Sinking of the Titanic, April 14, 1912

Sister Eugenia Fealy

Sister Eugania Fealy, Visitatrix of the St. Louis Province, 1910-1936 (used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

(Passages from correspondence of Sister Eugenia Fealy and Sister Madeleine Morris used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)
At approximately 11:40 PM on April 14, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic, while on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland. The Titanic sank to the bottom of the sea at about 2:20 a.m. the next morning, taking the lives of more than 1,500 people.

On the night that Titanic sank, two Daughters of Charity from the St. Louis Province were in the North Atlantic as well. Sisters Eugenia Fealy and Madeleine Morris, Visitatrix and Seminary Directress, respectively, were on board the Provence, on their way to Paris for a retreat with the Community’s major superiors. In a letter to Sister Mary Barbara Regan in St. Louis written April 15, 1912, Sister Madeleine wrote:

“… It is quite cold, not in doors, and one has to keep well wrapped up; the two shawls are continually called into requisition. We could clearly see two mountains of ice floating in the distance toward the North. The “Titanic” struck one of these icebergs and wired (Marconi’s system) for help but the “Provence” was too far distant to go to the rescue, however, some other vessels nearer at hand responded to her appeal and I trust all was well. It sends a shudder through one to think of an accident in this perilous place. From the music, laughing, and enjoyment around, however, I believe I am the only one who thinks anything at all about our position, and I really am not troubled about it, except to make an act of confidence in God …”

On April 17, Sister Madeleine wrote another letter with additional details:

The “Titanic” … was a new vessel and this was her first trip. There were 1500 passengers on board. It is feared that the greater number were lost. The vessel sank, so says our telegraph message. God has been good to use and I trust He will continue His protection. Just now another message has been received saying that there were 3500 on board and all lost except 1000. The vessels are staying around the scene of the wreck in the hope of making further rescues. It seems 1800 were steerage passengers, bound for America … ”

The Sisters landed in Paris on April 19. Writing from Paris on April 26, Sister Eugenia Fealy closed with these words:

“Sisterly kindness, good health, beautiful weather, and so many other blessings are ours – not to speak of the delightful voyage – even at a time when the great “Titanic” was struck and wrecked by the icebergs which floated at a distance fron “La Provence:” God be praised! May he love and bless everyone [sic] of you, from our dear Father down to the last Seminary Sister and be sure that you continue to prayer for,

Your most ever grateful and devoted Sister in Mary Immac.[Immaculate]

Sister Eugenia
[unworthy Daughter of Charity, servant of the poor sick]

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