Acts of the Fourth 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 5th to 10th, 1872


Whilst the evil spirit of rebellion against lawful authority is trying its utmost to get the upper-hand all over the world; whilst pernicious maxims and errors are being spread all over by wicked men, to destroy, were it possible, all truths from the face of the earth; whilst in the very centre of Christianity, the abomination of desolation stands proud and daring, mocking at everything, and insulting every doctrine and truth of God, and endeavors to poison with its venom, the fountain-head of truth; a band of children of St. Paul of the Cross, in this great American Republic, fled to a holy mountain, hallowed by the name and veneration of that Saint.

They gathered together in this holy mount, that, enlightened by the light of God, they might enforce still more the observance of such rules, laws, and principles, the keeping of which will insure to themselves and to those, with whom their ministry puts them in contact, that peace and joy which is the fruit of order and subordination. They assembled together to select Superiors, who might with their example and words be the moral props, guardians, and preservers of those wise rules and traditions, which have been handed down to us by those men who have gone before us; in order that, as they by the observance of the same rules did shine so brilliantly, we may likewise share their happy lot. “Quorum intuentes exitum conversationis, imitamini fidem. Considering well the end of their conversation, imitate their faith.”

This gathering was convened by a circular letter of Very Rev. F. Albinus, Provincial, to be held in October next, with the expectation of having in our midst our Most Rev. F. General. But being hindered by circumstances to gratify us with his presence, the time for holding our Chapter was changed, and another circular, dated July 24th, called the capitular fathers to repair to St. Paul’s Monastery, Pittsburg, Pa., where the Chapter was to be formally opened on the 5th of August. Accordingly the capitular fathers left their respective Retreats to go to the place appointed by the Provincial, in his circular.

The first preliminary meeting was held in the afternoon of the 2nd of August. On the following day other meetings were likewise had, during which the merits and qualifications of the religious of the Province, who are, according to the Rules, eligible to any office, were strictly examined, having first taken the usual oath de secreto servando. The financial statement of the different houses was read, and other business pertaining to the nature of preliminary meetings was transacted. The following day being Sunday, no meeting was held. In the afternoon the Very Rev. F. Albinus, Provincial, delivered to the whole family, assembled in choir, an able discourse, in which, he reasoned at length on the qualities those are to be adorned with, who are to be entrusted with the government of the Province.


At 7 o’clock A.M. of August 5th, the whole religious Community resorted to the church to assist at the Solemn High Mass, which was celebrated according to the time honored custom of the Congregation. At 8:30 o’clock, of the same morning the entire family assembled again in the church, whence they moved in procession to the Chapter Room, chanting the hymn, Vexilla. Very Rev. F. Dominic of the Infant Jesus, President of the Chapter, heading the procession and carrying the crucifix. Upon arriving there, having recited the prayers, de more, the Community was dismissed, only the capitular fathers remaining. Having gone through the usual preliminaries, the Very Rev. President handed to one of the capitulars, a letter from our Most Rev. F. General, constituting him his representative. He then delivered a short, but impressive address, setting forth the important duty devolving upon the Fathers, of selecting worthy Superiors, regardless of all human consideration, intent only on the glory of God and the well-being of this our Province. This done, the names of all the capitulars were called, and the following Fathers answered the call.

Very Rev. F. Dominic of the Infant Jesus, President.
Very Rev. F. Albinus of the Incarnate Wisdom, Provincial.
Very Rev. F. Gaudentius of St. Stephen, first Provincial Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Luke of the Blessed Virgin Mary, second Prov. Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Anthony of St. Peter, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat, Pittsburg, Pa.
Very Rev. F. Martin of the Passion, Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat, Dunkirk, N.Y.
Very Rev. F. John Philip of St. Paul of the Cross, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat, West Hoboken, N. J.
Very Rev. F. Charles of Holy Mary, Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat, Baltimore, Md.
Very Rev. F. Guido of St. Joseph, Rector of Holy Cross Retreat, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Next to this, they performed the customary acts of humiliation, and recited the usual prayers. The Rectors delivered up their credentials and seals, along with the certificate “de celebratione missarum,” as also, other certificates that were required. The Secretary of the Chapter was now elected in the person of the Very Rev. F. John Philip of St. Paul of the Cross. Two Scrutineers were also chosen, the lot falling on the Very Rev. F. Charles of Holy Mary, and Very Rev. F. Martin of the Passion. It was now time for the balloting to commence, and at the first scrutiny the Very Rev. F. John Dominic of the Infant Jesus, had a sufficient number of votes, for a canonical election. The newly elected Provincial, in a few words, thanked the Fathers for the honor conferred upon him, and whilst acknowledging his insufficiency for the onerous task, avowed his determination to make every effort to discharge the duties of his office. The Secretary accordingly wrote the decree of his election, which he published in the following words: “Ego Joannes Philippus a S. Pauli a Cruce, nomine meo, et omnium eligentium mihi consentientium, invocata gratia Spiritus Sancti, eligo in Praepositum Provincialem nostrae Provinciae Sancti Pauli a Cruce, Septentrionalis Americae, Admodum Reverendum Patrem J. Dominicum ab Infante Jesu, et electum pronuntio, et coram vobis publico. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

The capitular fathers then paid their homage to the new Provincial, which, at the signal of the bell, was also done by the whole Community; thence proceeding to the church they all chanted a solemn Te Deum in thanksgiving to God for the happy and speedy result of their deliberations. The hour being early the Fathers returned again to resume the session. The election of the first Consultor, was proposed by the Very Rev. President, and at the second scrutiny, a sufficient number of votes concurred in the election of the Very Rev. F. Victor of the Mother of God. The decree of his election was published to that effect. The choosing of a second Consultor came next in order, and after several ballots had been cast, the lot fell upon the Very Rev. F. John Baptist of the Nativity of the B. V. Mary. The Secretary published the usual decree. The hour for adjourning having arrived, the session was closed by prayer.


This session was opened at 3 o’clock, P. M., of the same day. The Very Rev. President opened it by reminding the Fathers of the importance of the work before them; which was the election of a Master of Novices as well as Rectors for our five Retreats. The selection of a Master of Novices was at once proceeded to. The first balloting resulted in the choice of the Very Rev. F. John Thomas of the SS. Hearts. The decree of election having been published, the Fathers passed to elect a Rector for our Retreat of St. Paul, Pittsburg, Pa. After balloting for some time, the necessary number of votes was found to favor the Rev. F. Timothy of Jesus; as usual the decree was framed and published. The Retreat of St. Mary, Dunkirk, N. Y., was next provided for in the person of the Rev. F. Basil of St. John the Evangelist, who was elected at the first scrutiny. He, being the actual Vice-Rector of this house, was called in and notified of his election; whereupon he humbly declined acceptance, alleging his unfitness for the important charge; but, at the instance of the F. President urging him to yield, he humbly submitted. The Secretary then published the decree of election. The election of a Rector for the Retreat of St. Michael, West Hoboken, N.J., followed in order. After a comparatively protracted scrutiny, the Very Rev. F. J. Philip of St. Paul of the Cross, was found to have the number of votes requisite for a canonical election. The decree of election was written and published by the first scrutineer, as the elected was himself the Secretary of the Chapter. The Retreat of St. Joseph, Baltimore, Md., next became the subject of the Fathers’ attention. At the first ballot, the Very Rev. F. Charles of Holy Mary was elected; whereupon the Secretary promulgated the usual decree. The work of the elections was brought to a close, by choosing a Rector for the new Retreat of the Holy Cross, Cincinnati, Ohio. This was the Very Rev. F. Guido of St. Joseph, who was elected after some balloting; and for whose election, the Secretary wrote and published the required decree. The usual prayers were then recited, and the Fathers retired.


August 6th. The elections of the different Superiors having been concluded, the Fathers began to take up some matters that had been proposed for discussion during the preliminary meetings. The Venerable Fathers commenced by commenting on the expediency of devising some means whereby the religious spirit of our Province, may be preserved and strengthened. Owing to the many dangers by which we are surrounded, especially in this country; owing to the manifold distracting duties devolving upon us; owing, moreover, to the spirit of freedom and independence so natural in a country like ours; the Fathers saw the difficulty of maintaining the spirit of subordination and obedience, which forms the very essence of the religious life. Several suggestions were made, various means spoken of, but adverting to the fact that our Rules and Regulations, as well as decrees and provisions of former Chapters, had fully supplied all these wants: the Fathers deemed it unnecessary to prescribe any additional means, but insisted rather upon enforcing the faithful practice of those already existing; and as the Holy Rules recommend as a sovereign preservative of the religious spirit, the practice of prayer and interior recollection, the Venerable Chapter charged the consciences of the Rectors to see that mental prayer be made by all, as prescribed; and when religious are prevented from making it, at the appointed time, they shall do so at another hour designated by the F. Rector. They likewise very strongly insisted on the necessity of solitude and retirement, so essential for the man of prayer. They also urged upon all Superiors as well as inferiors the importance of loving to dwell in the holy solitude to which they have been called by Almighty God, ever mindful, that the spirit of our Rule is a spirit of prayer and solitude. Thus this session was terminated.


The fourth session was opened at 3:30 o’clock P. M. of the same day by prayer. Some time was spent in reading and examining the decrees of former Chapters. The Fathers then agreed that a summary of them should be made, and that every Rector should be strictly bound to read them to his Community, at least three times a year, during the chapter on Friday, and to see that they be faithfully kept. After mature consultation they also unanimously concurred in the opinion that it is expedient that the parishes, which are detached from the Retreat, should, as soon as the opportunity offers itself, be given up; leaving the execution of this order to the care of the Provincial and his Consultors. Again it was determined that the F. Rector should not be at liberty to make extraordinary expenses for the parish church, without the approval of the local chapter, Lastly the Fathers enjoined that besides the book of administration, in which all the expenses and incomes are entered, a separate book be kept, where in all the accounts of the parish church and school, be carefully recorded. The hour for adjourning was now at hand, and the Fathers giving thanks dispersed.


August 7th. After the opening prayer had been recited, the Fathers at once proceeded with their deliberations. It was first determined that uniformity be observed in directing letters to our religious, and that in accordance with the practice of Rome,they should use the affixes “Congregationis Passionis”, by the initials C. P., which is also to be done in signing our name.

2ndly, The Fathers would remind the religious, that should they, in travelling, stop at any of our Retreats, the Rector, to whom they are for the time being subject, shall take care that they spend that time according to the spirit of the Rule, avoiding, above all, visits and idle talks, which is the prolific source of so much evil.

3rdly, It was deemed proper to advise, that during the time in which the Community is engaged in making the annual retreat, one or more religious, according to the exigencies of the house, should be free so as to be able to attend to all the affairs of the church, etc. However, the F. Rector will appoint a suitable time for them, so that they may not be deprived of the many blessings resulting, from the spiritual exercises. The session having been rather protracted the Fathers closed it as usual by prayer, to meet again on the following morning.


August 8th. At 9 o’clock this morning, the capitulars again assembled. Considerable time was consumed in the reading of what had been transacted during the previous days. Some modifications and changes were made. The President then produced two letters written by two of our Fathers. Their contents were carefully noted by the Fathers, and as regarded any action to be taken on them it was left to the prudence of the Provincial and his Consultors. After this the question of hearing the confessions of Sisters, during our missions was agitated. The Fathers, whilst fully aware of the prescriptions of Canon Law and Theology relative thereto, observed that, as in this country, it not unfrequently happens that Sisters, either present themselves for confession in the parish church, during our missions, or request one of the Fathers to go to hear them. It was accordingly, asked whether or not it would be advisable for the Chapter to grant to the Superior of the mission the faculty to hear them per se, or per alium, whom he shall judge fit. After some discussion, they unanimously agreed in the affirmative. The usual prayers being recited, this session was closed.


At 4 o’clock P.M. the Fathers composing the Chapter resumed their work. Upon the President asking whether they had anything to propose, the protection and security of the temporal goods and the prosperity of our Congregation was suggested. This question was discussed at considerable length, and the conclusion arrived at was, that in addition to the renunciation of property, made by the religious at their profession, there should be another one made by the same, when they arrive at the age of twenty-one, should their religious profession have been made when they were, as yet, under the legal age; and, in virtue thereof, the Provincial is empowered to require this renunciation of all those, who have not as yet made it, whether their religious profession took place in this or other countries. It was, furthermore, required by the same Chapter, for the same object, that the trustees in the board of corporation, be changed every three years, at the accession of the new Rector. Likewise that the regular annual meetings of the corporate body be punctually attended to. Many other matters, appertaining to the welfare of the Province, were suggested and discussed. The Fathers, however, concluded not to embody them in the Acts of the Chapter. It being now time to close, the usual prayers were recited and the Fathers adjourned.


At 5 o’clock P. M. of the 9th of August, the Fathers were called by the signal of the bell to assemble again. Having prayed as usual, the Very Rev. F. President handed a letter to the Secretary of the Chapter, requesting him to read it. It was found to contain a formal renunciation, written by the Rev. F. Timothy of Jesus, of the office of Rector of this Retreat of St. Paul of the Cross, to which he had been elected. The ballot box was passed as to whether or not the Chapter would accept the renunciation. The result was, accepted, after which the Fathers began to cast lots for the election of another. Considerable time passed in balloting, when a sufficient number of votes were found to favor the Rev. F. Nilus of the Assumption. The Secretary wrote and published the decree of his election. The hour so allowing, the Fathers took up another subject the conclusion of which was, to unanimously determine, that in order to afford the young priests of this Province, the opportunity of preparing themselves properly to discharge the duties of our ministry, following in the laudable footsteps of our Congregation, the FF. Rectors shall not be permitted to employ them in all the duties of the ministry indiscriminately, whether at home or abroad, without a previous understanding with, and express permission of the Provincial; thereby fulfilling the saying of Holy Writ: “ut non vituparetur ministerium nostrum.” The usual prayers having been recited, the Fathers closed the session.


This last session of our fourth Provincial Chapter, was held on Saturday morning, August 10th, at 8:30. The usual prayers having been recited, the Fathers determined that as wax candles can now be easily procured, and at a reasonable price, the Rectors shall see that they be constantly used during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in all the churches under our charge.

The venerable capitulars conclude, recommending most earnestly to all and each religious, the practice of charity among themselves, in order that the God of peace may ever dwell in their midst, and thereby they may enjoy the great boon of religious life. They admonish every one to abstain from censuring and manifesting the imperfections of their brethren; acts, which not only offend against fraternal charity, but which are also opposed to propriety and good breeding. They inculcate the observance of silence and recollection, not only when they are at home, but also when out. They exhort the young priests to be very zealous of occupying themselves in useful studies, thus getting ready to fit themselves to promote the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

They beseech all to ever entertain and cherish a filial attachment to their mother the Congregation, from which they have received so many tokens of affection, and to exhibit themselves on all occasions worthy children of such a parent, ever solicitous to promote her true glory, before God and men. They also recommend the keeping and spreading that beautiful devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which has been so happily introduced of late into the Province; and when discharging the duties of their ministry, to make use of it, as a powerful weapon, to fight with against the power of darkness. They prescribe the carrying out in full, what is prescibed by a circular of the late Provincial on this subject. By so doing, they will shine before God and men, they will sanctify their souls, they will edify their neighbors, and when the Prince of Pastors shall come, they will receive the imperishable crown of glory. Amen.

Here the F. President asked the capitulars if they had anything else to propose for the welfare of the Province, to which they all replied in the negative. The Acts of the Chapter being read by the Secretary, the newly elected made the required profession of faith, and all united in thanking Almighty God for his light and continued assistance, they sanctioned these, their Acts, by their respective signatures.

Very Rev. F. Dominic of the Infant Jesus, President.
Very Rev. F. Albinus of the Incarnate Wisdom, Provincial.
Very Rev. F. Gaudentius of St. Stephen, first Provincial Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Luke of the Blessed Virgin Mary, second Prov. Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Anthony of St. Peter, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat, Pittsburg, Pa.
Very Rev. F. Martin of the Passion, Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat, Dunkirk, N. Y.
Very Rev. F. John Philip of St. Paul of the Cross, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat, West Hoboken, N. J.
Very Rev. F. Charles of Holy Mary, Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat, Baltimore, Md.
Very Rev. F. Guido of St. Joseph, Rector of Holy Cross Retreat, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Joannes Philippus a S. Paulo a Cruce,
Secretarius Capitularis.