,
"I am out, and I am out to stay. If you want someone back, go and take
Sister Zita back or some of the other sisters who are sitting in the
four corners of the community-world doing penance." (Sister Zita was a
poor sister who had left the community for about the same reasons I had
left, after serving the church for thirty years. She had begged the
system to take her back, but they absolutely refused to do so. Sister
Zita told me this herself, together with some of the terrible wrongs
that had been perpetrated upon her.)

When they were convinced that I could not be persuaded to return, they
then wanted my garb, saying that it did not belong to me. I said that I
had worn it long enough, and that I thought I was entitled to keep it.
Mother Nazareth then said, "The community might DEMAND it." I answered,
"DEMAND! That is the word that has put me where I am, DEMAND. You
DEMAND!" (This conversation led to the naming of my book.)

At last they were beaten and did not know what course to pursue.
Finally, Mother Nazareth said, "What will we tell Archbishop Christie?"
I said, "Tell him the truth; tell him what has taken place in this
room," and with that they left.

On April 9th, "Father" Carti, a Jesuit priest from the Gonzaga College,
came to see me.

He had been sent to me by the community in regard to the amount that I
had asked in the last letter I had written them. He told me that the
community could not give the two thousand dollars, as other sisters
would leave and want the same, but that they might give me one thousand

He then asked me to return to the convent, saying that I did not have
dispensation, and that my being out like this could _not_ be so, and
that I was not out in the world. I looked around to assure myself that I
was really out, and said, "Well, I _am_ out, and I am out to stay." He
tried to convince me that I was in honor bound to go to some religious
house till I would be released from my vows by the church, naming
several Roman Catholic institutions, lastly, the House of the Good
Shepherd. I looked at him in scorn and repeated, "The House of the Good
Shepherd?" as the sisters of the order of Sisters of Charity always had
a horror for the very name "House of the Good Shepherd." When he saw how
I felt over this, he very quickly offered me a home at the Gonzaga
College, although that is a Jesuit institution and, as a general rule,
women are not allowed there. When all his efforts had failed, he said,
in a cunning manner, that as I had trouble in the community, so I would
now have trouble in the world.

I did not realize the significance of this statement at that time--I
think Rome's representative had slipped a little--but in the few years
to follow I have surely understood the full meaning of it. That is a
very true Jesuitical teaching of the Roman Catholic System--Rome rule or

I told this "holy father" that the community had sent him to see me on
business, and that I did not need his exhortation. The business was soon
over, I refusing all his offers of every nature, and he retired.

On Thursday, April 11th, Sister Rita visited me. We had as pleasant a
time as could be expected under the circumstances. She informed me as to
the scandalous manner Mother Nazareth and Sister Matilda had found me
dressed when they visited me--"with a flowered kimona and a red ribbon
around my hair." She said that they had told Archbishop Christie about
it. She also told me that the sisters at St. Vincent's were praying and
had forty candles burning for my return.

I read her a copy of my letter for redress to Archbishop Christie, which
I had mailed August 28, 1911. She was much surprised that he had not
answered, and could not hold him free from blame for the awful wrongs,
as he had the authority to right them if he cared to. She endeavored to
get my garb, saying that I had no further use for it, but I was
continually on my guard, knowing that even my dear, good friend and
former "chum," Sister Rita, could not go beyond the Roman dictation.

The first Sunday after I had left the convent was Easter Sunday, but I
could not go to mass, as I did not have any clothing except "the
flowered kimona." By the second Sunday, April 14th, with the assistance
of Mrs. Kearney, I had secured sufficient clothes to be attired fairly
respectable, and I decided that I would go to church. I did not care to
be conspicuous, or to mix with the people very much, as I was not
accustomed to the ways of the world as yet, so I decided to go to
Hilyard, a suburb of Spokane, to hear "holy mass" and the sermon.

During the entire service, it all seemed darker and more stupid than at
any time during my past life. I thought it was due to the newness of my
present life, and I left the church in silence.

On Saturday morning, April 20th, Sister Rita came to visit me for the
second time since I had left. As she entered the door she said that this
time she had taken it upon herself to come and see her dear friend,
Sister Lucretia, and that she was going to stay with me till Sunday

Think of it, people, how Rome was using this dear, good friend of mine
to do its work. I still had enough Roman Catholicism embedded in my
heart and mind to watch her, even at night, sleeping with one eye open,
so to speak. My suspicions were so strong that I had my few belongings
moved to safe-keeping during her stay with me.

She told me that I did not look right in civilian clothes, and that I
could never look as nice in any other as the sister's garb. She tried to
induce me to clothe myself as a sister again and return with her, saying
that she could get the consent of the ecclesiastical authorities and
the superiors of the community for us to take a trip to Rome and other
parts of Europe.

This was a mighty temptation to me, as I had wished many times to see
the Vatican and visit the Pope, but I knew that if I accepted this offer
I would have to return to the community, and now, as I was out, I was
determined to stay; so I told her that I could not accept the offer, as
I did not intend to return to the sisterhood. Many times since, I have
looked back to this visit of Sister Rita, and concluded that some
guiding hand, some power, greater and mightier than my own, was
directing my actions and decisions on the great temptations that were
being placed before me.

On Monday, April 22d, Mother Nazareth and Sister Matilda came to see me
again. Mother Nazareth told me that I was living in mortal sin every day
for not having dispensation from my vows. I told her that it was through
no fault of my own, as I was waiting for them to get my dispensation.
She then took a long document from her pocket, asking me to sign it for
my dispensation. I looked at it and informed her that it was written in
Latin and that I did not understand Latin sufficiently to sign my name
to a document written in that language. She then handed me another
document, and upon examination, I found that it was written in French. I
told her that I did not understand French sufficiently to sign my name
to it, and asked her to explain it to me. (I knew from former
association with her and Sister Matilda that neither of them could read
French or Latin.) Without any explanation she handed me the third
document. This one was written in English. I asked them to excuse me for
a minute and I went to an adjoining room, where, in the presence of
Mrs. Kearney, I copied the following, which was under the heading on the
document, "Reasons for leaving the Order":

"Community life has become wearisome to me, and, therefore, it
interferes with the saving of my soul. I am convinced that it is best
for me to return to the world."

I returned to the room where the two sisters were and handed them the
document, informing them that I could not sign it, as it did not contain
the reasons for my leaving the order, as I had never been weary a day in
my life. I told them that they both knew the reasons for which I left,
and, if they did not, they could find them in my letter to the community
which was written when I left the order. "Such lies!" I said, "Why can't
you be honest? I can send my own reasons to Rome and get dispensation
for myself when I get ready."

Two days later, "Father" Carti came to see me for the second time, with
practically the same message as before, viz., to return to the community
and in regards to settlement of my claims against them.

The next day, Thursday, April 25th, "Father" Carti telephoned to me and
asked me to come to the Gonzaga College, so we could talk further in
regard to the settlement and if possible, come to some agreement.

Mrs. Kearney accompanied me to the college, and when "Father" Carti saw
that I had a witness, he asked, "Do you want this woman to hear what we
have to say?" I answered, "Yes, I want her to hear whatever is said." He
hinted that there would be no business transacted in her company, so we

From the college I called on my attorney, whom I had retained as my
adviser, and he advised me to give them till the first of May to settle
for two thousand dollars. On returning home, I telephoned to "Father"
Carti, and informed him that I had been to see my attorney since I left
the college and that I would give them (the community) until the first
of May to settle for the two thousand dollars I originally asked; and
that in the future all business was to be transacted through my
attorney, as I was not physically able to attend to it myself, being on
the verge of nervous collapse. He was very angry, saying that I was
wrong and had no business to go to secular law (meaning a secular
attorney) and that we could have settled it ourselves.

I had been out of the sisterhood nearly four weeks, and had attended
church only once, so now I thought I would take up my religion again and
attend mass and church service. So, on Sunday, April 28th, I again went
to Hilyard and heard the Latin mass and the priest preach. During the
sermon I was looking at the statues and other religious show in the
church, and then and there, in that house, being used for so-called
religious services, God revealed Himself to me. The whole show really
was nauseating to me, and before the sermon was finished I retired as
quietly as I could. I had heard of the idols and images of the Chinese
Joss-house, and that is just as it appeared to me that day. When I
arrived home, I told Mrs. Kearney to not awaken me again for mass,
unless I told her to do so.

The following week, Mrs. Kearney came to me and told me that "Father"
Carti had told her to put me out of her house, that by keeping me there
it would hurt her with the sisters, the priests and the Roman Catholics.
My answer was that I had left the sisterhood because of the wrongs and
oppressive, tyrannical treatment; now I see that there is something
wrong with that religion, too. If they are going to follow and hound and
down me, I am through with them, and I do not want anything further to
do with any of them. I also told her that if anything happened me, or if
I got sick, to call the first Protestant minister she could find.

This instance, together with the persecutions that had been going on
since I had been out of the sisterhood, caused me to decide conclusively
in my own mind that I did not want anything to do with them.

I had been a Roman Catholic up to that moment, and had given them no
cause to treat me in that manner, other than having left the sisterhood,
as many sisters do, but now they did not care what became of me. Mrs.
Kearney was the only friend I had in Spokane to whom I could go and this
was probably the last subterfuge of the Hierarchy to force me back to
their clutches.

So I became a Protestant, not in reality for some time, but I was no
longer a Roman Catholic.



I was informed by Mrs. Kearney that Mother Nazareth had given her fifty
dollars so she could purchase some clothes for me. This was a princely
sum, after all the years of service I had given them. I have never been
able to figure in my own mind, whether this was supposed to be a
settlement or whether it was some of the charity the sisters were
supposed to do.

Yes, they are called "Sisters of Charity," but with all my experience
with them I now have to rack my brain to find the charity done by the
Roman Catholic system, through them. If some person died at the hospital
and left some clothes that were not claimed by anyone, they would be
given to some poor person and call it "charity." If some patient could
not or would not pay all of their bill, it would be entered in the books
as "charity." But, God forbid that I should blame the poor sisters for
what they do _not do_. It is the sisters who do the charity--not for the
poor people--but for the church, by giving their life's service. It is
their bounden duty to do as they are told, and their troubles are great
enough without me adding to their heavy load. On the other hand, may
God speed the day when the system, which holds these poor women, as it
had me for thirty-one years, will be investigated by the proper
authorities; and when this comes to pass, we need have no fear of the

After Mother Nazareth's last visit to me, and when she was convinced
that I would do generally as I saw fit in regard to the dispensation
from my vows, I received the following in due time:

    St. Vincent's Hospital,
    Portland, Oregon, May 10, 1912.

    Miss Elizabeth Schoffen,
    Spokane, Washington.

    Dear Miss Schoffen:

Enclosed you will find form to guide you in petitioning for the
dispensation of your holy vows. Copy it upon paper found herein, and
fill out No. 2 according to your desire.

Please return as soon as possible, as it has to be signed by the
Superiors before going to Rome.

    Most sincerely yours,


The form to guide me in petitioning "His Holiness" was:

    To His Holiness Pius X:
    Most Holy Father:

I, the undersigned, a sister of the Institute of the Daughters of
Charity, Servants of the Poor, of Montreal, Canada, respectfully submit
to your Holiness the following:

    1.--I am fifty-one years of age and professed (vocal)
    twenty-nine years.

    2.--Here sister may give her reasons herself, to suit
    her own disposition. She is perfectly free...........

    3.--In consequence I humbly suplicate Your Holiness
    to give me dispensation from my vows of poverty, chastity
    and obedience, and to grant me permission to live in the
    world in secular habit.

    Spokane, Washington, this ........ (date) ........ 1912.

        (Sign) Sister Lucretia, nee Elizabeth Schoffen.

Notice it says, "She is perfectly free." Yes, I was "perfectly free"
after the agents of "His Holiness" found out in plain words spoken by me
that I was through answering to their demands. I was "perfectly free,"
and yet in the next breath, according to the Roman Catholic idea, I
_had_ to have permission from an Italian Pope even to wear the common
clothes of an American citizen. Think of it, dear reader, I was an
American born citizen, under the protection of the laws of this country;
but because I had been born and raised a Roman Catholic, and then
induced to take the vows of the Roman Catholic sisterhood, I _had_ no
rights as an American citizen, and had to have the permission of this
self-styled "infallible" pope before I could live like other people
live. I might say right here, that I have never applied for, and
consequently have never received the dispensation from my vows as a
sister in the Roman Catholic Church, as I soon learned after I left that
organization that the Church of Rome had no right in the first place to
deprive me of the liberties guaranteed every citizen of this country.

The authorities of the Roman Catholic system will tell the civil
authorities and the Protestants that the adherents of the Roman Catholic
Church are citizens first and Roman Catholics second. But that is not
according to the inner teaching of that system. Read what one of their
own representatives, the late "Father" D. S. Phelan, has said, when
speaking from his own "throne":

"They tell us that we think more of the church than we do of the United
States; of course we do. Why, if the government of the United States
were at war with the church, we would say tomorrow, to hell with the
government of the United States; and if the church and all the
governments of the world were at war, we would say, to hell with all the
governments of the world. They say we are Catholics first and Americans
decidedly afterwards. There is no doubt about it.... The Catholics of
the world are Catholics first and always; they are Americans, they are
Germans, they are French, or they are English afterwards." (The Patriots
Manual, as copied from the Western Watchman, issue of June 27, 1912.)

Think on these points, my dear American friend! Use the brain which God
has given you, and decide for yourself if an institution such as the
Roman Catholic system is an American institution. Have we room within
our borders for any other than that which will uphold our laws, and
fight, if need be, for the protection of the principles upon which this
great democracy is builded?

As I have previously stated, I told the community that I would give them
until May 1st to settle with me for two thousand dollars. This they
refused to do, so my attorney wrote as follows:

    Spokane, Wash., May 2, 1912.

    Mother M. Nazareth, Prov. Sup.,
        St. Vincent's Hospital, Portland, Oregon.

    Dear Madam:

     We have placed in our hands for settlement the matter of Sister
     Lucretia, which we are informed you are familiar with. If this
     matter can be settled for twenty thousand dollars, we are in a
     position to settle it, and if not attended to at once, we will
     take such steps as may become necessary to enforce settlement
     at once.

    Yours very truly,

The community made no favorable reply to the above communication, so it
was decided that I, with my attorney, Mr. Scott, would go to Portland,
to look into the matter of filing suit against them for salary due me
for my services at St. Vincent's Hospital.

In the Spokesman Review (a Spokane daily) there appeared two articles
about the case, issue of June 9, 1912. The first article was a lengthy
one, discussing in general the case, and containing a statement obtained
from me. The second, a dispatch from Portland, I will reprint. It will
explain itself:


     _Hospital Head Gives Sister Lucretia High Testimonial._

     Portland, Ore., June 8.--Sister Alexander, superior at St.
     Vincent's Hospital, was surprised to learn from Spokane
     tonight that Sister Lucretia threatened proceedings against the
     order, and gave Sister Lucretia a high testimonial for her work
     while at the hospital.

     "Sister Lucretia severed her connections with the hospital and
     with the Sisters of Charity last April," said Sister Alexander.
     "She was dissatisfied at having been assigned to another field
     of labor, that at St. Eugene's Hospital at Cranbrook, B. C.,
     after having served in Portland so long.

     "There was nothing improper in her leaving, as she was free to
     leave the order if she choose. She did not express any hostile
     feelings toward the sisters, however, and seemed to have been
     perfectly satisfied with her treatment. I have been in touch
     with her up to a few weeks ago and have received no intimation
     of her intention to bring suit.

     "I cannot imagine on what grounds she bases her contention. She
     was an excellent nurse while at the hospital and was well and
     favorably known about the city."

     Before entering the order, Sister Lucretia's home was near
     Spokane, and she has been at St. Vincent's Hospital here almost
     the entire time of her sisterhood.

On June 10th I donned my sisterhood garb, and in company with Mr. Scott,
went to Portland. The reason for my wearing the garb again, was that I
had a clerical half-fare railroad book, which had been given to me by
the community for my use, and as I had not received my dispensation, I
was still a sister and was entitled to wear the garb of the Roman
Catholic sisterhood, if I so choose.

During my entire sisterhood I had always traveled either half-fare, or
on a pass which would generally be made out for the superior and her
companion. The sisters were trained to imitate the hand-writing of the
sisters in whose names the passes or half-fare books were issued, so
they could sign the name appearing on these passes or half-fare books.
At retreat time these passes and books were kept busy, carrying sisters
one way, and then returned by mail for others to travel on.

I remember once when I was traveling on Mother Theresa's pass, and after
I had signed her name, the conductor who knew both Mother Theresa and
myself, came to me in a good-natured, smiling manner and said that I was
a rather young-looking Mother Theresa.

I returned to Spokane, June 18th, again using the half-fare book. The
authorities of the Roman Hierarchy may deny that I had this clergy
half-fare book, but I might say right here, let them deny! I still have
the book with forty-two tickets in it, good only in the year 1912, and
with the stamp of the Trans-Continental Clergy Bureau, January 27, 1912,
and even the Roman Catholic Hierarchy cannot deny that I was a sister in
good standing in January, 1912.

On July 21st I bade adieu to Spokane. I had just boarded the train when
a priest, whom I had never seen before, came to me and began to question
me as to where I was going, who I was, etc. This was the first time I
had been alone since I had been out of the sisterhood, and whether this
was an accidental meeting or whether he was sent purposely I am unable
to say. I answered his questions, and then asked him his name. He told
me "Father Cronin." While he did not annoy me on the journey to
Portland, I was very suspicious, and was very careful that he did not
have a chance to get any of my few belongings, as I had some very
valuable papers in my suitcase.

Mrs. Kearney had come to Portland before and had made arrangements for
hotel accommodations.

The law firm of Kollock and Zollinger were my representatives in
Portland, arrangements having been previously made by Mr. Scott with

My complaint against the Sisters of Charity having been completed, I
signed it on the twenty-fourth day of July, 1912, and it was duly filed
in the Circuit Court of Multnomah County.


     _In the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon for Multnomah

    Elizabeth Schoffen,      Plaintiff,   )
           vs.                            )
    Sisters of Charity of Providence, St. ) COMPLAINT
      Vincent's Hospital, a corporation,  )

     Comes now the plaintiff herein and for cause of action against
     defendant alleges:


     That defendant is a corporation, incorporated, organized and
     existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of


     That at the special instance and request of the defendant the
     plaintiff performed work and labor for the defendant as a
     nurse at, in and about the hospital owned and operated by the
     defendant in the City of Portland, County of Multnomah and
     State of Oregon, known and described as St. Vincent's Hospital,
     from and about July 7, 1893, to and including the first day of
     July, 1899;


     That from and after the 1st day of July, 1899, to and including
     July 26, 1911, the plaintiff performed work and labor for the
     defendant as nurse and manager and superintendent of a floor in
     the hospital owned and operated by the defendant in the City of
     Portland, County of Multnomah and State of Oregon;


     That during all of said period of the time the account between
     plaintiff and defendant was an open, mutual and current
     account, and that plaintiff continuously performed work and
     labor during said period for the defendant, and defendant
     during said period furnished and gave to the plaintiff clothing
     and board and lodging;


     That the reasonable value of the services rendered by plaintiff
     to defendant as a nurse, between July 7, 1893, and the 1st day
     of July, 1899, over and above and in addition to the clothing
     and board and lodging furnished by defendant to plaintiff, was
     and is the sum of $100.00 per month; that the reasonable value
     of the services rendered and work and labor performed by
     plaintiff for defendant as nurse and manager or superintendent
     of the floor in the hospital owned and operated by the
     defendant, from the 1st day of July, 1899, to and including
     July 26, 1911, over and above and in addition to the clothing
     and board and lodging furnished and given by the defendant to
     the plaintiff during the said period, was and is the sum of
     $150.00 per month;


     That the plaintiff has demanded of defendant payment of said
     sums, but the defendant has wholly failed, refused and
     neglected to pay same or any part thereof, and that there is
     now due and owing from defendant to plaintiff on account
     thereof the sum of $28,800.00.

     WHEREFORE, plaintiff prays for judgment against the defendant
     in the sum of $28,800.00, together with the costs and
     disbursements herein.

        Attorneys for Plaintiff.

    County of Multnomah--ss.

     I, Elizabeth Schoffen, being first duly sworn, depose and say
     that I am the plaintiff in the above action; and the foregoing
     complaint is true as I verily believe.


     Subscribed and sworn to before me this 24th day of July, 1912.

    (Signed) JOHN K. KOLLOCK,

    (Seal)   Notary Public for the State of Oregon.

The summons was served on the Sisters of Charity and on Sister Alexander
personally, on July 28, 1912, according to the record of the sheriff's
office. Soon after this, and several other times before the answer to
the complaint was filed, which was nearly four months later, the
attorneys for the defendants endeavored to settle for various amounts up
to $1,500.00. The answer to the complaint was as follows:

     _In the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon for Multnomah

    Elizabeth Schoffen,        Plaintiff, )
           vs.                            )
    Sisters of Charity of Providence, St. ) ANSWER
      Vincent's Hospital, a corporation,  )
                               Defendant. )

     Now comes the defendant and answers the complaint herein as

     Admits that it is a corporation organized and existing under
     and by virtue of the laws of the State of Oregon.

     Save as herein admitted, defendant denies each and every
     allegation of the complaint.

     Further answering, defendant alleges that its incorporation was
     effected by and on behalf of members of a charitable and
     religious organization known as "Sisters of Charity of the
     House of Providence in the Territory of Washington," and that
     its affairs during all the time stated in the complaint have
     been managed and are still managed by and through the said
     religious organization acting through the medium of the
     corporation. Said organization has been engaged during all the
     time stated in the complaint and is still engaged in charitable
     and religious work, conducting, among other institutions, a
     hospital in the City of Portland, State of Oregon.

     Prior to the 7th day of July, 1893, plaintiff applied to the
     members of said religious organization to be admitted as a
     member thereof, for the purpose of gaining the spiritual
     advantages accruing to the members thereof, and for the purpose
     of engaging in religious and charitable work with the members
     of said religious organization. On some day prior to said 7th
     day of July, 1893, the plaintiff, upon such application, was
     admitted to membership in said religious organization and has
     been engaged since that time and up to the 26th day of July,
     1911, in religious and charitable work with the members of said
     organization, including work in and about the care of the sick
     at the said St. Vincent's Hospital in the City of Portland,

     At the time when plaintiff applied for membership in said
     religious community, and at the time she was admitted as a
     member thereof, and during all of the time plaintiff continued
     to be a member thereof, and during all the time plaintiff was
     engaged in such religious and charitable work aforesaid, it was
     distinctly understood by plaintiff and her acceptance into said
     religious community and the permission to engage in charitable
     and religious work, with the members of said religious
     community, through the medium of the corporation defendant
     herein, and otherwise was based upon the distinct and expressed
     understanding that no pecuniary reward or financial return of
     any kind whatsoever was to be paid to plaintiff for any work
     done at the instance of the members of said religious
     community, or at the instance of the corporation defendant
     herein, or for any services of any kind in any manner connected
     with the work of said religious organization and of the
     corporation, the defendant, herein.

     Wherefore, defendant demands that plaintiff take nothing by
     this action, and that it has judgment for costs and its

    M. M. CONNOR,
      Attorneys for Defendant.

    County of Multnomah--ss.

     I, Sister Alexander, being first duly sworn, depose and say
     that I am an officer, to wit., Superioress of the defendant in
     the above entitled action; that I have read the foregoing
     answer, know the contents thereof, and believe the same to be


     Subscribed and sworn to before me this 15th day of November,

    (Seal)    M. M. CONNOR,
            Notary Public for Oregon.

I have explained throughout this book the kind of "religious and
charitable" work I was engaged in. Very true, as stated in the above
document, when I entered, I believed, as I was taught by the priest and
sisters, that the most certain way to save my soul was by entering the
convent and living a good, pure, "holy" life as a "virgin spouse of the
church and Christ," and, if possible, to become a great "saint" so that
I might secure a high place in Heaven among the "saints" and near our
Lord. But, the spiritual benefits I derived were that I was compelled by
the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic convent system to be
an unwilling hypocrite, and in the end had to seek religion and
consolation out of the convent and the Roman Catholic Church.

My suit against the community was evidently causing them much
discomfort, as the attorneys for the defendant, several times during the
winter offered to settle, but for such small amounts that I could not
accept. By spring they had reached the sum of three thousand dollars,
and asked me to pay my attorneys from that amount. This I refused, as I
believed I could force them to pay more than that if the case would come
to court. I knew at least that I could cause them very much uneasiness.

By March, I was offered three thousand dollars, and the Sisters of
Charity promised to pay my attorneys' fee. My attorneys and myself
conferred in this matter, and as I was nearly destitute, I thought it
best to take what I could get and have the strain off my mind, and I
authorized Mr. Scott and Mr. Kollock to notify the defendant's attorneys
that I would accept their offer. So, on March 15, 1913, I received from
the Sisters of Charity of Providence, through their representatives, the
sum of three thousand dollars for thirty-one years of service to them.
My attorneys' fee was fifteen hundred dollars, which was promptly paid.
So it cost the Roman Catholic Hierarchy the sum of four thousand five
hundred dollars ($4,500.00) for the service I had given them, and to
keep the case out of court and the publicity of the same, which would
have been a bankruptcy producer for St. Vincent's Hospital.

A great deal has been said by the Roman Catholics about the _large_ sum
of money the church paid me after I left the sisterhood. I will agree
with my Roman Catholic friends that the amount I received from the
community was a magnificent sum, when seen in _silver dollar pieces_.
But, if they will consider the thirty-one years' service I gave them,
they will very readily see that I received just about one dollar and
eighty-six cents ($1.86) a week, most of the time nursing and managing
one of the floors of St. Vincent's Hospital. A nurse in the world
ordinarily is paid twenty-five dollars a week; now my good Roman
Catholic "knocker," compare that with the "large" sum I received. If the
service of a nurse is worth that amount, why is a sister-nurse not worth
just as much, if she does the work required or more?

I am not complaining about the pay I received. I feel that I am repaid,
_not in dollars and cents_, but in experience. I am only too thankful to
think that I saw the folly of the whole system in time to be free before
I would be called upon to face my Maker, and I trust and pray that in
His great judgment, He may give me strength and health and wisdom for
many years to come that I may be able to tell my story to those in
darkness and indifference.

[Illustration: _Fac-simile of Check I Received from Attorneys for
Sisters of Charity, as Payment for Thirty-one Years' Service Rendered to



When I came to Portland, and before I had settled with the community, I
decided that I would try to make my living by nursing, as that was
practically all I knew.

I had my diploma to show that I was a graduated nurse, that is, so the
diploma said, and in addition to that I received the signatures of
eighty-eight physicians of Portland, recommending me as an efficient
nurse, so I thought I had sufficient proof that I was capable to do at
least ordinary nursing.

My recommendation from the physicians was as follows:

    Portland, Oregon, July 31, 1912.

THIS IS TO CERTIFY that we, the undersigned, physicians and surgeons in
the City of Portland, Oregon, have been well acquainted for many years
with Elizabeth Schoffen, otherwise known as Sister Lucretia, and have
been thoroughly familiar with her work as a nurse and member of the
order of Sisters of Charity of Providence at St. Vincent's Hospital in
the City of Portland; that in our opinion she is a thoroughly competent

That for a number of years prior to July, 1911, she was in charge of one
of the floors at St. Vincent's Hospital, and was an efficient and
capable superintendent and officer; that to the best of our knowledge
and belief, while a nurse at St. Vincent's Hospital and particularly
while in charge of one of the floors, she performed faithfully and
efficiently all duties entrusted to her by the management of the
hospital and by the doctors who came in contact with her.

As I have stated above, I received the signatures of eighty-eight
prominent physicians and surgeons of Portland to this document, the
original of which I have in safe-keeping.

With these recommendations and the promise of several of the physicians
who were prominent at St. Vincent's that they would help me get started
in my work, I opened a nursing home in East Portland with a friend
nurse, in September.

Nearly every day during the fall and winter I went in search of
work--most of the time walking, as nickels were not very
plentiful--visiting the doctors' offices, hoping against hope that I
might induce them to send a few patients to the Home.

During the winter we just about made expenses. As yet, I had a very
faint idea of how the Roman Catholic boycott was influencing the
pubic--probably not openly, but influencing it just the same, so that
people were afraid to come to the Home, or to send anyone there. By the
end of winter I realized that I could not succeed in this manner, but,
nevertheless, I put forth every effort.

It had been almost a year since I had left the Romish institution. I had
not become accustomed to the ways of the world sufficiently to know how
to search for work intelligently. I was completely "down and out," not
knowing what to do to make my living except to nurse, and I had been a
failure at that up to this time, being unable to obtain the work. My
sorrow weighed upon my mind and heart, which was already broken and
crushed by the awful Romish convent cruelty and oppression. No priest,
no sister, nor was ever a messenger from any of their so-called
"religious and charitable" institutions, sent to me to do a kind turn
whatever. After thirty-one years of service to the Roman Catholic
System, it seemed to me that the hardest and harshest of masters, not of
hell itself, would have shown me a little mercy.

It was in this condition that, one day in the late winter I had been out
from early in the morning, walking the streets in quest of some honest
employment that I might keep body and soul together. My clothing was
very thin; my feet nearly bare. I arrived _home_ about nine o'clock in
the evening, tired and disappointed from the day's unsuccessful effort,
as I had done many other nights. Had I been successful, it would have
helped the woman I was with just as much as it would have helped me, and
it would only be natural to think that she would have been very anxious
to know about the day's result. But, quite to the contrary, when I
arrived home this particular evening the doors were all locked against
me, and by a woman who pleased to call herself Protestant. And I wish it
plainly understood that this was not a warm summer night, but just the
opposite, a cold, dark, wintry night in the latter part of February.
Could anyone blame me for believing the terrible stories I had heard
about Protestant people while I was in the convent?

I made my presence known by knocking on the door, but this lady who was
comfortably warm in her bed did not condescend to stir herself to admit
me. I found a window which was not locked and I entered by climbing
through it. When she saw that I was inside she asked, "How did you get
in?" Indeed, I will never forget that question. Imagine, if you can, the
feeling I had. There were six vacant beds in the house that night, but
with the unwelcome feeling which was implied by her actions and talk, I
did not retire, but laid on the sofa in the clothes I had worn during
the day, as I did for several nights to follow. Shame, shame on such
Protestant people! To my sorrow I have found many who have the same
spirit that this lady had. She evidently did not care what became of me.
If she did not want me there, why did she not tell me? No, she would
rather break what little spirits I had remaining.

In the meantime, I had made the acquaintance of two real Protestant
people, Mr. and Mrs. E. U. Morrison. I went to Mrs. Morrison the
following morning and told her about the above incident. She told me
that I did not have to endure this kind of treatment, and that, if I
wished, I could move to her home, and that as long as she had a crust of
bread it would be shared with me. I accepted her very kind offer, and
moved a few days later, March 1st. From that day till now, they have
been the Good Samaritan to me, always the same in all kindness and
Christian spirit. All I am, all I have today, I owe it, to a certain
extent, to these good people, Mr. and Mrs. Morrison. "For I was an
hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I
was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick,
and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me." Matt. 25:35,

In all my trouble and sorrow of moving, and settling with the sisters,
there were many instances which I now look upon with much amusement. I
remember about the first thing that happened when I arrived at Mrs.
Morrison's home. She came to my room and asked me if I wanted "to eat
with the family or eat by myself or how I wanted to eat." There were
several men there, and I had never eaten with a man, except once when I
was with Mrs. Kearney in Spokane, since I left my home in 1881. I
thought for a moment and then I told Mrs. Morrison that I was not
accustomed to eating with men, but that I would try it. It was a very
peculiar feeling that came over me the first time I sat at the table
with them, but I soon became acquainted and felt very much at home. When
I would go to the dining-room, I would very often say, "Well, I used to
go to mass, now I go to mess."

As the days and weeks passed by, I more and more realized that the great
hand of God was directing me in all my movements. Even though my short
experience out of the shadow of the convent cross had not been a
success, so to speak, yet it was preparing me for the days to follow.
God was very good to me, and my sentiments cannot be better expressed
than my repeating that wonderful twenty-third Psalm: "The Lord is my
shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; He leadeth
me in the path of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou
art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a
table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head
with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

I visited a great many Protestant ministers, asking them to explain
different parts of the Bible to me, and they all received me and
treated me very courteously. I started studying God's Word as revealed
by Christ in the New Testament, and the more I read and studied, the
more I became convinced that the religion I had been living all my life
was not the religion of a Christ "crucified, dead and buried" for the
salvation of poor, fallen mankind.

The Scriptures are replete with teachings that conflict with the
teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, which are traditional and a
great many of them are taken from religions other than Christianity.

"And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father,
which is in heaven." Matt. 23:9.

"We have one Father, even God." John 8:41.

These, and many more verses of the like, show conclusively that it was
never intended that the priests of the church of Rome should be called
"father," for God is our spiritual Father, and the Good Book does not

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall
depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of
devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with
a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats,
which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which
believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and
nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is
sanctified by the word of God and prayer." 1st Timothy 4:1, 5.

All my life I had lied in hypocrisy, not that I wanted to, but just what
the Roman Catholic system had made of me by their hypocritical
teachings, such as the "Johnny Morgan" story; and my conscience had been
seared many, many times with a hot iron. Who forbids to marry but the
Roman Catholic system? Who commands to abstain from eating meat but the
Roman Catholic system on Fridays, ember days and during Lent?

The Protestant people that I came in contact with from time to time was
not the class of people that the Roman Catholic system had pictured to
me--they were refined, educated and, above all, charitable. I attended
Protestant churches, and heard sermons preached from the Word of God
according to Christ's teaching--with the man-made Latin mass missing.

At last, I learned that I was to be saved by faith and not by penance.
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1. I also learned that there was no
mediator between God and man, except Jesus Christ as I have explained
under the heading "Confession," and that if I would confess my sins to
Him, He would forgive me and help me. So I gave myself to His keeping,
and on Sunday, April 20, 1913, I was baptized into the Protestant
faith--which was the happiest day of all my life.

The following Sunday I became a member of that church and have been a
Protestant, not in name only, but in reality, ever since. God keep me
strong in the faith.

I continued doing nursing for a livelihood. Some of my doctor friends
gave me a few private cases, and I also was called on by some of the
Protestant people I had become acquainted with to wait on them in

Several times I was asked to take obstetric (maternity) cases, but had
to refuse them on account of the lack of training in this particular
line. I have stated before that we were kept in ignorance in regard to
this line of nursing at St. Vincent's Hospital. Finally, I decided that
I would take a special course in obstetrics, and I spent about six
months studying very hard. Now, remember, that I had spent eighteen
years at St. Vincent's besides two more years in hospital work and yet I
was not allowed to learn this very important branch of nursing,
regardless of the fact that I had the maternity ward on my floor all the
time I was superintendent, and was held responsible for any errors in
the nursing of these cases.

Before very long the saying of "Father" Carti, "You will have trouble in
the world," became very vivid to me. The boycott was working well. I
remember one case I was called on, that of an old lady. She was very
sick and needed care night and day. She had one nurse, but she could not
work all the time. I worked only two days, when the other nurse, who was
a Roman Catholic, went to the lady and told her that she could get along
without me. This only came about after she learned that I had been a
sister in the Roman Catholic sisterhood.

In this, and other cases, my qualifications as a nurse were not taken
into consideration. It was only the fact that I had once been a Roman
Catholic and sister, but was now a Protestant. Another incident of the
boycott that will be very clear to my readers is that a prominent
doctor, whose name is on my recommendation, told a nurse I was working
with that she could not get any more cases as long as Sister Lucretia
was working with her.

In many of the states there has been agitation about a law protecting
ex-convicts from the boycott of the public, simply because he is an
ex-convict. Let us also have a law for the protection of ex-nuns against
the boycott of the Roman Catholic system and the public, simply because
she is an ex-nun.

It became very apparent to me that I would have to do something besides
nursing. But what? I was no longer a young girl, and I had worked nearly
all my life to make of myself an efficient nurse, and I had succeeded
thus far. But, circumstances so shaped themselves that I could not
secure sufficient work to do to keep body and soul together.

After a great deal of deliberation and much thoughtful prayer, I came to
the conclusion that as God had been with me and brought me out of
darkness and idolatry, I would dedicate my services to Him, in word of
mouth and pen, telling the story of my life as a Sister of Charity in
the Roman Catholic sisterhood.

During July, 1915, I had the opportunity to spend a few days at the
annual Chautauqua being held at Gladstone, Oregon. There I met several
women with whom I had been acquainted in Portland. They knew of my past
life and asked me to tell of some of my past experiences to the members
of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. I had never had occasion to
stand before any number of people to talk to them, and I was very
reluctant about accepting the invitation. But it came to me that this
was the opportunity to obtain my first experience, and the few days I
stayed there I talked to them twice.

After my return to Portland, and during the fall and winter, I told my
story to small crowds in the homes of some of the real Protestant women.
Then came 1916. I began to talk upon invitation in the churches, before
lodges and in homes. During the year I delivered my lectures one hundred
and fourteen times in and about Portland. In the summer, I had to
decline many invitations, as I was too busy to fill the engagements.

This is how I began my lecturing, not that I ever intended to do so when
I left the sisterhood, but the Roman Catholic system drove me to it, and
now I am thankful that it did, for I can do more good telling my story
than I ever could by being a Sister of Charity in the Roman Catholic
sisterhood, or by being a nurse caring for the sick. I love to aid the
poor, suffering sick, but I feel that there are many nurses better than
I could ever be, even with my experience, but there are, indeed, very
few who live thirty-one years in the sisterhood of the Roman Catholic
Church, and live to leave it and tell their experiences.



During the spring and early summer of 1916, an election campaign was on,
and the issue was very apparent. The patriotic citizens were determined
to elect American citizens to office who would uphold the American

I was talking several times each week, and evidently something was
hurting, for the _Catholic Sentinel_, published in Portland, which is
the mouthpiece of Archbishop Christie, printed a fine "advertisement"
for me in its issue of June 8, 1916. There has been many comments on
some of my statements regarding the activities of the "Knights of
Columbus," and this article from their own paper will substantiate what
I have said:


     Former Sister of Charity Appears on Anti-Catholic Platform.


     Protestant Churches Are Placed at the Disposal of Miss

     Portland is a hotbed of religious bigotry. While the rest of
     the world is storming Heaven for peace, the "patriots" here are
     doing everything in their power to stir up religious
     dissension. To this end they are using Miss Elizabeth Schoffen,
     a former nun.

     This unfortunate woman was for 31 years a member of the Sisters
     of Charity of Providence. For 17 years she was a nursing sister
     in St. Vincent's Hospital here. She left the order four years
     ago as a protest against having been transferred from Portland
     to Vancouver against her will. The order paid to her or her
     representatives a considerable sum of money in recognition of
     her services.

     Some months back she went on the lecture platform, billing
     herself as an ex-nun. The public did not flock to hear her in
     any great numbers. Her audiences consisted for the most part of
     that undesirable element in this community who would revive
     Know-Nothingism and to whom that which is vulgar and salacious
     carries an appeal.

     Miss Schoffen, more widely known as "Sister Lucretia," is a
     plain featured woman about 55. For the last few weeks she has
     been delivering afternoon lectures "for women only." Several
     Protestant ministers have extended to her the hospitality of
     their churches. Among the churches in which she has spoken are
     the First Methodist Church, the Woodlawn Christian Church, the
     Sunnyside Methodist Church, the Brentwood Methodist Church and
     the Sellwood Christian Church. She was billed to speak at the
     White Temple (Baptist) last Tuesday afternoon to women only,
     but the strong disapproval of the trustees of that church
     resulted in the cancellation of her engagement.

     Miss Schoffen is a studious disseminator of malicious
     inuendoes, suggestions and hints. She is careful to say nothing
     that would render her liable to prosecution for criminal libel
     or defamation of character. She has much to say on the divided
     allegiances of Catholics, on the "military activity" of the
     Knights of Columbus and on the deep, dark Roman dungeons. She
     is no orator. Her discourse is full of inconsistencies and is
     couched at times in the language of the gutter. She adduces no
     evidence in support of her insinuations and declines to answer
     questions during or after the "lecture." The stage is well set.
     The proceedings generally open with a prayer! This is often
     followed by the singing of "America," in which the audience
     joins. Her manager then drapes the American flag over Miss
     Schoffen's shoulder, saying as he does so: "This is to show
     that during her lecture Miss Schoffen is under the protection
     of the Stars and Stripes!" These words never fail to elicit
     tremendous applause.

     ... Her lectures have become so obnoxious that the Knights of
     Columbus have decided to take action and to that end have
     appointed the following committee: J. W. Kelly, W. J.
     Prendergast, Roger B. Sinnot, James Clarkson, J. N. Casey, D.
     J. Malarkey, M. G. Munley, R. J. O'Neil, Joseph Jacobberger, H.
     V. Stahl, John F. Daly.

I do not care to take space here to comment on this article at length;
there is a great deal of truth in it and then there is a great deal that
is not true. I will say that the time spoken of when the White Temple
turned me down, there were about three thousand women that congregated
to hear my message, and I delivered it to them, but not in the White
Temple; I hired an automobile and we went to the Plaza, where I talked
from the machine. The above article speaks of the "strong disapproval of
the trustees of the church." It took them quite a long time to give out
the announcement, for the lecture had been advertised for two weeks. Any
American can guess why this building was closed at the eleventh hour.

Of course, I am no orator. How could I be after spending my life in the
convents of the Roman Catholic system? And, if I talked in the language
of the gutter, where do you think I learned it? Surely it must have been
learned in the parochial school, the confessional or the convent.

Four of the eleven Knights of Columbus appointed to take action against
me were prominent lawyers of Portland, and no doubt they worked overtime
trying to hatch up some scheme to get me before the bar of justice. If
they for one moment thought that I could not prove what I was saying
about the system I had lived so many years, why did they not call on me
to produce my proof?

I have in my possession a letter from the wife of one of these noble
"knights," which, in part, reads as follows: "I was not surprised when I
heard that you had left the order. The last time I was up there I asked
for you and they told me you had been sent to Canada. I felt then it was
the beginning of the end. What led up to it all I do not know, but I
felt I must tell you that so far as we are concerned, our sympathies are
with you. I know such a thing could not have come to pass without your
having experienced much suffering and heartache. And I want to tell you
we are with you heart and soul. Of course, you know our attitude toward
them. We have felt for a long time they are lacking in charity. We could
not reconcile ourselves to their attitude towards the nurses. Mr. ----
and Sister ---- had a passage at arms the last time he was up there. The
old order of things was good, but there seems to have crept in an
element which has the money-making. If you have time, I should like to
hear from you and something about the work you are doing. I know one
thing, that it is effective. We have never forgotten the service you
rendered Mr. ----, and I have always felt that you more than any other
contributed to his recovery."

[Illustration: "_A Gift from God_"--_Five Years' Growth._ (Photographed
Jan. 29, 1917)]

Yes, I did contribute to a great extent to this gentleman's recovery
when his two physicians and the special nurse had abandoned all hope.
And from this letter it was apparent that he was pleased to hear that I
had left the order. Then, why such a radical change in the mind of such
a highly educated man? Had some of the "holy fathers" been to see him
and demanded, and as a good "knight" he had to serve? Or, was his name
placed on the committee for show? The latter is more probable.

I wish my readers to read the article very carefully and thoughtfully
and then draw your own conclusions. The fact remains that I was
lecturing and the effects were hurting somebody. These "somebodies" were
busy in nearly every town where I would be billed to speak, endeavoring,
with their threats of boycott and with their committees appointed to
wait on the city officials, to close halls, and to even keep me from
entering the city. What was evidently hurting them was the fact that I
was telling the truth to their own adherents, and in several of the
small cities where I spoke, some of them renounced the Roman Catholic
faith; others would take their children or some relative out of a Roman
Catholic orphanage or parochial school. "An institution that cannot
stand the light, needs to have the light turned on it," and that is just
what I was trying to do.

It makes no particular difference whether I was drawing large crowds or
not (but I was drawing immense crowds), whether I was using language of
the gutter or not, whether I produced any evidence to prove my
contentions or not, whether the churches turned me down or not, I was
doing the work I had started out to do, viz., tell the public of the
treatment I had received while I was in the Roman Catholic convent and
the treatment I had received since I left the convent at the instigation
of the Roman Catholic system, and, thank God, I found the people eager
to listen to the truth. It seems that the truth is the very worst thing
that can be said about the Roman Catholic system.



I cannot close this book without devoting a few lines to the care of the
old sisters--those who have spent many years serving the Roman Catholic
Church--who have passed their years of usefulness, and then--

It would seem only natural and human, that any institution after having
received thirty, forty or more years of free service from a human being,
would at least see to it that the person would spend their last few
years of earthly existence in ease and comfort. Indeed, very few pass
their years of usefulness in the Roman Catholic sisterhood--a great many
dying in their twenties, and more in their thirties. And I might state
right here that tuberculosis is a very common disease to take the
sisters to a young grave. Probably forty to fifty per cent of the
sisters I knew that died during my sisterhood life was caused by
tuberculosis. Surely there must be some cause for this ravaging disease
among this people. It is the unnatural, secluded life the girls are
forced to live, together with the lack of proper care when they are
taken sick.

That I might produce proof to substantiate what I say in regard to the
care of the old sisters, I wish to call to your particular attention
one dear, old lady I knew very well, and who suffered untold agonies
after giving the Roman Catholic Church forty years' service, according
to her own letters. I will print three of her letters written to a
friend (a Protestant) in Portland, when this dear, sainted old lady,
Sister Gabriel, was in Vancouver, Washington.

    Vancouver, Wash., Aug. 3d, 1901.

    My dear ....:

These few lines are a secret for yourself. Will you please tell Mother
Theresa that I am not able for any more corrections. I have lost my
sleep and appetite altogether. I had no care since I came February 18th.
I was ordered back to Vancouver to sit in a room alone and suffer as I
had for six long years, since they discharged me from teaching. They
kept me in this work thirty-six years--four years were spent at
apothecary work in hospitals. I have been kept idle altogether for six
years. Now they seem pleased to see me loosing my memory. Dr. .... was
called to see me Monday. He seemed to sympathize with me for having
nothing to do. The medicine the sister gave me made me vomit and a
diarrhea that is killing me. He said he had no time to call and see me a
second time.

    (Signed) SR. GABRIEL.

    House of Providence,
    Vancouver, Wash., Nov. 6th, 1901.

    My very dear friend:

I send you these few lines by our dear Mother Provincial, who will try
to meet you, if not, to send you the note. I am suffering very much from
the rectal ailment ever since that seasickness in September. The
protrusion is much larger. The inside is getting sore, and a slight
hemorrage of slime and blood keeps me busy. I do not know what to do
any longer, there is no one here who understands anything about this
complaint. I use glycerine suppositories and sweet oil, etc.... Please
write a prescription if you cannot come to see me, and tell Rev. Mother
what kind of a tube to get. I feel pretty well, only a dizziness now and

    Your grateful friend,

    House of Providence.
    Vancouver, Wash., Feb. 4, 1902.

    The dearest of my friends:

I should have written to wish you the many blessings of the new year ere
this, but I was not in the writing mood. I hope you enjoy good health as
a reward from the great God, and may He prolong your life many
years--serving the poor sick.

"I would give the world to see you," but as that is impossible for a few
weeks longer, I will try to continue the prescription you gave me when
you kindly came here to see me November 12th. I prefer to do all the
dressing myself as long as I am able, but sometimes I cry out for relief
in pain. No one knows what a painful, tedious disease it is, and only
those who have suffered themselves can appreciate a relief.

I fear the interior lining will become ulcerated, owing to constipation
for several days. Then I take purgatives, Sedlitz powders, clover-root
tea or soda phosphate, which causes a diarrhea that cannot be stopped
for so long, causing sleeplessness, weakness and trembling. Will you
please tell me what would be a good laxative to prevent all this
trouble? Exterior applications have but very little effect. ... Do you
think that I will ever get better? Every one tries his best to be
relieved from pain. I am pretty old now, "sixty-six years," hoping at
least not to become worse.

I dread more the affliction of becoming insane than any other ailment.
Every little thing contrary to my way of thinking disturbs my mind and
keeps me thinking for hours. I thank God I have a taste for reading and
will walk outside when the weather gets warm. I will expect a few lines
as soon as convenient. You told me to let you know after a few weeks how
I am, so then you will excuse me for intruding on your precious time.

Excuse my quill and old shaking hand.

    Your most grateful,

    (Signed) SISTER GABRIEL.

Just before these letters were written, Sister Gabriel was at St.
Vincent's Hospital for a short time. One day as I was passing the
bathroom, I heard moans and cries for assistance, and as I entered the
bathroom I found her lying in the bathtub, overcome from her sickness
and unable to help herself. I assisted her to her room and nursed her
the best I could, as I had no permission from my superior to wait on
her. Many times I would talk to her, as she was far more intelligent
than the average sister. As soon as Mother Theresa learned that I was
taking care of this sister, and talking to her, she forbade me to do so
any further, and ordered me to look for the letters she (Sister Gabriel)
was sending out. Sister Gabriel remained at Vancouver until about 1905,
and then she was ordered to the Mother House at Montreal to sit alone
the remaining few years of her life. I know she did not want to make
this move, but she was forced to do so, as she was getting to be a
drudge to the community here. Sister Gabriel had been a missionary to
this part of the country, and she told me many times that she did not
wish to go to Canada, but wanted to stay in this country among
English-speaking sisters to spend her old age. But it was never so with
a sister--it is not what they desire or wish for in their old age, it is
the desires of the Roman Catholic system, which has them bound, tied and
gagged by the vow of obedience.

Treatment such as this was coming to me. I had served them faithfully
for thirty-one years and my health was beginning to break under the
pressure of wrongs and the unnatural conditions. When a sister gets in
this condition, they move her from mission to mission and very often
send reports ahead of her, that she is irreligious and has a "bad"
spirit, causing the other sisters to treat her with suspicion and
contempt. This is done until her heart is broken, and the final result
is a general break-down in health. Then she can go and sit alone in some
secluded place for the remaining few years of life. The strongest mind
and body would break under the strain and worry and sorrow of such
treatment as the Roman Catholic system gives their old sisters. Had I
remained with them, no doubt now, five years later, I would be a
physical and nervous wreck.

I will quote from another letter written by another sister to me shortly
after my transfer to Cranbrook:

"... When one has passed the three score mark the situation is, to say
the least, not pleasant. I can only say, 'Courage, dear Sister Lucretia,
a few more struggles and Heaven will be ours.' The above quotation was a
friend's loving message to our dear saintly Sister Mary Precious Blood
but three weeks before her death. She was ill but one week, mental
anguish filled many of her days and shortened her beautiful religious
life. Sad, but true, that a fearful retribution follows every injustice.
'Revenge to me,' said the Lord.... I know too well what it means to be
in your plight, to even hope you are not lonely. Time alone can dull the
keenest of that sword's edge. Let your many, many kind deeds comfort
you. Those in favor of my poor self when cast on St. Vincent's charity,
as well as those to my deceased Sister John, whose loving appreciation
was with you to the end, will never be forgotten. Strange how few such
souls we meet in this vast world...."



My sister, Sister Cassilda, and myself corresponded with each other
considerably after I left the sisterhood, and I received many letters
from her that are exemplary of the Roman Catholic teaching. I would like
to quote from one of these letters here:

    Cranbrook, B. C., June 24th, 1915.

    My very dear Sister:

Your two kind letters, May 24th, No. 13, and the other June 16th, No.
14, have both been received with the greatest pleasure. It is always a
pleasure for me to hear from you and to know that you are well and
getting on so nicely. It does seem negligent, dear Sister, for me to
have delayed so long in writing, and I beg your pardon for the sorrow I
have caused you. It was no ones fault, you see I have been changed from
New Westminster back to St. Eugene Mission. I always intended to write
as soon as I got settled, time passed so quickly, hence the cause of my
delay. I am very well and as happy as any one can be in this world....

.... I would no more let anyone say anything against the religion I have
practiced all my life, which was taught me by my own dear parents and
which I love dearly. I would rather die than go and put my parents and
people below those Bible preachers; they better practice what is in the
Bible instead of talking about their neighbors. My love for you, my dear
sister, is the same as it ever was, nothing can ever change that, but it
grieves me to think that you have turned against our dear religion what
you and I were taught together in our infancy. I surely would not
compare Bible reading with that. I pray the Lord to give me strength to
be faithful to it all my life and not to be deceived by false prophets.
I have seen enough of the world to know which is right. Unfortunately
there are many Catholics that are not what they should be; they will be
responsible for themselves; that does not change religion any.

Now a little news about my mission. It is about the same, only we have a
grand, new _cement house_, with all the comforts possible, and the
government will build us new barns and stables, and renew all the
fences, so it will be a swell place after that.... Hope to hear from you
soon again, love and good wishes for yourself and your friends.

    Your loving sister,

This letter shows how the sisters are duped about the Protestant
ministers and the preaching from the Bible. It also shows how strong
they are held in the faith of the Roman Catholic church. At the end of
the letter you will notice that the government was building, or helping
to build, the new institution at Cranbrook.

The Roman Catholic Church, from time to time, has broken away from the
teaching of the Bible, and instituted practices, man-made and
traditional. The adherent of the Roman Catholic Church accepts these
teachings and practices because he believes, as I did for so many
years, that the word of the Pope is God's word, and whatever is dictated
to the subject through the pope, or his ecclesiastical representatives,
must be obeyed. The reason he believes this, is that he is not allowed
to read and study the Word of God. When the priest talks _about_ the
Bible, that is sufficient for the laity. In all my years of sisterhood
life, I never studied the Bible, and when I say "I," I wish it
understood that I was no exception.

Surely if Christ intended that all these practices, and institutions of
graft, should be necessary for the salvation of mankind, He would have
practiced some of them while He was here.

Since the combining of paganism and Christianity, forming the Roman
Catholic Church, here are some of the man-made practices and the time

                                             A. D.
    Invocation of saints                       375
    The Latin service                          600
    Supremacy of the pope                      606
    Worships of images and relics              787
    Transubstantiation                        1000
    Infallibility of the Church of Rome       1076
    The sacrifice of the Mass                 1100
    Sale of indulgences                       1190
    Withholding the cup from the laity        1415
    Purgatory                                 1439
    Restriction of the Bible                  1546
    Seven Sacraments                          1547
    Worship of the Virgin Mary                1563
    The creed of the pope added               1564
    The immaculate conception of Mary         1854
    The infallibility of the pope             1870

I copy this table from ex-Priest P. A. Seguin's book, "Out of Hell and
Purgatory," and he asks, "How old is this popish combination?" And well
might he ask it. If the popes and cardinals continue to add to the creed
of the Roman Catholic Church in the next few centuries as they have in
the past, God help the poor people who continue in that faith, for they
must believe each and every one of the practices and innovations.

Why the pope, purgatory, seven sacraments necessary for salvation,
worship of the Virgin Mary, the immaculate conception of Mary, worship
of images and statues, sale of indulgences, etc.? Yes, there may be
Christianity in the Roman Catholic teachings and practices, but if you
wish to find it you must search for it.

If the Christianity existed in the Roman Catholic Church that should be
there, why is there so much rottenness connected with it? Whenever there
is any scandal (this is a great Roman Catholic word) in the Protestant
churches, is it hidden and tried to be kept down? Verily, no! It is
sifted through, and the cause of the wrong is found and righted. But
Archbishop Christie knew there were wrongs being perpetrated right here
in Portland, and he knew I knew it, but not once did he endeavor to
right these wrongs.

Read this letter he wrote me soon after I left the sisterhood. In
explaining this letter, I will say that the letter he speaks of from
Mother Wilfrid was sent to him by me at the time I sent my letters for
redress, and it was of such a nature that I do not understand how he
could have forgotten it so easily; but, doubtless, he wished to keep it
rather than to know that I had it.

    Portland, Oregon, May 16, 1912.

    Dear Sister:

I cannot remember having received a letter from Mother Wilfrid. You must
have sent it to some other person and not to me.

I hope and pray you will do nothing what will cause any scandal.

Asking God to bless and direct you, I am sincerely in Xto

    X    A. CHRISTIE.

If the Roman Catholic system would clean up from within, there would be
no need for the ecclesiastical authorities to "hope and pray" that any
of the sisters who left any of their institutions "would tell anything
that would cause any scandal."

It was ever so, dear reader, and it will always be. The same rottenness
will always exist in the Church of Rome that has always existed. It was
because of this rottenness and corruption that practically all of the
ex-priests have left Romanism, and because of the wrongs perpetrated
that practically all of the ex-nuns have left.

       *       *       *       *       *

The conditions I have written about, as I have lived them, not only
exist in the convents of the Pacific Northwest, but in other Roman
Catholic convents and monasteries, as the teachings and practices here
come from other convents and of necessity they must be the same. "Like
father, like son." There may be a few exceptions, where there is convent
inspection, or some other law governing them, but as a general thing
they are as I have explained, and in a great many, the practices are
rigorous to the extreme.

So, the great question arises, "How are we going to better conditions?"
I could answer this question in a few words, and it would be the most
logical answer, "Abolish all the convents and monasteries." Institutions
of darkness and ignorance and evil are surely not necessary for the
salvation of the souls of the women of this country, or of any other
country. Christ did not institute any such specifications when He was on
earth, or did He leave them in written form in His Holy Word. The
secluding of girls and women is a man-made institution, and not for the
saving of the souls of the poor girls, but for the profit of their work
to the church. Is this Christianity?

How long will the American people be blind to this "religious cloak" for
graft--school graft, hospital graft, laundry graft, and various other
sweat-shop grafts? It is very convenient for the owners of the
profitable "religious" institutions to operate them with sister service
without paying either the wages or taxes required by the owners of
legitimate industries. Think how it must affect competition and the
wages of free workers.

Slavery of any degree is a curse to society as well as to the enslaved.
I beg every American to look into this question seriously before it is
too late. If you continue your sleepy indifference you may some day wake
up to find that you have over-slept, to find that your own flesh and
blood are being tricked and exploited into these "holy" institutions.

Under no condition should any institution, private or public, be
permitted to immure girls and young women and keep them in servitude,
hidden from their parents and friends and denied the common justice due
every citizen. The laws of this country are made "by the people and for
the people," and therefore, it is for the people of every state to see
that there is a law on the statute books calling for the inspection of
every institution where girls and women are incarcerated; the doors
opened, that the truth may be obtained from every inmate and redress
granted to all without intimidation.

As the convent system is now in vogue there is no redress, as I have
shown you, nor is there any protection from the convent crimes, as they
are absolutely under the government of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
From behind the convent walls the heartbroken cries of the victims
cannot be heard by the deceived world, and therefore, there is no appeal
for justice.

Open the doors of every convent and monastery and let the deluded
victims return to the world and live useful lives if they so choose! Let
them be free to come and go at will, like any other citizen, and grant
them the liberty guaranteed by the Constitution to all within our

For the nuns who desire to leave the convent system, there should be in
every state a home where they can work out their own salvation, until
such a time as they are prepared to make their own living. Such a home
should be supervised in a manner to guarantee that the inmates will not
be intimidated by the priests or other representatives of Rome. Convent
work is all routine, and from the very day a girl enters she becomes as
a spoke in a wheel; her thoughts, judgment and body become an
incorporate part of the written rule and customary observances of the
system. From long seclusion, peculiar dress, separation from people and
all civil society, she becomes estranged to the habits and customs of
the world. On account of these conditions, the sisters feel very
sensitive and it makes them timid and shrink in embarrassment. If it was
not for these difficulties and barriers, and perhaps humiliations, there
are hundreds of sisters who would leave the convent system. Many of
them stay, not because they desire to do so, but because they do not
know where to go or what to do if they leave. I myself would have left
many years before, had I known where to have gone or what to have done.

Another thing every American citizen should work for and see to, is that
no sectarian school or institution of any nature shall receive financial
aid from the State. We are blessed with one of the greatest and best
public school systems in the world, and if they are not good enough for
the people to send their children to, then this is no country for such a
person. The taxpayer has enough to do without keeping up a school system
for the purpose of teaching "Hail! Mary!" or the Roman Catholic
catechism. Nor do we want sisters of the Roman Catholic sisterhood
teaching in our public school, attired in their religious garb. These
sisters have taken the vow of poverty, and yet draw their monthly salary
from the State school fund. Who do you suppose gets this money? Surely
not the poor sister! It of necessity goes to the church. In one county
of this state of Oregon we have seven sisters of the sisterhood of the
Roman Catholic church teaching in our public schools, attired in their
religious garbs. This information comes direct from the county school
superintendent's office.

Take away the parochial schools and the Roman Catholic system could not
long survive in this country, and, as I have stated in the beginning of
this book, the Roman Catholic system would not even have the parochial
schools if it were not for our public schools. They must have some means
of combating with the popular public education, and to do so institute
the parochial schools and demand of the good members of their parishes
to send their children to them.

So, it behooves us to have a law compelling every child between certain
ages to attend the _public_ school and to refuse further aid to
sectarian schools.

Theodore Roosevelt in his "American Ideals" says:

"... We stand unalterably in favor of the public-school system in its
entirety. We believe that English, and no other language, is that in
which all the school exercises should be conducted. We are against any
division of the school fund, and against any appropriation of public
money for sectarian purposes. We are against any recognition whatever by
the state in any shape or form of state-aided parochial schools."

Jeremiah J. Crowley says in his book, "The Parochial School, A Curse to
the Church, A Menace to the Nation":

"The Catholic parochial school in the United States is not founded on
loyalty to the Republic, and the ecclesiastics who control it would
throttle, if they could, the liberties of the American people.

"It is my profound conviction that the masses of the Catholic people
prefer the public schools, and that they send their children to the
parochial schools to avoid eternal punishment, as their pastors preach
from the pulpit, 'Catholic parents who send their children to the
godless public schools are going straight to hell.'"

Again Mr. Crowley says:

"Catholic public school opponents declare that at least one-third of the
American people favor their position. I deny it. I am morally certain
that not five per cent of the Catholic men of America endorse at heart
the parochial school. They may send their children to the parochial
schools to keep peace in the family and to avoid an open rupture with
the parish rector; they may be induced to pass resolutions of approval
of the parochial school in their lodges and conventions; but if it ever
becomes a matter of blood, not one per cent of them will be found
outside of the ranks of the defenders of the American public schools.

"If a perfectly free ballot could be cast by the Catholic men of America
for the perpetuity or suppression of the parochial school, it would be
suppressed by an astounding majority."

The above quotations were written by Mr. Crowley while he was yet a
priest in the church of Rome, and he evidently knew whereof he spoke. I
will comment no further, as these remarks speak for themselves and very

Before I close, I wish to warn every Protestant parent about sending
their children to Roman Catholic institutions for some special training
which they claim to be superior in, and at the same time raise them to
be Protestants. The instructors in these institutions will promise that
they will use no influence to change the child's religious belief, but
the sisters are bound by rule to convert every person to the Roman
Catholic faith with whom she comes in contact, if she possibly can. If
influence and coercion are not used, the environment is there just the
same. Many times since I have left the sisterhood, mothers have come to
me in tears and grief and asked me to help them keep their daughters
from joining the Roman Catholic church or sisterhood. They would tell me
that when they had placed their children in these institutions, the
sisters had told them that no influence would be used to change their
religious faith. Maybe not, but if such a person does not accede to the
demands of those in charge and go to mass and say the prayers of a Roman
Catholic, conditions are made very disagreeable for them and they soon
learn that it is best for them to go through the performance, even
though they do not believe it. Then, as time goes on, these practices
become imbedded in their hearts and minds, until at last they become
hypnotized, so to speak, by the superstitious teaching and practices of
the Roman Catholic religion.

In this small volume I have told of the practices and teachings of the
Roman Catholic church and convent as I have lived them. I am sometimes
asked if I can prove this or that. If any of you, dear readers, will
live these things as I have lived them they will be realistic enough to
you. God's Word says, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make
you free."

I may have written with prejudice, and I ask God to prejudice me against
_all_ wrong that I may live to do His work and glorify Him. He knows
that I hold no ill-feeling against _any_ Roman Catholic
individual--laity, sister, priest or archbishop. But the system they
represent--the system that I have served so faithfully for so many
years--I have no sympathy for. Whatever a sister, priest or archbishop
may be, the system has made them. I only hope and pray that they will
all see the light and come out of their superstition and live the
religious life they entered the Roman Catholic church to live. God's
Word says, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her
sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."

In the last lines of this book, I wish to plead with each and every
American to stand for the right, and do not be afraid to show your
colors. Stand for the true American principles; stand by that Wonder of
Wonders, the Menace--which has been a Martin Luther in print; and above
all, _stand together_. Unite--for without union there is no strength.
Follow the Roman Catholic system in this respect. And when the patriotic
men and women do unite on one common ground and for the one cause--love
of God, freedom and country--there need be no fear of a second St.
Bartholemew's Day; there need be no fear of a repetition of the terrible
Inquisition of Spain; there need be no fear of internal strife as poor,
blood-drenched Mexico is experiencing today.

All I ask is for you to think on the few thoughts I have endeavored to
give you in plain words, and to take the warning as coming from one who
lived for thirty-one years.


    Yes, a church without a Bible
      Is like a ship without a sail,
    Trying to withstand the tempest
      In some fearful, howling gale;
    Yes, a church without a Bible
      Is like a general in the fight,
    Who is trying empty-handed
      To put enemies to flight.

    It will surely be defeated;
      Foes without and foes within
    Drag it onward, downward, plunging
      In a deep abyss of sin.
    In the Bible is many a remedy;
      If 'twas hidden in its heart,
    It from pagan rules and customs
      Would forevermore depart.


I hesitate to add this appendix, for I have copied a great many
documents and letters in the preceding chapters. But this case, which I
will present to you, will be additional proof that the same wrongs which
I tried to right, existed years before and that there was no redress.

Sister Paul of the Sacred Heart presented her complaint to her local
superiors, but was utterly ignored. She next addressed herself to
Archbishop Paul Bruchasie of Montreal, who was her ecclesiastical
superior. Archbishop Bruchasie answered her, saying that it was none of
her affairs to be busying herself about these matters and that it would
be better for her if she would say her prayers, be an humble and
obedient religious. That looking after the affairs of the community was
her superior's business and that God would punish her for her
presumption and pride.

She then addressed herself to the Roman Apostolic Delegate at
Washington, D. C., the following being a copy of her statement in behalf
of the sisters of this country:

I, Sister Paul of the Sacred Heart, a member of the Order of the
Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor, most respectfully submit the
following articles to the proper Ecclesiastical Authorities--Subject of
Complaint, involving a right to demand justice by the members of the
Order who are not French or French Canadian. All members of the Order
who are not French or French Canadian are slaves. To prove the above
assertion, I will state facts as follows:

1. All the higher officers of the Order such as Superior General,
Councillors General, Provincial Superior and Councillors, have always,
with the exception of one German Provincial, been French Canadian

2. When rights have been called for, only one provincial councillor was
given in the province, which is manifestly of little practical utility,
she being one among five, four of which being Canadian.

At the last general chapter, one assistant general was elected, and this
only through the interposition of the Archbishop of Montreal. As she was
the one who had filled the office of provincial councillor in the
province of the Sacred Heart, her place in that council was left vacant,
and it was immediately filled by a Canadian sister.

3. The opening clause of No. 200 of our constitution, and all sense of
justice, are flagrantly and officially violated, not only in the ways
above mentioned, but we are not even permitted to have a sufficient
number of representatives in the general chapter, no, nor even one. And
thus superiors are thrust upon us without our consent--and laws of which
we had no voice in the making.

No. 200 of our constitution reads thus: "The spirit of nationality must
be banished as the most dangerous enemy of an institution created to
serve the church in all countries of the earth, without distinction of
people or language, etc."

4. When it was known by the Superior General and her council that
complaints had been made to Ecclesiastical Superiors, a member and
representative of the General Council was sent to the Western provinces,
and she used her utmost endeavors in our provincial house to make the
sisters afraid to address complaints to the ecclesiastical superiors.

5. Novices of all other nationalities are received into all the
novitiates, who, of course, do not realize until after the last vows,
that they are to be treated as subordinates in the order. Thus we occupy
a position inferior to that of the coadjutrix sister, for they are
admitted only on condition of being subject to the vocal nuns, and
consent to this condition and therefore are not slaves.

6. Is it not a public insult to the sisters of this country, that only
French sisters are constantly kept in offices which have relation with
seculars? And this enhanced by the fact that French sisters are, as a
rule, not suitable to govern an English-speaking province, as they
neither understand the ways of the people nor even of the sisters not
French, nor conduct matters in a manner to do them good, not to speak of
their imperfect knowledge of the language, and that sisters of a rude
and inferior character are often placed in relation with outsiders.

7. Sisters who are not French have been treated with the least
consideration, either as to their health (and this even sometimes to the
extreme), or to their human feelings. And the schools, which are of
necessity taught by English-speaking sisters, have been much neglected
by the Canadian superiors as to equipment.

The only reason for this injustice that could be alleged is that there
are no English-speaking sisters competent to fill the offices. But this
would be false and absurd, for from the time of our Foundresses, there
have always been some of these who were able to fill high offices and
conduct the business of the order, and at present I could mention many
who are able for anything that might be asked for them.

As for the spirit of the Order, is it not possessed far more fully by
those who have patiently and faithfully toiled during long years under
an unjust administration, rather than those who officially and
persistently carry on matters in a spirit of nationality?

Therefore, in the name of justice, in the name of all of our professed
sisters who are afraid to complain to Ecclesiastical Superiors, in the
name of those who are too young to realize the position thrust upon
them, in the name of future members of the Order, and in my name, I most
respectfully ask and demand of the proper Ecclesiastical Authority to
arrange these matters in the spirit of religion and justice.

As a simple command given in writing or by word of mouth, or even
inserted in the Customary would have no other than temporary effect, I
shall consider my petition granted only when there will be inserted in
the constitution an explicit and emphatic rule that will give us our own
rights and forever prohibit all such injustice and tyranny.

It seems to me that in all conscience it has been borne too long and
that after fifty years of endurance we should have our rights as soon as

I feel confident that the wise and holy rulers of the Church will as
soon as possible act in accordance with these principles.

Reverently, and with profound respect, I sign myself an humble and
obedient child of the Church


As soon as it was reported at the various houses of the order that
Sister Paul was endeavoring to obtain the enactment of rules for the
equal recognition of all sisters, the local superior of one of these
houses wrote a letter containing a petition to the Mother House, asking
them not to recognize the appeal of Sister Paul for justice. This
letter and petition was sent from house to house, obtaining all the
signatures possible. Several sisters told me that they were requested to
sign the petition without being allowed to read the contents.

The following is a copy of the letter and petition written by Sister M.

     Providence Hospital, Everett, Wash., January 9, 1905.

     My very dear Sister:

     You are no doubt aware that for some time past our poor,
     misguided Sister Paul of the Sacred Heart has been trying to
     create disunion and dissatisfaction in the Community,
     particularly among those who are not French or of Canadian
     birth. She has gone so far as to write to the higher
     ecclesiastical authority to obtain redress for fancied wrongs
     which have no existence save in her disordered imagination.

     She has used our names without our knowledge or consent to give
     color and strength to her assertions. Therefore in justice to
     ourselves, personally and collectively, it is high time for us
     to act in a way so dignified, vigorous and religious that our
     loyalty and unswerving fidelity to our beloved community may
     never be questioned; and that this testimonial of our devotion
     to the government, customs and usages of the order to which we
     have the happiness of belonging, may be placed on the record in
     the archives of the Mother House and of the Provincial House as
     an undeniable proof that we forever abhor any act or word or
     deed contrary to the spirit of our cherished Mother House or
     its past or present or future government. Therefore, let each
     American Sister (Member) sign the accompanying document, act of
     submission, freely and willingly according to the dictates of
     her conscience. Let the document be transmitted in regular
     order to all the houses of the Province and then forwarded to
     our worthy Mother Provincial that she may have the satisfaction
     of conveying to our esteemed Mother General this undying proof
     of our filial devotion and everlasting attachment.

     _Document_--We, the undersigned, do hereby certify that the
     action of Sister Paul of the Sacred Heart against the
     Community, and that her assertions that the constitutions are
     officially violated in the absence of American members from the
     general and provincial councils is condemned by us. We denounce
     any act by which she threatens division on the ground of
     nationality. We declare our refusal to take part in any act
     against the government of the community. We further pledge
     allegiance and loyalty to our community and superiors in office
     and recognize their authority as eminating from God.


Answer of Sister Paul to the document circulated by Sister M. Alexander:

     I, Sister Paul of the Sacred Heart, positively declare that I
     never tried to create disunion in the community, nor have I
     ever either taken any action against the community or
     endeavored to incite any other Sister to do so. Neither have I
     advocated division or rebellion, but have spoken against both
     these. Nor have I sent the names of the sisters to higher
     ecclesiastical superiors.

     All that I have done towards ameliorating existing conditions
     is the following: I have written to higher ecclesiastical
     authorities and spoken to them, as I have a perfect right to do
     and shall do so again if I feel such to be my duty.

     I also advised other sisters to address ecclesiastical
     superiors concerning what other sisters of sound mind, as well
     as myself, considered to be an injustice. These matters are
     public, and we have a right to speak of them.

     Furthermore, I have spoken only to sisters who have spent some
     years in the Order; while the slandering paper dated Everett,
     January 9, 1905, which was sent to the American sisters of this
     province for them to sign, was given into the hands of very
     young sisters.

     I declare that paper to be a libel against my character, as is
     easily perceived on reading it together with what I have
     written above.

     I therefore demand, in justice to myself, that a copy of this
     present writing be pasted below the writing of each of the two
     copies of the paper circulated for the American sisters of the
     Province to sign, which are kept respectively in the archives
     of the Mother House in Montreal and in those of the Provincial
     House in Vancouver.

     I also declare, that until my reputation shall be fully cleared
     from the false accusations contained in that paper, I shall
     consider myself as living under the unjust action or sanction
     of the responsible superiors.

    House of Providence,
    Vancouver, Wash., Dec. 14th, 1906.

The result: Sister Alexander was made superior and was elevated to the
very best houses of the order, among them St. Vincent's Hospital,
Portland, Oregon. This is the same Sister Alexander who was superior
when I was taken out of St. Vincent's.

Sister Paul was sent to the Mother House in Montreal, Canada, to while
away her time translating French into English.

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