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William McGarvey and the Open Pulpit
An Intimate History of a Celibate Movement in the Episcopal Church,
and of Its Collapse, 1870-1908.

By Edward Hawks
Priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Philadelphia: The Dolphin Press, 1935.

Chapter 12. The Retreat at Nashotah

AS HAS already been said, it was arranged to hold a general chapter and retreat for the C. S. S. S. at Nashotah in September. Meanwhile, Barry, Fay and myself spent a short holiday in Canada. We met at Montreal. On my way there I passed a few days at my old college at Lennoxville, P. Q.; accepted an invitation to preach in the parish church; and received a pleasant welcome from friends whom I had not seen for years.

The visit to Canada was important in several ways. Our being in a Catholic country recalled difficulties which had cast a shadow over the previous seminary year. Barry announced that he would not enter any "Roman" churches. Fay announced that he would not go into any Anglican ones, for he considered that the Anglican Church had no standing in a country which was one of the most Catholic in the world. This created an unpleasantness which it took a great deal of tact to allay. There comes to my mind a remembrance of a discussion that was provoked by the universal signs of Catholic faith. We maintained against Barry that if the Infallibility of the Pope were not part of the Catholic faith, then Rome must be heretical, since she makes this doctrine a necessary one for those who seek her communion. Barry refused to answer this difficulty and no further conversation was carried on with him about it. It was the first time that I had realized the practical issue in so exact a manner. There was no escape from it. How could anyone say that Rome, the evident mistress of Christendom, was heretical?

Fay visited every possible church. He burnt candles everywhere. He purchased armfuls of them to the admiration of the people and to his own satisfaction. Barry patiently waited for us outside and maintained his determination. He even refused to go to St. Anne de Beaupré, to our scandal. We separated at Quebec in the best of friendship, Barry departing to New England, I think, and Fay to his home in Philadelphia. I returned to Nashotah by way of Niagara and Detroit, crossing Lake Michigan by steamer.

The vacation had not been altogether a success. It showed very clearly that Barry and Fay were no longer in accord. There had been a very angry moment on the Sunday we spent at Quebec when Fay positively refused to attend the Anglican worship, and when I had accompanied him to mass at the Basilica. My going with Barry to Holy Communion at St. Matthew's mollified him somewhat. On my part it was the natural thing to do since the Rector, Mr. Scott, was known to me. Indeed Quebec was a place of many earlier happy memories, for I used to spend my Christmas holidays with the Anglican bishop when I was a student at college.

The Pope's first letter condemning Modernism was published when we were in Montreal, strangely enough on the very day when the question of Papal Infallibility had been broached. There is no doubt that the environment of active Catholicity played a very important part in the growing light that was being given me. There was one very happy occasion at Cap à l'Aigle, when I was able, by a previous appointment, to spend a brief visit with Dr. Allnatt, one of my old professors at college. There was another happiness at Montreal when Fay and I called at St. John's Anglican Church to see "Father" Wood, who had been my confessor when I first came to Canada. He was a very saintly man who practised severe mortifications. He never slept anywhere but on the floor of his library--this I had discovered by accident. These meetings presented difficulties. These good men were Anglicans. They had no doubts concerning their allegiance although they lived in a Catholic country. Both of them are long since dead, in good faith. Their example has always been an inspiration. Why did not God give them the grace that He has given to others? Was it not presumptuous for one who was so far below them in every way, to judge contrary to their opinions? By such searchings of heart the Anglo-Catholic is tortured, and often spends his whole life in hesitations and uncertainties.

In my brief diary it is noted that on 25 July, acting on an authorization from McGarvey, one of the newly ordained deacons was received by me into the C. S. S. S. On 12 August the Western Conference of the Congregation met for the monthly chapter. It is stated in the same diary that Barry came from Nashotah to Milwaukee in order to be present. It was his first appearance among us. This fact is mentioned to show that the prejudice that he says, in his autobiography, he had quickly conceived for the Congregation, had not yet appeared. Nor was it to appear, as can be shown from the records of our meetings, until some of us had become Catholics.

On 11 September the general chapter convened at Nashotah. By this time a great deal had happened. The syllabus of Modernist errors had been published, and Tyrrell, already excommunicated, had taken a position of active hostility to the Holy See. The Episcopalian Church papers were not only filled with a discussion of this matter, but they also had a domestic question of great interest on their hands. Reports had arrived that there had been a conference at Shanghai where Episcopal missionaries had joined with those of other Protestant denominations, in the establishment of what was called a Chinese Church. It was an unheard-of thing and evoked much criticism. By what authority should men take upon themselves the right to compromise their position without any permission from their superiors in America? Father Sargent of the Holy Cross Order began the controversy by a letter to the church newspapers. [He became a Catholic in 1910 and later joined the English Benedictines.] The truth was. soon revealed. The missionaries were almost all of the Low-Broad school. They were anticipating the action of the General Convention. Their conduct was in line with what might be expected at Richmond. It was therefore impossible that a number of clergymen of the Episcopal Church should meet at this time without their minds being filled with forebodings. It was in such an atmosphere that our retreat began.

This retreat at Nashotah has been given an importance that those who took part in it were not conscious of. It was held only three weeks before the General Convention at Richmond. It was not open to the public, although one or two visitors were admitted. The importance is due to the fact that of the twenty-two who took part in it, nine afterward became Catholics. It is easy to imagine that something was done which might have caused this exodus from the Episcopal Church. It was the occasion of the annual general chapter of the C. S. S. S. The conductor was the Master, William McGarvey. Was it not likely that his meditations might have infused doubt and discouragement in the minds of his listeners? Was it not probable that he endeavored to create amongst those who were closely connected with him, a mass movement to the Roman Church?

McGarvey arrived from Milwaukee in company with Bishop Webb. On the train he read his breviary. The bishop noticed that it was a Roman breviary and he was annoyed. McGarvey defended himself on the grounds that almost every Episcopal minister excused himself from saying any office, and that the rubrics of the American Prayer-Book commanded no such recitation. He therefore felt free to say his prayer in any language he preferred. Many Anglican clergymen did the same and it was not considered to be a sign of disloyalty. Webb kept repeating: "I don't like this Latin."

On arriving at Nashotah, McGarvey had a conversation with Barry and seems to have spoken pessimistically about the Episcopal Church and the future of his own work. This is an opportunity to refer to the remarks made in Barry's autobiography about this visit of McGarvey's to Nashotah. It is charitable to suppose that its writer, in his old age and enfeebled health, had forgotten the details of this conversation and therefore injected into his account of it, impressions which were formed much later.

Of course it is impossible for me to attempt to reconstruct a conversation in which I took no part. One can only deny such allegations as are contrary to fact, which this conversation is said to have contained. It is alleged that McGarvey spoke as though he were "through with the Episcopal Church;" it is alleged that Barry saw that there was a "pro-Roman virus" in the C. S. S. S., and that he resigned. He gives the impression that he resigned or was on the point of resigning there and then. As a matter of fact he did not resign until many months later, as will be shown. There was nothing in Barry's attitude toward the C. S. S. S. then, or during the subsequent months, to show that he had formed any opinion about its "pro-Roman virus". Barry attended the chapter and the retreat as one of the members and never made the least outward objection to anything that was done.

At the time of the retreat the seminary chapel could not be used because, at the cost of Professor Fay, it was being entirely renovated in memory of one of his aunts. He was also furnishing it with a new high altar, a choir-screen and stalls, two side-altars, and new windows. What clearer evidence could he give of his intention to remain at Nashotah? Yet in Barry's book he is described as being engaged, at this very time, in plotting with McGarvey for the disruption of the Episcopal Church. Listen:

Fay was at the same time enthusiastic over a plan that McGarvey did not mention (possibly because I was not sympathetic with what he did say), but which Fay and McGarvey appeared to have worked out. They believed that as many as five hundred of the clergy of the Episcopal Church could be brought into a pro-Roman movement. This group being organized, Fay and McGarvey would proceed to England with the object of gaining the cooperation of Lord Halifax and the E. C. U. group, and then proceed to Rome and try to gain recognition as a Uniate Church. It was essential to this plan that there should be no individual conversions; but they did not have time to test its possibilities because of the impatience of the pro-Romans, who began to go over one by one. The result was that McGarvey and those closely associated with him had to follow.

The utter absurdity of such an accusation relying upon what "McGarvey did not mention" and what "he appeared to have worked out" will be seen as my narrative proceeds. It is safe to say that no such thought as this could possibly have occurred to Dr. Barry at the time, or he would have acted very differently. It must be repeated that this "plot" was built up in Dr. Barry's mind at a much later date, and that it rested upon assumptions that are quite false.

That some of the retreatants, including McGarvey, were depressed at the time was certainly true; that others, and these were the majority, had no such feelings is also true. There was not one single word uttered during the retreat that had any immediate bearing upon the problems that were exercising our minds. My memory is clear in the matter. The subject of all the meditations was the sacrifice of our Lord and His Redemptive work. It was one of the most spiritual retreats that I have ever made. It seemed as though McGarvey were deliberately avoiding anything that might remind us of the difficult times through which we were passing. During the retreat I made a general confession to McGarvey and he did not refer, in his "ghostly counsel", to anything even remotely connected with my allegiance to the Episcopal Church. We understood one another thoroughly. It was not necessary to speak of matters upon which we agreed; viz. that we should have patience under difficulties and place our trust in the Providence of God.

In McGarvey's meditations there was a great personal appeal. He always, in all his utterances, convinced his hearers 6f his sincerity. He was at his best when speaking heart to heart as one can do in a retreat. To suppose that this man, who was able to lead us to the foot of the crucifix and speak so intimately of the Divine love, was at this time scheming how he would be able to secure his own future success, is unthinkable. No one who knew him could believe such a thing possible. It was not possible. Neither Barry or anyone else had any such idea at that time. The ideals of the C. S. S. S. were realities; they were never more real to its members than during those happy days of retreat. Not the slightest suspicion of bad faith entered anyone's mind. It may be hard for Catholics to believe this, but it is the truth. We all thought that we were "Catholics;" that we possessed valid sacraments; that in remaining in the Anglican Church, in spite of its strange inconsistencies, we were following the will of God. It would be nothing less than sacrilege for me to cast a doubt upon this, and it would be the denial of my clearest recollections and deepest religious experiences. It is, therefore, utterly unthinkable that during the retreat Dr. Barry was taking part as a critic, suspicious of the men who were his closest friends. He did no such thing. His memory it at fault; he is unworthy of himself in his later imaginings and in setting down these as facts.

When the silence, which had been faithfully observed throughout the retreat, was broken at breakfast on the last day, the conversation was about the approaching General Convention. There was undoubtedly a feeling of apprehension. My remembrance is that nearly everyone took a strong pro-Roman attitude. It was the general opinion that if the "Broads" were to dominate the Church in the future, there would be a schism, and the remnant of the Catholics would be driven over to Rome. But this, let it be observed, was contingent upon the action of the General Convention; and not the outcome of a deliberate prearranged plan. There was everywhere the feeling, due to the influence of The Lamp, that Corporate Reunion was a possible, if not an inevitable escape from the present difficulties. It required no plotting between McGarvey and Fay to spread such an opinion, for it was then universal amongst Anglo-Catholics. No one seemed to realize the impossibility of the Holy See uniting with a body which was not only heretical and schismatic but one which did not possess a valid hierarchy.

In later years I spoke to Father Bowles about this retreat and asked him if he had any recollections of its being provocative of pro-Roman interests. He told me that he never thought about Rome once during the whole time. His recollections agree with mine. These interests were then universal amongst Anglo-Catholics. They did not arise from anything McGarvey had said. There was confirmation of this widespread feeling soon afterward.

Of those who took part in the retreat only McGarvey and his travelling companion Lobdell came from the East. Jas. Haslam came from Canada; Bowles came from Chicago. All the other companions were from Nashotah or its vicinity: Bishop Webb, Dean Barry, Professor Fay, Dean Delany, Russell Wilbur, Francis Ilsley, Jas. B. Coxe, Geo. R. Hewlett, Sam. W. Day, Horace Evans, Winthrop Peabody, Benj. Bert, Forrest B. Johnston, Chas. D. Meyer, and myself. There were three visitors: Professor St. George, Herbert Parrish and Louis Small.

The Milwaukee diocesan convention assembled a few days after the retreat. The wildest rumors were circulated amongst the clergy during the hours of recreation, concerning what might take place at the coming General Convention. I stayed one night with Dean Delany at the cathedral. He seemed very unsettled as to his future. He was then a close friend of Dr. Barry, with whom he went to St. Mary-the-Virgin Church in New York at a later date. Another night I passed at the St. Charles Hotel and visitors kept me out of bed till long past midnight discussing the possibility of a schism in the Episcopal Church if the Open Pulpit canon was enacted.

The same rumors were prevalent at the Military School, Lima, Indiana, where I went the next week in company with a new pupil. It was astonishing to find how widespread was the talk of Anglo-Catholics being forced into the Roman Church, which, of course, was supposed to be ready and willing to accept us on our own terms!

It is amusing to think that when everyone was talking in this wild manner, the men who were blamed for it, McGarvey and Fay, were blissfully unconscious of their influence. McGarvey was back in Philadelphia; and Fay was preparing to go to Richmond as a delegate from the diocese of Fond-du-Lac. As a matter of fact the two men were not very congenial at any time.

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