by Roger Mercurio, C.P.
I begin these Archival Ponderings with a quote I ran across this past summer at the Clergy Retreat House at Mundelein. I find in it a base for these Archival Ponderings!
" the accumulation of knowledge about the past is being recovered on a scale unknown in recorded history. Our minds today are like museums (archives?); full of inassimilable impressions and pieces of knowledge that have to be kept in basements because we are incapable of assessing their worth or cataloging them". ("Poetry, Myth and the Great Memory" by William Anderson in Parabola xiv (May 1989) p. 22.)
This week (November 4, 1989) Mrs. Tom Fabianski and I began working in the Provincial Archives. It is hard work for there are so many questions and so much to do. These are my first "Ponderings" as I begin with St. Thomas a "quest" ("quaestio") about Archives!
The basic question is "whether there should be archives" ("Utrum sint Archia"). To pursue this "quest" I will clarify various aspects of Archives by a process of asking and responding.
The first question is what should be preserved? I respond by stating that whatever is of official importance or historical interest to Holy Cross Province should be preserved in the archives of Holy Cross Province. In other words the major portion of the Provincial Archives should be provincial material. The Provincial Archives should preserve information about the government of the Province, the personnel, the ministries, community life, economics, etc.
But you might ask: what is the connection of the Holy Cross Provincial Archives with those of the several Local Communities Archives? Local communities have the right to and obligation of maintaining their local archives. What about the Generalate's Archives in Rome, and that of other Provinces, especially of the Eastern Province?
As regards Local Community's archives I respond that they are de facto being preserved in the provincial archives when a community is closed. At the same time all local archives should be provided for locally, or materials should be sent to the provincial archives in an orderly manner.
As regards the General Archives I respond that the decisions of General Chapters should be preserved in the Provincial Archives. The same is true of the letters of the General Superior, official correspondence with Father General and his Consultors. Likewise correspondence with other Provincials and material about our vicariates, should be preserved in our provincial archives.
As regards our sister province of the East I respond that five of our foundations were originally made by St. Paul of the Cross Province. About 75 religious joined the Congregation in that province and their initial records are preserved there. We must be in close contact with the archives and historical records of that province.
I would add, finally, that much Passionist material can be readily obtained through modern modes of communication, e.g. by "faxing". This is especially true of data from periodicals, newspapers of the entire Congregation and of individual Provinces.