Passionist Fathers at Twenty-second Provincial Chapter - 1926
Front Row (L to R): Dominic Langenbacher (Prefect Apostolic, Hunan, China), Leo Kierkels (Superiror General and President), Stanislaus Grennan
Second Row: Sebastian Ochsenreiter, Alban Callagee, John Francis Vanston, Clement Lee, Mathias Majou
Rear: Justin Carey, Victor Koch, Felix Ward, Philip Bolger (Guardian), Mark Cotter, Emmanuel Carey, Benedict Huck, Hilarion O'Rourke
Click image for larger view
Almost coincident with the Twenty Second Provincial Chapter there occurred one of the most remarkable demonstrations of faith and piety in the history of the Church.
The Holy Father was pleased to designate America and the City of Chicago for the XXVIII International Eucharistic Congress. America had won the Primacy in charity; and now Pius XI gave it the Primacy in love,—the love of our Eucharistic King.
Thither from every portion of the Christian world flocked pilgrims, both clerical and lay, and in number beyond human computation. The Papal Legate, Cardinal Bonzano, and other cardinals in their brilliant scarlet from Rome and the countries of Europe; archbishops and bishops, several hundred of them, from all over the world; thousands of priests and hundreds of thousands of the devout laity—all came with one mind and one heart, to profess publicly their faith in the great doctrine of the Real Presence, to revive their devotion, to give the world an example of religious faith and fervor such as it had never before witnessed.
The great religious orders sent their representatives to bear witness to the faith handed down from our Lord Himself, and to ask a special blessing upon their ministry and work.
The sympathy of our own Congregation went out to the Congress. The Successor of St. Paul of the Cross, our Most Reverend Father General, Leo of the Sacred Heart, would come himself to adore our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist, and to offer Him the love and loyalty and homage of his sons. Accepting the kind invitation of Very Reverend Father Provincial of the Western Province and the hospitality of Very Reverend Father Edwin, Rector of our Monastery in Chicago, the Superiors of the East joined Father General in his pilgrimage and, united in this grand act of homage, prayed for our Congregation and the success of the approaching Chapter.
With the beautiful memories of the Eucharistic Congress still fresh in their minds, with hearts full of confidence in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Superiors of the Province gathered a few days later under the leadership of Most Reverend Father General in the Monastery of our Mother of Sorrows, West Springfield, Mass., for the Twenty Second Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross.
The opening session of the Twenty Second Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross took place in this Retreat of Our Mother of Sorrows, West Springfield, Mass., on the morning of Wednesday, July 7th, at 9:00 o'clock.
After the "Veni Creator" and the other customary prayers had been recited, the roll was called, and the following responded:
Most Reverend Father General, Leo of the Sacred Heart,
Very Reverend Father Stanislaus of the Most Holy Redeemer, Provincial.
Very Reverend Father Matthias of St. Ann, 1st Consultor.
Very Reverend Father Sebastian of the Holy Family, 2nd Consultor.
Very Reverend Father Hilarion of the Sacred Hearts, Rector, St. Paul's Retreat, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Very Reverend Father Felix of St. Joseph, Rector, St. Mary's Retreat, Dunkirk, N. Y.
Very Reverend Father John Francis of St. Joseph, Rector, St. Michael's Retreat, Union City, N. J.
Very Reverend Father Alban of the Five Wounds, Rector, St. Joseph's Retreat, Baltimore, Md.
Very Reverend Father Benedict of Our Lady of Victory, Rector, St. Ann's Retreat, Scranton, Pa.
Very Reverend Father Mark of the Sorrowful Virgin, Rector, St. Gabriel's Retreat, Brighton, Mass.
Very Reverend Father Emmanuel of the Precious Blood, Rector, Holy Cross Retreat, Dunkirk, N. Y.
Very Reverend Father Justin of the Infant Jesus, Rector, Our Mother of Sorrows Retreat, West Springfield, Mass.
Very Reverend Father Clement of St. Peter, Master of Novices.
In a few well chosen words Father General welcomed the Fathers to the Chapter and asked the Fathers if they thought that the Chapter was canonically convoked. All replied in the affirmative.
A "custos" was then chosen in the person of Father Philip of the Holy Family. Having entered the Chapter Room Father Philip took the oath of secrecy and fidelity and left the room.
The Very Reverend Father Emmanuel of the Precious Blood was next chosen to fill the office of Secretary.
The Very Reverend Father Rectors were called upon to read their Capitular Reports. These Reports were then handed to Father General together with their "Litterae Patentes." The financial Report of Blessed Strambi Monastery, New York City, was submitted by Very Reverend Father Sebastian of the Holy Family. The Report for the Immaculate Conception Monastery and Parish, Jamaica, N. Y., together with a succinct account of the financial status of the Province were given by Very Reverend Father Stanislaus of the Most Holy Redeemer, Provincial. These reports, together with reports from "The Sign" and the Chinese Bureau were handed over to a Committee appointed by Father General to examine them.
Most Reverend Father General then requested the Fathers to propose matters for discussion. A committee was next appointed by Father General to classify or group these topics under various headings.
Before closing the session Father General introduced the Right Reverend Dominic Langenbacher, C.P., Prefect Apostolic of the Passionist Prefecture in China, and Reverend Father Victor [Koch], C.P., Superior of the Passionist Mission in Germany. The Capitular Fathers welcomed them most cordially and because of the extraordinary circumstances attending their visit, invited them to assist with consultive voice at the legislative deliberations of the Chapter.
On the afternoon of the same day at 3:00 the Capitular Fathers gathered for the second session of the Chapter. It opened with the usual prayers.
Committees were appointed by Father General and the discussion of various proposals continued.
The third session of the Chapter was held on Thursday morning, July 8th.
Right Reverend Monsignor Dominic Langenbacher, C.P. addressed the Capitular Fathers on the affairs of China in words that evinced his apostolic zeal for the conversion of China and his tender solicitude for the welfare of our Fathers engaged in that work. He submitted financial and spiritual reports, and a complete record of the last annual meeting of the missionaries at Shenchowfu in December 1925.
As this last named document is too lengthy to be incorporated into the Acts of the Chapter, it was read to the Fathers and on motion from Father General enthusiastically approved. The Chapter commends the wise and prudent disposition of things as they are set down under the Prefecture Regime Resolutions, the Religious Observance Resolutions and the Procuration Affairs Resolutions.
The Capitular Fathers take this occasion also to express their heartfelt appreciation of the noble and Christlike work of our missioners in China.
The Right Reverend Prefect voicing the unanimous sentiment of the missionaries in China, made a strong appeal that a visitor be sent to China from this Province for the purpose of studying conditions thoroughly and of submitting a complete report to the Provincial Curia. The policy of having a Superior, distinct from the Right Reverend Prefect, could then be decided. This request was unanimously acceded to by the Capitular Fathers.
Furthermore it was decided by the Chapter that the necessary steps be taken to give the representative from China an active voice in our future Provincial Chapters.
The Chapter also commended the splendid work that is being accomplished by "The Sign" and the Chinese Bureau for our missions, and praised the untiring labors of the Fathers who are devoting themselves so unselfishly to this cause.
In a carefully prepared address Reverend Father Victor, C.P., presented an historical survey of the German Foundation, portrayed its present status and prospects, concluding with an earnest appeal for the moral and material support of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross. His appeal met with a generous response on the part of the Capitular Fathers who expressed their desire to cooperate in the work of the Fathers in Germany, especially by supplying more religious.
In the Fourth Session, held on Thursday afternoon, the report of the Finance Committee was heard and thoroughly discussed. The Capitular Fathers expressed their gratification on the healthy financial condition of the Province.
The subject of study was given painstaking and earnest consideration. The Fathers wish to stress the tradition of the Congregation, that the religious engaged in training and teaching our young men are discharging one of the most important functions in the Congregation; that the well-being of the entire body and its future serviceableness in the ministry are in the hands of the Directors and Lectors of students.
Cognizance was taken of the action of the Most Reverend Father General and his Curia requesting that students be sent to Rome; also of the action of the Provincial Curia. Every other need was subordinated to the requirements of our students. With the hope of building up a staff of specialists in various branches, courses are being followed at the Biblical School in Palestine, at the Catholic University in Washington, and at the Collegium Angelicum in Rome.
Steps are to be taken by the Provincial Curia in conjunction with what is in progress by the General Curia to revise the afternoon curriculum. A change must be affected in order to turn to better advantage the afternoon study. Lectors are to cooperate by faithfully employing these hours for class and study. Class must be held on the afternoon of all vigils except the vigils of holydays of obligation, of the patronal feast of the Congregation and of the patronal feast of the Church. Disapproval is expressed of a tendency to dispense classes for work or recreation except on rare and widely separated occasions.
This session opened on Friday morning with prayer.
Various propositions reported by the Committee on Finance and New Buildings were discussed.
Among other items the proposal was made to give up St. Mary's Retreat, Dunkirk, N. Y., in favor of a more desirable site nearer the City of Buffalo. The Chapter agreed that the necessary steps for this purpose be taken with the proper authorities by the Provincial Curia.
The sixth session was held on Friday afternoon.
In this session the Fathers considered the conduct of our lay brothers. The Chapter has only words of praise for the conduct and excellent work of our lay brothers, with the exception of one brother whom Father Provincial is instructed to correct and if necessary to take canonical steps to have expelled.
The Venerable Chapter is pleased to express its appreciation of the zealous labors of our priests devoted to parish work.
In these sessions, held on the morning and afternoon of Saturday and on the morning of Sunday, the discussion of merits took place after the customary oath "de secreto servando" had been taken.
On Sunday afternoon, after assisting at Vespers with the Community, the Capitular Fathers listened to an eloquent and enlightening discourse on the qualities of a good superior preached by Father Justin of the Infant Jesus.
On Monday, July 12th, a Solemn High Mass "De Spiritu Sancto" pro re gravi was sung in the Choir by the Most Reverend Father General, the Capitular Fathers acting as Ministers and filling the minor offices of the Mass.
The entire community assembled in the choir at 9:00 A. M. with the Capitular Fathers, and proceeded in procession to the Chapter Room, singing the "Vexilla Regis" and the customary prayers. The Community having been dismissed, the prescribed acts of humility were performed, and absolution from censures imparted by Father General.
Father General briefly addressed the Fathers on the great importance of the elections, likening the power of election to the sacramental power, and holding up a safe norm to be followed—the voice of conscience.
The roll of electors was called, and all responded. The Superiors then surrendered their seals of office. The assistance of the Holy Ghost was invoked by singing the "Veni Creator." The oath prescribed by Canon Law, obliging the Capitulars to elect those who, before God, they judged should be elected, was next taken. Scrutineers were elected by unanimous vote in the persons of Father Benedict of Our Lady of Victory and Father Mark of the Sorrowful Virgin, who immediately took the customary oath.
In virtue of a rescript from the Holy See obtained by Father General, the Chapter was permitted to follow the method of election decreed by the last General Chapter, but not yet inserted in the Rule.
Balloting for the office of Provincial was begun and on the sixth ballot Father Stanislaus of the Most Holy Redeemer was re-elected. Thanking the Fathers for their confidence, he accepted the office as the will of God. The Community having been called, the decree of election was published, and the brethren offered their homage to the newly elected. All then repaired to the Choir where the "Te Deum" was sung and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament imparted.
At 11:00 o'clock balloting was resumed for the office of First Consultor, and on the seventh ballot Father Sebastian of the Holy Family received the necessary votes. The Father accepted the office.
On the same day at 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon, after the usual prayers, balloting was begun for the office of Second Consultor. Father Justin of the Infant Jesus was chosen on the fourteenth vote. The Father thanked the Capitulars and accepted the office.
Continuing the balloting Father Clement of Saint Peter was elected to the office of Master of Novices on the fourth ballot. Expressing his appreciation of the confidence shown him by the Capitulars, he acceded to the wish of the Chapter.
It was agreed by the Capitulars that the Rector of Holy Cross Monastery be chosen immediately after the Master of Novices. On the third ballot Father Aloysius of St. Michael received the necessary number of votes. A telegram was immediately dispatched and word of acceptance received on the same day.
By agreement, the Rector of St. Michael's Monastery was chosen next. On the eighth ballot Father Linus of the Heart of Mary was elected. The Father, being a member of the Community, was called to the Chapter Room and notified of his election. He accepted the will of the Chapter.
Next in the order chosen came St. Gabriel's Retreat, Boston, Mass. On the sixth ballot Father Charles of the Holy Rosary was chosen and a telegram conveying the news sent to him at once. Word of his acceptance was received later in the day.
On Tuesday morning, July 13th, at 8:00 o'clock, the Fathers convened, and after the usual prayers, balloting was begun for the office of Rector of St. Ann's Retreat, Scranton, Pa. On the fourth ballot Father Benedict of Our Lady of Victory received the required number of votes. He thanked the Fathers and accepted the office.
On the sixth ballot Father Emmanuel of the Precious Blood was elected to the office of Rector of Our Mother of Sorrows Monastery, West Springfield, Mass. Thanking the Fathers for their confidence, the Father accepted.
A Rector was chosen for St. Paul's Monastery, Pittsburgh, in the person of Father Philip of the Holy Family, on the sixth ballot. Father Philip was called to the Chapter Room and being notified of his election, accepted the office.
The Rectorship of St. Mary's Monastery, Dunkirk, was filled on the sixth ballot in the person of Father Hilarion of the Sacred Hearts. The Father accepted the office.
Balloting for the Rector of St. Joseph's Monastery, Baltimore, Md. resulted on the second ballot in the election of Father John Francis of St. Joseph. After some hesitation, the Father acquiesced in the will of the Chapter
After asking the Capitulars if they had anything else to propose and receiving their answers in the negative, Father General closed the session with prayer.
1. The Venerable Chapter confirms the decree of the XVIII Provincial Chapter by which the offices of Rector and Pastor are separated. Cognizant of the canonical status of our priests engaged in parish work, the Chapter insists upon the enforcement of the decree of the XIX Provincial Chapter according to which the Rector shall act as the Provincial's representative and shall exercise that vigilance over parochial affairs enjoined by Canon 630.
The Chapter further insists upon the enforcement of the Regulations for our Parish Priests when duly revised.
2. In view of circumstances which often curtail or hamper the opening of the mission at the late Mass, particularly in city churches, the Chapter decrees that henceforth the formal opening of the mission shall take place in the evening, except when conditions require otherwise, this solemn opening to be repeated at the beginning of each week of the mission.
3. The Chapter approves the practice of having the "Holy Hour" during retreats conducted by our Fathers for the clergy and for other religious communities.
4. It was decreed:
5. Financial decisions of the local Chapters shall be recorded in the minutes of the corporation Meeting.
In this connection Superiors are reminded to see that the Corporation Charter conforms with the State laws and that the legal requirements are complied with in holding corporation meetings, recording minutes, etc.
6. For the sake of uniformity the telephones in our houses shall be listed under the name of the Monastery.
7. In conformity with the prescription of Canon 136 on ecclesiastical garb, our students after the reception of tonsure shall wear the Roman collar.
The final session of the Twenty Second Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross was held on Tuesday afternoon, July 13th, 1926, at 3:30.
Father General asked the Fathers if they had anything else to propose to which all answered in the negative.
Very Reverend Father Stanislaus then arose and in the name of the Fathers addressed Most Reverend Father General in words of deepest earnestness and affection. He expressed the gratitude of the Capitular Fathers and of all our brethren in having Father General come personally to preside over the Capitular deliberations and complimented him in the name of all upon the very efficient and kindly manner in which he exercised this office. He conveyed to Father General the strongest assurance of loyalty and support from the sons of St. Paul in the Province of St. Paul of the Cross. Commenting upon the election of a non-Italian as General as a unique happening in the history of the Order, and referring to the remarkable progress already characterizing the administration of Father General, Father Stanislaus assured him that the Passionists in America would do all in their power to prove that the policy of this election was most wise and prudent. At the same time he promised our unlimited cooperation in carrying out Father General's projects for the welfare and progress of the Congregation. Visioning the progress already made as an augury of greater things in the future and renewing the assurance of our devoted loyalty, Father Stanislaus again thanked Father General and invited him to return in the near future for the Canonical Visitation.
In reply Father General spoke in part as follows:
At the moment of closing this Chapter I wish to express my sincere thanks for your kind and earnest cooperation in its success. In my opening address I referred to the psychology of the Province with regard to our proceedings: that same thought recurs to me now that we are about to close our meetings.
Before the elections I appealed to your conscience, enlightened by the principles on which our Congregation is based, and I feel confident that you have sincerely heeded my appeal. Hence we may hope, and I do hope, that the results will justify in the eyes of all, the endeavors of this Chapter.
Last Sunday the Gospel reminded us of our Lord's saying: "Ex fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos." Well, let all the newly elected or re-elected Superiors apply that to themselves, to show by their actions and by their fruits that they were worthy of the confidence placed in them. Let them respect God's mandate in themselves so that their subjects may respect it too.
I feel that the Province at large is anxious to see the ideals of the Congregation respected and held high. And if the Superiors do their share as God's appointed Leaders, I am sure that the Province will remain true to those ideals.
To my great regret I cannot remain at length in the Province this time. But it is my intention to come back for a canonical Visitation as soon as my other duties will allow, and I hope that some complaints which came to my knowledge during my rapid tour before the Chapter and which I have mentioned to whom it concerns will have disappeared. In any case I shall then be happy to see and hear all and to enlist their cooperation for the welfare of the Province.
I have the pleasure of knowing personally nearly all the priests in the Province, and all have been most kind to me personally even before I occupied the present office. Well, I am grateful to all and I rely on their good will toward me and on their love for the Congregation for cooperating with me in promoting the spiritual interests of the Province and of the Congregation.
This is the first time in our history that the General of the Order is not an Italian; and we should demonstrate by facts that the spiritual inheritance of St. Paul of the Cross is safe in our hands.
So once more my love to all, present and absent, and may God bless you now and ever.
Father General then asked the Capitular Fathers if there was anything opposed to the closing of the Chapter, and all having replied in the negative, declared the Chapter formally closed, and invited the Fathers to witness to the Acts by their signatures as follows:
Leo of the Sacred Heart, Prep. Gen., President
Stanislaus of the Most Holy Redeemer, Provincial
Matthias of St. Ann, First Consultor
Sebastian of the Holy Family, Second Consultor
Hilarion of the Sacred Hearts, Rector of St. Paul's Monastery
Felix of St. Joseph, Rector of St. Mary's Monastery
John Francis of St. Joseph, Rector of St. Michael's Monastery
Alban of the Five Wounds, Rector of St. Joseph's Monastery
Benedict of Our Lady of Victory, Rector of St. Ann's Monastery
Mark of the Sorrowful Virgin, Rector of St. Gabriel's Monastery
Emmanuel of the Precious Blood, Rector of Holy Cross Monastery
Justin of the Infant Jesus, Rector of Our Mother of Sorrows Monastery
Clement of St. Peter, Master of Novices.
Our Mother of Sorrows Monastery,
West Springfield, Mass.,
July 13, 1926.
Emmanuel of the Precious Blood