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Mary Aloysia Hardey

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Hardey, MARY ALOYSIA, of the Society of the Sacred Heart, who established all the convents of her order, up to the year 1883, in the eastern part of the United States, Canada, and Cuba; b. at Piscataway, Maryland, 1809; d. at Paris, France, June 17, 1886. Both her parents (Frederick Hardey, Sarah Spalding) were descended from old Maryland Catholic families. Mr. Hardey removed to Louisiana, his daughter became (1822) one of the first pupils of the Sacred Heart, Grand Coteau. She entered the order in 1825 and her extraordinary endowments soon justified her appointment (1835) as superioress of St. Michael. Bishop Dubois having invited the society to New York, Mothers Galitzin and Hardey opened in Houston Street the first Eastern convent; this school is now located in Aqueduct Avenue. A visit to Rome, the benediction of Gregory XVI, and a sojourn with Mother Barat in France, prepared Mother Hardey for her future work. Thenceforth she was directed in all by the blessed foundress until the death of that holy guide in 1865. Amidst overwhelming labors she maintained that unalterable serenity which was her distinctive trait. She was gifted by nature and grace for immense undertakings; she was of simple manners, her words were few and kind, and she had great power of organization. When asked on her deathbed the number of her foundations, she replied: “I have never counted them; I went where Obedience sent me”; that sentence delineates her character and her career. This alphabetic list of thirty convents, of which a few are now closed, represents the toil of more than forty years (from New York, 1841, to Atlantic City, 1883): Albany (New York), Astoria (New York), Atlantic City (New Jersey), Boston (Massachusetts), Buffalo, (New York), Cincinnati (Ohio), Clifton (Cincinnati, Ohio), Detroit (Michigan), Eden Hall (Torresdale, Pennsylvania), Elmhurst (Rhode Island), Grosse Pointe (Michigan), Halifax (Nova Scotia), Havana (Cuba), Kenwood (Albany, New York), London (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec), McSherrystown (Pennsylvania), Manhattanville (New York), New York City (Aqueduct Avenue, and Madison Avenue), Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Providence (Rhode Island), Rochester (New York) Rosecroft (Maryland), Sancti Spiritus (Cuba), Sandwich (Ontario), Sault-au-Recollet (Montreal), Saint-Jacques (Quebec), St. John (New Brunswick), St. Vincent (Quebec).

The hardships and perplexities entailed on one woman by all these foundations are hard to realize in these days when travelling is so easy and money so plentiful. Ten voyages to Europe, five to Cuba, and constant journeyings as mother provincial or visitatrix forced her to undergo much fatigue and peril. Her paramount concern was not the erection of convents but the formation of fervent religious as consecrated teachers; and where the world saw an executive and a benefactress, her communities found simply a vigilant but tender mother, an unfailing friend whose memory they bequeathed as a sacred legacy. The Civil War rent her heart, equally bound to North and South; food, money, hospital supplies, provisions for the Holy Sacrifice, went wherever suffering appealed. Her name became a household word. With Northern leaders, her influence was exerted on behalf of Southern convents; and she herself, passing through contending armies, brought aid to the southwestern houses. Liberal benefactions went to Cuban homes, 1860-70; to Chicago, after its great fire; to France, 1870-71; to the South, when ravaged with fever; in a word, to sorrow and necessity, always and everywhere. She provided twenty-five free schools in the States and Canada; beyond computing is the number of young girls educated gratuitously in her academies; while she delicately assisted many young aspirants to the priesthood to fulfil their vocations. Kenwood, Albany, became her residence and the novices’ home in 1866, when she erected the buildings which now contain the general novitiate for North America.

In 1871 she was appointed assistant general, an office requiring residence in the mother-house, Paris. She inspected first, as visitatrix, all convents of the order in the United States and Canada, and embarked for Europe in 1872. In the central government, her wisdom and experience were invaluable, while the example of her self-effacing humility was not less precious. She aided the superiors-general in visitations and foundations of French and Spanish convents, still supervising those of America. She came back to America on her official visits in 1874, 1878, 1882. Her daughters, who treasured her parting counsels as oracles, bade her a last farewell in 1884, when she returned to Paris as member of the general council. She had spent herself for God in the Institute; a severe illness struck her down in 1885, and after months of patient suffering, the end came peacefully.

She was buried in Conflans crypt, the tomb of the general administrators; but the persecutions of the French government suggesting removal of the venerated dead, her remains were bestowed on the country she had loved so profoundly and so loyally served. On December 12, 1905, she was interred at Kenwood, Albany, where, on the tablet from Conflans vault, her own order records its testimony to the work she achieved”… late per regions Americae … prudentia virtute”.


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