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A Sketch of the Life of the Hon. and Right Reverend Alexander MacDonell
The Bishop's Jubilee

Ordained Priest at Valladolid on the 16th of February, 1787, Bishop Macdonell kept his jubilee on the 16th of February, 1837. The following account is taken from the papers of the time.

A novel and interesting ceremony took place to-day in the Parish Church of St. Raphael, Glengarry, which drew a crowd of more than 2,000 persons into that spacious edifice. It is a custom of great antiquity in the Catholic Church for a clergyman on completing his fiftieth year of priesthood to celebrate a jubilee of thanksgiving to God and renew his vows to continue in the faithful discharge of his pastoral duties for the remaining years of his life. Bishop Macdonell having on this day completed the fiftieth year of his priesthood, came down from Kingston for the purpose of complying with this ancient ordinance of his Church. The Superior and gentlemen of the Seminary of Montreal expressed an earnest desire that the ceremony should be performed in the magnificent Parish Church of that city; but the Bishop found it more in accordance with his own feelings, as he knew it would be more gratifying to his countrymen and former flock, among whom he had spent upwards of thirty years in the discharge of the duties of all missionary, to appear before them on this occasion, which would probably be the last in his life. The Bishop of Montreal and many of the clergy of Lower Canada who wished to be present were prevented by the depth of snow and the severity of the weather. Nineteen priests, however, attended, and all the Protestant and Catholic gentlemen of the county, besides several from the County of Stormont and the Ottawa district. Many of these latter gentlemen were also Protestants, but their long acquaintance and high respect for Bishop Macdonell induced them to travel more than fifty miles across the country in the most severe snowstorm that has been known for many years. The Bishop addressed his countrymen before Mass in Gaelic, their native tongue ; he called to their recollection the destitute state in which he found their mission, and indeed the whole Province, in regard to religion on his arrival in the country in 1804, there being no clergy, no churches, no presbyterics, nor schools; and what rendered the labour of a missionary more arduous, no roads. His pastoral labours were not confined to the County of Glengarry; they extended from one end of the Province to the other, and for many years he had no fellow-labourer to assist him within a distance of seven hundred miles. Under such overwhelming difficulties, he had much reason to acknowledge and thank the merciful Providence of Almighty God for making him, although unworthy, the humble instrument of procuring for them the many temporal and spiritual advantages which they at present enjoy. lie trusted that they would pay proper respect and submission to his worthy coadjutor, the Bishop of Tabracca, whose ardent zeal to promote the glory of God and the interests of the Catholic religion had induced him to leave a quiet and comfortable position, where he was respected and beloved among his own countrymen, to encounter privations, fatigues and difficulties in this Province. In conclusion, as this might be the last opportunity he should have of appearing before them in this world, Bishop Macdonell begged their forgiveness for any bad example he had given them, and for any neglect or omission of his duty during his ministry among them for so many years; trusting much to their prayers and supplications to the Throne of Mercy on his behalf, to enable him to prepare his long and fearful accounts against the great and awful day of reckoning, which, in the course of nature, could not be far distant: and he promised them that he would never cease to offer up his unworthy prayers for their spiritual and temporal we]- fare. Tears flowed in abundance from the eyes of the Bishop and his hearers during this short but affecting discourse. After Mass, Vicar-General Macdonald delivered an eloquent and impressive sermon, and the ceremony being finished, the clergy and many of the gentlemen repaired to the presbytery, where all the clergy and such of the gentlemen as could be prevailed upon to remain had a comfortable dinner prepared for them by the coadjutor"

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