Bob Coolidge Remembers July 29, 1974

[The Rev. Robert Coolidge was a friend of Katrina and George Swanson at Harvard/Radcliffe in the early 1950’s, graduating with George in 1955. I’m grateful for his sharing these recollections with Katrina’s Dream. Until we got married Katrina was known by her nickname, Keppy. – George]


I don’t clearly recall how Ellen and I got to Philadelphia or what else we did there. We were at Squam [New Hampshire] of course, and probably drove. At our hotel, we had dinner at a table next to the one occupied by the party who intended to protest the ordination. As we listened to their talking, I remember trying to decide whether to interrupt them and get into an argument. Finally we decided to make a remark to each other which revealed our position, and they just clammed up for the rest of the meal.

The hour or two we spent in church before the service was not too pleasant because of the tension and rumours of violence. I do remember meeting Madame Picard and her grand-daughter. I heard George express his concern by joking about wanting to see her ordination not her funeral. I also remember seeing and speaking to Olof in his acolyte’s vestments. I also was feeling a bit guilty for declining Keppy’s request to read the Gospel, since I don’t think Bishop Millard would have bothered to take action or give Montreal permission to do so. All I could lose was my permission to officiate. I remember of course the great scrum of priests laying hands, and receiving communion from Keppy (for the first time, since I had not visited you in Kansas.)

The first Eucharist, of course, was the highlight, for me at least. We went out to an apartment by train, but I don’t remember whether it was the day of the service or the day after. [I believe it was the afternoon of July 29th. George] I had the job of opening the mail, and to read aloud or otherwise pass on the contents, most of which were congratulatory. Some nasty comments were also read out, with due notice and permission. I recall receiving instruction as to what to do with a letter or telegram from Bishop Vogel, but I don’t remember whether I was actually asked to reveal a direct order not to proceed, or to withhold it until after the service. Luckily, we didn’t get such an order. During the service, I was Keppy’s deacon and George and Bishop Welles [Keppy’s father] were acolytes. I suppose someone else read the Epistle, but I don’t remember who it was. One thing I remember noticing is that Keppy’s voice sounded just like her father’s, but then, I reminded myself, she didn’t have a female model to follow, and presumably didn’t want to imitate her husband.

2 thoughts on “Bob Coolidge Remembers July 29, 1974

  1. My regrets, George, that Ardyce and I were not present at this truly great moment in the history of Christianity. I was relieved to find out that Arthur Vogel did not issue an order not to proceed, and I was deeply touched to discover that you and ERW II served as Katrina’s acolytes at her first Mass.
    Peace and love,
    Jim

  2. Dear George, Well you two sure kept a low profile. Meeting you as local beekeepers, I never had any idea of your past, let alone your historic past. I’m impressed and also glad I got to know you in this manner as it proves the essence of Katrina that I came to you for counciling, for the calm in the storm. Glad you are spreading the word and the history in this way. Jamy

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