The unveiling of a statue of the Islandâ€™s first Roman Catholic bishop last weekend was a fitting tribute to the man who played such an instrumental role not only in his church but in the nurturing and development of the Island.
According to church history, Angus Bernard MacEachern, a native of Scotland who came to the Island in 1790, ministered for 45 years to people across the Island and in parts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Magdalen Islands. With the very basic tools of his ministry at his side, his mode of transport included a small vehicle that served as a boat to cross waterways, but which also was fitted with runners for land travel. That very vessel can be seen today by anyone visiting St. Dunstanâ€™s Basilica. Itâ€™s a remarkable thing to see.
MacEachern assisted people of all faiths, and in the days before the Diocese of Charlottetown was created, his fierce determination to advocate for the needs of his flock even caused him to take on the church establishment in Quebec. His conviction that the Island church would be best served by local clergy prompted him to create a college at St. Andrewâ€™s, just east of Mount Stewart. St. Andrewâ€™s College was the ancestor of St. Dunstanâ€™s University, which along with Prince of Wales College, formed the basis for the University of Prince Edward Island. And according to Rev. John C. MacMillan, author of â€˜The Early History of the Catholic Church in Prince Edward Islandâ€™, it was in 1815 that MacEachern acquired the land in Charlottetown where St. Dunstanâ€™s Basilica now stands.
Strangely, after all these years, MacEachern himself has had a comparatively lower profile than the educational paths he forged or the buildings now in our midst that owe their origins, in part, to his vision. The statue placed at the site of SDU Place last weekend across the street from the Basilica gives long overdue honour to this man. Kudos to Island natives Charles McMillan and Regis Duffy for championing this worthwhile initiative and generating support for it.
Honouring Neil Armstrong
The passing of U.S astronaut Neil Armstrong this week is obviously a loss to those who worked closely with him over the years in the space program, but it also evokes an emotional reaction among those who remember his walk on the moon in July 1969.
Those were the glory days of space exploration. When Armstrong and his colleagues landed on the moonâ€™s surface, it was a historic moment that also opened our minds and hearts to even more frontiers and new possibilities for humankind.
Many more astronauts have been launched into space since then, some missions successful, others less so. But no achievement has overshadowed the magical moment when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon and uttered the words: â€˜one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.â€™â€¨No doubt many of those saddened by Armstrongâ€™s death are also grieving the Obama administrationâ€™s lack of support for the space program. â€¨