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Wrapped in prayer to the end


5 December, 1893

Bishop Thomas Power died on December 4, 1893.

The population of the Colony of Newfoundland was informed through the pages of the local newspapers (December 5, 1893) that Bishop Thomas Joseph Power, 23 years Roman Catholic Bishop of St. John’shad died.

The St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Herald reported:

 “The Bishop’s death  (December 4, 1893) has been a sudden shock.  In apparent good health on Saturday, he is lying cold and silent in death on Monday evening.  A sharp attack of pneumonia brought on the end.”

Power’s significance lies almost entirely in the ecclesiastical field.

In 1875 the bishop brought the Irish Christian Brothers to Newfoundlandand placed them in charge of St Bonaventure’s College and the schools of the Benevolent Irish Society. Under his episcopate the religious congregations of the Sisters of Mercy and Presentation Sisters expanded and were introduced to parishes outside St John’s. During his episcopate the cathedral (now a Basilica) in St John’s, the demonstrable presence of Roman Catholicism in the island, was renovated; a monastery for the Christian Brothers, Mount St Francis, erected; and two orphanages, Belvedere for girls and Villa Nova for boys, as well as many churches and schools, built.

The Evening Herald report on the death of Bishop Power concluded:

Having received holy Viaticum, Bishop Power extended his hand and bade goodbye to his confessor, Reverend J. Walsh of Portugal Cove.  He then closed his eyes and remained wrapped in prayer to the end.  For hours the nuns, brothers, and priests knelt by his bedside, sprinkling his couch with blessed water and reciting the rosaries and litanies for the departing soul.  At last, after a long interval, came the final respiration, and even as the prayers of the Sisters, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” – were softly whispered in his ear, just as the hand of Father John Scott was raised in the last Absolution, a heavenly calm came over his features and the spark of life slowly went out and the soul of Thomas Joseph, Sixth Bishop of St. John’s, was safe  in the arms of his Heavenly Master.

(They just don’t write obitituaries like that any more!)

Bishop Power might however not be happy with his place of burial. He was buried in the crypt under the altar of the Basilica Cathedral.  It was his stated wish that:

 “my body be buried in St. Patrick’s Church, River Head  (Patrick Street) in front of the Convent Choir & opposite a side altar to be erected in honor of the great Patriarch St. Joseph.”

 Recommended Archival Collection: Archives of the R.C. Archdiocese ofSt. John’s.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography:  http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=40496