A Rapid Survey
After the meeting of “reconciliation” in 1908 the new Provincial, Father Jerome Reutermann, and his successor, Father Alfred Cagney, led the new Province forward. These first years (1908-1920) were years of adjustment to the problems facing the small Province in the midwest. In his refreshingly quaint way Felix Ward later wrote: “The Province was young and so were its superiors; but the freshness of youth was accompanied by grace in its first bloom; and they were true to it. They sought first the Kingdom of God, and all things else were added to them. They had trials, the test of every work of God; but they were brave and buoyant; they never faltered and the Cross led to victory… No wonder that the Province of Holy Cross is blessed by God” (The Passionist, p. 401).
The first task was to build a monastery in Chicago to become the new Provincial House. The Chicago monastery of the Immaculate Conception was completed by 1910. Then the old building in St. Paul, Kansas, had to be torn down and a new monastery built by the end of 1913. That same year Bishop Dowling of Des Moines invited us to his Diocese. The 1914 Chapter approved of this foundation. Property was bought on W. 9th Street, but later in 1915 a new piece of property was bought at Douglas and 58th.
In order to increase the membership and to strengthen recruitment the superiors sought to make a foundation in Indianapolis – there to build a preparatory school. Indianapolis was then the center of our Province, easily accessible to Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Chicago and even St. Paul. It was hoped that boys from all these areas could enter our centrally located Prep before beginning the novitiate in Louisville.
It was in 1913 that the first American Passionist was chosen to be a Bishop. Bishop Paul Nussbaum, C.P., became the diocesan Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas. Later he was transferred to Marquette, Michigan. Bishop Nussbaum was from the Eastern Province, but Passionists from the west joined brethren from the east in helping Bishop Nussbaum in both Dioceses. The story of Bishop Nussbaum has been told by Father Emmanuel Sprigler, C.P., in The Passionist 10 (February, 1957, 1-35) in an article entitled “Passionists in Texas.”
By 1920 a new era was beginning. Our own Congregation celebrated the second centenary of its beginning from that day in November of 1720 when Paul Francis Daneo received the Passionist habit.
For the Eastern Province the year 1920 ushered in a period of growth and expansion. The Sign magazine started in 1920. In that same year the first retreat house was built at Pittsburgh. In the last days of 1921 the first Passionist missionaries left the United States for China. In that same year Passionists went to Germany and Austria to found the Congregation. Novena services became quite popular at Union City, Pittsburgh, Boston and Scranton. The Confraternity of the Passion was organized at Union City and elsewhere. The Prep School was opened in Dunkirk in 1920. Large classes of students were professed. New foundations were made at West Springfield in 1922, Jamaica 1924, Toronto 1933.
Our own Province of Holy Cross watched this expansion of the Eastern Province from afar, while at the same time participating in this development to the extent possible. We were not able to open a foreign mission, but we did send missionaries with our Eastern brethren to China. We could not begin a national magazine, but we did help promote the Sign. Religious from our Province joined Eastern Passionists in going to Austria and Germany. By 1931 we had a retreat house of our own in Sierra Madre. A monastery was also built in Des Moines in 1923, in Detroit in 1930 and in Sierra Madre in 1931. Our Prep school was moved to St. Louis in 1920 and additional facilities were constructed by 1926.
The depression hit our Province as it did the rest of the country. Soup lines were the order of the day according to the platea of our Cincinnati monastery on Mt. Adams. In Detroit it was very difficult to support the newly opened monastery with its large class of students. Similar difficulties were experienced at the Prep school in St. Louis.
In 1935 the Provincial Chapter chose, for the first time as a Provincial, a religious who had never been a member of the “undivided Province.” Father Boniface Fielding joined the Passionists after the division of the Province. He acted quickly and effectively to start new programs and new policies for the development of Holy Cross Province. At long last, Holy Cross Province became, not a daughter, but a sister-Province to that of St. Paul of the Cross!
Father Boniface helped to achieve this purpose in three ways. First of all, he put the Province on a sounder financial basis by refinancing the Province debt. Secondly, he strengthened and developed our formation and educational programs. Also, he established the first mission of the Province by opening Holy Family Parish in Ensley, Alabama. He also gave a new look to missionary work by opening a new monastery nearby – St. Joseph’s in Birmingham. In these and other ways Father Boniface gave a new tone and furthered the development of the Province. I hope to speak of this at a later time.
When war broke out and once again involved the United States, the Province was caught-up in the whirlpool. About 20 Passionists of our Province entered the military service as chaplains. One of our men, Father Owen Monaghan, was killed in duty.
At the end of the war a period of rapid expansion and development (1945-1962) took place for Holy Cross Province. I want to cover rapidly some of this development.
We had established the retreat house movement in Sierra Madre in California. In 1949 a separate retreat house was built at that location. Earlier the retreat house movement was established within the monasteries of Detroit and Cincinnati in 1948. Foundations were made at Houston in 1946 and Citrus Heights in 1946, with the hope of eventually establishing retreat houses there. The Houston retreat house was built and the Laymen’s Retreat Movement began in 1953. The Citrus Heights retreat house was built and the retreat movement began there in 1950. Finally, a new location was bought in the St. Louis area at Clayton in 1951. The retreat movement started there at that same time. In 1957 the retreat movement was transferred to Warrenton in the new retreat house-seminary complex. Finally, a retreat house was built in Detroit in 1960.
At the end of the war in 1945 we had charge of ten parishes: Cincinnati (2), Normandy, Louisville, Chicago, St. Paul, South Mound, Sierra Madre, Ensley, Fairfield. In 1948 we added a parish at Detroit, but soon gave up Normandy and Sierra Madre.
In the United States during this period new foundations were made at Houston in 1946, Citrus Heights in 1946 and San Francisco in 1960. In 1952 the year of the Passionists’ American centenary we made our first foreign mission by establishing a foundation at Osaka in Japan. There we now have three communities, two retreat houses at Fukuoka and Mefu, one parish at Ikeda and a religious center at Tokyo. In 1963 we went to a second foreign country, Korea, where we now have two large retreat houses at Kwangju and Seoul.
In 1962 Pope John XXIII opened the Vatican Council. This Council, together with world-wide changes in society, has deeply affected the entire Church and our own Congregation and Province. The years from 1962 to the present are years of renewal and change.
The early years of the renewal touched our educational and formation programs especially. We might recall here briefly the opening of our seminary college at Bellarmine in 1965, our theologate at St. Meinrad that same year, and later in 1968 as part of the new Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The novitiate was divided in 1965 as a second group made their novitiate in Detroit in 1965. The novitiate itself was closed down in 1969 and reopened at CTU and later at Louisville in 1971.
The Province also took part in building and construction. Immaculate Conception Church in Chicago and St. Mary’s Church in Fairfield, Alabama, were both opened in 1962. The parish Church at Ikeda in Japan was dedicated in 1966. St. Gemma’s Church was opened in Detroit in 1969. St. Agnes Rectory was built in 1970. The Kwangu Retreat House was built in 1970 and the Seoul Retreat House in 1977. An addition was made to the Houston retreat house and the community residence was built there in 1980. A high school gym was built in Ensley in 1974. The Provincial Office was established on the third floor in Chicago in 1971. Daneo Hall was added to the monastery in 1972.
There were also closings during this time. The Des Moines monastery had been closed in 1958 and the foundation itself closed in 1971. St. Paul was closed in 1975. San Francisco was closed in 1975. St. Joseph’s in Birmingham was closed in 1972. The seminary at
Warrenton was closed in 1969 and the property sold in January, 1977. At that same time the retreat house moved to Bel-Nor, near St. Louis. The Cincinnati monastery and retreat house were closed in 1977.
In regard to our parishes, Holy Cross and Immaculata Parishes in Cincinnati were made into one parish in 1965 and later Holy Cross Church was closed. When we sold Kansas we gave-up our Province commitment to the two parishes in Kansas. Today we have six parishes in the United States.
There were also openings. The House of Greater Solitude was established at St. Joseph’s monastery in Birmingham in 1969 and transferred to Bedford in the Eastern Province in 1972. The Communication Center was begun in 1965 and disbanded in 1973. The Prayer House was opened at Arlington Heights in 1970, moved to Hinsdale in 1971, and closed in 1975. We began an Hispanic community at San Antonio in 1976. In 1979 we began a community in campus ministry in Carbondale, Illinois. At the same time we opened a college residence at Northridge, California.
We also have a religious in the inner city of Detroit, in Appalachia, two religious in Tijuana, Mexico, and several religious in chaplaincies and parishes away from our regular communities.
There have been ups and downs during our seventy-five years as a Province. There have been steps forward and at times steps backward. Throughout all these years I do believe that we have tried to cherish the great Passionist values. These are values that we received from those who preceded us and which, hopefully, we are living today and passing on to those who are coming after us. These are values which will grow and develop and can truly carry us into the twenty-first century and to our centenary as a Province in the year 2006.
Very Rev. Roger Mercurio, C. P.
January 31, 1981
Please contact Fr. Rob Carbonneau, C.P. at [email protected] if you have any comments. Permission of Archives needed for publication.
- January 16, 1981: “The Touch of the Cross”
- January 31, 1981: A Rapid Survey
- February 27, 1981: Seventy-five Years of Community Life in Holy Cross Province
- March 1981: Seventy-five Years of Passionist Parish Missions
- March 24, 1981: Seventy-five Years of Eucharistic Devotions
- April 6, 1981: Holy Cross Province Parish Ministries
- May 21, 1981: Living Styles in Our Province’s History
- July 16, 1981: Retreat House Ministry Part I
- July 23, 1981: Retreat House Ministry Part II
- September 24, 1981: Brothers in Holy Cross Province
- October 19, 1981: Dedication to the Founder
- November 11, 1981: Beyond the Seas
- December 16, 1981: “Merry Christmas” for Seventy-five Years!
- January 21, 1982: Hispanic Ministry in Holy Cross Province
- February 22, 1982: Among American Blacks