Bloody Sunday II,

Bloody Sunday II, The Letters of Bishop Alerding   We are most grateful to Janice L. Hackbush, M.A., Archivist, Diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend Archives for researching and releasing the personal letters of the Most Rev. Bishop Alerding.   They give substance to the honest depth of feeling experienced by the participants in this significant event in the lives of our immigrant ancestors

The following are transcripts of letters from Bishop Alerding's Correspondence taken from the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend Archives.



                                                                                                January 23, 1914


To the members of St. Casimir's Parish at South Bend Indiana,


            The Rev. Father Gruza is the rightfully appointed pastor of St. Casimir's Church at South Bend, Indiana.  He is here with directed to take charge of the parish property as my representative.


                                                                                    U Herman J. Alerding,

                                                                                                Bishop of Fort Wayne

Box 4 page 236


                                                                                                January 23, 1914


No. 15053-d


Your Excellency:-


            Briefly stated, allow me to say that St. Casimir's Parish at South Bend, Indiana, is in charge of the Holy Cross Fathers (C.S.C.) of Notre Dame, two miles north of South Bend.  When the former pastor of this parish was removed, the parishioners refused obstinately to accept the successor sent to them by the Provincial, the Very Rev. A. Morrissey C.S.C., D.D.  The parish has been without a resident Pastor for about three months.  A committee of three, representing themselves as sent by the parishioners, called on me three times requesting me to place a secular priest over them as their pastor.  This I refused to you on the ground that such action by me would, in their opinion at least, sanction the open rebellion and obstinate refusal to submit.

            However the trouble I believe is now ended.  At least I hope that on next Sunday the pastor appointed by the Provincial will take charge without much opposition.  If this fails, I will communicate with Your Excellency.

            With highest esteem and reverence I remain Your Excellency humble servant in Christ.

                                                                                    H.J. Alerding,

                                                                                    Bishop of Fort Wayne


His Excellency,

The Most Rev. John Bonzano, D.D.

Archbishop of Melitene,

Apostolic Delegate of the United States




Box 4 page 239

                                                                                                January 26, 1914


Messrs Hubbard and Hubbard,

    South Bend, Ind.



            In reply to your telegram I am enclosing a copy of the letter I sent to Father Gruza in care of the Provincial Father Morrissey, on Jan. 23, to read to his parishioners, if this be necessary.  If they will not submit after that and all that has transpired since the beginning of this trouble.  I am at a loss to know what more to do or to say.  I trust they will submit.  They surely should.



                                                                                        H.J. Alerding

                                                                                          Bp of F.W.

Box 4 page 241


                                                                                                February 2d, 1914


Messrs, Hubbard and Hubbard,

            South Bend, Indiana.




                        I am returning you the document you sent with my signature to it.


            Allow me to say that a property holder has the assistance and the protection of the city police to eject anyone holding his property against his will and to remain in peaceful possession of the same.  Probably the court proceedings in which you are engaged are a bluff to intimidate the rebels of St. Casimir's church so that they will give peaceful possession to Father Gruza without the aid of the police club.  You may succeed in this but I do not believe you will.  My experience is that the club of the police is the only effective argument.

            The document I signed says that I appointed Father Gruza, but I approved Father Morrissey's appointment of Father Gruza.  But this does not make any material difference.  It is only a point of difference on which these rebels are great sticklers, for they wanted me to appoint a secular priest instead of me approving Father Morrissey's appointment of a Holy Cross Father.

            I certainly wish you success and hope you will succeed in as peaceful a manner as possible in inducing or compelling these stubborn people to submit to rightfully constituted authority.


                                                                                    Very respectfully,

                                                                                                H.J. Alerding,

                                                                                                    Bishop of Fort Wayne

Box 4 page 247

                                                                                                February 17th 1914


Messrs, Hubbard and Hubbard,

                        South Bend, Indiana.




                        I am in receipt of yours of the 15th, mailed at South Bend on the 16th

at 9 a.m.

            Yesterday I had an interview with Father Morrissey over the phone.  The subject of this interview was nothing new.  The Civil Court issued orders for the possession of the St. Casimir's church property: and these orders must be obeyed.  Though it would be a matter for serious regret, if the enforcement of the Court's orders should result in scenes even more disgraceful than those of last Sunday, yet there is a principle at stake which must be upheld at any cost.  The question that confronts us is, who rules at South Bend, is it Law or is it a mob.

            Incidentally I may be permitted to remark that the much vaunted liberty of the press, which liberty is interpreted to mean unrestricted license, in the instance of the Polish press is responsible for the inflamed condition of the Polish mind at the present time, not only in South Bend but elsewhere.  What will become of law and order under such conditions is not difficult to determine.

            Father Gruza is Father Morrissey's appointment for St. Casimir's parish.  Father Morrissey should be able with the assistance of the Court, to install the pastor appointed by him.



                                                                                    H.J. Alerding

                                                                                    Bishop of Fort Wayne

Box 4 page 267


Rome City


                                                                                                September 6th, 1914


            My Dear Very Rev. Father Provincial:-


                                    During the troublesome times of the St. Casimir's parish in South Bend, parishioners of the same engaged the services of the other pastors of South Bend for baptisms, marriages, funerals and so forth.  This continued for a time after Father Gruza took charge.  However, Father Gruza considered and rightly too, that the members of St. Casimir's parish should no longer go to these other pastors but to come to himself as the rightful pastor of St. Casimir's church.  He informed these other pastors that he forbade them to perform any functions or administer any sacraments to his parishioners and that he insisted they must come to himself as their pastor.  These other pastors complied with Father Gruza's demand.  As a consequence, so I am informed from reliable sources, these disaffected members of St. Casimir's pariah will not engage Father Gruza's spiritual services and that children remain unbaptized and marriages are unlawfully contracted and funerals neglected, simply because these people are refused by these other pastors and will not go to Father Gruza.  I am mentioning these things, though you may know all about them.  What makes matters worse the so called independents are at work at South Bend and the disaffected members of St. Casimir's parish are, so it is reported, joining these independents.

            Suprema lex salus animarium, it would be a wise course to pursue, if Father Gruza would permit these other pastors of South Bend to minister to the disaffected members of his parish, for some time at least, until they become reconciled and will feel more kindly towards Father Gruza.  I feel in conscience bound to write to you as I am doing and leave it to you to advise Father Gruza as you deem proper.


                        With every good wish, I remain

                                                                        Devotedly yours in Domino,

                                                                                    H.J. Alerding

                                                                                    Bishop of Fort Wayne


Box 4 page 416 & 417



                                                                                    October 30, 1914.


                        TO THE PASTORS OF SOUTH BEND


            Dear Rev. Father:-


                        After serious consideration and consultation, I consider it my duty to communicate to your Reverence the following directions:-


1.      Catholics everywhere have the right to confess to any duly authorized priest other than their own if they so desire, with the view to safeguard the worthy reception of the Sacrament of Penance.  If members of St. Casimir's parish come to your Reverence for confession, kindly and patiently hear them and prudently advise them.


2.      If they present themselves in your church to receive Holy Communion, you must not refuse to administer the Sacrament to them.


3.      If hearing their confession, you find that they do not send their children to the Catholic school, you must not absolve them, unless they promise to send their children to the parish school.


4.      The sick have a right to send for any priest to hear their confession.


5.      Beyond the four points just mentioned, your Reverence must not minister to the members of St. Casimir's parish: that is to say, you must not baptize their children, assist at their marriages, administer the Viaticum and Extreme Unction to the sick and bury their dead.


6.      If these members of St. Casimir's parish are properly disposed they will listen to and heed your admonition to return to their parish and do their duty by it.  If they are not rightly disposed any concession made to them will only confirm them in their obstinacy.


            I must add that you are not to publish what I here write to you either from the pulpit or otherwise, but that you are to be guided by these directions as opportunities present themselves.


            In the hope that the troubles of the parish in question will soon find a happy solution in once more bringing together the members as a unit, by out harmonious cooperation in united efforts to accomplish that happy end.  I remain


                                                            Devotedly yours in Domino,

                                                                        U H.J. Alerding

                                                                        Bishop of Fort Wayne


Box 4 page 445

Contributed by: Jim Piechorowski and John Kovatch

Project started: Monday, August 29, 2005 - 05:08: 08 PM

Monday, August 29, 2005 05:08:43 PM

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