Acts of the First Provincial Chapter
of the Province Bl. Paul of the Cross,
Held in the Retreat Of Bl. Paul of the Cross, Pittsburg, Pa.
From July 29th to 31st, 1863.
Faith teaches, reason proves, experience practically demonstrates that all disorders and quarrels, schisms, strifes, and wars, originate from inordinate self-love, greedy avarice, and proud ambition. On the contrary, self-denial, a heart detached from creatures, and a spirit of humble submission are the legitimate parents, and affectionate nurses of individual peace, fraternal union, and universal charity.
These present times furnish us with evident facts in proof of this assertion. Whilst the external world is quarreling and fighting for material interests, and personal ambition, the Church of God enjoys comparative peace, because in the person of her Divine Founder and Head, Jesus Christ, her spiritual enemies, self-love, avarice, and pride, have been overcome on Golgotha through the great Sacrifice on the Cross.
The religious Congregation of the Passion by her nature, constitution and object, being more closely bound to the Cross of Christ, should more abundantly share the trophies of the great and glorious Victory of Mount Calvary. Thanks to the superabundant Redemption of Jesus, we children of the Passion, have happily experienced these sweet fruits of our Saviour’s victory during our first Provincial Chapter in this American continent.
It seems to us that the compilation of the Acts of the first Provincial Chapter of our Congregation in this country should not be considered complete without herein inserting a short historical sketch of the establishment of our Institute in the United States.
At the pressing and persevering request of the Right Reverend Michael O’Connor, first Bishop of Pittsburg, our late and truly lamented Superior General, most Reverend F. Anthony of St. James, in his enlightened zeal for the progress and enlarged usefulness of our religious Congregation, sent a small colony of our religious under the paternal care and prudent guide of this learned and zealous Prelate, to establish our Institute in the diocese of Pittsburg, State of Pennsylvania. Four were the religious chosen for this distant journey and difficult undertaking, viz.: F. Anthony of St. Peter, who was appointed Superior, F. Albinus, F. Stanislaus, and Brother Lawrence. These our religious arrived in Pittsburg toward the end of the year 1852. Three other religious came to join them from Italy in July 1854. One of these was the Very Reverend F. Dominic of the Infant Jesus, who was, by our Superior General in Rome, appointed to take the place of F. Anthony, who was made Master of Novices in the new Retreat lately erected in Birmingham near Pittsburg.
At their first arrival these our pioneer Fathers, had to encounter and overcome those difficulties, which are inevitable in such undertakings in a distant country from their native home, without having any knowledge of the language, peculiar customs, habits and ideas of the people. People congregated together without any preconcerted plan, but from various motives, from different countries of the earth, speaking diverse languages, professing clashing systems of religion. But through a special protection of Divine Providence, and their persevering efforts, all these and other serious difficulties were steadily overcome by our Fathers; so much so that in less than eight years from their first arrival in Pittsburg, they were able to establish three religious houses of our holy Institute, in important localities in three different States of the great American Union.
These new material establishments, suppose, as well as facilitate, the increase of useful members in our religious Congregation in this country. Our first Fathers are well consoled and rewarded for their first sufferings and labors by the gladdening and hopeful sight of no less than fifty religious companions, some of whom endowed with more than ordinary talents and religious virtues, and all giving well founded hopes of future usefulness to our religious Order, and to our holy Church in this country.
The knowledge of these facts determined our late Superior General, Most Reverend F. Anthony of St. James, before his death, to erect in the approaching General Chapter, a new Province of our Congregation in the United States of America. His worthy successor, as Provisional Superior General, Most Reverend F. Pius of the most holy Name of Mary, anxious to carry into execution the wise plan of his great predecessor, through a circular letter dated the 14th of February of the present year, summoned to Rome our Very Reverend F. Superior Dominic of the Infant Jesus, directing him to choose one of the older Fathers among our American religious as his companion. Whereas the name of our F. Anthony of St. Peter was mentioned, he of course was selected and both departed for Rome from New York, on Holy Saturday, the 4th of April 1863, where they both safely arrived on Sunday the 26th of April, being the feast of our glorious Patron, the Patronage of St. Joseph.
The General Chapter was, as usual, held in our Retreat of the holy Martyrs, SS. John and Paul, in the Eternal City and was formally begun on the 3rd of May, the fourth Sunday after Easter. We cannot omit to observe that by a happy and hopeful combination on this same day fell the octave of St. Joseph’s Patronage and the feast of the Invention of the most holy Cross of our Divine Savior.
By a special privilege of His Holiness Pope Pius the IX, our Very Reverend F. Superior, Dominic of the Infant Jesus, was admitted as a member of the General Chapter with the right of active and passive voice.
The erection of our new American Province of Blessed Paul of the Cross was effected during the 9th and 10th Session of this twenty-first General Chapter of our Congregation, which we shall in part herein translate from the original Italian language for the instruction and edification of our religious brethren in America.
Two Sessions of this General Chapter, viz.: the 9th and 10th, were entirely occupied in the erection of the new Province of America, upon which the title of Blessed Paul of the Cross was conferred, and for the distinctive mark of the new Province, a seal was assigned to it bearing the impression of a cross with the scourges pendant from its arms.
After this the Chapter, duly authorized, proceeded to the election of the new Provincial and his two Consultors. At the first scrutiny the Very Reverend F. Dominic of the Infant Jesus, was elected Provincial Superior; and the Secretary having formed and promulgated the decree, the Chapter went on with the election of the first Consultor, which at the first scrutiny fell on the Very Reverend F. Gaudentius of St. Stephen. After having as above formed and promulgated the decree, the Chapter passed on to election of the second Consultor, which at the first scrutiny fell on the person of the Very Reverend F. Anthony of St. Peter, for whose election also the Secretary formed and published the usual decree.
These joyful and hopeful news were first received through private letters from Rome. At the return of the new Provincial he communicated on the 13th of June, official notice of his election in Rome, to the three local Superiors, and through them to their respective religious Communities in Pittsburg, Dunkirk and West Hoboken; expressing at the same time his desire and intention of convoking the Provincial Chapter at the earliest opportunity, and requesting the fervent prayers of all our religious for its happy consummation.
This Provincial Chapter was in fact convoked by a circular letter of the new Provincial, from which the following extract is herein inserted.:
St. Mary’s Retreat,
West Hoboken, N. J.
July 8th 1863.
Dearly beloved Fathers and Brothers,
In my circular letter, dated 13th of June 1863, I informed you about some arrangements made in our last General Chapter, lately held in Rome, and requested your particular prayers for the good success of our Provincial Chapter to be convoked at the first convenient opportunity. I do therefore notify to you by this present that this first Provincial Chapter of our Congregation in this country will take place in our Retreat of Blessed Paul of the Cross near Pittsburg, State of Pennsylvania, beginning on the 29th of July,1863.
In conformity with our holy Rules, this Provincial Chapter shall be preceded by a devout Triduum with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament to be made in all the three Retreats of our newly constituted American Province.
Moreover the new Provincial announced also that, by a special rescript of the Holy See, all our Fathers in America, who had been during ten years members of our religious Congregation, were to be admitted to the Chapter with the privilege of active and passive voice. All these capitular Fathers were ordered to find themselves present at our Retreat of Blessed Paul of the Cross, at the latest, on Monday July 27th. In obedience to this summons all the capitular Fathers from our two Retreats in Dunkirk and West Hoboken, arrived on that day, and were received with paternal charity and cordial joy by the new Provincial and by the local Superior and all the religious Community in this place.
On the following day, Thursday July 28th, in conformity with the wise practice of our General and Provincial Chapters, two preliminary meetings were held, the first in the forenoon, and the second in the afternoon. The morning meeting took place in the library of the Retreat, which had been duly prepared for the occasion, to be used as Chapter Room. After the invocation of the Holy Ghost, and some special prayers in honor of our Blessed Lady, of our holy Patrons St. Michael the Archangel, St. Joseph, and of our holy Founder Blessed Paul of the Cross, several matters of importance for the general welfare of our religious Congregation in this new Province, were duly proposed and freely discussed. One of the capitular Fathers asked and obtained permission to read to the religious assembly some matters which he considered of great importance for the occasion. This occupied some considerable portion of time. The hour fixed for the conference having expired, the meeting was closed with the usual prayers of thanksgiving to God.
In the afternoon of this day immediately after Vespers, by order of the Very Reverend Fr. Provincial, Reverend Fr. Luke of the Blessed Virgin Mary, delivered an appropriate discourse, before the whole religious Community assembled in choir, relative to the approaching Provincial Chapter, when he exhorted all the capitular Fathers to make a proper choice of a Master of Novices for our new American religious Province, and a fit local Superior for each of our three Retreats. At the conclusion of this discourse, which was delivered with humble earnestness, and listened to with deep attention by the religious Community, all proceeded to the church attached to the Retreat for the termination of the Triduum commanded by our Holy Rule, and ordered by the new Provincial in preparation for the Chapter. As soon as the Benediction was over, the capitular Fathers were by the sign of the bell summoned to the Chapter Room, where after the usual prayers the Very Reverend Fr. Provincial administered and took the oath de secreto servando or of secrecy, in matters the mention of which might prove injurious to christian and fraternal charity. This legitimate and prudent oath had a special relation to the capitular examination into the merits of the intended candidates for the office and charge of Master of Novices, and local Superiors for our three religious Communities. This investigation was made with prudent zeal, just impartiality and religious moderation, beginning with the last of the capitular Fathers who was directed to withdraw from the Chapter Room in order that each and all the capitular Fathers might be able to express their opinion with secure and perfect freedom; when this Father was recalled, the next went out and the same plan was continued till all the candidates were duly canvassed, then the meeting was closed with the usual prayers by the Very Reverend Fr. Provincial.
The 29th day of July 1863, fixed in the eternal decrees of Divine Providence for an important epoch in the annals of our religious Congregation in America dawned upon us with a calm and serene, aspect. Early at 5:30 o’clock Solemn High Mass de Spiritu Sancto was celebrated by the Very Reverend F. Provincial assisted, as Deacon and Subdeacon, by his two Consultors and by other ministers selected from the capitular Fathers. At 8 o’clock of the same morning all the religious family was assembled again in the church, where in conformity to the ancient and uniform practice in our Congregation the Provincial Superior, wearing surplice and purple Stole, took a devout crucifix at the high altar and entoned the hymn Vexilla Regis prodeunt which was taken up and continued with harmonious fervor and solemn devotion by the assembled religious whilst a procession was formed and started from the church towards the Chapter Room headed by the Very Reverend Fr. Provincial bearing the sacred standard of our redemption and assisted by two acolytes with lighted candles. The procession having arrived at the appointed place and the proper prayers having been recited the Provincial Superior requested the capitular Fathers to remain in the Chapter Room, and dismissed the rest of the religious Community in the usual form viz.: “abeant caeteri omnes et comitant electores Comitiorum.” As soon as the religious Community had withdrawn, a door-keeper of the Chapter Room was appointed, the door was closed and the Very Reverend Fr. Provincial made a fraternal exhortation to the capitular Fathers about the nature and object of this religious meeting and the duty of making the elections with religious charity and impartial justice; at the conclusion of this exhortation the names of the capitular Fathers were called in the following order:
Very Rev F. John Dominic of the Infant Jesus. Provincial.
Very Rev F. Gaudentius of St. Stephen, first Provincial Consultor.
Very Rev F. Anthony of St. Peter, second Provincial Consultor.
Very Rev F. Albinus of the Incarnate Wisdom, Superior of our Retreat in Dunkirk.
Very Rev F. Victor of the Mother of God, Superior of our Retreat in West Hoboken.
Very Rev F. John Baptist of the Nativity of the B. V. Mary, Vice Superior of our Retreat of Bl. Paul of the Cross, Birmingham.
Rev. F. James of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Rev. F. Stanislaus of the Assumption.
Rev. F. Luke of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Rev. F. Liberatus of St. Francis.
Rev. F. John Thomas of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
All these eleven Fathers were found present in their respective places in the Chapter Room and distinctly answered to their call. After this the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus was sung and the usual prayers recited. Here a solemn and affecting action was performed when the Very Rev. F. Provincial placing a rope around his neck and a cross upon his shoulder knelt down upon the floor, and in a solemn and humble manner asked pardon from all the capitular fathers for any and every fault committed during the nine years of his previous administration as a provisional Superior, and earnestly asked correction and penance. His first Consultor in the name of all the capitular fathers said a few words to him and taking the rope and cross from the Provincial Superior, he in turn knelt down together with all the capitular fathers and in the name of all asked from the Very Rev. F. Provincial, pardon, correction and penance for all their faults. The Provincial Superior after having received it from his first Consultor, granted ad cautelam absolution from all ecclesiastial censures to all the capitular fathers. The decree of the Holy Office was then read and the question having been asked whether the capitular fathers believed this present Provincial Chapter lawfully assembled, all answered in the affirmative. After this the Very Rev. Provincial Superior requested his first Consultor to read and publish before the capitular fathers two important documents as follows: The first contained the consent expressed viva voce by His Holiness Pius the IX, granting a written petition presented to him to obtain the necessary power for our religious in America to hold this first Provincial Chapter and the privilege for this present occasion, of active and passive voice to all our Rev. Fathers, who had been ten years members of our religious Congregation.
The second was a written and sealed formal document from our present Most Rev. F. Peter Paul of our Blessed Lady of Sorrows, General Superior of our Congregation, expressing his great desire of presiding in person at this our first Provincial American Chapter, but being unavoidably prevented, he substituted the Very Rev. F. Dominic of the Infant Jesus our new Provincial Superior, to preside in his name and place, granting him for the occasion, full power and jurisdiction.
Immediately after the reading of these two essential documents, the Very Rev. F. President having made the customary protestation “de non excludendis ad votum ponendum dignis, et non admittendis indignis ex quocumque capite,” he proposed to the Chapter the Very Rev. F. Gaudentius of St. Stephen as capitular Secretary, who by secret votes was unanimously elected. Two capitular Scrutators or examiners of votes were similarly proposed and elected in the persons of Rev. F. Liberatus of St. Francis as first Scrutator, and Rev. F. John Thomas of the Sacred Hearts, as second Scrutator or examiner of votes. Before proceeding to the elections the President requested the three provisional Superiors to give to the capitular fathers a statement of the economical condition of their respective Retreats.
These preliminary arrangements being duly completed, the President proposed to the capitular fathers the election of a Master of Novices for the new Province, to be effected by secret votes through the ballot box, which at the second scrutiny fell on the Rev. F. Liberatus of St. Francis of Assisium. The capitular Secretary having obtained the usual placet or permission from the Fathers, immediately formed and published the decree of election in the following words: ‘Ego Gaudentius a Sancto Stephano, nomine meo, et omnium eligentium mihi consentientium. invocata gratia Spiritus Sancti, in Magistrum Novitiorum Provinciae Beati Pauli a Cruce in Septentrionali America, eligo et electum pronuncio, ac coram vobis publico admodum Reverendum Patrem Liberatum a Sancto Francisco Assinate. In nomine Patris, et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.” The newly elected Master of Novices, with sentiments of sincere humility thanked the President and, the whole Chapter for his election, but strongly requested them to exempt him from a charge which he considered superior to his ability and strength. He, however, at last submitted to God’s will so clearly manifested through the capitular fathers. This first election being satisfactorily settled, the capitular President proposed the election of a regular Rector for our first religious house in America, the Retreat of Blessed Paul of the Cross in Birmingham; at the fourth scrutiny the Rev. F. Luke of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was found duly elected, and the Secretary as above formed and published the decree of election. The newly elected F. Rector having thanked the Chapter for his election, made strong and persevering efforts to decline a charge for which he solemnly protested to be unequal and unfit; but finding the Very Rev. President and all the capitular fathers unmoveable in their determination, he was at last induced reluctantly to consent. The hour being late this first session was closed with the usual prayers.
This second session was opened with the usual prayers in the afternoon of the same day July 29th.
Whereas a desire was expressed by the majority of the capitular fathers to insert in the Acts of this our first American Provincial Chapter a brief notice of the foundation of our religious houses in Dunkirk and West Hoboken, before proceeding to the election of the two respective Rectors we comply with the capitular request and begin with Dunkirk.
Among the several requests made by different Bishops in these United States and Canada, to our Very Rev. F. Superior Dominic, to obtain for their respective dioceses the establishment of one of our religious houses, that of the Right Rev. John Timon, the truly apostolic Bishop of Buffalo, State of New York, was particularly earnest, pressing and persevering. This truly zealous and saintly Bishop stated, that when in Rome he had made personally application to our late Superior General, Most Rev. F. Anthony of St. James, for such foundation in his diocese, and had received from him a promise that with the consent of our American Superior the first future establishment in these United States was to be made in the diocese of Buffalo. More easily to obtain this obect he requested one of our missionary fathers to conduct the annual exercises for the secular clergy of his diocese during the month of May 1859, which gave such universal satisfaction that the good Bishop morally obliged the same Father to give a kind of mission or retreat to the secular congregation in the cathedral church, when above five thousand catholics received the Holy Communion and about fifteen protestants were converted to the catholic faith. This apostolic Bishop, a worthy son and faithful imitator of St. Vincent de Paul, having been an eyewitness of these facts, insisted more strongly than ever for the speedy execution of the intended foundation in his diocese and particularly in Dunkirk. This locality was visited and examined by our Very Rev. F. Superior John Dominic and by three or four others of our religious on different occasions. Their opinions both in relation to the locality and on account of a large catholic congregation attached to the church, were not unanimous at first, but it was at last concluded to accept this foundation. The Rev. F. Albinus was sent to Dunkirk to take charge of the church and secular congregation for the second Sunday after Easter 1860. Some other Fathers were successively sent to assist him. A mission was given to the congregation during the month of June of the same year. Great amount of moral good was effected among the people; vices were corrected and pious practices introduced. The Rev. F. Albinus worked with great zeal and energy for the abolition of the besetting and degrading vice of drunkeness, common among the people, and effected great deal for the spiritual and material improvement of that congregation. He moreover, bought several lots of ground, and built a moderate and commodious house for our religious Community attached to the church of the secular congregation, where during more than a year six promising young students have been finishing their course of Theology under the zealous care and prudent training of the Rev. F. Lector, John Thomas of the Sacred Hearts; keeping the regular observance and assisting occasionally in the religious services of the two churches English and German.
It is now fully time to return to the more immediate object of this second capitular session. The Very Rev. President having duly proposed to the capitular fathers the election of a Rector for our Retreat in Dunkirk, State of New York, at the third scrutiny the election fell on the Rev. F. John Baptist of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The capitular Secretary formed as above and published immediately the decree of election. This newly elected F. Rector modestly thanked the capitular fathers for the honor conferred upon him, but earnestly requested the Very Rev. F. President to dispense with him from a charge which he deemed too heavy for his person, adducing the reason of his want of age, experience and capacity, but he also had at last to yield to the firm determination of the whole Chapter.
Before proceeding to the election of the new Rector of our religious house at West Hoboken, State of New Jersey, in the diocese of Newark, the Secretary requested the Very Rev. President and capitular fathers to assign St. Michael the Archangel the first Patron of our religious Congregation as Titular Saint to the new Retreat in course of erection in that locality.
In support of his petition the Very Rev. Father related that our two present Very Rev. F. Consultors giving a mission in West Hoboken during the latter part of the month of September 1859, both were deeply impressed in favor of that locality as highly adapted and advantageous for a foundation of one of our principle Retreats, where with the recollection of religious solitude our Community could enjoy all the advantages of easy access to three or four very populous and most prosperous American cities, with the city and port of New York, the best ocean harbor in the United States. In order to obtain this desirable foundation one of the two missionaries on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel which happened during that mission, offered in the morning the holy Sacrifice of the Mass and made to God a private promise to use his best personal efforts with our legitimate Superiors to obtain the title of St. Michael the Archangel for the Retreat, if a foundation was effected in that locality. The Very Rev. F. Secretary, moreover, remarked that the first opportunity our two missionary fathers could have of speaking to the Bishop of the diocese, Rt. Rev. James R. Bayley, upon this important subject, was on the octave day of St. Michael Oct. 6th 1859, when the good Bishop expressed his high approbation and earnest desire for the contemplated foundation. This important religious foundation was really effected eight months after by our Very Rev. F. Superior Dominic, and it has ever since been more than usually prosperous. The Very Rev. F. Secretary now considered himself in duty bound to request the Very Rev. President and all the capitular fathers to grant his earnest petition, and it was unanimously and cheerfully accorded.
Immediately after this the Venerable Chapter proceeded to the election of the Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat in West Hoboken, diocese of Newark, State of New Jersey, and at the first scrutiny the election fell on the former provisional Superior, the Rev. F. Victor of the Mother of God, who in few words thanked the capitular fathers, and quietly submitted to the charge imposed upon him. The remaining portion of the afternoon of this second session was principally employed in discussing the most prudent plan for the location of our Retreats in this religious Province. After ten years experience, and most serious consideration, long and fervent prayers, having arrived to the unanimous conclusion that in the present circumstances of the Catholic religion in America, our religious fathers cannot avoid taking the care and charge of secular congregations in the immediate neighborhood of our Retreats, and foreseeing that for years to come the same reasons will continue to exist in relation to future foundations, the Chapter was of unanimous opinion that our Retreats in conformity to the letter and spirit of our Holy Rules and practice of our Congregation, should be founded in comparative solitude and separated from the church of the secular congregation, and that the Very Rev. F. Provincial with the advice of his Consultors, should appoint one or more fit priests to administer to the spiritual wants of the Catholic population. Moreover in this session the following matters were treated and decrees were passed concerning them.
- In relation to watches. The capitular fathers anxious for the exact observance of what is prescribed in the common Regulations about watches ordain that the local Superior should take care that no abuse be introduced amongst our religious either in the too frequent or unnecessary use of them or in the manner of carrying them.
- In the first place the Venerable Chapter absolutely forbids the use of golden watches.
- Secondly it forbids the use of watches to each individual religious without real necessity and without express permission to be asked from the Superior every time.
- The Chapter strictly forbids to all our religious the use of any kind of chains or watch strings or any other external sign indicating the continual and personal use of watches.
- In relation to photographs, likenesses and visiting cards. The capitular fathers consider and declare extended to our American Province the prohibition made in other places to our religious of procuring or receiving photographs, engravings or any other kind of likenesses of their own person and to distribute them to others, as well as of the use of visiting cards: and so with the usual thanksgiving the session ended.
This third session was opened on the morning of Thursday July 30th, by the Very Rev. F. President with the usual prayers. Several matters of importance were treated conducive to the welfare of our new religious Province and the following decrees were emanated.
- In relation to the drink at dinner in our Retreats. On this subject the following declaration was made. The capitular fathers desiring the general practices and customs of our Congregation be as far as possible preserved in our American Province, ordain that the local Superiors provide each religious at dinner in the refectory a bottle of beer or cider containing no less than two glasses full of ordinary size. The aforesaid Ven. Fathers earnestly recommend to the charity of the local Superiors to give some wine as far as their circumstances permit, to such religious as on account of feeble health or extraordinary fatigue stand in real need of it.
- Regarding the collars to be used by our lay-brothers. It was decreed by the Fathers that for the sake of uniformity and religious decency the local Superiors may grant to our lay-brothers when obliged to go out of the Retreat in their secular dress, the use of a black collar with a linen border of about an inch in width, having an opening in the middle of about two inches according to the pattern made and approved by the Chapter.
- It was moreover decreed that long drawers and other secular underclothes be kept in common, and the Chapter prohibited to keep them privately without express permission from the Superior to be asked whenever necessity requires it.
These matters having been satisfactorily settled, the capitular fathers passed to a long and careful examination of the best mode for conducting external missions and retreats, in conformity with the principle object and spirit of our holy Institute. This important subject was treated by the Fathers with peculiar zeal, earnestness and prudence. The time prescribed being finished, the President appointed a committee of three capitular fathers to form a plan to be proposed for adoption in the afternoon session. This committee was composed of Rev. F. Albinus of the Incarnate Wisdom, and Rev. F. John Baptist of the Nativity of the B. V. Mary, with Very Rev. F. Provincial as President. After the customary prayers the session was closed.
After the usual opening prayers, external missions was the subject of the fourth session of Thursday afternoon July 30th. The Very Rev. F. President in the name of the committee proposed the following plan which was unanimously adopted.
Whereas the circumstances of this country require some deviation from the method and practices of our missionary fathers in Italy, and taught, moreover, by several years experience in America, the capitular fathers for the sake of uniformity and order, prescribe the observance of the following regulations by our Fathers during missions in this country.
- That in the morning immediately after the first Mass, one of our missioners shall propose to the devout consideration of the people a pious sentiment on the Passion of our Lord, for about a quarter of an hour’s duration.
- In case the mission last two weeks, during the first one of the missionary fathers shall explain to the people the principal christian duties contained in the decalogue. During the second week the same or another Father shall deliver a course of meditations on the most holy Passion of our Lord, neither of which shall exceed the duration of an hour. These discourses and meditations will be given after the last Mass the hour of which shall be left to the prudent judgment of the Superior of the mission.
- In the evening an instruction shall be given on the Sacrament of Confession and other matters usually treated in our missions. This instruction should not last longer than three-quarters of an hour. After this the principle sermon will be delivered which should also be of a moderate duration. The Father destined to deliver it shall take care to introduce some strong motive or sentiment on the Passion of our Lord.
Various other matters were treated by the capitular fathers and useful admonitions given in relation to confessors and the spiritual fathers for our religious Communities, about the monthly conferences prescribed by our Holy Rules, the exercise of mental prayer so necessary especially in this country for the preservation of the spirit of religious perfection, the observance of the regular silence in the Retreat, the practice of christian and religious charity, and fraternal union, love and concord, the duty of every religious of asking from his Superior the due permission in going out from the Retreat and immediately after his return, and finally the necessary precaution and religious modesty to be used when obliged to converse with secular persons, especially females.
The Very Rev. F. President having several times asked whether any capitular father had any other matter of interest to propose, all answered in the negative. The time for the close of this fourth session having arrived, the President directed the capitular Secretary to compile the Acts of the Chapter, and fixed the following day Friday July 31st feast of the great and glorious Patriarch, St. Ignatius Loyola, for the last and closing session of this first Provincial Chapter of our religious Congregation in the United States of America, and for reading and signing these capitular Acts. With hearty thanks to Divine Goodness for the peculiar assistance granted to the capitular fathers on this important occasion the session was closed.
FIFTH AND LAST SESSION.
Friday July 31st. On this day the Very Rev. F. Provincial received a letter from the Right Rev. J. B. Purcell, Archbishop of Cincinnati, State of Ohio, containing a formal petition for a foundation of one of our religious houses in his diocese, and having read this letter to the assembled capitular fathers, they unanimously agreed to leave this subject entirely to his prudent judgment and to the advice of his Consultors.
Before subscribing these present Acts the capitular fathers wished to express their cordial grief and pain at the calamity of the present civil war afflicting and distracting this great American Union, and resolved that they and all our religious with renewed fervor should continue as they have already done to offer special prayers to the Throne of Divine Mercy and Grace to obtain from God the speedy restoration of a lasting peace, prosperity and happiness to this country. These present Acts were then read by the Secretary and approved by the capitular fathers, who gave hearty thanks to God for having inspired our General Superiors in Rome to erect this our new American religious Province and for having placed it under the special title and patronage of our holy Founder, Bl. Paul of the Cross. Some prayers were then recited in honor of our Blessed Lady, of our holy Patrons St. Michael the Archangel, St. Joseph and of our Bl. Founder. Here by order of the Very Rev. F. President, the newly elected Fathers made the usual profession of the Catholic Faith and with happy minds and joyful hearts all the capitular fathers cheerfully appended their signature to these capitular Acts in the following order:
Very Rev. F. John Dominic of the Infant Jesus, President delegate.
Very Rev. F. Gaudentius of St. Stephen, first Provincial Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Anthony of St. Peter, second Provincial Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Albinus of the Incarnate Wisdom, Superior of St. Mary’s Retreat, Dunkirk.
Very Rev. F. Victor of the Mother of God, Superior of St. Michael the Archangel’s Retreat, West Hoboken.
Very Rev. F. John Baptist of the Nativity of the B. V. Mary, Vice Superior of Bl. Paul’s Retreat, Birmingham.
Rev. F. James of the Heart of Jesus.
Rev. F. Stanislaus of the Assumption of the B. V. M.
Rev. F. John Luke of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Rev. F. Liberatus of St. Francis of Assisium.
Rev. F. John Thomas of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Gaudentius a S. Stephano Secretarius Capitularis.