Acts of the Third Provincial Chapter
of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross
Held at the Retreat of St. Michael, West Hoboken, N.J.
From July 16th to 23rd, 1869


For the third time that periodical season of divine favors to every religious Province, the recurrence of a religious Chapter is come upon us, pregnant, as we confidently trust, with an abundance of blessings which will insure the happiest results to our young Province, by imparting to it still greater solidity, and confering on it still brighter grace and luster.

The example set us by the most venerable assembly of our Congregation, the recent General Chapter, held in Rome, in selecting worthy Superiors, and in enacting few but wise laws, has inspired us with courage and strengthened our arms to work and cultivate this rough and thorny, indeed, but yet very rich and promising soil, which we firmly hope will shine at no distant day, as one of the freshest and most beautiful spots in the mystic garden of our Congregation.

That the time to hold our third Provincial Chapter was drawing near, was announced to us by our Very Rev. F. Provincial, Anthony of St. Peter, who, by a circular letter of his to all our Retreats, dated March 25th 1869, made the formal and canonical convocation thereof; and designated St. Michael’s Retreat at West Hoboken, as the place where the Chapter should be held. But no certain day was set apart for its opening, owing to the uncertainty of the time when he and his Very Rev. Consultors would return from Rome, whither they were going, in order to take part in the General Chapter of our Congregation, which was to meet in the Eternal City on the 3rd of May.

Only in the following month of June was the precise day for the opening of our Chapter finally announced; for by a second circular letter dated Rome, Retreat of SS. John and Paul, May 13th 1869, the same Very Rev. F. Provincial with the approval of the newly elected Most Rev. F. General, Dominic of the Name of Mary, appointed the 16th day of July 1869, for the opening of our 3rd Provincial Chapter, and ordered that all the Fathers having active voice in it should be in the Retreat above mentioned, at least three days previous to the opening of said Chapter, in order to assist at the solemn Triduum, and take part in the customary preliminary conferences.

The first of these preliminary meetings was held on the morning of the 13th and all the Fathers specified in our Holy Rules as entitled to vote in our Provincial Chapters were found to be present.

The Very Rev. F. Albinus of the Incarnate Wisdom, first Provincial Consultor opened the conference with prayer: next he appointed a Secretary pro tem., whom he directed to read a document, the contents of which were, that the Most Rev. F. Dominic of the holy Name of Mary, General of our Congregation, empowered said F. Albinus of the Incarnate Wisdom, to preside over the Chapter that was to be held in the Province of St. Paul of the Cross, in the United States of North America. All listened with reverence to the reading of said document, and manifested a special delight in thus paying homage to the highest authority of the Congregation. A short address was now made by the Very Rev. F. President, in which he stated the object of these preliminary meetings to be; first, the presenting in writing by each F. Rector of a complete financial statement of their respective Retreats. Secondly, to propose matters for discussion and legislation. And thirdly, to examine into the merits and qualities of all the religious of this Province, who, according to the Holy Rules, are eligible to the offices and dignities of the Congregation, which was all successively done. The financial statements of each F. Rector were found satisfactory; several heads of matters for discussion and deliberation were proposed, and finally the capitular fathers having all taken a formal oath de secreto servando, proceeded to examine into the merits of each religious who in conformity to the Holy Rules might be elected to some office or dignity in the Province. First the religious not de gremio, id est, the absent ones were spoken of, and next the capitular fathers themselves one at a time left the Chapter Room, in order that the same investigation might be made in regard to each of them that had been made concering others.

In the afternoon of Thursday July 15th no conference was held, but the Very Rev. F. President delivered, in the choir, immediately after Vespers, before the whole religious Community, the usual capitular discourse, in which he earnestly and eloquently set before the eyes of all, the importance and the duty incumbent on the capitular fathers of selecting worthy Superiors for our Province, pointing out at the same time, what qualities are particularly required in those who are charged with the government of a religious family or Province.


Early on the morning of Friday July 16th solemn High Mass de Spiritu Sancto was celebrated by the Very Rev. F. Provincial, assisted by his two Consultors as sacred, and by the other capitular fathers as inferior ministers; the religious Community being present in the sanctuary.

Later in the same forenoon the capitular fathers, headed by the Very Rev. F. Provincial carrying aloft the holy crucifix, and followed by the whole religious family, wended their way in solemn procession chanting the Vexilla Regis prodeunt to the Chapter Room, where the Very Rev. F. President dismissed the religious Community, those only remaining who had the right to vote. Here the same Very Rev. F. President addressed the assembled Fathers at some length in words well calculated to impress on them the importance of fulfilling wisely and prudently the solemn duty of choosing worthy Superiors for the Province. Next the names of all the Fathers entitled to vote in our Provincial Chapter were called, and the following Fathers answered to their respective names:

Very Rev. F. Albinus of the Incarnate Wisdom, President of the Chapter and first Provincial Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Anthony of St. Peter, Provincial.
Very Rev. F. Luke of the Blessed Virgin Mary, second Prov. Consultor.
Very Rev. F. John Thomas of the Sacred Hearts, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat, near Pittsburg, Pa.
Very Rev. F. Guido of St. Joseph, Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat, Dunkirk, N. Y.
Very Rev. F. John Baptist of the Nativity of the B. V. Mary, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat, West Hoboken, N. J.

The Veni Creator Spiritus and the usual prayers were now sung, the question was put by the Very Rev. F. President to all the Fathers, whether or not they considered this Chapter canonically assembled, to which all answered in the affirmative. The customary acts of humility and mortification were fervently performed. The absolutions ad cautelam were given; the protest of not admitting the unworthy, and of not excluding the worthy was made; the usual decree of the Holy Office was read. The FF. Rectors gave up the seals and credentials of their offices, and presented a certificate signed by all the priests of their respective Retreats, to the effect that all the commissioned intentions had been faithfully celebrated. The Very Rev. F. Provincial and his Consultors likewise deposed the seals of their respective dignities. A Secretary was elected in the person of the Very Rev. F. John Thomas of the Sacred Hearts. Two Scrutineers were also elected in the persons of the Very Rev. F. John Baptist of the Nativity of the B. V. Mary, as first Scrutineer, and Very Rev. F. Guido of St. Joseph, as second Scrutineer. Nothing now remained but to proceed to the election of the Provincial. The balloting commenced and continued for some time without any result, when the usual hour for terminating the morning session having arrived the F. President closed it with the usual prayers.


At 3 o’clock p.m. the capitular fathers assembled again, and the F. President having opened the session with prayer, the balloting for the election of the Provincial was resumed. After a few scrutinies the necessary votes were found united in favor of Very Rev. F Albinus of the Incarnate Wisdom, President of the Chapter. With sentiments of profound humility he begged of the capitular fathers not to lay on him so heavy a burden, protesting that he was incompetent to it, and that others were better qualified than himself for such a difficult office. But the capitular fathers would not undo what they had so diligently and deliberately done. And he had to show the sincerity of his humility by submitting his will to the will of others. The Secretary accordingly wrote and published the decree of his election in the following words: “Ego Joannes Thomas a Sacris Cordibus, nomine meo, et omnium eligentium mihi consentientium, invocata gratia Spiritus Sancti, eligo in Praepositum Provincialem nostrae Provinciae Sancti Pauli a Cruce, Septentrionalis Americae, Admodum Rev. Patrem Albinum ab Incarnata Sapientia, et electum pronuntio, et coram vobis publico. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

The religious Community at the signal of the bell, hastened to the Chapter Room, to pay homage and profess obedience to the newly elected Provincial: thence all proceeded to the church, where, before the most holy Sacrament solemnly exposed the Te Deum was chanted in praise and thanksgiving to God, and benediction imparted by the new Provincial. The capitular fathers having returned to the Chapter Room unanimously agreed to continue the session, and the F. President proposed to proceed to the election of the first Consultor. After several ballots Very Rev. F. Gaudentius of St. Stephen received the necessary number of votes; and the decree of his election was made and published by the Secretary. The election of the second Consultor came now in order, and was proposed by the F. President. The balloting began and was continued for some time without effect; and the hour to adjourn having arrived the session was closed with prayer.


This session was opened with the usual prayers at 9 o’clock a.m. on Saturday July 17th. The Very Rev. F. President made a few remarks with a view to unite the minds for the election of the second Consultor. After considerable time spent in balloting, at length the necessary votes were united in the person of the Very Rev. F. Luke of the B. V. Mary who was thus confirmed in the dignity he had borne for the past three years. The newly elected Consultor humbly declined his reelection, and brought several reasons for so doing; which however, were not considered sufficient by the capitular fathers, who exhorted him to resign himself to the will of God, made known by the election just effected in his person, after so long a deliberation. The usual decree was made and published by the Secretary.

The Very Rev. F. President now called on the capitular fathers to elect a Master of Novices, which was done at the fourth ballot. The Very Rev. F. Dominic of the Infant Jesus receiving five votes out of six. The usual decree was made and published by the Secretary. A Rector was now to be elected for each Retreat. For St. Paul’s Retreat, the oldest in the Province, the Very Rev. F. Anthony of St. Peter was elected at the first ballot. The capitular fathers had a hard task to persuade him to accept the new dignity; but he also had to submit lest he should act contrary to the will of God. The usual decree was written and published by the Secretary.

Next a Rector was given to our Retreat of St. Mary at Dunkirk, in the person of Very Rev. F. Martin of the Passion, who was elected at the fourth ballot. The Secretary wrote and published the decree of his election.

This Retreat of St. Michael the Archangel was also provided with a new Rector, in the person of Very Rev. F. J. Philip of St. Paul of the Cross, who was elected at the third ballot. The new Rector having been summoned to the Chapter Room to be notified of his election, strongly objected to it on account of his poor health, and for other reasons, but the capitular fathers would not hear of a renunciation, and he also had to deny himself and take up his cross. The usual decree was published by the Secretary.

Finally the work of the elections was happily concluded by choosing at the first ballot Very Rev. F. Charles of Holy Mary Rector of our Retreat of St. Joseph in the State of Maryland. The usual decree was published by the Secretary.

The F. President now confirmed the elections of the Master of Novices, and of the newly elected Rectors, and the session was closed with heartfelt prayers of thanksgiving.

It will not be out of place here to say a few words in regard to the foundation of the last named Retreat; this being the first time that it appears in the capitular Acts of our Province. In the spring of the year 1865, the Most Rev. Martin John Spalding, Archbishop of Baltimore, offered to our Fathers the opportunity of establishing a Retreat of our Congregation in his archdiocese, and gave them to that effect the charge of St. Agnes’ church, near Catonsville, located on a beautiful and healthy ridge only five miles distant from the city of Baltimore. The Fathers felt grateful for the opportunity, and most cheerfully embraced it, but found the place too remote and inconvenient and of too difficult access, especially in the winter season. They therefore were looking for a more suitable locality, where to build a Retreat, when a most pious and rich lady, Mrs. Emilia McTavish, donated to them a tract of land nearer to the city for the purpose. This spot too was thought by the majority of the Fathers unsuitable, and a third place was purchased, which beautifully combines the solitude of a Retreat with the commodities of a residence near a large city. The building of the Retreat, which is the finest and most elegant of all we have in America, was commenced in the Summer of 1867, and completed in the fall of 1868. A regular Community is at present occupying it, and praising God day and night.


This session was held on Monday afternoon July 19th at 3 o’clock. The reason of so long an interval between this and the preceding session was that yesterday, besides being Sunday, the Corner Stone of our new church attached to the Monastery was solemnly blessed by the Right Rev. J. R. Bayley, Bishop of the diocese, amidst a very large concourse of people from the neighboring cities; and this morning an ordination was held in our chapel by the same Rt. Rev. Prelate, at which one of our young students was raised to the sacred dignity of the priesthood.

In this session the question of improving our studies was taken up and discussed at great length; the whole session in fact was spent in discussing this important subject, and in devising plans for the real and solid improvement of both our studies and students. Several measures were to that effect proposed and carefully considered. The proceedings on this subject, and the mind of the late General Chapter, held at Rome, were especially depended upon for guidance. The unanimous opinion of the capitular fathers was that owing to the smallness of our young Province, and the limited number of our students no definite arrangements for the present seem feasible, but that all that can possibly be accomplished in behalf of the moral, physical, and the scientific training of our young students be carried into effect is left at the discretion of the Very Rev. F. Provincial and his Consultors, in accordance however with the existing laws on the subject. In connection with this subject, and owing to the scarcity of latin schools in this country, the capitular fathers thought it advisable to urge on every F. Rector the expediency and almost necessity of charging some of his religious in every Retreat, to teach the latin language to such postulants as could not otherwise have means or opportunities of acquiring the knowledge thereof.


At 8:30 a. m. on Tuesday July 20th, the capitular fathers assembled again. and took up the subject of our missions and spiritual retreats for discussion.

1st. They all thought that honorable, as it certainly is, to have so many calls for our apostolic ministry, from so many important and distant places, all over this vast continent; it is no less a matter of regret, that not all our priests are making sufficient efforts to prepare themselves for this special duty of their vocation; and that some of our missionaries expose themselves and the Congregation to the well merited criticism of the intelligent, by preaching at random and without due preparation. Hence, this Venerable Chapter reminds all our priests of the important duty incumbent on them of preparing themselves for the holy missions, and of submitting their sermons for revision to such examiners, as in conformity to the Holy Rules, may hereafter be designated by the Very Rev. F. Provincial.

2nd. In order to have uniformity in the manner of keeping the national holidays of this country, it is ordered that every F. Rector cause the American national holidays, viz.: the 4th of July and Thanksgiving day to be properly observed in his Retreat, so as to have High Mass sung on the morning of such days; Holy Communion allowed to our clerics and lay-brothers, and the day generally kept as a holiday.


1st. The state and condition of our secular congregations, were the subject of this session. In regard to them the Venerable Chapter recommends to every F. Rector to use great prudence, charity and zeal, so as not to expose himself or his religious to unnecessary dangers, not to lay too much work on any one member of his Community; but at the same time to have the temporal and spiritual wants of his people well provided for, as far as possible. The salvation of the souls entrusted to him demanding his most diligent endeavors.

2nd. It is declared that to none of our priests, appointed to the charge of secular congregations, is it lawful to lay out, or privately keep money belonging to said congregations, or incur expenses, or borrow money, not even in the name and for said congregations, without having first obtained express leave from the F. Rector. At the same time every F. Rector is reminded of his sacred duty to take to heart the interests and welfare of the secular churches in his care.

3rd. It is the unanimous wish of the capitular fathers that an addition be immediately built to our parish house near St. Michael’s church in Birmingham, in order that before the coming Winter a small Community be put there, and as much of the regular observance kept, as their other duties will permit, according to the regulations to be made for them by the Very Rev. F. Provincial and his Consultors.


1st. The capitular fathers deeming the reasons for dispensing from the abstinence of Saturday when a feast occurs on it, sufficient, to avail themselves of the power granted to them by the late General Chapter, and declare that on such Saturdays, when there is no fast the use of flesh meat is permitted in the same manner and to the same extent as on Wednesday on which similar feasts occur.

2nd. This Venerable Chapter feeling the importance of enforcing that point of the Holy Rule which directs that a companion be given by the Superior to every religious going out of the Retreat, urges on every F. Rector the exact observance thereof, especially in regard to those religious who have no parish duties to attend to, and go out only for recreation.

It is likewise declared to be contrary both to the spirit and letter of the Holy Rules to go in time of our customary walks and recreations into the neighboring cities or towns, to pay useless visits to seculars, especially “praesertim quae mulierum inducunt consortium.” Every F. Rector is charged to see that this decree be faithfully observed.

3rd. In order that our vow of poverty be kept, and safety to the temporal goods of our Retreats secured before the civil law, Very Rev. F. Provincial will as soon as possible examine the charters of incorporation of our Retreats, the deeds of property, etc., and so arrange all as to conform to the laws of the Church, and put the property of all the Retreats of this Province under the protection of the civil law of the State.

4th. The Plenary Council of Baltimore held in 1866 containing a great portion of Canon Law as applicable to this country, it is recommended to all our priests to study it carefully, and faithfully to conform to it especially concerning the government of our secular congregations.


This the last session of our Chapter was held in the morning of Friday July 23rd. The Acts of the Chapter were read, and such changes made in them as the Venerable Chapter in its wisdom thought prudent. It was then asked by the Very Rev. F. President whether any of the capitular fathers had anything else to propose, to which all answered in the negative. The Chapter was on the point of being closed, when a letter from a clergyman was produced by the Very Rev. F. Provincial, the object of which was to obtain a foundation of a Retreat of our Institute for the archdiocese of Cincinnati. This gave rise to a long discussion, in which the fact that ten or twelve Bishops in these United States have asked for a similar favor, was brought to the knowledge of the capitular fathers, who all gave thanks to God for it, but as to the complying with the request, they all answered with one voice. “Messis quidem multa, operarii autem pauci. Rogate ergo Dominum messis, ut mittat operarios in messem suam,” expressing their hopes that before long we may be able to send forth another colony to work in another part of the vineyard of the Lord.

The Venerable Chapter finally recommended in general to all the religious of this Province the practice of fraternal charity, especially in not speaking of the faults of others; more fondness for holy mental prayer; more detachment from, and less familiarity with seculars; and generally the observance of the Holy Rules. With this last recommendation the capitular fathers brought the Chapter to a close. And after having all united in cordial thanks to God, the giver of good gifts, for the favors bestowed by Him on their assemblies, they proceeded to sanction these Acts by their signatures.

Very Rev. F. Albinus of the Incarnate Wisdom, President of the Chapter and first Provincial Consultor.
Very Rev. F. Anthony of St. Peter, Provincial.
Very Rev. F. Luke of the Blessed Virgin Mary, second Prov. Consultor.
Very Rev. F. John Thomas of the Sacred Hearts, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat, near Pittsburg, Pa.
Very Rev. F. Guido of St. Joseph. Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat. Dunkirk. N. Y.
Very Rev. F. John Baptist of the Nativity of the B. V. Mary, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat, West Hoboken. N. J.

J. Thomas a SS. Cordibus,
Secretarius Capitularis.