Acts of the Thirtieth Provincial Chapter
of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross
Held in the Retreat of St. Gabriel, Brighton, Mass.
From July 25th to August 2nd, 1950.
Letter of Convocation
On May 24, 1950, the Very Reverend Father Gabriel of the Sacred Heart, Provincial, issued a letter convoking the Thirtieth Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross.
In this letter he included a letter from Most Reverend Father General authorizing the convocation of the Chapter and setting the date of opening as July 25, the feast of St. James, the Apostle. In his letter, Father General stated that he intended, Deo Volente, to preside at this Chapter and asked Father Provincial to name the place where the Chapter would be held.
Accordingly, Father Provincial, named St. Gabriel’s Retreat, Brighton, Mass., as the place and asked the Capitular Fathers to be present not later than the evening of July 24.
Father Provincial stressed the importance of this Chapter to the Province and expressed his happiness that Father General would be present.
Father Provincial gave a resumè of the work accomplished during the past three years—the completion of the work at Holy Cross Seminary, the completion of the construction at St. Paul’s Retreat and St. Gabriel’s Retreat and the progress being made at Farmington, Conn. He then told of the works of the ministry: “Never in the history of the Province have we had so many requests for our priests to conduct missions, retreats, and other special works of the Apostolic ministry. In China and in the mission fields of the South in our own country, our Fathers have distinguished themselves in spite of many hardships and handicaps. The Sign continues to be the outstanding Catholic publication in its field and is gaining ever greater influence and distinction. Not to go into further details, we can safely say that on the whole, our Province has been blessed with priests, students, and Brothers who have a genuine love of their Passionist vocation and who are proving that love by doing their best to fulfill their vocation in their particular status and in accordance with the assignments of holy obedience.”
Father Provincial then begged the prayers and a remembrance in Masses on the part of the Brethren for the all-important work of the Chapter, and prescribed the public prayers to be recited each day by the Communities that God might bless and the Holy Ghost direct the efforts of the Chapter.
Accordingly, the Capitular Fathers assembled at St. Gabriel’s Retreat on Monday evening, July 24, 1950, and the Chapter opened the following morning.
At 9:00 A.M., on July 25, 1950, Most Reverend Father General briefly addressed the assembled Capitular Fathers. He told them that he considered it a pleasure and an honor to preside over this Provincial Chapter—a pleasure to be with the Fathers of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross—an honor to work out with the Fathers the problems and elections of this Province. He stated that although it was an honor, it was an honor which he would have gladly relinquished but felt bound to accept because, while he had presided over Chapters of most of the other Provinces of the Congregation, in some cases over two Chapters, he had presided over none in the United States. He said that if he did not come for the Chapters this year, it might be interpreted as indicating a lack of interest in or affection for the American Provinces. Father General went on to assure the Capitular Fathers that he was interested, and deeply so, in the North American Provinces, and that he had a true paternal affection for them.
Father General then pointed out the purpose of the Chapter—the election of Superiors and the making of necessary legislation. In regard to the former, the primary norm for electing is that the elected must be imbued with true Passionistic ideals. Ability as an administrator or preacher or any other qualification must be considered secondary. A man might be a holy and zealous priest but if he lacks Passionist ideals he should not be considered. In regard to legislation the norm must be conformity with Passionist life. Many undertakings may be very good in themselves but are not in conformity with our life.
Father General then begged the charity and cooperation of all. While, indeed, he did have the great advantage of speaking the English language fluently, he did not have the American mentality. He pointed out that there is a difference and, at times, a very great difference in Italian, French, American and other national mentalities. He promised to do his best to understand our problems but did not expect to have one hundred percent results.
Father General concluded his remarks by placing the Chapter under the protection of Our Crucified Master, Our Sorrowful Mother, and Our Holy Founder. He then announced that the time had arrived to turn to the formal business of the Chapter.
The first business undertaken was the election of a Guardian of the Chapter Room and a temporary Secretary. By secret ballot, Father Caspar of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was elected Guardian, and after taking the customary oath, assumed his duties. In a similar manner, Father Alexis of the Precious Blood was then elected temporary Secretary.
The reports of Administration of the Monasteries of the Province were then read by the respective Rectors, and those for the foundations at Riverdale, Toronto, and Farmington were read by Father Provincial. After this, Most Reverend Father General requested Father Provincial to give a resumè of the status of the Province.
Father Provincial then gave an account of the financial status of the Province, the work of building which has been accomplished and is being accomplished, of the possibilities of new foundations in Trenton, Long Island and Toronto. He took this opportunity to state publicly his gratitude to Bishop O’Brien of Hartford for his interest and cooperation. He spoke of the efforts being made for the spiritual care of the Students in the choice of Directors, etc. He mentioned the means being used to improve our missionaries, especially stressing the Refresher Course inaugurated during the past two years.
Father General then expressed his pleasure that our missions are being conducted strictly according to the traditional method and specifically mentioned the efficacy of the peroration and prayer before the crucifix during our missions. He commented upon the Refresher Course, calling it a novelty, but a lovely novelty.
The reading of the suggestions submitted to Father Provincial then took place. After this Father General asked the Capitular Fathers for further suggestions.
After all suggestions had been received, Most Reverend Father President separated them and appointed various committees to consider the particular proposals. The Committees were: 1. Regular Observance and Studies; 2. Financial Reports and Students’ Directorium; 3. Missions, Retreat Work and Parishes; 4. General.
SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH SESSIONS
The discussion of possible Superiors continued during the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Sessions, held on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday morning and afternoon and on Thursday morning.
Immediately after Vespers on Thursday afternoon, the Capitular Fathers, together with the whole Community, were addressed by the Very Reverend Father Berchmans of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Second Provincial Consultor, on the importance of the duty facing the electors. He spoke in part as follows:
This election serves as an occasion of great concern, and is of vital interest to the whole Province. Upon the selection of suitable Superiors rests the progress and stability, the peace and spiritual welfare of all the Brethren. With one voice all plead for Superiors who for three years continuously will be teachers of religious principles, prudent spiritual leaders, real priestly gentlemen, and true exemplars of Passionist standards.
The Brethren are anxious for the election of good Superiors, Superiors who are intent on what is best for God’s glory and the positive well-being of the Province and Congregation.
Father Berchmans then recalled the nature, origin and purpose of authority and the qualities requisite for those who are to exercise this authority in the Province, namely, the Religious Superiors.
Authority has its origin and sanction in God Who created men to live in society. That He established all legitimately constituted authority is learnt from St. Paul’s teaching to the Romans: “Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God, and those that are, are ordained of God: Therefore, he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase damnation to themselves. Wherefore, be subject of necessity, not merely for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”
The origin and sanction of authority was forcefully proclaimed by Our Divine Lord Himself. When He stood before Pilate and that time-server said to Him: “Knowest Thou not that I have the power to crucify Thee and have the power to release Thee?” Our Saviour very definitely told him where the power came from: “Thou couldst not have any power against me except it were given thee from above.”
And in a previous part of Our Lord’s life, when He was establishing the Universal Church as a perfect society, He clearly indicated to His Apostles that the power He was imparting to them and to be exercised by them was by virtue of His Own Personal Divine commission: “He who hears you hears me—he who despises you despises Me.” “Behold I give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
The Church’s authority must be exercised continuously by an authority which extends over the whole Church and every part of it. As Monasticism is a society within the Church, it, too, must have within it those who possess the power of jurisdiction which is bestowed upon men by and through a canonical method. Before imparting authority and bestowing jurisdiction upon members of a religious order, the Church demands a selection and an election of individuals who by their private lives, their religious principles and ascetical idealism manifest those qualities of character which will warrant the exercise of authority in such a way that its end and purpose can he fulfilled.
Holy Mother Church in her wisdom and prudence is solicitous for those who must be subject to authority. She does not want nature and reason to be insulted. She does not want subjects to fall under the oppression of dictatorship or militarism or autocratic arbitration. She does not want those of her children under vow to practice heroic virtue day in and day out when such a condition can and should be avoided. She does not want men to be driven to their duties and coerced in their obligations. She wants them to be led and shown the way, by an authority that is fit, suitable and capable.
Brethren, for any office of superiorship, who can be considered best qualified to lead, guide and sanctify subjects? Who can preserve peace and harmony in a community? Who can uphold respect for authority and at the same time keep religious discipline?
He must first of all possess discretion. A discreet superior must needs temper all things well. He must be zealous without anxiety, prudent without timidity. He must accommodate himself to the diversity of characters, take men as he finds them individually. He must be sensitive about his duties, rather than about his dignity. He must administer wisely, anxious to care for the spiritual needs of the community, without in any way neglecting their temporal wants. A superior who possesses discretion must fear even in correction lest ‘in seeking too eagerly to scrape off the rust, the vessel be broken’. He will, however, show the severity of a master to the habitual recalcitrant, and to the conscientious, dutiful religious, he will manifest the solicitude of a gentle and considerate father. If, therefore, a superior has not discretion, he will not be prudently tactful or tactfully prudent; he will not lead, guide, and sanctify his subjects; neither will he keep peace and harmony, nor uphold respect for authority, nor maintain solid, consistent religious discipline in his community. He will not fulfill the end and purpose of the authority given him. A good superior must be a discreet man.
Our Holy Founder reminds us that as a superior is charged with promoting and preserving a religious spirit in others, so he must live the spiritual life himself, observe the Rule and be its protector. A superior owes fidelity to the Rule of which he is the guardian; he owes it to the Congregation and to the Church which confides it to him. He owes it to the good of the souls of the Brethren whom he risks scandalizing and demoralizing if he does not keep it. Unless a superior is a spiritual leader, according to St. Paul’s prescriptions, he will make of the monastery an institution over which he presides as a ruler, but not as a father.
In every real leader there must exist the positive quality of firmness. I do not mean firmness which would be called hard or tyrannical, emanating from a crude, proud authoritative character, but rather a firmness clothed in gentleness and humility which commands without inflicting wounds and giving hurt, a firmness unaltered by the caprices of inferiors, but not inattentive to their just and kind observations.
Firmness in authority at all times must be reconciled with charity. Unless it is enveloped in charity, the firmest superior will seldom succeed in ruling, guiding and governing a community. In fact, firmness without charity will do more harm than good. Charity in a superior enables subjects to see and understand the impersonal note in authority. Charity alone tempers justice; charity alone makes admonitions, warnings and corrections reasonable and acceptable. If a superior has genuine, delicate, Christlike charity, he will gain, win, and hold the respect of subjects. He will have a care for the sick even when he can only bestow a word of consolation and encouragement. He will be patient with the unstable, the fallen and the weak, and kind and considerate with the upright.
In the light of these considerations, let us be mindful of our weighty responsibility before the Province. Let us surrender our minds to the guidance of the Holy Ghost so that our human judgments may be directed by Him and our decisions approved by Him.
Being deeply impressed by Father Berchman’s discourse, the Fathers repaired to the Chapter Room for the Thursday afternoon session. The discussion of merits was concluded at this session. Father President announced that the usual Solemn Mass would be celebrated on the following morning. The session then adjourned.
On Friday, July 28, at 8:30 A.M., Most Reverend Father President, assisted by Capitular Fathers, celebrated the Solemn Mass of the Holy Ghost pro re gravi in the presence of the entire Community. At 9:45 the Fathers and all the Brethren of the Retreat assembled in the choir. Thence Father President, carrying the crucifix, led the procession to the Chapter Room, all singing the Vexilla Regis. The Brethren not participating were then dismissed and the ritual prayers were recited by the Capitular Fathers.
As the time for the election had now arrived, the Most Reverend President adjured the Fathers to weigh once more their grave responsibility before God, Our Holy Founder, and the whole Congregation.
Father President then directed the temporary Secretary to call the roll of those entitled to participate in the Chapter and elections and the following Fathers responded:
Most Reverend Father Albert of the Sorrowful Virgin, President
Very Reverend Father Gabriel of the Sacred Heart, Provincial
Very Reverend Father Ernest of the Cross, First Provincial Consultor
Very Reverend Father Berchmans of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Second Provincial Consultor
Very Reverend Father Gregory of the Child Jesus, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat
Very Reverend Father Roger of the Sorrowful Mother, Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat
Very Reverend Father Camillus of the Mother of God, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat
Very Reverend Father Alexis of the Precious Blood, Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat
Very Reverend Father Canisius of the Mother of Holy Hope, Rector of St. Ann’s Retreat
Very Reverend Father Gordian of Mary Immaculate, Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat
Very Reverend Father Carrol of Mary Immaculate, Rector of Holy Cross Retreat
Very Reverend Father Basil of the Mother of God, Rector of Mother of Sorrows Retreat
Very Reverend Father Leonard of the Most Holy Family, Rector of Immaculate Conception Retreat
Very Reverend Father Paul Francis of the Blessed Sacrament, Master of Novices
The Most Reverend President then asked the Capitular Fathers whether they recognized the Chapter as having been legitimately convened, and all answered in the affirmative. The customary acts of humility were then performed and the ad cautelam Absolution from censures was given by Father President who, in turn, received it from Father Provincial. The Capitular Fathers then signified their surrender of office by coming forward, one by one, and depositing their seals of office and Letters Patent on the altar.
The Chapter next proceeded to the election of a permanent Secretary and of the Scrutineers, and in a secret ballot Very Reverend Father Alexis was elected permanent Secretary and Very Reverend Fathers Basil and Gregory as Scrutineers. The Scrutineers, together with Father President, took the special oath of secrecy. Then all the Capitulars, before proceeding with the election of the Provincial, took a solemn oath to choose as head of the Province the man whom, before God, they judged ought to be elected. Balloting then followed. As no one had been elected by noon, the Fathers, by secret ballot, decided to discontinue the balloting until the afternoon session.
This session began at the usual time on Friday afternoon and on the nineteenth ballot, Very Reverend Father Ernest of the Cross was elected Provincial. Father Ernest humbly accepted, asking the prayers of the Brethren that he might properly fulfill the arduous tasks before him. Father President then requested that voting continue so that the entire Curia might be elected before the Community was summoned.
On the eighth ballot, Very Reverend Father Canisius of the Mother of Holy Hope was elected First Provincial Consultor. Father humbly accepted the election as the will of God.
On the fifth ballot, Very Reverend Father Gabriel of the Sacred Heart was elected Second Provincial Consultor. Father Gabriel, thanking the Capitular Fathers for their confidence, accepted and promised whole-hearted cooperation with the newly elected Provincial.
The Community was now summoned and the announcement of the election of the Provincial Curia was made. Having performed the customary acts of obedience, the entire Community proceeded to the Church where the Te Deum was sung and Solemn Benediction imparted, with the newly elected Provincial, assisted by his Consultors, as celebrant. The Capitular Fathers then returned to the Chapter Room to continue the elections.
Father President now submitted two questions for the consideration of the Chapter:
1. In the last General Chapter it was decided to petition the Holy See to have Superiors appointed by the Provincial Curia instead of canonically elected Rectors for the Preparatory Seminary. The Holy See responded that this should be left to the decision of each Provincial Chapter. Hence, Father President now wished the Chapter to express its determination. A secret ballot was taken which resulted in retaining the Canonical Rector.
2. The determination of the order of Retreats for the election of Rectors. The following order was determined: Holy Cross Retreat; St. Michael’s Retreat; Immaculate Conception Retreat; St. Paul’s Retreat; St. Gabriel’s Retreat: St. Ann’s Retreat; Our Mother of Sorrows Retreat; St. Joseph’s Retreat; and St. Mary’s Retreat.
Voting then continued and Very Reverend Father Paul Francis of the Blessed Sacrament was elected Master of Novices on the first ballot. Father Paul Francis accepted, and promised to do his very best in the arduous assignment.
On the sixteenth ballot Very Reverend Father Carrol of Mary Immaculate was elected Rector of Holy Cross Retreat. Father Carrol humbly submitted to the will of the Chapter.
On the fifteenth ballot Very Reverend Father Cornelius of Our Lady of the Eucharist was elected Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat. Upon being reached by phone, Father Cornelius, although reluctant, was finally prevailed upon to accept.
On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Berchmans of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was elected Rector of Immaculate Conception Retreat. Asking the prayers of the Brethren, Father Berchmans accepted. The session was now closed with the usual prayers.
Because of the funeral of Father Chrysostom of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, this session was started early so as to complete as much work as possible before the funeral. On the second ballot Very Reverend Father Gregory of the Child Jesus was elected Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat. Father Gregory graciously accepted, assuring the Chapter that he would give his very best efforts to the task.
On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Dennis of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was elected Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat. Upon being reached by phone, Father Dennis humbly accepted. This session was now closed with the usual prayers.
Balloting continued in this session, which convened at 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon. On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Hubert Mary of the Holy Family was elected Rector of St. Ann’s Retreat. Father Hubert was called to the Chapter Room and humbly accepted.
On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Leonard of the Most Holy Family was elected Rector of Our Mother of Sorrows Retreat. Father Leonard graciously accepted.
On the eighth ballot Father Leo Joseph of the Holy Family was elected Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat. Father Leo Joseph was called to the Chapter Room and told of his election. Father Leo Joseph thanked the Capitular Fathers but begged to be excused for reasons which he submitted to the decision of the Chapter. Father Leo Joseph was asked to withdraw from the Chapter Room while the Capitular Fathers took a secret ballot as to the acceptance of his reasons. The Fathers unanimously accepted the reasons, and upon being called, Father Leo Joseph was told of the decision of the Chapter. Then Father President told him that his election was a tribute to him for the way in which he had whole-heartedly adapted himself to the monastic life since his return from China, and that it was likewise a tribute to all the missionaries laboring in China.
Balloting continued, and Very Reverend Father Colman of the Cross was elected Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat on the sixth ballot. Father Colman was reached by phone and after some deliberation graciously accepted.
On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Egbert of the Holy Family was elected Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat. Upon being reached by phone, Father Egbert accepted.
As the elections were now concluded, the Community was summoned to the Chapter Room and the announcement of the elections was published. The Community then retired and the business of the Chapter was resumed.
The President called on the Chairman of the Committee on Finances to read his report. This report was approved. The report of the same Committee on the proposed Students’ Directorium was then considered. This Session ended as usual with the customary prayers.
ELEVENTH TO FIFTEENTH SESSIONS
At the beginning of this session, the Most Reverend Father President requested the Secretary to read a letter which he had just received from the Most Reverend Cuthbert M. O’Gara, C.P., Bishop of Yuanling, China. After having heard the letter, the Capitular Fathers unanimously decided to have it incorporated in the Acts of the Chapter. The Bishop’s letter is as follows:
Diocese of Yuanling,
Yuanling, Hunan, China.
June 29th, 1950.
Most Reverend and Dear Father General:
It has been my hope until a day or so ago to be in a position to send Your Paternity a comprehensive report on the present state of the Passionist Chinese Missions which you would be able to lay before the assembled Capitular Fathers. Even despite increasing difficulties, I was confident that it would still be possible to get the report out in time but the unforseen developments of the last few days have removed the opportunity upon which I was counting. Needless to say this is a sore disappointment to me but I am sure that both Your Paternity and the Capitular Fathers will fully understand the situation and make all necessary allowance.
This letter must, perforce, be brief; it may not go into details; much less can it quote figures. Its very brevity will bespeak its sincerity.
I would like to take this occasion through Your Paternity to thank the Capitular Fathers in my own name and in the name of the Missionaries, Sisters and faithful for the loyal support given to the Chinese Mission. The lively interest of the Province during the past three years was convincingly demonstrated by the splendid group of young Missionaries sent to Peking two years ago, by Father Provincial’s Visitation and by the spiritual and financial assistance so wholeheartedly given to the Diocese.
In spite of the rough sailing of recent months, I am happy to say that the diocese still functions as an ecclesiastical unit. In certain sections appreciable progress is being made. The loyalty shown by the faithful since “liberation” has been a source of inspiration to us. Where Priests are in residence, church attendance has shown an improvement, many back-sliders have returned to the fold and pagans in large numbers are asking for instruction. The hospital, dispensaries, orphanages, and schools continue to operate. Vexations and annoyances there are in abundance throughout the entire Diocese but this is the price which must be paid if the Faith is to take deep root in our territory.
Morale of Priests and Sisters is high; it rests on a solid basis of supernatural faith and a clear apprehension of present adverse circumstances. There are so many manifestations of God’s grace daily operating in mysterious ways in the midst of well-nigh universal oppression, injustice, and error that we are beginning to understand in some small way the words of St. Paul: “In all things we suffer tribulation but we are not distressed; we are sore pressed, but we are not destitute; we endure persecution, but we are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we do not perish; always bearing about in our body the dying Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame.”
Since its foundation, the Passionist Chinese Mission has passed through one crisis after another—the present being undoubtedly the most serious. The annals of the Mission testify that our best work has always been done in such times of stress. This, I am confident, shall be the case now. If, with the Grace of God, we stick it out against all odds until the storm blows over, we shall have given proof of that unswerving devotion to duty which alone seems capable of winning a lasting hold on the hearts and minds of this people.
The courage being manifest at this juncture by the Missionaries in the field deserves the full backing of the Province and the generous support of the laity. We need the assistance of prayers in ever growing volume—God’s Grace alone can prevail against the spirit of evil that has been unloosed upon this distraught country. If our financial requirements at this time appear heavy, they must be balanced against the rising cost of living, the depreciation of the U. S. dollar in the world market, and, finally, to some extraordinary expenditures within the Diocese due to the prevailing conditions under which we must function. I am convinced that the understanding sympathy shown by the Province in the past will not fail us in the difficult days that lie ahead.
I am offering Holy Mass in honor of the Holy Spirit that Divine Wisdom may guide all your deliberations for the spiritual and temporal Welfare of the Province.
Cordially yours in Christ,
CUTHBERT M. O’GARA, C.P., D.D.
Bishop of Yuanling
After hearing the report of the Bishop, the Chapter unanimously approved a motion to order the Secretary to incorporate in the Acts of the Chapter an expression of its admiration for the heroic work of our Fathers in China. Despite many setbacks and hardships, especially at the present time, they have gone forward as true Apostles, bringing encouragement and hope with the light of Faith to an unfortunate people. The Chapter in the name of the entire Province wishes to assure His Excellency, Bishop Cuthbert O’Gara, C.P., and all the Passionists in China of every possible support and untiring interest in the difficult and dangerous mission they are carrying on in a territory dominated by a hostile government.
The remainder of this Session and the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth Sessions were taken up with the Students’ Directorium and the consideration of the various matters proposed to the Provincial Chapter by the Capitulars and the Religious of the Province. With regard to the latter, all proposals were carefully considered. Some were found to be covered by existing legislation, others were judged to pertain to the decision of the Provincial Curia, while still others were considered outside the competence of the Chapter.
In the sixteenth Session, the consideration of the various proposals laid before the Chapter was continued, and after several revisions the following Recommendations and Decrees were formulated.
The Venerable Chapter recommends:
1. Recognizing the need of a uniform Book of Rubrics, a committee of three, namely, Reverend Fathers Paschal of the Five Wounds, Ronald of Mary, and Jude of Christ the King, was appointed to compile this Book and to submit the same to the Provincial Curia.
2. That the matter of adopting the new Psalter be given further study by the Provincial Curia.
3. That the matter of granting degrees to our students through affiliation with neighboring universities be studied by the Provincial Curia.
4. That the local superiors be reminded of their strict obligation to fulfill the legislation of our Holy Rule in regard to the holding of the Friday Chapter, the Moral Case, and the Examen.
5. That the local superior be vigilant in enforcing the prescripts of our Holy Rule on silence.
6. Noting with gratification the successful growth of the Retreat Movement in our Province during recent years, the Chapter commends the contribution made by our various religious to this important work. The Venerable Chapter, however, is convinced that the best interests of the Movement and of the Congregation will be served by keeping the administration of the Retreat House under the supervision of the local superior. The Chapter wishes to reiterate the contents of paragraph 142 of the Directorium for Missions and Retreats, namely, “The Retreat Director is subject in all things to the Rector of the house. While the latter is bound by his office to exercise vigilant solicitude in regard to the Retreat Movement in his Monastery, let there be a spirit of harmonious cooperation between the Rector and the Retreat Director, so that the laymen making the retreats will reap the greatest measure of spiritual profit.”
7. That leaflets on the Stations of the Cross, approved by the Provincial Curia, be distributed during our missions at the beginning of each week.
8. Having tentatively approved the Students’ Directorium, the Venerable Chapter directs that it shall be in force until the next Provincial Chapter, when it will be submitted for final approval.
9. The superiors are reminded of paragraph 207 of our Regulations. The Chapter urges them to do what they can to promote the Confraternity of the Sacred Passion.
10. That a letter of appreciation be sent by the Capitular Fathers to the Most Reverend Richard J. Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, for his most generous donation for the construction of the new addition to the Retreat House at St. Gabriel’s Monastery as well as his continued interest in this work.
11. That the Provincial Curia make preparations for the Centennary, in 1952, of the arrival of the Passionists in the United States.
12. That all Superiors take the necessary measures to remove fire hazards from our Monasteries.
13. That all fire insurance premiums be paid through the Provincial Office. It is further recommended that constant vigilance be exercised so that proper insurance coverage is carried on all property. With regard to other types of insurance, such as workmen’s compensation and public liability, it is recommended that the Provincial Curia investigate and adopt, if found feasible, certain recommendations regarding a blanket policy made by a reputable insurance broker.
1. The Venerable Chapter decrees that Decree No. 24 of the Provincial Chapter Decrees be so modified as to read: “The use of a radio may not be permitted at any time for the Students without the authorization of the local superior, who may make a concession in this regard only rarely and with proper supervision of the program.”
2. The Venerable Chapter decrees that the Mission Directorium be read in the refectory once each year at the beginning of the year.
3. The Venerable Chapter forbids the keeping of television sets in our Monasteries. This is to be understood, not only of the recreation room, but any other part of the Monastery, such as Parish Offices, Retreat Houses, or any place connected with the Monastery.
4. The Venerable Chapter condemns as an abuse against the common life the habitual use of borrowed cars by individual religious, even though employed in fulfilling assignments or services for the community.
The formal approval of the above Recommendations and Decrees was postponed until the concluding Session.
The Seventeenth and final Session of the Chapter was held on Wednesday morning, August 2nd, at 9:30 o’clock.
The President of the Chapter requested the Secretary to read the Recommendations and Decrees and after some further discussion they were submitted for approval. By unanimous votes, all Recommendations and Decrees listed above were approved and thus incorporated into the directive and legislative discipline of the Province.
At this point, Most Reverend Father General asked that there be included in the Acts of the Chapter his wish that jubilee trips abroad be not promised and that requests for such permissions be not made to Rome. His Paternity stated that this authoritative request is founded on serious and weighty reasons.
At this time the Venerable Chapter took cognizance of the splendid work accomplished by the Fathers working on The Sign. The high standards which this magazine has set, the special recognitions it has received, together with its increased circulation in spite of many obstacles, are all tributes to their efforts.
Likewise, the Venerable Chapter expressed its appreciation to the Fathers working in the mission fields of North Carolina. Their lives of self-sacrifice mark them as true followers of Jesus Crucified. The Chapter, in the name of the Province, sincerely and wholeheartedly thanks them for their contribution to the wonderful work of the Congregation.
The Venerable Chapter is not unmindful of our missionaries at home, who are constantly bringing greater honor and glory to the Congregation in their great vocation of preaching the Sufferings and Death of Our Divine Master and the Sorrows of Our Blessed Lady. It also recognizes that our Parish Priests are participating in this same work in the sphere to which obedience has assigned them. The Chapter commends our Lectors and Directors in their self-sacrificing work of preparing our Students for the great ministry that lies before them. To the Priests, Students, and Brothers who are the mainstay of the monastic observance in the Province, the Chapter pays sincere tribute. To all who are faithfully striving to fulfill their vocation, in whatsoever capacity they may be, the Venerable Chapter expresses its gratitude and appreciation.
After the Capitular Fathers had approved the above commendations, the Very Reverend Father Gabriel, retiring Provincial, addressed the Most Reverend President of the Chapter as follows:
Most Reverend Father General: We have now concluded all but the closing formalities of the Thirtieth Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross. Permit me to assure Your Paternity that I deem it a great honor and privilege to find myself with the duty of speaking a few words of appreciation in the name of all the Capitular Fathers.
Approximately two years ago when Your Paternity completed the Canonical Visitation of our Province, you assured us that you would return to preside at this Chapter. In the history of our Province, it has happened but rarely that our Highest Superior has found it possible to preside personally at the Chapters which have recurred at regular intervals since the first Provincial Chapter held in 1863. Consequently, it was with great joy that we welcomed Your Paternity’s letter in which the date for holding the present Chapter was set and the assurance was given that we would have the General of the Congregation as its President.
Your Paternity has now been with us during the nine days of this Chapter, and you have impressed all with the kindness, the understanding, the efficiency, to say nothing of the patience, revealed at every session of our deliberations. We are confident that the work of this Chapter will have a lasting and beneficial effect on the welfare of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross. In the name of the Capitular Fathers and of all the Religious of the Province, I wish to thank Your Paternity most sincerely for being with us during our Thirtieth Provincial Chapter and for the outstanding contribution you have made toward its success by so prudently and helpfully fulfilling the responsible and trying office of President.
In a short time this Chapter will have passed into history. But before its formal conclusion, permit me, Most Reverend Father General, in the name of all the Superiors and Religious of the Province to express to Your Paternity our sentiments of profound esteem and to pledge anew our filial devotion to the successor of our beloved Father and Founder, St. Paul of the Cross.
Most Reverend Father General responded to the above address as follows:
Very Reverend Fathers: Before closing this Thirtieth Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross, I wish to express to you in the first place my sincerest thanks for all the kindness and collaboration which I have received from all of you.
As every Capitular can easily testify, a mighty big task confronted the Chapter from the first day. Matters brought to the attention of the Capitulars were numerous and important. In fact, from this point of view, because of the numerous and varied suggestions for study presented by the Brethren of the Province, this Chapter has far surpassed any other Chapter at which I have presided.
The interest taken by all the Capitulars in studying these matters and suggesting solutions, has greatly facilitated my duty as President. To you, Reverend Fathers, therefore, my heartfelt thanks and appreciation.
With regard to the Directorium for Students, I think that a great step toward progress, uniformity, and efficiency has been taken. Very Reverend Father Gabriel with his two Consultors deserve our warmest congratulations for this work which will be of positive benefit to the Students and a great help to Directors in their difficult and responsible task.
This, too, is an opportunity for me to express my deepest satisfaction with the magnificent venture of the ‘Refresher Course’, approved and encouraged by the outgoing Provincial Curia, the results of which may be summed up in this motto worthy of a true Apostle of St. Paul—”That our Priests may be more efficient preachers of the Passion of Christ.” May Jesus Crucified bless abundantly this undertaking.
The Chapter is now about to close. Soon the different superiors must begin to pre-occupy themselves about many responsible works. My mind cannot but go out to all the men who have been entering into the Congregation in this Province and if, on the one hand, it is a source of joy to see more and more come to enlist under the banner of St. Paul of the Cross, on the other hand it is a source of deep concern and responsibility to you and to me, to the superiors especially and to the General—concern regarding the obligation they contract before God of laboring to attain a very specific purpose in entering our Congregation—personal sanctification. I ask you and I ask myself—is all being done which Mother Church wishes should be done in order to assure that these men attain to sanctity in the Passionist way of life they have chosen? Canon Law is clear and unmistakable in this regard. Religious are to aspire to perfection by the faithful observance of their Rules. In our Rules, among the most fundamental ones, stand our regular observance and prayer. Here lies our greatest obligation as religious and as superiors—to see to it that fundamentals be never neglected, no matter what other losses there may be. Many indeed are the burdens and duties of superiors. If first things are to come first, then I entreat all the incoming superiors to do their utmost out of a grave obligation of conscience to see that their subjects hold steadfastly to these fundamental practices of the regular observance and prayer, because they embody so much of our Passionist spirit and because they contain the principal means by which we must attain to perfection and union with God.
Grand and glorious are the different fields of the Apostolate which lie before the men of this Province:—missions, retreats to religious and to lay people, missions abroad and in the South. Every deeply spiritual man of the Congregation must certainly agree that holiness of life and union with God are the best means toward true and lasting spiritual success. Therefore, to the superiors I earnestly recommend: secure and facilitate to your subjects, who are your children in Christ, the practice of those things which are the most fundamental in the forming and fostering of the spiritual life. May this be also the uppermost ambition of all the Brethren of this Province. For this I will assure you all a frequent memento in my prayers.
Again—thanks to you all and may our Holy Founder bless you and keep you and all the Religious of this Province as his very own.
Father General then inquired as to whether any further matters remained to be brought before the Chapter. The response being negative, the Father President declared the formal closing of the Thirtieth Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross.
The Reverend Father Caspar of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was then called to the Chapter Room and was thanked for his faithful performance of his duty as Guardian.
The Capitular Fathers then spontaneously expressed their thanks to Father Alexis of the Precious Blood for acting as Secretary of the Chapter.
After a final reading, the Acts of the Chapter were signed, and the other canonical formalities were observed. Then the Most Reverend Father President confirmed the Decrees and the elections of the Rectors and the Master of Novices.
The Capitular Fathers of the Thirtieth Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross appended their signatures as follows:
Albert of the Sorrowful Virgin—President and General
Gabriel of the Sacred Heart—Provincial
Ernest of the Cross—First Provincial Consultor
Berchmans of the Immaculate Heart of Mary—Second Provincial Consultor
Gregory of the Child Jesus—Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat
Roger of the Sorrowful Mother—Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat
Camillus of the Mother of God—Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat
Alexis of the Precious Blood—Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat
Canisius of the Mother of Holy Hope—Rector of St. Ann’s Retreat
Gordian of Mary Immaculate—Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat
Carrol of Mary Immaculate—Rector of Holy Cross Retreat
Basil of the Mother of God—Rector of Our Mother of Sorrows Retreat
Leonard of the Most Holy Family—Rector of the Immaculate Conception Retreat
Paul Francis of the Blessed Sacrament—Master of Novices
Saint Gabriel’s Retreat,
August 2nd, 1950.
Alexis of the Precious Blood,