Below is the second part of a five part story about the life of Reverend Mother Teresa Dease, who founded the North American Branch of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Loretto Sisters. She was a woman of faith, courage and love—a true daughter of Mary Ward. The first part covered her life from birth until she left Dublin with her companions to begin a new mission in Toronto, Canada. This part covers the journey from Dublin to the New World, finally arriving at Toronto.
Sr. Theresa Dease, as she is known at this point of her life, is a courageous young woman, following the path that God, through her superior (Mother Teresa Ball) has given her. Cindy Langlois, IBVM
PART II: THE JOURNEY
Five of us Loreto Sisters made this journey: Mother Ignacia Hutchinson, our superior, Sister Bonaventure Phelan, Sister Mary Gertrude Fleming, Valentine Hutchinson (a postulant and the younger sister of Mother Ignatia) and I. We dressed in secular clothing so as we would not be recognized as religious sisters. What a new and strange experience this was for each one of us. In the south of Ireland, even non-Catholics would recognize our habits and at least allow us to travel in peace. This need to travel incognito felt awkward and uncomfortable to me, and also to the others. Somehow it seemed to be not in keeping with our charism of integrity.
After leaving Dublin, we first journeyed to Liverpool in England to pick up more passengers. Compared to the next leg of our journey, this was a very short trip– only a few days. However, it was rather difficult since a few of us (including me) found that travelling at sea can be very disagreeable, so much so that we could not leave our beds. If even this short journey has this effect on me, and others, whatever will we do during the much longer journey to New York? Only time will tell and I can only console myself by thinking of the good work we will be doing for the souls in Toronto and pray for calm weather. After leaving Liverpool, the Garrick (the ship transporting us) set sail west toward our destination.
As the shore of England passed from our sight, our fellow passengers began to mingle and meet each other. Naturally many of the other passengers were curious about a group of five women, mostly young women, travelling together across the ocean. Being forced to travel incognito Mother Ignatia, the eldest of our group and our superior took charge of speaking for us. She explained that she was chaperoning a group of relatives travelling to see New York and other parts of the New World. The rest of us tried to limit our communication to polite greetings as we would pass people while walking on the deck. Mother Ignatia set a prayer schedule for us, as close to our common prayer as possible. At those times, we would all move to our room below deck. The ship’s captain had kindly given us the largest room so that we could all stay together even for meals. Weather permitting we spent our time either walking on deck or in our room praying or reading holy books that a few of us had carried with us. After six weeks of sailing, we joyfully spotted land. We were nearing the end of this leg of our journey.
True to his promise, the Archbishop of New York had sent someone to collect us from the boat. Mr. Dunningan introduced himself to us, collected our luggage, and was able to procure a night’s lodging for us in a suitable place. We were all surprised when, as we were walking to our night’s lodging, people in New York addressed us “Sisters”, even little children. How strange to be recognized and welcomed as whom we were in this faraway place even as we traveled “incognito.”
The next morning, Mr. Dunningan collected us at the hotel, and escorted us to a boat called a “steamer.” What a strange sight it was with its two decks above the water, no rigging for sails but a large chimney sort of structure in the middle of the boat expelling dark smoke. This craft took us up the Hudson River to Albany. Sailing by river was much more agreeable than sailing by sea. Mr. Dunningan had also given us directions for when we arrived in Albany. We booked passage from the river port to the train station, and boarded a train for Rochester, NY. Our eyes lavished in the natural beauty of this country both while on the steamer and on the train.
The closer we drew to Rochester, the colder the air became. This was still mid-September. We had never felt such cold so early before. Once in Rochester, we again arranged for passage to the port on Lake Ontario. After boarding the boat for the final leg of our journey, we went below deck to get away from the cold, cold winds. There we were able to get tea to warm ourselves. Our journey is almost over. It will be only a few hours until we reach the port of Toronto, to begin our new ministry. Hello, Canada!