Staten Island Revisited: Reflections from a Distance of Thirty Years
by André Mathieu, C.P.
[In the post-Conciliar era of the 1960s to the present the Passionists have had multiple models of small group Passionist living. During the 1970s the Passionists established a small community on Staten Island, New York. To accentuate the existing documentation in the Passionist Historical Archives, I asked Brother André Mathieu, C.P. to write his reflections on the experience. His thoughts are critical. They serve as a reminder not to put the memories of a Passionist past on the shelf to be forgotten. History offers a well-spring of experience that we Passionists should acknowledge. I would suggest that in many ways the Passionist venture on Staten Island, like that in Chelsea, New York or Ellsworth, Maine have not been fully incorporated into the notion of past, present, and future planning. The thoughts on the Passionist venture at Staten Island once again jog our memory as to the various Passionist risks surrounding the the life blood of ministry. -Rob Carbonneau, C.P. editor]
Robert Carbonneau, C.P., Province Historian, has asked me to share my recollections of the Staten Island, NY experiment that became known in Province parlance as HOPLA – House of Prayer with a Limited Apostolate. I was a core member of the group appointed by Flavian Dougherty, C.P., Provincial, in a letter dated September 4, 1971. I remained a member until I requested a transfer to Jamaica, NY, in June, 1975. My reflections in this article will come from pertinent documentation contained in the Province Newsletter, Vol. 60, June, 1972, as well as from my own recollection of events. I will conclude with a brief evaluation of the experiment from my perspective.
The interim General Chapter Document that governed our Congregation during the years that immediately followed Vatican Council II allowed a Province
to establish a house … in which the contemplative aspect of the Passionist vocation is more intensely fostered. These houses, which are a value for the whole Congregation, should be effectively integrated with the other communities of the Province, and their apostolic orientation should be clearly defined. (#59)