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[46]

The most important event in my past life is my conversion to the Catholic religion, which was brought about by the lectures of Gavazzi and by the Know-Nothing calumnies of 1854, which inspired me with a spirit of inquiry, and ended in forcing my reason to accept and submit to the teachings of that Church which I had always been taught to despise. In August, 1854, after about eight months reflection, I was received into the bosom of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church, at the age of sixteen years, by the Rev. John Bapst of the Society of Jesus. This step I have never regretted, although it has changed all my prospects in life.

In reply to those who ignorantly or maliciously impugn my motives, I shall merely point to my future life; and if by becoming a Catholic I become richer, or attain a higher position in the world, than I should have done by remaining a Protestant, then let them judge my motives, but not till then. Meanwhile I shall console myself under their false judgments and detractions by the thought that it is not to them, but to God, that I am one day to answer for my motives and my acts. He knows my heart, and he knows if I have sacrificed liberty, position, the ties of family and friendship, to become an humble priest of the Catholic Church, in the Society of Jesus, where I shall be bound by perpetual vows of absolute poverty, chastity, and obedience to the will of my superiors: He knows if I have done this for any motive but to secure the salvation of my soul, and to do good to my neighbor. Conscia mens recti famae mendacia ridet.

My plans in life are evident from the above. I intend, immediately after graduating, to enter the Novitiate of the Jesuits, either in this country or in Europe, there to obliterate the past and prepare myself for a life of future usefulness. All I ask of my classmates is, that they will not judge my future by my past life, but will show towards me that charity which they all desire for themselves.

Within a few days from his graduation at Harvard (in 1859), he left Boston for the Novitiate in Frederick City, Maryland. During his stay at the Novitiate, his frequent letters were very happy and affectionate. On the way, while in Philadelphia, he writes to his parents as follows:—

To-day the Gospel at mass struck me forcibly: “ Unless a man hate father, mother, brother, sister, house, and lands for my sake, he cannot be my disciple. And unless he bear his cross he cannot ”

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