In 1844, Bishop John Bernard Fitzpatrick, coadjutor of Boston, which included Vermont, asked the Oblates to begin a foundation in the city of Burlington, near Lake Champlain, where there were many French-Canadians. Frs. Honorat and Guigues, encouraged by Bishop Bourget, were in favor of this foundation, but Bishop de Mazenod wrote to Fr. Guigues to not think of it for the time being. It was better to send some Oblates to the Red River to be able one day to evangelize “the whole of North America”.
In 1854, Bishop Louis de Goesbriand, first bishop of Burlington, invited the Oblates to preach a mission to the Canadians in his city, and this was done in April. Bishop Bourget then suggested that Bishop Goesbriand ask the Oblates to establish a house there. On June 22 he wrote: “It seems to me that you should have available such men, devout and ready to do everything for our religion”. The Provincial, Fr. Santoni, with the advice of his Council, accepted on August 4th. Frs. Augustin Gaudet and Eugène Cauvin arrived in Burlington on October 21, and took over St. Joseph’s Parish. They ministered in the city as well as in a dozen or so missions and villages in a 50 kilometer radius, especially in Northfield, Montpellier, Saint Johnsbury, Vergennes, etc. Fr. Gaudet was the Superior from 1854-1856, assisted by Fr. E. Cauvin in 1854 -1855, Fr. F. Coopman in 1855 -1856, and by ten or so others who each helped for several weeks or months.
On October 9,1856, the Provincial Council, headed by Bishop Guigues, who was once again Provincial of Canada, decided to recall the Oblates from Burlington. He mentioned several reasons, including the lack of personnel, and the fact that in Burlington there was work for only one priest. The other Oblates were always out in the different missions, so that there was no real community life, “contrary to the spirit and letter of the Rules”. The local Bishop appealed in vain to try to keep the Oblates, and several did remain until January 1857.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Carrière, Gaston, o.m.i.,
Histoire Documentaire de la Congrégation des Missionnaire Oblats de M.I.
dans l’Est du Canada, Vol. IV, Ottawa, 1962, pp.173-195.
Oblate Writings I, Vol. 2, passim.