Project Canterbury

From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 4),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 192-208

A Journey Godward
of a Servant of Jesus Christ


CHAPTER X

TWENTY YEARS IN THE EPISCOPATE

THE following is a paper prepared at the request of the Committee and read by the Rev. B. Talbot Rogers, D.D., at the Jubilee anniversary. Dr. Rogers was the first priest ordained by Bishop Grafton, and has been connected with the diocese since its organization. In his offices as Archdeacon, Canon of the Cathedral, Warden of Grafton Hall, member of the Standing Committee and Mission Board, he has had special facilities for knowing the diocese, its needs and growth.

 

"FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT"
BY THE REV. B. TALBOT ROGERS, D.D.

A widowed diocese had exercised her sovereign privilege and called a priest to come and be her Bishop. In the Providence of God she was led to do what no diocese in the Anglican Communion had done since the Reformation. She called a religious, one who had been a member of a religious order, had helped to found religious orders for women, and had stood uncompromisingly for thirty years for the Catholic religion. It was a great step, taken in faith, prompted largely by her poverty and need, and encouraged by the teaching of her first Bishop and the memory of deKoven, to whose genius and devotion the diocese owed much in its first days, and, lastly, it was under the leadership of Father Gardner. Coming to the diocese under Bishop Brown, he had won the confidence of the clergy and laity by his splendid abilities and utter self-sacrifice.

At his suggestion and urgent counsel, Father Grafton was elected by a strong vote of the clergy and a majority of the laity as the second Bishop of Fond du Lac. Bishop Brown seemed to give the seal of his approval when he wrote in his journal, on the occasion of a visit to Boston, that the services at the Church of the Advent were probably the most satisfactory to be found anywhere in the American Church. But the diocese hardly realized the significance of that choice. It almost shuddered when it discovered what it had done. The Church at large awoke and rubbed her eyes. Opposition was aroused, and it seemed for a time as though another deKoven was to be sacrificed to appease blind prejudice. But help arose from an unexpected quarter. Bishop Henry C. Potter wrote a letter to Dr. Winslow of Boston, giving his unqualified endorsement of Father Grafton, condemning any outside interference and unwise prejudice. That letter, by permission of the writer, was given a wide circulation. It restored confidence to those who were called to confirm that election. Bishop Potter remained an unfaltering friend to his dying day. The Church at large has done more than confirm that election. She has three times followed the example. But we had first choice, and we may well thank God that good use was made of the opportunity.

The election took place November 13, 1888, but the consecration was delayed until St. Mark's Day, April 25, 1889.

The order of the procession is interesting now as indicating the participants and many associations. It was as follows:

Lay members of the Reception Committee.
Delegates to the Council.
Lay members of the Cathedral Chapter.
Lay members of the Standing Committees of Fond du Lac and Milwaukee.
Sisters of St. Monica and of the Holy Nativity.
Choristers of All Saints Cathedral, Milwaukee.
Seminarians with crucifer and banner.
Clergy of the Diocese of Fond du Lac.
Clergy of other Dioceses.
Cathedral Clergy.
Representatives of the Clerical Association of Massachusetts.
Clerical members of the Standing Committees of Fond du Lac and Milwaukee.
Master of Ceremonies.
The Bishop-elect, with his attending Presbyters, Rev. Wm. Dafter and Rev. Walter R. Gardner.
The Presenting Bishops, Gilbert and Knight, with Chaplains.
Bishop Burgess, as Preacher, and Chaplain.
The Co-consecrators, Bishops Seymour and Knickerbocker, with Chaplains.
Bishop McLaren of Chicago, the Presiding Bishop, with his Chaplain

There was a large and interested congregation. The building was bare; hardly more than four walls and an altar. As we look back to that day, surely we may agree with the one who has left an account of that service: "On a review of the whole, we are filled with devout thankfulness, and are impelled to say Laus Deo!"

These twenty years have been strenuous. The seven years of our late President's activity are but a partial illustration of what our Diocesan has been about these twenty years for Christ and His Church.

"It matters not what corner of the room you place me in, I will build the fire hot enough to warm the whole room," is one of his mottoes. And having spent these twenty years next the fire, I assure you there have been times when it was very warm.

In a time of great need for clergy an appeal was sent as an advertisement to some of our Eastern Church papers:

FIRE AND BLOOD We need young men filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit and inebriated by the blood of the Holy Sacrifice.
The appeal was answered. Young men came and went to the front with noble self-sacrifice and devotion. But there was always more work waiting to be done, and, as the work developed, more plans and work at the centre.

During the first summer, with the aid of Nashotah students, Father Merrill, the General Missionary, reopened eighteen closed churches. This work was continued later, first under one Archdeacon and then under two and three, with the present missionary organization.

Those near our Bishop have felt at times that they were tied to the wheels of a racing chariot. "The King's business demands haste" has been another favorite motto. Those who tried to hold the pace may have lost their heads and done foolishly, but with perseverance they never dropped from heart failure. "Press on the Kingdom" has been the constant word of cheer and encouragement, always reinforcing our feeble efforts with generous and loyal support. I have tried to go through some of the writings of these twenty years. It has been my privilege to hear all the Council addresses, but I little appreciated what a mine of Church teaching they contained. They should be republished separately. It needs more than a year to reread what the Bishop's ready pen has produced. A few months, with other obligations, have not been sufficient. Each department of theology and Church history has paid tribute to his needs and been enriched by his expression. One print shop, working overtime, could not keep pace with him. And at times three publishing houses have been busy with his writings. His various books and pamphlets have run into many thousands of copies.

At the same time all the work of organization and initiative of new enterprises has never slackened. What priest these twenty years has ever been able to outrun his Bishop? What one is there who has not found work planned ahead of him? Did one ever go in vain for suggestion or advice? Has our Bishop, to this hour, slackened one jot in his marvellous powers of enterprise? To join with him is to take hold of the handles of a galvanic battery. One may be tempted to let go and run away. But Faith and Grace challenge each other. His powers of organization and unwearied enterprise remind one of what we read of empire builders.

Has he ever restrained or held back any priest in new enterprises? Has he not always been ready with suggestions ahead of any that we planned? Many have been the workers who turned back. Some have returned and been given again a cordial welcome. But in these twenty years about a hundred and thirty have gone from us. It has been no small part of the Bishop's cares to select new candidates to fill these constantly recurring vacancies.

He had begun his sixtieth year when consecrated; a time when most men seek, and rightly claim, rest and leisure. In the required record of his work he frequently duplicated such activity as this: "During these ten days I travelled nearly two thousand miles and preached seventeen times."

So multiplied have been the achievements of these twenty years that it seems like trying to bring order out of chaos simply to recount them. Yet nothing chaotic marks that work. Absolute plan and definite purpose have marked its every step. No by-motives or variation from his duty have ever been apparent. On the contrary, with almost cruel insistence, he has steadily refused to be drawn aside to other and more flattering prospects.

How often have individuals with visions tried to interest the Bishop or lead him aside from his fixed purpose and all-mastering responsibility! He had married this diocese for weal or woe, and he would be faithful to that union.

A book agent with flattering offer tried to interest the Bishop. It was a time when diocesan missions bore heavily and funds were low. The Bishop told the needs of his missionaries. The agent on leaving gave fifty cents for diocesan missions.

With all the varied capabilities of a widely extended cosmopolitan career, the Bishop undertook this work. From the country districts of Maryland and the slums of London, from Boston culture and Oxford learning, and from travels in many lands, here he has used all these varied associations.

It is easy to say that the active clergy have increased from eighteen to more than fifty, but stop and think what it really means. Each man added means a new sphere of labor, an equipment of Church property in which the Bishop has always assisted and generally done the major portion. Then must come the steady annual support of the work; the patient nursing of the feeble effort and small band of the faithful; the absolute observance of every appointment as one who must give account of their souls.

How well I remember when a change of train time upset the schedule. But the appointment must be kept. It was thirty miles away and but three hours from service time. There had been one of those unusual spring storms, a foot of snow on top of a foot of mud. An experienced liveryman undertook the venture for the Bishop's sake — his best team and a single carriage. A telegram was sent and off they started. At times the driver got out of the carriage to prevent its overturning in a snowdrift, and again the horses were wallowing in mud up to the hubs. They reached their destination; the class was waiting and a large congregation. The Bishop returned by train, but the liveryman took all the next day to get back.

But the utmost heroism and devotion could not make a success of every enterprise. There have probably been as many failures as successes. And failures always cost more than success. Not all the long list of clergy that have gone out from the diocese have accepted metropolitan churches. Some have made shipwreck and the Bishop was left to gather up the flotsam. It is easy to say that twenty-eight new churches have been built, sixteen of them handsome buildings in stone and brick. But what a struggle each one of them represents! What planning, sacrifice, and anxiety, each one an effort that was almost a failure! How frequently the Bishop bore the major burden, and too often the final anxiety and effort necessary to turn a failure into success. Fifteen guild halls, twenty-one rectories do not complete the story. A number of rectories and guild halls gave place to something better or were sacrificed for a new church. The Choir School, Grafton Hall, the Convent and Monastery, the Oneida Foundation, and Cadle Home, all represent much effort, prayer, and anxiety.

The Old Catholic enterprise, and the new Nashotah have been burden enough for one man. The cathedral, from bare walls on a corner lot and with fifteen thousand dollars' debt, has gradually developed, with two additional stone buildings, cloister, garth, and artistic devotional adornments within, freed from debt and with twenty thousand dollars' endowment.

Such a summary of the year's improvements could have been given each year, as in 1891, the second year of his Episcopate, when he wrote as follows:

   "Looking over the diocese, there is scarcely a church in which some material improvements in Church property have not taken place.
   "Trinity Church, Oshkosh, which set the diocese so excellent an example of heroic faith in Church building, has largely reduced its indebtedness and made fair progress towards the day of consecration. It is also proposed to build a new rectory, and it has done what is worthy of all commendation, increased the rector's salary.
   "St. Peter's Church, Ripon; Trinity Church, Berlin; St. Peter's Church, Sheboygan Falls; Grace Church, Sheboygan; St. James' Church, Manitowoc; St. Paul's Church, Marinette; St. John's Church, Wausau; St. Mark's Church, Oconto; Christ Church, Green Bay; St. Andrew's Church, Ashland, have all been enriched by decorations, repairs or altar adornments, and some of these parishes at Easter had a surplus on hand for contemplated improvements.
   "The mortgage of three hundred dollars on St. Joseph's Church, Antigo, has been discharged.
   "The mortgage on the rectory at Wausau has been diminished.
   "At the mission at Two Rivers, four hundred dollars has been subscribed for a new church.
   "The Church of the Holy Nativity, Jacksonport, has been completed at an expense of six hundred dollars and the property and rectory very much improved.
   "At Appleton, a rectory valued at three thousand dollars and a guild house valued at six hundred dollars have been built.
   "At the Church of the Intercession, Steven's Point, a new stone altar has been built, and in addition to these improvements a rectory valued at about three thousand dollars has been erected.
   "Grace Church, Ahnapee, has been built at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars and paid for.
   "At Oakfield, two thousand dollars has been raised and new lots bought and paid for, for the erection of a small but handsome stone church.
   "Two thousand dollars has been given for the building of a chancel and guild house at Hobart Church, Oneida, and six hundred and fifty dollars towards improvements in the rectory.
   "The Cathedral has been adorned by the erection of a rood screen costing fifteen hundred dollars, by the fitting up of St. Augustine's Chapel at a like cost, the purchase of lots on the east side at thirty-one hundred dollars and of the house on the west corner of Sophia Street, which is to be used for the residence of the Senior Canon, at a cost of forty-five hundred dollars. All these have been paid for.
   "I have also on hand as a gift, five hundred dollars, to be used for the church at Antigo, when the churchmen at Antigo are ready to meet it with a like sum. And another five hundred dollars for the new mission at Merrill and Tomahawk, where the work has begun so auspiciously under the care of the General Missionary."

Each year of the twenty some new enterprise in Fond du Lac, and out in the diocese, has been carried through. So great his faith, so large his ambition for Christ and His Church, one enterprise was not enough; many at the same time and always with insistent haste. "The King's business requires haste" was often repeated; "Press on the Kingdom." And when others would come to the Council, depressed and discouraged, clergy leaving, work failing, no matter what the difficulties, the contrast between their discouragement and the Bishop's hopeful cheerfulness was almost humorous. The divine character of his work is illustrated by the remarkable way in which he wrung success from failure. A hundred clergy left with oft-repeated tales of discouragement, failure, defeat. Not so the Bishop. A failure was always met with new plans, harder work.

But greatest of all, in the face of imminent bankruptcy, lifting debts, and building on hopes, so often frustrated, he has made over this entire diocese spiritually. That was the initial plan and underlying motive all the time.

Others had made a Catholic parish; some endured, but many failed to maintain their standards. But here was a chance to make a Catholic diocese, and this has been the unfaltering purpose.

The progress made justifies one in believing that, under God, it has been practically accomplished. Much remains to be done on our part. The Bishop has fulfilled his task, and we are here to felicitate him on the fulfilment of his purpose, and to pledge ourselves in loving appreciation to carry on this his great work.

God wills it. And His work will go on until from parish to diocese, and from diocese to province, the entire Church shall be influenced and Catholicized.

With all but a diocesan uniformity of ritual, with from ten to twenty daily Masses, with conversions secured by repentance, and with confessions increasing rapidly, with a fuller instructed and ripened body of lay churchmen, there is surely cause for devout thankfulness.

The story of the diocese is the Bishop's life. He gave himself wholly to its service. How loyally he stood by his clergy, how lovingly he encouraged the laity, and all the time making history in the Church of God!

What a standard for the priestly life he holds up as he counsels, "Thither the priest should daily resort to offer the Holy Sacrifice or recite the Divine Office." And again to the laymen he says: "Are you striving more fully to enter into the rich heritage you have received from your spiritual forefathers? Every instructed churchman becomes a power in his community. We may all differ in unessential matters amongst ourselves, but we should stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart in all Church work. You have received an anointing from on high and are kings and priests unto God. It will be by the example of our own lives, consecrated and sealed as they are in Confirmation, that you will draw others to the Church. The characteristics of a churchman should be his manliness, high sense of honor, integrity in his dealings, sobriety in his speech, beauty of his family life, intelligent patriotism, humility before God, and love of His worship."

"Let us ask, Do you give of your means as you might in support of your Master's service? Do you give as a matter of principle? Do you give in proportion to what you expend upon your own comforts and personal luxuries? Have you found it to be a pleasure to give to God? Do you give with generous hearts? Have you provided for the support of your parish by some provision for it in your wills?"

I think we little realized the permanent value to the Church of the ruling that he made in one of his Council addresses on the subject of Ritual:

   "Thankful that we in America are free from State control and the perplexing limitations of the English rubric, that our Prayer Book is to be interpreted in conformity with the traditions of the universal Church of Christ, as Ordinary, our official ruling is that the Eucharistic vestments, mixed Chalice, wafer bread, eastward position, lights on the altar or borne in procession, and incense are the allowed usage of the Diocese of Fond du Lac." "In introducing incense, this Christian symbol, into your churches, our suggestion is that first your people, being instructed, should desire it on their part, and next that it be confined at first to the great festivals."
   "It is also our ruling that the Blessed Sacrament may be reserved for the sick."
   "Wherever also your people wish the anointing prescribed by St. James, you know that the oil is consecrated yearly by us, and none need be without that authorized means of obtaining God's blessing on the means used for the body's recovery or the comforting grace it brings to the soul. As Christ loved the poor and sick and suffering, let the Church go forth on her mission, wanting in none of her divine gifts."

As one reads the record of this Episcopate he is struck by the youthful enthusiasm with which each response from others was welcomed. Beginning this lifework when most men are retiring from active avocations, his lifework even to old age has been sealed with the miracle of perpetual youth. His marvellous powers of initiative seem never to wane.

"Press on the Kingdom!"

Practically every parish and mission has been enriched and advanced by his munificence. The diocesan properties have increased by more than half a million; the churches beautified and the services reformed towards the beauty of holiness and with the holiness of beauty.

It was natural that the religious life should have been restored to the Church and firmly established amongst us. But that such overflowing abundance should have come from his poverty is but another proof of the Divine character of his work. "Make your work holy within and God will take care of the outside," was his one word of encouragement to the workers in a forlorn hope overwhelmed with poverty. The promise and prophecy have been more than fulfilled for those who took him faithfully and literally at his word. We might recount the triumphs of each year, the numbers baptized, confirmed, ordained, the retreats for clergy and women, the missions, the work of the sisters, the consecration of the cathedral and its twenty-fifth anniversary, the election and consecration of our beloved Coadjutor, who has done so much to increase and strengthen the missions of the diocese, to strengthen the stakes and lengthen the cords of the diocese, both within and without.

For God's good purposes, we trust, the diocese has been advertised as perhaps no other small diocese has enjoyed in the Anglican Communion. And it has been a joy to us, though begun in persecution, and not without this continued seal of God's approval, it has certainly brought us an abundant reward and God's blessing every day. For we have been partakers with our Bishop of the fulfilment of God's promise, that goodness and mercy shall follow him all the days of his life and he will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

His good works with their blessing have followed him continually from the days of his first gift of himself to God. So single has been his purpose, so consistent his career, that the friends of his youth have refreshed him still and supported his enterprises, and God has added to them.

And as he would be the first to say that it was God's goodness and grace, may we not recognize that grace of God that has shown itself in all His saints and see the scintillations of its glory, as with the orthodoxy of an Athanasius, the eloquence of Chrysostom, and the theological acumen of Augustine, he has sought to press on the Kingdom?

And that leads to the consideration of the influence of these twenty years outside this diocese. Pardon us for a just pride in some of the outside enterprises in which our Bishop has been active.

The religious life throughout the Anglican Communion was placed in a new light and greatly strengthened when our Bishop was consecrated, and continues to feel the good effect. The Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, of which in the United States he is the Superior General, has grown and broadened its interests. Nashotah has been rebuilt and refounded by his influence. Legislation in General Convention has not been uninfluenced by him and those who rallied to his leadership.

His work amongst the Old Catholics and the Eastern Church, by his visit to Russia and by correspondence, has done the Church a tremendous service. And his writings are circulating throughout the Anglican Communion. The Bishop of London wrote words of warmest commendation, and from Australia another Bishop wrote: "I am giving 'Christian and Catholic' to my lay readers to use in place of sermons."

And that we might claim his prayers for all the days to come with more confidence, I could recount to you the miracles of his life amongst us. How frequently his guardian angel protected him from harm and did his bidding! On one occasion, when a priest, the car left the track and the flooring was broken up under his feet. He has travelled on a freight train, and, when that had to be abandoned, struggled forward in the dark to the engine with his baggage, and climbing into the cab, ridden to his destination. That was a thrilling experience on a dark night. At Sturgeon Bay the long bridge turns an abrupt corner out over the water. On one of his early trips to Door County the team ran away on that bridge, and, as they made the turn, the carriage tipped and ran for some distance on the wheels on one side only. Why it did not turn over into the bay his angel alone can tell.

Again, I was with him on a drive to Gardner when night came on and with it a terrible wind storm. Trees were blown down across the road, and finally the way was lost. Spirited young horses were the team. But they were led astray to safety, for a change had been made in the road and a narrow causeway of bowlders had been built very high and was incomplete. Had it been attempted in the dark, a serious accident would undoubtedly have taken place. A farmer with his lantern guided us back to safety. But time would fail me to tell of horseback rides and railroad crossings and many other escapes from which, as by miracle, his life was spared.

We may well thank God for the glories and the miracles of this Episcopate, and felicitate our Bishop for the days that are past and to come, ad multos annos.


Transcribed by David Donnell, A.D. 2001

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