The Founding of St. Ignatius College (1849–1861)

Six years after the Jesuits arrived in California, St. Ignatius College appeared on Market Street as a one-room schoolhouse with the mixed blessing of ArchbishopAlemany. What makes the history of SI so remarkable is that six years after the construction of this small school, SI built an impressive college right next door and attracted an impressive faculty, as some of the best Jesuit minds of Europe, fleeing anti-Catholic sentiment, found their way to teach at this outpost college on the edge of the continent. The school quickly earned the respect of the citizens of San Francisco who sent their sons to learn from the good Italian fathers. These first few years also saw SI acquire a staggering debt that would cast a cloud over the school until the middle of the 20th Century.

Gold Rush Beginnings

Imagine San Francisco before the Gold Rush: only a few low scrub oaks, only a few settlers’ homes, only a ship or two in the harbor. All that changed within months after the discovery of gold on January 24, 1848. No one, least of all the Catholic Church, was prepared for the rush of people through the Golden Gate on their way to the gold fields. Fr. José Maria de Jesus Gonzales Rubio, a Franciscan missionary and administrator of the Diocese of California, in a letter written four months after the discovery of gold, wrote of his difficulty in ministering to these newcomers:

“Day by day we see that our circumstances grow in difficulty; that help and resources have shrunk to almost nothing; that the hope of supplying the needed clergy is now almost extinguished; and, worst of all, that through lack of means and priests, divine worship throughout the whole diocese stands upon the brink of total ruin… Oh! How we should fear, dearly Beloved, a chastisement so dread! A chastisement the greatest assuredly that could befall us from Heaven’s anger, which, it would seem, we already begin to experience, since God in his inscrutable judgments has, for the past few years, allowed that in this our country everything should be thrown into confusion; that the missionaries should die or abandon the country, while I have no hope of replacing them; that religious education should day by day disappear…”1

In the autumn 1848, Fr. John B. Brouillet, vicar-general of the diocese of Nesqually, Oregon, landed in San Francisco hoping to minister to Catholic miners headed for the gold fields. Fr. Antoine Langlois, a diocesan priest on his way to Canada to join the Society of Jesus, joined him a few months later. Fr. Brouillet asked him to stay in San Francisco, and he wrote to the Jesuit superior in Oregon for that permission. The answer: “He should labor in San Francisco, and leave the future in God’s hands.”2

Later, both Brouillet and Langlois, desperate for help, encouraged Fr. Michael Accolti, SJ, working in Oregon’s Willamette Valley (a part of the Jesuits’ Rocky Mountain Mission) to visit San Francisco, and they continued their work to minister and convert. In his journal, Langlois noted that this work continued “in spite of the natural obstacles thrown its way by the thirst of gold; gold, of which all had come in search from every part of the globe; in spite, moreover, of the drawbacks of uncertain employment, of various inconveniences, of the intermingling of people, strangers to one another, and this in tents for a considerable number; in spite of the temptations of bar-rooms and saloons on every hand for the multitudes that frequented them, to amuse themselves, drink and spend their time…”3

Brouillet wrote to Accolti that “the people [of California] desire you warmly and are urging you to come. Everybody is asking for a Jesuit College and here is what they put at the joint disposition of yourselves and the Sisters of Notre Dame: an entire mission, one of the finest and best equipped in the whole of California, with a magnificent church … on condition that a college and convent be set up there with the least possible delay….”

Accolti and the Jesuits in the Oregon territory had met with challenges working with Native Americans, especially after the inundation of whites into that region. Accolti wanted to work in California, but all the Jesuits were faced with an order by the Jesuit Father General John Roothaan barring his priests from seeking new mission work there, in part because he did not want to see the efforts of the Society stretched too thin and because of past prohibitions by the Mexican government against Jesuits traveling in its territory. Those prohibitions ended with the cession of California from Mexico to the United States on February 2, 1848, by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and Accolti believed that enough had changed since Roothaan’s order to warrant the journey, especially with the discovery of gold. “All the white Catholic population around Oregon City had left for California,” noted SI Archivist Michael Kotlanger, SJ ’64. “The success of the Indian mission work was slow and grudging. Greater good seemed to lie in California where the Rocky Mountain Mission was forbidden to expand.” Despite this prohibition, Accolti repeatedly petitioned his superior, Fr. Joseph Joset, SJ, for permission to sail to San Francisco; Accolti finally wore Joset down and permission was granted.4

(Accolti, the founder of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, pursued his dream of establishing churches and schools in California with amazing vigor. SI owes its origin as much to Accolti as to the school’s founder, Fr. Anthony Maraschi, SJ. Without Accolti’s years of campaigning, letter writing and personal appeals, the Jesuit mission in California might never have been.)

Joset asked Fr. John Nobili, SJ, who had met with poor health working at an isolated Indian mission post in British Columbia, to accompany Accolti to California. On December 3, 1849, the two boarded the O.C. Raymond, a lumber ship heading down the Columbia River for California, and arrived in San Francisco the night of December 8, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.5  In Accolti's memorial on the subject, he wrote that "the next day we were able to set foot on the longed-for shores of what goes under the name of San Francisco, but which, whether it should be called a villa, a brothel, or Babylon, I am at a loss to determine; so great in those days was the disorder, the brawling, the open immorality, the reign of crime which brazen-faced triumphed on a soil not yet brought under the sway of human laws."

Fr. Accolti initially entertained the idea of heading to the hills to dig for gold, but gave up that plan. In a letter to Fr. Roothaan three months after his arrival, he wrote the following: “Here we are in California, come not to seek gold in this country of wealth and treasure, but come to do a little good. Though at first there was thought of sending me with two brothers to the mines to seek means for the support of our missions, on further consideration, it was thought best to abandon such a project, which has its dangers, however you look at it. The object of our expedition to this country, according to Father Joset’s instructions, is threefold: 1. To exercise the ministry, especially in assisting the sick, who are always numerous in this city; 2. To see if things are favorable to the establishment of the Society as the Rev. Mr. Brouillet wrote us; 3. To make a collection in favor of the missions.”6

Accolti also wrote to Fr. Gonzales in Santa Barbara, the diocesan administrator, telling him of their arrival. They received a reply dated March 5, 1850, in which Fr. Gonzales wrote of his hope that “two colleges of the Society of Jesus should be established here; one in the north where you are, and another here in the south…. I desire [the establishment of the Society of Jesus] here. I desire it and have yearningly desired it; I have begged it of God with earnest pleadings…”7 He also promised financial assistance in the founding of these schools, though that money never materialized.

Accolti, clearly delighted by this invitation to the Society of Jesus to work in California, wrote back on April 9 that “the hopes of Catholicity in these parts lie mainly in the training of youth in religion, morals and letters” and that “what pleases us most is that your desires have spontaneously the same object as our own, in that your Reverence urges and exhorts us to build a college, although our letters written on January 28th and containing our humble request for such permission, had not as yet reached you.”8

He added that his first effort to build a school would be in San Jose both because it was “the chief city of Northern California” as the state capital at the time and because “some property and some money for the putting up of a part of the buildings have been freely offered by the faithful.”9

The Latin word collegio, it should be noted, had a different meaning in the 1800s than the modern meaning of the word “college.” It referred to the European model of a school typically comprising students from ages 6 to 18. St. Ignatius College, similar to Jesuit colleges throughout the world, remained primarily a grammar school and high school for much of the 1800s. It awarded its first bachelor of arts degree in 1863 but very few others until the 1900s. In 1864, for instance, only one-third of the 450 SI students were studying subjects on the college level, and most of those college students were between 16 and 18 years old. Between 1863 and 1880, SI issued only 57 academic degrees (31 Bachelor of Arts degrees, 11 Bachelor of Science degrees, one Master of Science degree and 14 Master of Arts degrees). “When the total number of 57 is compared with the number of students [enrolled] during this almost two decades being considered here, it becomes evident that most of the students were either in the preparatory or elementary divisions of the ‘College.’”10 Not until the GI Bill gave returning World War II veterans inexpensive access to college did the number of college students grow at USF and at most American colleges.

On May 31, 1850, Joseph Alemany, O.P., was ordained the Bishop of Monterey (a diocese embracing most of upper-California at the time). In March 1851, he turned over the parish of Santa Clara to Nobili and asked that he establish a Jesuit college there. What happened next was perhaps the most important step in the history of the Jesuits in California.

Accolti, frustrated that his letters to his superiors met with no response — they took on average two years to travel to Rome and for a response to be sent back — left for Rome in 1853 to meet personally with Father General Peter Beckx, SJ, to convince the Jesuit General to send more priests to California.11

Tensions in Europe would work to Accolti’s advantage. In the mid-1800s, Europe was rocked by revolutions. Liberal masses attacked the conservative restoration governments that returned to power following the final exile of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Jesuits generally supported the conservative regimes; thus, they, along with most of the Church, drew the enmity of an angry populace. This was especially true during Italy’s Risorgimento, the Italian unification movement that sought freedom from foreign control, including the Catholic Church.

As fate would have it, some of the best and brightest Italian Jesuits, including those in the Turin Province, were in exile or hiding and needed to find safe harbor. In 1854, Beckx asked Turin Provincial Alexander Joseph Ponza, SJ, to administer the California mission. Turin would benefit by having a central place for its priests to gather, to teach and to train novices, and Santa Clara College (and soon St. Ignatius College) would have sorely needed manpower and world-class scholars. The Turin Province administered the California mission until 1909, when the California Mission earned status as a separate province of the Society of Jesus.

Lot 127 Changes Hands

St. Ignatius College was not the first Jesuit school attempted in San Francisco. Fr. Flavian Fontaine (a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary who were staffing Mission Dolores) acquired land in 1853 and erected a brick building, which, he hoped, would educate both day students and boarders. After spending all the money he had and borrowing $2,000 more, he started construction on a site at what is now 14th and Walter Streets for the Catholic College of Mission Dolores. Unable to pay his debts, he fled San Francisco in September 1853 for Panama where he died.

With Accolti in Rome, Nobili saw a potential bargain in the new but empty college building. With the urging of Alemany, who became the first Archbishop of San Francisco in 1853 and who was eager to see a Catholic school thrive in San Francisco, Nobili purchased the property for $11,000. Fr. Flavian’s creditors demanded payment, and Nobili had to surrender more than $10,000 to secure rights to the building. When Accolti returned from Rome, he questioned the wisdom of Nobili’s purchase for good reasons.

The Jesuits did open a school in this building toward the start of 1854, but no records exist as to the specific date it opened or how many students it served. Fr. Francis Veyret, SJ, sent from Santa Clara College to be its president, was its only teacher. The school failed, despite its prominence as a two-story hillside structure, in part because students had a hard time walking to it and found the hillside a poor playground. The city’s buildings stopped at Third and Kearney Streets, and to the west lay sand dunes stretching to the ocean. To get to school, students had to take a stage down Third to Mission and then navigate a rickety plank walkway to the school through sand and brush.12 The school lingered until September 1854 when it closed forever, a costly experiment that continued to plague future Jesuit administrators for years. This educational experiment would be known from this point on as the “College of Sorrows,” both because of its sad history and its proximity to Mission Dolores. Despite this failed first attempt, even after losing the most valuable part of the property in litigation, the Society of Jesus refused to surrender the idea of establishing a school in San Francisco.

That idea became reality thanks to SI’s founder, Fr. Anthony Maraschi, SJ, who was born in Oleggio in the Piedmont region of Italy on September 2, 1820, and joined the Jesuits at Chieri in 1841. He taught for three years in Turin where his associates were greatly impressed by “his virtues and sterling character. His piety was sincere and deep, but it was an unobtrusive piety revealing itself in strict fidelity to duty…. The pupils given Fr. Maraschi were famous for dullness and inattention, yet there was no complaint from their teacher for his wasted toil, no apathy or discouragement. On the contrary, day after day one would generally find him carefully examining and correcting the wretched themes of his unpromising charges.”13

As a Jesuit, Maraschi seemed to his friends to “be cold and distant, but for all of that, possessing a warm heart.”14 He served as a “substitute procurator” (treasurer) and prefect of the boarders at the Jesuit college in Genoa in 1847, and then taught at the Jesuit college in Nice in 1848, but had to flee anti-clerical persecution that had plagued the Jesuits in Europe for years. The Jesuit house in Nice was attacked and the community driven into the streets by a crowd suspicious of Jesuit ties to the old monarchy. He lived in hiding at a friend’s house until Fr. Roothaan called him to Marseilles. There Monsignor De Mazenod, the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, ordained him on April 30.

Soon after, he set sail for America where he studied and taught at Georgetown College. He later taught philosophy at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and at Loyola College in Baltimore. He pronounced his final vows as a Jesuit on August 15, 1854, and then received orders from Fr. Provincial Ponza in Turin to journey to San Francisco to assist in the new Jesuit mission there. When Fr. Maraschi told Archbishop Francis Kenrick of Baltimore of his orders, Kenrick showed him a letter he had just received from Bishop Alemany in which he shared his dream of establishing in San Francisco “a good college for the education of male youth.”

Maraschi did not leave Baltimore alone. Two other Jesuits accompanied him — Fr. Charles Messea, SJ, and Fr. Aloysius Masnata, SJ (who would later become SI’s rector-president from 1873–76). Along with crowds of men hoping to find California gold, the three priests left New York on October 8, 1854, for Panama. There they made the difficult and dangerous overland journey across the isthmus to a Pacific port before embarking on the steamship Sonora bound for San Francisco. The three priests arrived on All Saints Day, November 1, into the wilds of the Barbary Coast district.

The city that Maraschi found was one hard to imagine for present-day San Franciscans. Between 1849 and 1851, a series of fires raged through the city, and thus it was constantly rebuilding itself (hence the symbol of the Phoenix rising from the ashes on the seal of the City of San Francisco). Newcomers could easily find the gambling halls and brothels that gained the Barbary Coast district its notoriety, but they could also find places of Christian worship among San Francisco’s 27 churches. In the city named for St. Francis of Assisi, however, only four of these churches were Catholic — St. Francis on Vallejo Street, St. Patrick’s on the site of what is now the Palace Hotel, Mission Dolores and St. Mary’s Church on California and Grant, completed in 1854. Also, despite the wealth enjoyed by the first gold-seekers, the city was filled with thousands of miners who came down from the hills never having struck it rich or who wintered there waiting for the Sierra snowmelt. They had no money for the high-priced goods that lined store shelves, and by the end of 1854, more than a third of the city’s 1,000 stores stood empty. In short, Maraschi landed in a city with few Catholic institutions and facing its first economic depression.

Maraschi reported to Archbishop Alemany who assigned him to work at St. Francis Church. Two months later, in January 1855, he was transferred to St. Patrick’s Church on Market near Third Street, on what was then the “western outskirts of the city” where he worked for seven months.15

Maraschi had come to San Francisco not only to serve as a parish priest but also to open a college. He saw the success of Santa Clara College to the south with its boarding students and felt that one boarding college was more than enough for the fledgling state at the time. He hoped to open a school for day students and sought permission from Archbishop Alemany. Encouraging him in this venture was Fr. Nicolas Congiato, SJ, who arrived in San Francisco on December 8, 1854, to serve as the superior of the Jesuit mission in California and who would later serve as the second president of St. Ignatius College.

Maraschi soon discovered that Alemany, while supportive of a Jesuit school, was not eager to see the construction of a Jesuit church, especially one that would not be under his control. Church laws at that time were ambiguous regarding ownership of church property; religious orders and bishops each claimed ownership of church deeds. Alemany also worried that the Jesuits, with their penchant for preaching, would lure away parishioners and their offerings from the archdiocesan churches.

In “A relation of the facts connected with the foundation of Saint Ignatius College of the Society of Jesus in San Francisco, California,” written by Maraschi in 1863, he writes of this tension and of the permission Alemany finally gave for the building of the school. (Note that Maraschi refers to himself in the third person):

“Several pieces of ground were offered for our establishment, but his Grace, after whose pleasure Fr. Maraschi had been directed to inquire, objected to the best of them because they were too near the other churches. We may mention in particular the house and lot of Mr. Dillon, the French Consul who was quitting San Francisco with his family. When Fr. Maraschi proposed it to his Grace, he got for an answer that he might open the College there, but for the church, he should never think of opening it there, because it would take away the people from the Cathedral and the church of St. Francis. Indeed, the situation of that property was such as to be near the upper angle of an isosceles triangle, the two churches above mentioned being at the two extremities of the base.

“We had thus come to the beginning of April [1855] without doing anything, when Fr. Maraschi requested his Grace to open his mind plainly with regard to the part of the city where he desired we should start our establishment, it being the will of the Superiors of the Society not to depart from his views on the matter in question. Then His Grace pointed with the pen on the map of the city, just to the place where we are, saying that thereabout was the place where he would like we settle ourselves. It pleased Almighty God to dispose that precisely the very lot which His Grace had marked out with his pen, should be for sale a few days afterwards.”

About this location, Maraschi is reported to have said, “Here, in time, will be the heart of a great city.” History proved him an apt prophet.

Fr. Joseph W. Riordan, SJ, in his history, recounts this incident differently, noting that Alemany pointed to the parcel not with a pen but with “a sweep of his hand toward the unoccupied lands,” and telling Maraschi to build “any place over there!” Whether Alemany pointed with pen or with a sweep of the hand, it is easy to speculate that his primary desire in locating SI so far from the people of San Francisco was to protect his own struggling churches from competition with the Jesuits.

Alemany insisted that the Jesuits not take up a collection to fund their new school and church, forcing the Jesuits to fund the venture through loans. Maraschi added that “whilst we were building, somebody spread through the city that we were doing it without permission and against the will of His Grace.” The archbishop dispelled that rumor by preaching at the church’s opening. However, he also arranged a meeting between the Jesuits and his diocesan priests to fix “the limits of the district attached to our Church, subject to any change which the Ordinary might make from time to time.”

Maraschi purchased the land, known as Lot 127 on Market Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets. The parcel measured 127 feet by 275 feet and was owned by Thomas O. Larkin, the first American Consul in Monterey, who sold it for $11,500. “The title proving satisfactory, the deed was made out in favor of Father Congiato on May 1, 1855, and the price was put down in cash, the money being borrowed from the French firm of V. Marsion connected with the firm of the same name in Paris and Havre, France.” The bank charged 1.5 percent interest per month on this $11,000 loan, increasing the Jesuits’ debt to $26,000.16

One might easily make the mistake of conjuring visions of the present day Market Street with its traffic and landmark buildings. In 1855, Market Street made an abrupt stop at Third Street, and only sand dunes and low dune plants, with an occasional shanty, could be found to the west. The first site of St. Ignatius College ran along a street that existed only on planners’ maps, in an area known as St. Ann’s Valley (though it was far from a verdant valley) in a narrow depression between two sand hills. Each time Maraschi went out to inspect the property, he found it looked a little different as the dunes constantly changed shape with the shifting sands.17

Also, if the $11,000 price Maraschi paid seems exorbitant for land in the middle of uninhabited sand dunes, the amount seems even more extraordinary when we learn that, in today’s dollars, the price would be more than $200,000. San Francisco real estate, among the most costly in the nation today, sold at a premium ever since the Gold Rush.

Maraschi wasted no time in hiring workers to construct a simple wood and plaster church on the site. The simple structure with “a plain gable roof on four plain walls, neat and decent in every particular” cost $4,000 and was ready for its dedication on July 15, 1855. 18

Educating the Youth of the Bay Area Since 1855

At the dedication of St. Ignatius Church, Archbishop Alemany preached and declared that he was “most happy to have the members of the Society of Jesus as his cooperators in the work of promoting the salvation of souls and in giving a good education to the youth of the diocese and especially in the city of San Francisco.” Nobili, now the president of Santa Clara College, traveled the 50 miles to take part in the ceremony of blessing and dedication. Maraschi and three other Jesuits (Decius Solari, SJ, Urban Grassi, SJ, and Joseph Carreda, SJ) also took part in the dedication ceremony. As a newspaper account noted, “There was a large attendance on the occasion, a considerable portion of whom were ladies.”19

Maraschi was now the pastor of St. Ignatius Church, which measured 75 feet long by 35 feet wide and had enough pews for 400 people. His first assistant pastor, Fr. Joseph Bixio, SJ, arrived in California in early July, and only stayed a year in the city before being transferred to Santa Clara.

(Fr. Bixio, described as a “strikingly handsome, nervous man with an athletic build and a commanding, genial presence” later gained notoriety by serving as a chaplain during the Civil War, ministering to both sides in Virginia and West Virginia.20 He was eventually arraigned before General Philip Sheridan before being released and earned an unwarranted reputation as a spy.21 He eventually returned to live at SI from 1866–1870, and after a stint in Australia, returned again in 1880 carrying with him botanical samples from that country for the SI science labs. He died March 3, 1889. For more on this adventurer-priest, read the account by Fr. Cornelius Buckley, SJ, in the spring 1999 issue of California History.)

Maraschi then set workers to build the simple wood-frame one-room school building 20 feet behind the church and a two-room residence for himself and Bixio. The first St. Ignatius College (advertised in its first year as “St. Ignatius Academy”) was not an impressive edifice. The one-classroom school building measured 16 by 26 feet (according to McGloin) or 25 by 40 feet (according to Riordan) and cost $750 to construct. A portion of the classroom served as the residence of the school’s first teacher, a layman by the name of John Haley.

On the first day of classes, October 15, 1855, the school opened its doors to its first students. We can only imagine what Maraschi, Bixio, and Haley expected to find that first morning. If they had hoped to see a long line of students or a crowd pushing to get in, they must have been gravely disappointed to see only three students looking up at them.

Of the three, we know the name only of Richard McCabe, though an 1878 report mentions that all three pioneer students of St. Ignatius Academy had become “well known professional men of San Francisco.”22 Of SI’s first student, theLangley San Francisco Directory Book lists two men by the name Richard McCabe. One was listed as a lithographer and zincographer who worked first at Britton & Rey Company (one of the big printing firms in town) and later for A.L. Bancroft & Company on Market Street, which did quality fine printing and engraving and which appears to have handled much of the financial district printing including stock and bond certificates. The other Richard McCabe was listed as an organist at St. Francis Church. (Fr. Kotlanger, archivist for both USF and SI, suspects the SI McCabe to be the former of the two.)

Over the next several days and weeks, only 20 more students joined the original three. These students came from 14 families, as they included several siblings, with each child paying about $2 a month in tuition. Maraschi made the decision to close early for the year, and, by February, Haley vacated his premises in the front of the classroom. Several of the Jesuits took up residence in the school building during this hiatus including Accolti, who had replaced Bixio after Alemany sent him to minister to Catholics living on the Peninsula. Another Jesuit in residence was the newly arrived Br. Albert Weyringer, SJ. This young brother, 50 years later, commented on the early days of the school for Riordan’s book:

“We lived in a hole surrounded by sand hills. Toward the city, which was some distance to the east, and from which we were cut off by barriers of sand, there was but one house, [that of] the shanty of a milkman on the adjoining lot. Westward there was the Lincoln School standing out considerably into what is now Market Street, but during my residence in St. Ignatius the buildings were unoccupied.

“Behind us rose a sand hill which sloped again towards Mission Street, and served as neutral territory between our college and a public school which had been built there. This neutral ground, however, was often invaded from the school mentioned, for a Jesuit in cap and cassock was a rare object of curiosity to the children of those days in San Francisco; and, perched on the hilltop, they surveyed the scene below, making Father Maraschi the butt of many a remark, much to the mortification of their teacher who could not repress their rudeness.

“The residence was small and poor, and the accommodations so scant that, for a time, Fathers Accolti and Maraschi shared the same room. But as for sleeping, Father Maraschi used only a mattress, which he rolled up by day and spread on the floor by night, his part of the furniture was easily housed….

“[After the term ended] my chief occupation consisted in cutting a road through the sand behind the house, the intention being to establish communication with Mission Street. My labor was quite successful for a time, and even the strong winds which at that season prevailed, kindly gave me valuable assistance; for all that was required was to lift the sand with my shovel and toss it into the air, and presently it was scattered far and wide to my intense pleasure.

“I had gotten indeed to like the wind and even to look on it, in a manner, as a partner in my toil, when all of a sudden the rude awakening came. One night this very wind, which had dealt with me so kindly, came in great gusts from the ocean. How it howled and shrieked around our little buildings, which rocked under its rude touch, as it hurried by! And my road? The wind came, and went — and my road with it. Morning showed an unbroken hillside beneath which my planks were buried, and I was out of a job, since it was evident that so long as the hill remained, no matter what labor might be expended, the permanency of the road could never be assured.”

Weyringer went on to speak of how the sand covered the vegetables and flowers in the Jesuits’ garden, how the remoteness of the site left the Jesuits free of the “excitement attending the days of the Vigilance Committee,” and how they were rarely disturbed except for “spiritual ministrations” by the locals in need of a priest. He also wrote about finding a colorful plant and transplanting it in front of the church door with the hopes of training it around the doorway. He removed it only after Fr. Maraschi informed him that the plant was Poison Oak.

(Among those who needed spiritual ministrations were Charles Cora and James Casey, both victims of the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance. Both Maraschi and Accolti gave last rites to these two men before their death by hanging on May 22, 1856. Maraschi also witnessed the marriage of Cora to his mistress, Belle, on the morning of his execution.)23

School is in Session

The school re-opened the following fall, this time drawing 89 students for the 1856–57 term. These students, primarily the sons of Irish and Italian immigrants, went to a school whose purpose was distinct from that of public schools in the U.S. The purpose of Catholic, Jesuit education was not only to train students for a career but also, in the words of Nobili, “to cultivate the heart, to form and cherish good habits, to prevent and eradicate evil ones.”24 Maraschi, in establishing SI Academy, was carrying forth the spirit of Jesuit education laid out in the Ratio Studiorum, a guidebook for the establishment of Jesuit schools first published in 1599 and revised in 1832.

This “Magna Carta of Jesuit education” the Ratio Studiorum gave both St. Ignatius and Santa Clara colleges nearly the same prescribed curriculum as every other Jesuit school around the world. It included a study of the classic languages (Latin and Greek), the humanities (drama, history, and literature), theology and philosophy (which included natural sciences and mathematics). This new system of education “assumed that literary or humanistic subjects could be integrated into the study of professional or scientific subjects; that is, it assumed that the humanistic program of the Renaissance was compatible with the Scholastic program of the Middle Ages.”25

>Fr. Richard Gleeson, SJ, described the Ratio Studiorum this way: “In that system, the teacher exacts either by himself or through the boys themselves the memory exercise. He then gives … whether [for] one of the ancient classics or the modern, a Prelection so-called. A passage is read and thoroughly gone over with attention to the grammatical structure and idioms in the lower classes, to the various beauties of style in the intermediate classes, to the structure and imagery and rhythm in the class for Humanities or Poetry, and to the principles of oratory in the class of Rhetoric. A similar Prelection is given in the precepts of grammar, of poetry, of eloquence in the respective classes, with insistence not so much on the diction of the author followed, as on his thoughts. These Prelections are exacted from the individual students on the following days. Weekly repetitions, monthly repetitions; half-yearly and yearly repetitions go over the same matter. It is drill, drill, drill. The teacher is alive and he keeps his class alive. The Prefect of Studies visits the classes systematically, inspects the work, encourages pupils and teachers, and, when there is need, corrects the former and instructs the latter. The ideal teacher will draw out his individual pupils. He will train them to think, to think clearly and deeply and promptly. He will train them to express their thoughts quickly, elegantly, forcibly. The boy is being equipped for his work in life, professional, mercantile, mechanical. He will be able to concentrate his powers on any matter that comes for his consideration and give an account of his thoughts and his investigation…. In all this training one point cannot be sufficiently noted — the individual touch. Each teacher in this system reaches out to and affects each of his pupils in whom he is personally interested.”26

While the SI curriculum included such traditional fare as Latin, Greek, English, French, Spanish, poetry, rhetoric, elocution, history, geography, arithmetic, and moral philosophy, Maraschi felt pressure from students and parents to teach practical, vocational courses. As one Jesuit noted in 1866, “Oh what a waste of time are Latin and Greek, for so many students that I now see [are] working … as grocer, butcher, and who knows what else!”27 Jesuits believe in adapting their programs to fit the needs of the place in which they minister; thus, from the first, SI offered bookkeeping and “natural philosophy,” which translated into a study of practical sciences such as mineralogy, assaying and chemical analysis to prepare students to work in the mining industry. In fact, miners brought their ore samples to the priests for assaying because the Jesuits had a reputation for honesty and accurate analysis.

Later, SI’s physics and chemistry cabinets (laboratories and collections) would grow to be among the best in the country. A national survey of science courses polled 500 American colleges and universities in 1880 and listed SI among 120 institutions judged to be “superior.” SI’s science courses were described as being “unusual” or “remarkable.”28

Younger students in the preparatory department studied spelling, reading, writing, the elements of arithmetic, history and geography.29 Students learned their subjects by writing compositions and engaging in discussions, disputations and contests. As in Italy, the academic year ended with a series of public examinations called saggi. One Jesuit noted that these events (where one had to show mastery of a subject such as Latin or rhetoric) “would have honored the Roman College to say nothing of any other college of our Italian provinces.”30

The Jesuits reined in their young charges with strict discipline, and Accolti bragged that his students showed “exact compliance with the rules of discipline.” Jesuit schools, he added were strict, but “of course not so stringent as that enforced at West Point.”31

This standardized system, which saw education not as an end but as a means (to glorify God, to perfect the self, to assist in the service of others), allowed priests to come from Europe and easily start teaching at SI and to move between Santa Clara and St. Ignatius Colleges with little difficulty as the curriculum, textbooks, examinations and philosophy of education were the same. “This allowed for plug-in teachers who could be moved as needed,” according to Fr. Kotlanger. This practice continued well into the 20th century when centralized oversight ended.

The priests and brothers sent by the Turin Province established the reputations for years to come of both St. Ignatius and Santa Clara Colleges. Up until 1909, when California became its own province, nearly 100 priests, brothers and scholastics from Italy came to California and the Pacific Northwest to work as teachers and missionaries. In fact, of SI’s first 14 rector-presidents, only four were non-Italians.32 Later, with the establishment of the novitiate in Santa Clara, many native-born Americans joined those Italians.

One Irish-born teacher noted that the Jesuits from Turin were “like the Greeks after the fall of Constantinople. They brought with them libraries, scientific instruments and the education and habits, which fit men for the life of teaching. The Fathers, however, labored under one defect — both in the pulpit and in the classroom. They spoke and taught in a language not altogether English, and their manners and ideas were too Italian to meet the taste of the young Republicans of the West.”33 Because of this limitation, Jesuits from the East Coast came to help their California brothers.

These refugee priests included “gentlemen of great culture and personal charm” as well as “impressive academic credentials” such as Fr. Aloysius Varsi, SJ, who, to prepare himself for a career as an astronomer in the Jesuit-run Imperial Observatory in China, studied at the University of Paris, the same college that Ignatius and many other Jesuit scholars had attended. Other noteworthy scholars included Fr. Joseph Bayma, SJ, a mathematician, philosopher and theoretical physicist whose Elements of Molecular Mechanics “earned him recognition as a pioneer in stereochemistry,” and Fr. Anthony Cichi, SJ, and Fr. Joseph Neri, SJ, both skilled scientists. Neri was the first to introduce electric lights to San Francisco and lit Market Street in 1876 with “arc lights of his own invention” to help celebrate the nation’s centennial.34 (More on these men in upcoming chapters.)

These great priests also brought with them a devotional life that was alien to much of the western United States. They structured the school calendar around feast days and holy days of obligation. “Pilgrimages to the shrine of St. Joseph [the patron saint of the California Province] in March, Marian devotions in May, Corpus Christi processions in June, the construction of elaborate crèches at Christmastime — all were standard fare. These rituals of Mediterranean Catholicism nurtured a sense of solidarity and reminded practitioners that their church was universal.” This structured practice became popular as the Catholic population of the state grew with the influx of Irish, German and Italian immigrants.35

Years of Growth: 1856–1860

SI started in debt and continued in debt until well into the 20th century. By the end of 1856, SI owed nearly $20,000, and was operating at a loss. The school’s net revenues were barely half of what was paid on the annual interest ($1,489) toward its debt.36 To pay off this interest, Maraschi simply borrowed more money.

He also needed funds to hire a new teacher for the school’s second year. Peter J. Malloy, like SI’s first teacher, was an immigrant from Ireland. (Malloy would later become California’s first Jesuit candidate for the priesthood when he entered the Jesuit ranks at Santa Clara College on September 1, 1857. He died several months later, on December 20, 1857, and is buried in the Mission Dolores cemetery.)

The school grew in 1858 when Maraschi built two new classrooms behind the first school building. That year he also purchased a collection of shells for the school’s museum and bought scientific instruments. “We do not deny that the museum and [scientific] cabinet of 1858 were very small affairs,” writes Riordan. “We merely wonder that there were any at all … when we reflect that their inception coincides with a period of great financial depression in San Francisco, when the city was in great part depopulated by the mad rush to the gold fields of Frazer river.”37

Fortunately, the 1858–1859 term saw an increase in the number of students (75) and faculty. In addition to the laymen William Barry, John Grace and John Egan, several priests were active in the faculty. Maraschi taught Greek and Spanish; Fr. Emmanuel Nattini, SJ, taught music; Fr. Urban Grassi, SJ, taught English and mathematics; and Fr. Alphonse Biglione, SJ, taught Latin, English, French and Algebra. Fr. Biglione also established the Students’ Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, marking the start of a tradition that lasted until the 1970s with the start of Christian Life Communities at the Sunset District campus. (Fr. Grassi had earlier taught at Santa Clara College. His transfer to SI marked the start of ebb and flow of teachers between these two schools for years to come.)38

The Monitor, the Catholic newspaper for San Francisco, published this ad in its April 3, 1858, edition:

Day School
The third annual session of the Day School at St. Ignatius Church, Market Street, between Fourth and Fifth, directed by the Fathers of the Society of Jesus, commenced on the 1st of September. The hours of attendance are from 9 o’clock a.m. to 3 o’clock p.m. Pupils of all denominations admitted.

Terms
English, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Greek, Elocution, Arithmetic, Bookkeeping, Mathematics, History, Geography, per month, $8

Preparatory Department, $5. Three lessons weekly will be given in drawing for $2 per month. No extra charge for vocal music and stationery. Payments to be made monthly in advance.

For further information apply in the forenoon to A. Maraschi, S.J.

Before the end of the term, on April 30, 1859, the state legislature granted a charter to the school, and SI officially incorporated under California state law. St. Ignatius Academy changed its name to St. Ignatius College and had the right to confer degrees. That August, the Alta California published an article praising Maraschi as “eminently qualified for the position [of college president], being a finished scholar and a man of high moral character. He has labored incessantly to advance the interests of those placed under his charge and the examination of the several classes exhibited the complete success which has attended his efforts.”39

The faculty continued to change throughout the 1850s and 1860s as priests were transferred between Santa Clara and SI and as lay teachers came and went with each new discovery of gold or with the lure of a higher-paying job. The one constant was Maraschi who, in typical Jesuit fashion, wore many hats. In addition to serving as college president, he acted as treasurer; an instructor of Latin, Greek and Spanish; and parish priest for St. Ignatius Church where he (as with all Jesuits stationed at SI) celebrated Mass, heard confessions, visited the sick, kept the books and maintained and expanded the facilities. Maraschi served as president until 1862 when he turned the duties over to Fr. Nicolas Congiato, SJ, but he stayed on at SI where he served as treasurer and teacher until his death. SI thrives still because of Fr. Maraschi’s careful stewardship, his desire to build SI into a world-class college and his loving devotion to the students, the faculty, and the people of San Francisco.

(As an interesting aside, Fr. Maraschi spent some time surreptitiously tutoring a young woman, Charlotte McFarland, who had been orphaned in infancy and given over to her aunt to raise. That aunt was both staunchly anti-clerical and opposed to the formal education of women. Charlotte somehow contacted Maraschi who agreed to teach her to read. Charlotte had to hide her books from her aunt, who would burn them upon discovery. “But both Fr. Maraschi and my mother were persistent,” said Jack Gibbons ’37, Charlotte’s son. “She was an extremely bright woman who, later in life, would read the Wall Street Journal and the racing form every day. She thought the sun rose and set on Fr. Maraschi.”)

Snapshots of School Life: 1860-1861

By 1860, the school consisted of several ramshackle classrooms that lacked “a oneness of plan” that made for “an unsatisfactory patchwork.”40 Maraschi was reluctant to build anything that would increase the school’s sizeable debt, and through prudent administration, he was able to cut that debt by $1,200 and purchase more scientific equipment including “a steam engine, an electric machine and appendices, an air pump and appendices, articles bought at San Francisco College, a theodolite, a compression fountain…. [and a] telescope, a very fine instrument, and for many years the best in California.”41 (San Francisco College, which operated briefly, was forced to close due to lack of patronage.)

By December 1860 the sand hill behind the school had been leveled to create a playing field, and Maraschi instituted the school’s first athletic program by giving students a ball to play with. Students provided their own organization and coaching for whatever games they devised. (It would take 50 more years for a formal sports program to emerge when SI joined the city’s Academic Athletic League in 1910.

Enrollment at SI increased as people gained easier access to it, thanks, in large measure, to the Market Street Railroad Company, which, on July 4, 1860, opened a line on Market Street from Third to Valencia Streets, running both horsecar and steam train lines. Students could also use a wooden plank walkway that connected the church and school to the city through what would become Union Square. In the spring and summer of 1861 work crews graded and “macadamized” Market Street, making it easier for students to walk to school.

One of those students was John J. Cunningham, who was listed in the school’s first college catalogue of 1861. (The catalogue, also called the prospectus, was an early non-illustrated version of the yearbook, listing students, teachers, courses and prizewinners for each year.) He had enrolled the previous year at the age of 6 and later wrote about his first day at school:

“I remember the adventure as if were just this morning. [My mother and I walked up Jessie Street to Fourth Street to a gate] that led to the ascent of the hill of learning, along the rough pine planks that furnished footing for the children that went to the school on top of the hill. Ushered into the room, my awe-stricken eyes beheld my future pedagogue, Mr. John Egan, who presided over the educational development of some 30 urchins, ranging from 5 years of age to 13 or 14. My name was registered; I was assigned a seat; I was kissed goodbye by my mother, who warned me not to eat in class and to be home early for dinner…. I recall that, in June 1861, St. Ignatius College held its closing exercises in the open, at the rear of the church. The year following, we had a wet winter and our classes were held in the basement of the church, the floors of which had to be raised by planking that we boys might go dryshod to our classrooms.”42

(Cunningham would later become the first native-born Californian to enter the Society of Jesus, and he spent nearly 60 years in the order before his death in 1931. He distinguished himself by directing the Gentlemen’s Sodality of St. Ignatius Church and would be the first of a long line of SI alumni who would return to their alma mater to teach.)

The catalogue that included Cunningham’s name also included the school’s rules of behavior: “All must treat their companions as becomes persons of polite education. Anything, therefore contrary to a decent behavior, all wrestling, laying hands on each other, all improper language, all disorderly conduct in going to or returning from school, are strictly forbidden.

“The school room is to be considered at all times, sacred to silence and study … all cutting of benches, or otherwise injuring any of the furniture or walls, or writing upon them, is strictly forbidden.”

The following year’s catalogue emphasized that the school’s purpose was to give “a thorough classical, mathematical and philosophical education…. Experience has proved that by this method are imparted the best literary education, the fullest knowledge of English, and the most perfect training of the mind; and, on the other hand, exemptions in this regard have been found to be a great source of idleness and indifference to study.”43

Students were also kept from “idleness” by attending Mass each Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and by assisting “at the explanation of Catechism on Tuesday and Friday as well as receiving the sacrament of penance once a month.” Note that the two days off for students were Thursday and Sunday, as the school followed the Italian system of education. This schedule did not change for many years.44

Riordan offers us another glimpse inside the life of the students and teachers in his description of the “good, simple Fr. Benedict Piccardo! Who does not remember him of the facile pen, from which Latin hexameters flowed with astonishing ease and elegance? Who that ever came in contact with him has not seen him glow with enthusiasm at the mere mention of the name of Virgil, theAeneid of whom he almost knew by heart? Start a line at random, and Fr. Piccardo, even in his declining years … would immediately continue the text. His devotion to Virgil, for it would be hard to speak of it by any other name, may indeed at times have amused by the very intensity of its earnestness; but it never failed to produce its effect upon the minds of his pupils, and stir up a spirit of loving regard for the classics.”45

The Jesuits at SI entertained a few noteworthy visitors including the famed Jesuit missionary Peter DeSmet, who had recruited many of the first Italian Jesuits to come to North America and who was a well-respected “Black Robe” among Native American tribes in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions. Another noteworthy visitor was Fr. Felix Sopranis, SJ, the visitor general of the Jesuit houses in America, who had arrived on March 25, 1861, to make an official inspection of SI. He spent two months in California, mostly in San Francisco, and recommended that the school, though deep in debt, borrow more money to expand. He also asked Maraschi to wait until the arrival of Fr. Burchard Villiger, SJ, the new superior of the California mission.

Villiger arrived in May and took over as president of Santa Clara College, where he turned the one-story adobe classrooms there into a grander college. He also felt that SI should build a school befitting the new city of San Francisco and instructed Maraschi to raise funds to build a three-story brick building adjacent to the church.

Villiger knew that Americans equated great education with grand buildings. As Fr. McKevitt writes in his history of Italian Jesuits in the United States, “Wherever they went, the émigrés [Jesuits] were torn between two conflicting desires: to adhere to European conventions and to adapt to the exigencies of American culture. When erecting schools and churches, the exiles quickly learned that handsome buildings were essential in their adopted homeland. ‘Appearances count for a lot here,’ a Neapolitan Jesuit wrote. ‘The American, more than any other nationality is impressed by appearances, and believes in what he sees.’ They believe ‘a beautiful building must signify an excellent school,’ and hence ‘we must adapt to this weakness of theirs.’”46

Despite a debt of $24,000, Maraschi appealed to the St. Ignatius Church parishioners and SI parents to help with the construction of the new school. Up until then, Maraschi had not troubled his parishioners by asking for donations, and they were grateful for this reticence. They responded well to his request for school funding also, in part, because the popular six-year-old school had proved a success. The first gift of $100 came from a Mr. D. J. Oliver and several other sizeable gifts followed. In August 1861, Maraschi purchased for $11,000 the adjoining lots to the west of the school as the site for the new college and church.

The men of San Francisco supported SI in other ways, too. As a student Sodality had already been formed, the Jesuit fathers thought a men’s Sodality would be a fitting addition. They invited the men of the parish and fathers of students to meet November 6, 1861, to organize a Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It eventually included “the most prominent Catholic laymen of the city; and there was every reason to hope much both for the private spiritual welfare of those who composed it and the general good of Catholicity in San Francisco, from an organized body of men not ashamed to profess publicly the piety of their hearts.” The Gentlemen’s Sodality remained a prominent part of St. Ignatius Church activity until the late 1960s.47

This group found its counterpart in the Ladies Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It started when “the ladies of the congregation … began to look with envious eyes upon the [men’s] organization, and to ask why they, too, might not have a like Sodality. Surely they were as devoted to the virgin Mother as the men; if any doubt existed, well just give them a chance to disprove it.” Thus, on May 14, 1862, that organization sprang into being. “So generous was the response to this invitation, and so rapid the growth of the [ladies] sodality, that by the end of the month it far outnumbered that of the men [and] could boast a regular membership of 290.”48

The Eloquent Indian & The Archbishop

In August 1861, SI appointed its first prefect of discipline in the form of Fr. James Vanzina, SJ, “who received from Superiors the task of mastering the difficulties of the character of the American boy … while he, at the same time, sought to master those, even greater, of the English idiom.”49 That same month also saw the arrival of the most famous Jesuit preacher of his time, Fr. James Chrysostom Bouchard, SJ. Bouchard was the son of Marie Elizabeth Bucheur (or Beshard) who had immigrated to the U.S. from France with her parents. When members of the Comanche tribe killed her parents during a raid, she was adopted by the Lenni-Lenappi tribe, an offshoot of the Delawares, and later married the tribe’s chief, Kistalwa. They had two children, the younger being Swift-Foot, the future priest. “It is said that even from infancy he showed a remarkably religious spirit and would gather his little companions around him and tell them what he had learned from his mother about the Great Spirit.”50 When he turned 12, his father died when the tribe attacked the Sioux. A Presbyterian minister took him to study at Marietta College in Ohio, and he eventually became a minister. While visiting St. Louis, he heard Fr. Damen preach to children. Riordan writes that “he listened, was impressed by what he heard, sought more light and was received into the Church in January 1846.”

After entering the Society of Jesus in 1848, he gathered large crowds wherever he preached. Upon his arrival in California, he used SI as his base of mission operations — maintaining a room there for 30 years — while preaching to throngs at St. Ignatius Church and throughout the western states in cities, towns and mining camps.

Bouchard’s popularity, while a boon to St. Ignatius Church, caused a problem for Alemany who was besieged by the complaints of many of his parish priests, already heavily in debt, who were losing parishioners to the Jesuits. Alemany, himself, was also losing patience with the Jesuits, especially with their autonomy in relation to St. Ignatius Church and parishes. The problem came to a head in the 1860s with SI’s plan to build a new school next to its first Market Street site.

In an 1862 letter to Archbishop John Baptist Purcell of Cincinnati, Alemany mentioned some of his frustrations with SI, noting that he had invited the Jesuits to open a school “with a view to have the Catholic boys of this city taught almost gratuitously.” Now they “charged rather too much.” Further, “until recently they had but a small school…. Now they have placed a large number of Fathers in their establishments here, some of whom preach with much satisfaction to the people; they carry on an immense building to be used principally for church and their residence; they seem to spare no means to attract all, and, by means of confraternities, they seem to obtain large numbers from other parishes to their church. This naturally has excited most of the secular priests…. This puts me in a fix; for while I should like the good will of the Fathers…. I should not let the flocks be diverted from their pastors….”51

In 1862, Alemany sent Fr. Nicolas Congiato, SJ, then president of St. Ignatius College, a letter making a surprising request for evidence: “To comply with what I consider my duty, I must inquire of you whether you have permission from the Holy See for the erection of your college or institution of St. Ignatius in this city — and, if so, what is the date of this permission? I must also ask of you a list of the Fathers and Brothers attached to St. Ignatius with their respective ages, and whether they be professed or simple novices. I fear that there is not prudence enough used by all under your care. The love of God demands that we should be prudent.”52

Congiato forwarded this letter to his superior in Rome along with this commentary: “Here is another of those sweet and consoling letters which have been emanating from His Grace the Archbishop for the last few months … I am at a loss to understand what the Archbishop means by what he asks and says of us. As far as I know, no imprudence in any way has been committed by any under my care here in San Francisco of late. The poor Archbishop is led by the nose and believes whatever is told about us by those who surround him.”53

Those who led Alemany “by the nose,” according to Congiato and other SI Jesuits, were the dozen parish priests on his diocesan council. In 1863, Alemany asked these priests to comment on the “harmful” activities of the San Francisco Jesuits. Their replies were lengthy and vociferous, accusing the Jesuits of luring away parishioners by encouraging membership in the sodalities and by the “lavish distribution of the St. Ignatius Water … a beverage, in fact superceding the Napa Soda Water and the various ‘nostrums’ guaranteed for the infallible cure of all the maladies of human nature.”54

Alemany responded to his priests’ concerns by writing to Fr. Congiato reiterating his demand for the deed to St. Ignatius Church or face the consequence “that if this was not done … I should declare your Church here to be no longer a Parish Church.” Losing status as a parish would mean losing revenue that came from weddings, funerals and baptisms — crucial funds that supported the school. (The archbishop tended to look the other way when Jesuits performed last rites, as he felt it did the parishes no harm and served the common good.) Without those monies, SI would sink further into debt. However, the Jesuits chose not to surrender title to their beloved Church. Thus, on October 2, 1863, Alemany sent a letter to Maraschi, who served then as pastor of St. Ignatius, announcing that the church would lose its parish status. The neighboring parishes of St. Patrick’s, St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s gobbled up the St. Ignatius Church parish territory, and the Jesuits announced this sad news to their former parishioners at Mass.55

Accolti tried to make peace between the Jesuits and Alemany with lengthy letters to both parties urging patience; those letters helped, but did not change anyone’s mind. Alemany still believed the Jesuits were intentionally luring away parishioners, while many Jesuits believed that San Franciscans came to them simply because they were the better preachers.

Foremost among these better preachers was Fr. Bouchard, the “Eloquent Indian,” who remained one of the focuses of the tensions between the Jesuits and the Archbishop. At times, Fr. Congiato found it prudent to “remove him from San Francisco from time to time so as not to make his presence obnoxious to Archbishop Alemany.” Alemany did not approve of, and, in fact, sought to dismantle, the two sodalities of St. Ignatius Church that Bouchard helped to establish, as he worried that the fund-raising by these groups hurt the fund-raising efforts of his own parish priests.56

He had another problem with Fr. Bouchard, one that dealt with his rather lengthy beard that he started growing shortly after his arrival to California. Alemany wrote to Fr. John Ponte, SJ, the Jesuit superior, that he preferred for Bouchard to “cut the hair short with the scissors, as practiced by St. Alphonsus, and have the neck protected with something warm, which, I feel confident, would have the desired effect….” Despite an order from Archbishop Charles Seghers of Portland to Bouchard to “shave off your beard as soon as the present ‘cold spell’ ceases,” Bouchard never did. He let it “grow and prosper until it became quite a distinctive and personal trademark … in his journeyings throughout the Far West. With it he lived and with it he died!”57

Difficulties between the Jesuits and Alemany flared again when the Jesuits sought permission to move from Market Street to Van Ness and Hayes — a site far too close to the proposed cathedral to suit Alemany. (This controversy will be discussed in the next chapter.)

Fortunately, Alemany and the Jesuits made peace toward the end of his term as archbishop. As Fr. Parmisano writes in Mission West, “on the 19th of May, 1885, Father Sasia, in company with Fathers Kenna and Congiato, waited on the Archbishop to wish him Godspeed and, five days later, he departed. Whatever differences had existed between him and the Fathers had long since been healed — differences, in fact, which were rather due to external influences which had been brought to bear upon the pious prelate than to anything spontaneous on his own part. An ornament to his noble Order and to the Archdiocese, he left behind him no sincerer admirers of his many virtues than the Fathers of St. Ignatius.”

The question of St. Ignatius Church regaining its parish arose again in 1885 when Alemany’s successor, Archbishop Riordan, asked the superior of the Society of Jesus for permission to reinstate that status. Ironically, the SI Jesuits declined that request, as they sought to keep their college church free from the burden of parish duties. St. Ignatius Church would not regain its status as a parish until 1994 with the reorganization of the San Francisco Archdiocese undertaken by Archbishop John Quinn.

AMDG
St. Ignatius College Preparatory

Courage to Lead; Passion to Serve

2001 37th Avenue San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 731-7500
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