Acts of the Eleventh Provincial Chapter
of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross
Held in the Retreat of St. Paul of the Cross, Pittsburg, PA.
From August 28th to September 2nd, 1893.

PRELIMINARY.

In accordance with the circular letter of the Very Rev. F. Vice-Provincial convoking the Eleventh Provincial Chapter of this Province, the capitular fathers came together in due season at the Retreat of St. Paul of the Cross, Pittsburg, Pa. And on the morning of Friday, August 25th, 1893, they assembled in the Chapter room for the customary preliminary meetings, all being present who were entitled to a voice in the Chapter.

A peculiar solemnity was thrown over this gathering of our Superiors by the conspicuous absence of some—no fewer than four—who had been present at the last Provincial Chapter. Three of them died while in office, including the well-beloved Benedict of St. Francis, our Provincial, on whom the whole Province had learned to lean with devoted confidence. From the windows of the Chapter hall, the eyes of the assembled Fathers instinctively fell upon the grassplot where lay buried the remains of F. Frederick of St. Michael, our saintly Master of Novices, and F. William of St. Peter, late Rector and faithful missionary, whose yet fresh graves preached a silent sermon of duty well performed and of a religious life ended in peace and crowned, we trust, with glory. The remaining absent one, F. Paul Hyacinth of St. Joseph, had died far away in Mexico.

The session having been opened with the usual prayers, a credential letter of the Most Rev. F. General was read, appointing the Very Rev. Vice-Provincial, Thomas of Holy Mary, as President of the Chapter, with authority to confirm the elections and decrees. F. Fidelis of the Cross was chosen Secretary of the preliminary meetings. The Superiors then delivered up their seals of office, together with their Litterae Patentes, and duly handed in the various documents required by canon-law and our usages, viz., the certificates de celebratione Missarum, together with the inventories of house and church furniture, and the financial statements of the several Retreats.

The financial condition of the Province was discussed at some length, and a committee having been appointed to examine the balance-sheets of the various houses, particularly with regard to the extinction of debts, and the transfer of surplus income from one Retreat to another for that purpose, the said committee made a most favorable report, showing, to the very great gratification of the capitular fathers, that the debt of the Province had been practically extinguished, the total indebtedness amounting to the sum of $2016.26.

The Very Rev. F. President informed the Chapter that, by the action of our Superiors in Rome, the houses of the Mexican Mission had been separated from our Province, and transferred to the jurisdiction of the Spanish Provincial, and that consequently the Chapter would not be called upon to elect a Rector or a Master of Novices for the Retreat of Toluca. The Fathers of the Chapter while appreciating the evident advantages likely to accrue to the Mexican Mission from this change of jurisdiction, desired to give expression to their faithful remembrance of their brethren remaining in Mexico, and their affectionate regret at being thus separated from them.

In the preliminary sessions which followed (Aug. 25-27), various matters were proposed for discussion during the Chapter. And after the oath de secreto servando had been duly administered by the Very Rev. F. President, the merits of those eligible to office were discussed.

On the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 27th, after the capitular fathers had assisted at Vespers with the Community, a sermon was delivered in choir by Very Rev. F. Charles of Holy Mary, on the motives which should actuate the Fathers of the Chapter, especially in choosing new Superiors, a discourse so clear and searching that it could not fail to move the conscience of those to whom it was addressed.

FIRST SESSION.

On the morning of Monday, Aug. 28th, the customary Solemn Mass of the Holy Ghost was sung. And at 9:30 A.M. the solemn procession of all the religious moved from the church to the Chapter-hall. Then, the usual prayers having been recited, the religious of the Community withdrew, and the Chapter was formally opened with the impressive acts prescribed by our ceremonial.

The roll of electors having been called the following responded to their names:

Very Rev. F. Thomas of Holy Mary, Vice-Provincial, and President.
Very Rev. F. Sebastian of the Mother of Mercy, first Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Charles of Holy Mary, second Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Boniface of Jesus, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat, Pittsburg, Pa.
Very Rev. F. John Baptist of the Nativity of the B. V. Mary, Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat, Dunkirk, N.Y.
Very Rev. F. Aloysius of the Passion, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat, West Hoboken, N.J.
Very Rev. F. Xavier of St. Andrew, Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat, Baltimore, Md.
Very Rev. F. George of St. Michael, Rector of Holy Cross Retreat, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Very Rev. F. Felix of St. Joseph, Rector of Sacred Heart Retreat, Louisville, Ky.
Very Rev. F. Peter of the Mother of Mercy, Rector of the Retreat of Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Louis, Mo.
Very Rev. F. Fidelis of the Cross, Rector of Holy Cross Retreat, Buenos Ayres, S.A.

The absolution ad cautelam having been given and the prescribed decrees of the Holy Office and the Council of Trent having been read, the Chapter was declared canonically convened.

F. Fidelis of the Cross was elected Secretary of the Chapter, and FF. Felix of St. Joseph and Peter of the Mother of Mercy were chosen as Scrutineers of the elections.

The Very Rev. F. President then gave a brief but most earnest allocution, to prepare the Fathers for the work immediately before them, and the hymn of the Holy Ghost having been sung, the balloting for Provincial began. The morning having passed, and no result arrived at, the session was closed with prayer.

SECOND SESSION.

The Chapter reassembled at 3 P.M., and the balloting for Provincial was resumed. After many scrutinies, the choice of the Fathers fell upon the Very Rev. F. John Baptist of the Nativity of the B. V. Mary, and the decree of his election was written and duly published by the Secretary. Great and manifest was the emotion of our good Father, whose simplicity had not dreamed of such honors and whose humility stood aghast at such unexpected responsibilities. Great also was the joy of the Fathers of the Chapter, when, yielding to their affectionate and enthusiastic protestations, he consented at last to receive their acts of homage. The Community having been immediately summoned to the Chapter room and having paid obedience to their newly elected Superior, all proceeded to the church, where a joyful Te Deum was sung, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given by the new Provincial.

Then the capitular fathers returned to the Chapter hall, and crowned the labors of the session and of the day by the election in due form of Rev. F. Joseph of the Mother of Mercy, as first Provincial Consultor.

THIRD SESSION.

The morning session of Tuesday, Aug. 29th, was almost entirely occupied by the election of a second Consultor. The choice of the Fathers finally declared in favor of Rev. F. Robert of St. Joseph, and the decree of election was at once published by the Secretary.

Next in order came the voting for the Master of Novices of the principal Novitiate of the Province at Pittsburg; but no result having been reached during the brief time that remained, the morning session was closed in the usual manner.

FOURTH SESSION.

In the afternoon the Fathers continued their balloting for Master of Novices at Pittsburg, and before long the Very Rev. F. George of St. Michael received more than the two-third vote required, and was duly declared elected. The newly elected, being present as one of the capitular fathers, accepted the office with a certain gracious modesty, which added to the pleasure of those who had chosen him.

It being necessary to provide also a Master of Novices for the distant mission of Buenos Ayres, the fathers of the Chapter, on the second ballot, elected Rev. F. Louis of St. John Evangelist. This much esteemed religious was supposed to be still in Chile, where he had been Superior under the jurisdiction of the Spanish Provincial, but it was understood, that he had already received permission to return to his former Province. The Secretary, having published the decree of election in proper form, was instructed to notify F. Louis of the choice of the Chapter.

Then came the duty of providing the Retreats of the Province with new Rectors. On the third ballot, Very Rev. F. Thomas of Holy Mary was chosen Rector of the Retreat of St. Paul of the Cross, Pittsburg; and the decree of election being published, he accepted with humble simplicity the Will of God.

The next office to be filled by the Chapter would have been, as heretofore, that of Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat, Dunkirk. The Very Rev. F. President, however, informed the Fathers that since the establishment of our preparatory school at Dunkirk, and the consequent reduction of the religious Community, and the abandonment of the full observance, our Superiors in Rome had reduced St. Mary’s Retreat to a house of missions, with a Superior to be appointed by the Provincial. The fathers of the Chapter thereupon unanimously expressed the hope that St. Mary’s, Dunkirk, a house so dear to all and so well known in the annals of our Province, might be once more, and as soon as possible, raised to a canonical Retreat, with full observance and a regular Community. Proceeding, therefore to the next in order of our foundations, the fathers of the Chapter after eight ballots, elected as Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat, West Hoboken, the Very Rev. F. Charles of Holy Mary. This excellent religious at first earnestly renounced the office, which he feared he would not be able worthily to fill, especially on account of his well known delicate health; nevertheless he yielded at last to the entreaties of the Fathers, who were well aware that a blameless religious life is a far more essential quality in a Superior than force of physical strength.

Next, on the 19th ballot, Rev. F. Edward of the Holy Spirit, was chosen Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat Baltimore; and the Secretary, after publishing the decree, was instructed to inform the Father of his election. Thus ended the work of the session and of the day, the capitular fathers remaining well pleased with the results accomplished.

FIFTH SESSION.

On Wednesday morning at 8 o’clock, the Chapter assembled and proceeded with the work of elections, which in the last session had progressed so happily. On the second ballot, Very Rev. F. Stephen of Holy Mary was chosen to be Rector of Holy Cross Retreat, Cincinnati. F. Stephen being present in the house (where he was acting as temporary Master of Novices), was forthwith called to the Chapter room, and accepted with naive candor and promptness, the responsibility conferred upon him.

On the second ballot once more, the choice of the Chapter was manifested in the election of Rev. F. Denis of the Virgin Mary, to the Rectorship of the Retreat of the Sacred Heart, near Louisville. And being Vicar of the Pittsburg Community, this young Father was also quickly summoned to the Chapter-hall, where with few and modest words, he thanked the assembled Fathers for the confidence they had shown in him.

On the first ballot, Very Rev. F. Peter of the Mother of Mercy was confirmed as Rector of the Retreat of our Lady of Good Counsel, near St. Louis; and the decree of the election having been published, F. Peter, with marked emotion, thanked the Fathers for their approbation so unmistakably manifested, and hoped to merit their confidence in the future as in the past.

On the first ballot also, Rev. F. Eugene of the Sacred Heart was elected Rector of Holy Cross Retreat, Buenos Ayres, in which house he was formally Master of Novices, and where he was at present Vicar. And the Secretary, having published the decree, was instructed to notify the Father of his election.

Thus ended the elections, which had begun with so much slowness and deliberation, but had advanced with increasing rapidity to their termination.

The remainder of the morning session was occupied with the discussion of certain matters proposed in the preliminary meetings, but no definite conclusions had been reached when the hour for adjournment arrived.

SIXTH SESSION.

In the afternoon, the Chapter discussed at some length the question of the manner of serving parishes attached to our Retreats, and in particular, of the status of those religious who may be appointed as assistants to the Rector in parish work, their duties, privileges and exemptions. A committee of three of the most experienced of the capitular fathers was named, with instructions to formulate certain provisional statutes on this matter, and to report at the next session.

The Chapter then considered the case of those religious, who, under pretext of any kind, claim undue exemptions from the observance, and from the prescriptions of the Holy Rule in regard to the religious dress etc., to the detriment or scandal of the Community. The following legislation was adopted: “Should any religious claim exemption from some point of Rule, or practise singularities in the line of clothing, food etc., the local Superior must guard against yielding too easily, remembering that hereby all sorts of abuses and relaxations will creep in. If the reason for the dispensation be doubtful, or, the subject is dissatisfied with the decision of the Superior, the case is to be referred to the F. Provincial, whose duty it will also be at the next Visitation to inquire into all cases where any member of our Communities does not conform to the common life and common observance, and having carefully examined all the circumstances, he, the said Provincial, will determine what charity, prudence and zeal for regularity shall dictate.” The session then closed with the usual prayers.

SEVENTH SESSION.

Thursday Aug. 31st 9 A.M. The committee on parish-work, appointed in the previous session, made their report, which was favorably received, and the fathers of the Chapter agreed upon certain modifications of the existing regulations concerning parishes, with the understanding that this modified plan be acted upon and tested provisionally during the coming three years.

In order to increase the efficacy of our missions, it was recommended that, at some convenient time during the coming year, the Very Rev. F. Provincial should call together, in one of our Retreats, as many of our missionary fathers as may be practicable, for consultation and conference on mission work, he having previously informed them by circular letter of the matters to be treated of during the time of their assembly.

EIGHTH SESSION.

Friday, Sept. 1st 9 A.M. The subject of missions having been still further discussed, the fathers of the Chapter united in the following declaration: “The decree made at the last Chapter concerning the use of spirituous drinks is to be observed abroad as well as at home in the Retreat, and in particular on missions. During missions the taking of refreshments out of meal time is forbidden, and no departure from this rule is to be made without express permission, to be asked toties quoties, from the Superior of the mission. Any violation of this rule will be reported to the Provincial. In this connection, we highly commend the religious spirit of those, and thank God, they are not few, who, to honor the sacred thirst of our Lord, practise total abstinence.

NINTH SESSION.

In the afternoon, the Acts of the Chapter up to the present were read, commented upon and amended. Various other matters were then discussed and agreed upon by the Chapter, concerning which it was not deemed advisable to formulate any decree; and in regard to all such points, determined by the Chapter but not entered in the Acts thereof, the Very Rev. F. Provincial was requested to give due information to all those of the newly elected Superiors who were not de gremio Capituli.

TENTH SESSION.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 2nd, at 10 o’clock, the fathers of the Chapter assembled for the last time. The Acts of the Chapter were then read and approved.

The Very Rev. F. President then asked the Fathers whether they had anything further to propose, and all answering in the negative, he again asked whether they thought proper to bring the Chapter to a close, to which they unanimously replied in the affirmative. Then the Fathers with one voice thanked the Very Rev. F. President for the zeal, wisdom and charity, with which he had directed the deliberations of the Chapter; and also gave expression to the joy which they entertain at the prospect that our Most Rev. F. General will during the coming year visit our Province of St. Paul of the Cross.

The newly elected Superiors then made the required profession of faith.

And the Very Rev. F. President, having announced to the gratification of all, that letters of acceptance had been received from all the newly elect at present in this country, confirmed the elections. Finally the Fathers, with thankful hearts, affixed their signatures.

Thomas a Maria Virgine, nomine Rmi. Patris Praep. Generalis, Praeses Capituli, qui electiones in eo peractas ejusdem Rmi. Praep. Generalis auctoritate confirmavi, acta probavi et promulgari jussi.

Very Rev. F. Sebastian of the Mother of Mercy, first Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Charles of Holy Mary, second Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Boniface of Jesus, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat, Pittsburg, Pa.
Very Rev. F. John Baptist of the Nativity of the B. V. Mary, Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat, Dunkirk, N.Y.
Very Rev. F. Aloysius of the Passion, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat, West Hoboken, N.J.
Very Rev. F. Xavier of St. Andrew, Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat, Baltimore, Md.
Very Rev. F. George of St. Michael, Rector of Holy Cross Retreat, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Very Rev. F. Felix of St. Joseph, Rector of Sacred Heart Retreat, Louisville, Ky.
Very Rev. F. Peter of the Mother of Mercy, Rector of the Retreat of Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Louis, Mo.
Very Rev. F. Fidelis of the Cross, Rector of Holy Cross Retreat, Buenos Ayres, S.A.

Fidelis a Cruce,
Secretarius Capitularis.