Acts of the Thirty-Second Provincial Chapter
of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross
Held in the Retreat of St. Gabriel, Brighton, Mass.
From July 6th to July 11th, 1956.
Letter of Convocation
The convocation of the Thirty-second Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross was formally announced on February 11, 1956. On that day, V. Rev. Father Provincial, Ernest of the Cross, officially notified the Capitular Fathers and other religious of the Province that the coming Provincial Chapter would be held at St. Gabriel’s Monastery in Boston, opening on the morning of July 6th.
The brethren were invited, in accordance with Provincial legislation, to submit for the consideration of the Chapter any proposals they might deem advantageous to the welfare of the Province. April 30th was set as the deadline for the submission of these proposals inasmuch as Father General had graciously granted permission to have the Capitular Fathers study and discuss Chapter legislation in advance of the actual Chapter. Father Provincial expressed his confidence that this new procedure “will not only facilitate the work of the Chapter, but will also promote its efficiency.”
In his letter, Father Provincial mentioned the two extremes that must be avoided in making Chapter legislation: on the one hand, making unwise and unnecessary legislation; on the other, neglecting to make those adaptations in legislation which are necessary to keep a religious body effective in meeting present-day conditions and problems.
In conclusion, it was stressed that the most important work of the Provincial Chapter is to elect worthy superiors, men who will be able with charity and justice to cultivate “in the hearts of the religious the true spirit of St. Paul of the Cross.” The prayers of all the brethren were asked that this all-important end be achieved, and there were prescribed the usual prayers to be recited in each Monastery during the time of evening meditation. Father Provincial thanked all the religious for their generous cooperation during his term of office, and assured the brethren that any mistakes on his part were due not to malice but to human limitations.
The Capitular Fathers, in accordance with the instructions in the Letter of Convocation, assembled at St. Gabriel’s Monastery on the evening of July 5th. The first session began the following morning at nine o’clock under the Presidency of Most Reverend Father General, Malcolm of Mary.
The first session of the Thirty-second Provincial Chapter was opened with the recitation of the prescribed prayers: the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the prayers addressed to our special patron saints. Father General then addressed the assembled Fathers. He pointed out the special character and importance of a Provincial Chapter. He compared it to the incident in Our Lord’s life when He was transfigured before His Apostles. On that occasion, Christ did not cease to be what He had always been, but the Apostles were granted grace to see Him in an entirely new light. Father General declared: “Brethren, our position as the Capitular Fathers of this Chapter, and the sense of responsibility that it thus engenders, make it imperative that we too should endeavor to have a new insight into the Congregation, and particularly this Province. During these days, the Congregation and the Province will not cease to be what they have always been; but, helped by God’s grace and our own prayers and those of others, we shall see them in a new light. We will be away from the local problems and provocations and personalities that can sometimes distort our views and make them very subjective. Under the stimulus of Divine grace, which for three months has been besought by the entire Province, we shall be able the better to prescind from the particular problems and exacting details of day by day government of the Province, and see the cause to which we have dedicated our lives, see it as transfigured and worthy of our best.
The Father President went on to emphasize the heroism involved in living our Passionist life with perseverance and whole-hearted devotion. It is a heroism at times as great as that required of those who must die for a cause. This heroism has been vowed by each one of us—”To observe the Holy Rule except when legitimately dispensed, to cultivate its spirit always and everywhere (for there can be no dispensation from the spirit of the Rule), and to propagate that spirit among our fellow religious by our teaching, our example, and at times by correction.”
Father General then clearly and definitively outlined the competence of the Chapter in making legislation. He exhorted the Fathers to allow their proceedings to be transfused and informed by Divine grace, to make their discussions earnest and selfless, to carry out the work of the Chapter in a spirit of love for the Congregation, and mutual charity and cooperation among themselves.
Following the address by the Father President, a Guardian of the Chapter Room was chosen. Father Justin of the Mother of God was chosen for this task. He was summoned to the Chapter Room and took the usual oath of secrecy. Father Rupert of the Sacred Heart was then chosen temporary Secretary of the Chapter.
The next matter on the agenda was the reading of the reports of administration by the respective Rectors of each monastery.
Father Provincial then read his report on the condition of the Province and the salient accomplishments of the past three years. There are at present 537 professed religious in the Province: 416 priests, 80 students, and 41 brothers. Father Provincial indicated the scope of the work in which the priests of the Province are presently engaged.
Father Provincial recalled the recommendation of the previous Provincial Chapter that “The Provincial Curia continue the effort to arrange affiliation with neighboring universities in order to obtain degrees for our students.” And he reported on what has been done in this matter. Investigation has shown the desirability of obtaining our own Charter to grant higher academic degrees, and present inquiries are being made to determine where such a Charter can best be obtained. The training of competent librarians has already been carried out, and they will be prepared to proceed at once to equip our libraries to meet State requirements.
Father Provincial spoke of the work of the members of “The Sign” staff and of the great financial assistance which they provide for the Province and our missions. Also, in spite of many obstacles, the circulation of our magazine has increased during the past three years from 283,000 to 375,000 copies.
Father Provincial summarized the work of our missionaries, retreat masters, and retreat directors. Since the last Provincial Chapter, we preached 1,323 missions; 2,021 retreats; 750 week-end retreats in our own retreat houses; 639 novenas; and 332 tridua. During the same period, 65,187 laymen and 3,762 priests have made retreats in our houses.
Father Provincial referred to the Congress of the Confraternity of the Passion and to the Missionary Congress. Since the proceedings of both Congresses have been separately printed, he did not dilate on the great accomplishments of these two undertakings.
The development and growth of “The Hour of the Crucified” Radio Program was briefly outlined. Begun on Ash Wednesday, 1954, on a single station in Holyoke, it has grown to international proportions. It is carried by 122 commercial radio stations in this country and by stations in Canada, Panama, Australia, and the Philippine Islands. In addition, it is broadcast by the Armed Forces Radio net-work over 72 independent stations. As Father Provincial said of this project: “Only God can tell the tremendous potential in this program for our apostolate. We have the equipment; we now have the ‘know-how’; we have a good program. All that we need is more cooperation by the members of our own Province to get more and more radio stations across the country.”
Father Provincial next spoke of the Vocational Film which has been produced within the past year. Within the few months that it has been available, there have been approximately 220 showings, with an estimated viewing audience of over 19,000. It has been shown not only to prospective candidates for our Congregation but also to parents and teachers who exert such great influence in the formation and guidance of vocations. The TV print of this film has been shown to a possible audience of over 5,000,000, and various other TV showings are in process of arrangement. Our western Province, as well as the Fathers in Mexico, and Australia have already obtained copies of the film, and inquiries have been made by the Superiors in other countries.
The report by Father Provincial was concluded with a summary on the building program and finances of the Province. (a) In conformity with the recommendations of the last Provincial Chapter, we adopted a new mission for the Colored in Atlanta, Ga., and a new mission area in British West Indies comprising approximately 800 square miles. In Atlanta, the plans are almost complete for a new church, rectory, convent, and school. Unlike our missions in North Carolina, where we have only perpetual administration, the property and the buildings in Atlanta are ours. (b) In the British West Indies, we are building a new church and are increasing accomodations for our missionaries at the central mission in Mandeville. Money has already been allocated for this purpose, and a local contractor has been authorized to begin work as soon as possible. (c) During the past three years, we built a new school hall in New Bern, N. C. In Greenville, N. C., we built a new school, convent, and auditorium. As a result, our three missions in North Carolina are now complete parish units with no debt. (d) In Mexico City, a new church is under construction and should be finished in a few months. (e) A new administration building and also a students’ recreation building were constructed during the past three years at Shelter Island, and more than eight acres of swamp land have been re-claimed. In spite of the many expenditures in connection with our monasteries and retreat houses, together with the various missionary projects of the Province, the Province is still in sound financial condition.
Various Committees had been appointed by Father Provincial previous to the Chapter to consider the proposals submitted by the members of the Province. Father President, at this point in the Chapter proceedings, asked the Fathers if there were any further suggestions or proposals. A few items were proposed and referred to the various Committees for later consideration.
Father President now announced that the time had come to begin the consideration of the merits of those eligible to be elected to superiorship in the Province. He reminded the Fathers most seriously of their obligation to consider each possible choice with unbiased judgment and care, and to make known with complete candor and fearlessness the worthiness or unworthiness of each. He reviewed the qualifications for superiors laid down by the decrees of our Holy Rule and the practice of our Holy Founder. And he assured the Fathers that despite the exalted requirements demanded, careful consideration and wise charity would discover qualified candidates. He referred to the obligation of choosing men whose own lives will be a powerful example and incentive to others; men endowed with the degree of patience and charity required of a superior; men capable of administering the spiritual and temporal goods of the community; men with a natural prudence elevated by their spiritual outlook. Father President urged the strict necessity of proceeding with utmost charity, humility, and prudence. He reminded the Fathers of the oath of secrecy which they would be required to take with respect to what they would learn in the discussion of merits. He outlined clearly and definitely the serious obligation of this oath and the scope of its binding force. After this final exhortation, the Fathers rose and faced the Crucifix, and took the prescribed oath. They now proceeded to the discussion of the merits of the eligible. This discussion was continued until the session was recessed at twelve-thirty o’clock.
SECOND TO FIFTH SESSIONS
During the second, third, fourth, and part of the fifth sessions the discussion of the merits of those eligible to election to office was continued. These sessions were held on Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning. This discussion was concluded during the fifth session. At this time, the Father President called for the consideration of the reports of the various committees. This consideration continued for the rest of the fifth session.
The afternoon session on Sunday was preceded by an address in choir delivered by the V. Rev. Father Canisius of Our Mother of Holy Hope, First Consultor. His address was in part as follows:
QUALIFICATIONS OF A GOOD PASSIONIST SUPERIOR
Father Canisius spoke of the antiquity of this custom of outlining the qualities of our superiors as a prelude to Canonical elections. And he showed that the election of capable superiors is the primary work of the Provincial Chapter. He reminded us of the prophetic desire of our Holy Founder: “God wishes to extend this Institute from sea to sea, and to have it endure till the end of the world, to the advantage of Holy Church.” And he reminded us: “We will prosper, we will multiply, we will endure ONLY if we have superiors filled with the true Passionist spirit, fervent in prayer and action, and dedicated to the work which has been committed to our care by Holy Mother Church.”
After recalling the canonical requirements for election to superiorship, Father Canisius outlined the special qualifications demanded by our Passionist life and vocation. A Passionist superior must possess in a special way:
1. “A God-given love for the Congregation. A man must love the Congregation. Be willing to spend himself for the Congregation. He must therefore know and appreciate the holy traditions of our Order. He must love our two-fold life of prayer and penance at home and of worthy preaching abroad.”
2. An example to others. “St. Paul of the Cross wrote to his Rectors: ‘Let the Rector remember that he ought to be a mirror of good example… Let him never omit the choir… Let him love to remain in his cell… Let him never omit the duty of correction.’ Here we see the next quality of a Passionist superior: the virtue of observance. Leading the community through all its actions by example rather than word; able and willing to keep the full observance; content to stay home, to be available to the brethren for their needs; all eyes to see that the Rule is kept; and while always moderate and gentle…yet mindful of his duty to correct. ‘It is on the Rector that the good order of each house depends.’ ”
3. “The third quality proper to a Passionist superior is vigilance. Let the Rector be most vigilant that no abuse be introduced into his community, lest he render himself accountable to God for negligence and for injury done to the regular discipline. And that his vigilance may have the desired effect let him be prompt to render remedies for any abuse without any human respect or account of the person, but let him consider only the honor of God.” (Stat. 2)
4. “Finally the Rector must be one who has experience and who is able to take it … While it is true that the office of Rector or other superiors in the Congregation can never be looked upon as a reward for work done, nevertheless a man who has proven himself in other offices and other works will have the experience that can supply for longevity. St. Paul of the Cross wrote to a Rector: ‘A superior should be a martyr of patience…who carries his authority as a cross…who can suffer adversities in peace…and endure all manner of contradictions.’ ”
“These are the qualifications of a Passionist superior; and such should be the superiors whom the Capitular Fathers strive to elect: Men who can and will keep intact the Passionist spirit of prayer, poverty, solitude, and devotion to the Passion; who can and will be fervent themselves and lead others to more intense fervor in the service of God; men who can and will dedicate themselves to the specific works of the Institute: the observance and the apostolate of preaching.”
Father Canisius concluded by the exhortation: “Let us work together to this glorious purpose according to our state: The Capitulars to give us worthy superiors; the brethren to assist us by your prayers and by your acceptance and support of those whom God places over us, His family.”
After the conclusion of Father Canisius’ talk on the Qualities of a Superior, the Capitulars went to the Chapter room to conduct the sixth session. This was devoted entirely to the consideration of Committee reports on proposed legislation.
At 7 o’clock on Monday morning, the Solemn Mass of the Holy Ghost “pro re gravi” was celebrated in the Choir of the Monastery. The celebrant was V. Rev. Father Ernest of the Cross, Provincial. He was assisted by V. Rev. Canisius of Our Mother of Holy Hope and V. Rev. Carrol of Mary Immaculate as Deacon and Subdeacon respectively. V. Rev. Father Cuthbert of Mary Immaculate was Master of Ceremonies. The other Capitular Fathers and the community of St. Gabriel’s Monastery assisted at the Mass.
At 9 o’clock, the Capitulars and community assembled once more in the Choir. The procession formed with Father President carrying the Crucifix. Chanting the “Vexilla Regis” all proceeded to the Chapter room. Then, the President dismissed all who did not have the right of suffrage; and the prayers prescribed in the Ritual were recited by the Capitular Fathers.
The Father President then addressed the Fathers once more about the all-important matter of choosing the most suitable men to fill the office of Provincial as well as the other canonical offices. He spoke as follows:
The days and weeks of preparation for this Chapter have now been completed. The preliminary sessions have been conducted. You have examined with care and diligence into the qualifications and merits of those eligible to hold canonical office in the Province. The time of choice is at hand, and you will make that choice wisely and well. You will be guided not only by your own mature deliberations, not only by the advice and information that have been provided, but most of all by God’s grace which we and the entire Province have besought so long and so earnestly.
It is not always easy to yield ourselves unselfishly to God’s inspiration. It is human to judge by natural motives; it is easy to be swayed by instinctive likes and dislikes; it is possible to be influenced by past injuries or favors. And yet, as we know, we as Capitulars of the Province must rise superior to all these weaknesses and pitfalls. We must act as men of God, trying to know God’s will, and unswerving in our determination to carry out that will as we see it.
First of all, we must proceed to the election of a Provincial superior. We know well that any successful superior must, first of all, represent in his own thinking and acting the highest ideals of the Passionist life. He must be strong enough to bear the weaknesses of others and the burdens of the Province. He must be willing to sacrifice himself in all things for the welfare of his subjects and of the Congregation. He must be a man whose charity reaches out to all—to those who may deserve it and to those who do not.
In a few moments you will face the Crucifix and vow to our Crucified Lord that you will choose as Provincial superior him whom, before God, you believe should be elected. That will be your oath, your promise to God. I know that you will fulfill it faithfully—both as to the spirit and the letter of that promise.
Having finished his address, Father President intoned the “Veni Creator” which was chanted by all the Capitulars. The Most Reverend 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 Malcolm of Mary, Superior General
Very Reverend Ernest of the Cross, Provincial
Very Rev. Canisius of Our Mother of Holy Hope, First Consultor
Very Rev. Carrol of Mary Immaculate, Second Consultor
Very Rev. Cuthbert of Mary Immaculate, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat
Very Rev. Rupert of the Sacred Heart, Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat
Very Rev. Berchmans of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat
Very Rev. Clement of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat
Very Rev. Felix of Our Mother of Sorrows, Rector of St. Ann’s Retreat
Very Rev. Dennis of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat
Very Rev. Boniface of the Most Precious Blood, Rector of Holy Cross Retreat
Very Rev. Luke of the Sorrowful Virgin, Rector of Our Mother of Sorrows Retreat
Very Rev. Cornelius of Our Lady of the Eucharist, Rector of Immaculate Conception Retreat
Very Rev. Thaddeus of the Holy Family, Rector of Holy Family Retreat
Very Rev. Connell of St. Ann, Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat, (Toronto, Canada)
Very Rev. Gregory of the Infant Jesus, Master of Novices
Father President then asked whether in the estimation of all the Capitulars the Chapter was legitimately convoked. All responded in the affirmative. Father General then declared the Chapter to be canonically convened in the name of the Lord.
The customary acts of humility were then performed, after which Father President imparted the Absolution from Censures “ad cautelam.” The same was then imparted to Father President by Father Provincial. When this was completed, the Capitular Fathers came forward and deposited their Seals of Office and Literae Patentes upon the altar erected in the Chapter Room. Then, by secret ballot, the permanent Secretary and the two Scrutineers were chosen. Father Rupert of the Sacred Heart was chosen as Secretary. Father Connell of St. Ann and Father Gregory of the Infant Jesus were chosen as Scrutineers.
Before voting, all the Capitulars took the oath to elect as Provincial him whom, before God, they judged should be elected. Balloting was then begun.
The rest of the forenoon was spent in unsuccessful balloting to elect a Provincial superior. The session was recessed at twelve o’clock for lunch.
The eighth session was assembled at 3 o’clock on Monday afternoon. Balloting was resumed. On the fortieth ballot, Father Ernest of the Cross was postulated as Provincial for a third term. Since this is a matter that required permission from the Sacred Congregation of Religious, voting had to be postponed until a reply could be obtained from Rome. Father President cabled at once for the necessary permission, but he informed the Fathers that permission could not possibly be obtained until the following morning. After a short recess, the Capitulars re-assembled in the Chapter Room and discussed some of the recommendations of the various Committees.
On Tuesday morning at nine o’clock, the Capitular Fathers gathered once more in the Chapter Room, but since the cablegram had not yet arrived from Rome, balloting could not be continued. Father President utilized the occasion to give the Capitular Fathers information and advice concerning various projects and works of the Congregation throughout the world.
Shortly after ten-thirty, a cablegram arrived from Rome with the words: “Postulation granted.” The Fathers expressed their gratification at the welcome announcement, and led by Father President, expressed their hearty congratulations to Father Provincial. Father Ernest arose, and in a few words, accepted his arduous assignment as the will of God and asked for prayers that he might be instrumental in promoting the welfare of the Province.
The community of the Monastery was now summoned to the Chapter Room, and the election announced to them. Father Provincial was seated before the altar erected in the Chapter Room, and the brethren presented themselves to express their congratulations and to signify their obedience. All then proceeded to the Monastery Choir where the prescribed ceremony of thanksgiving was carried out. Father Provincial officiated at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament during which the “Te Deum” was sung. Since it was almost noon when this had been completed, further balloting was postponed until the afternoon session.
The tenth session of the Chapter was assembled at two o’clock on Tuesday afternoon. Balloting was begun at once for the office of First Provincial Consultor. On the twenty-fourth ballot, V. Rev. Father Cuthbert of Mary Immaculate was chosen. Father Cuthbert rose and thanked the Fathers. He promised to give his all to the best interests of the Province and asked the prayers of all.
The next office to be filled was that of Second Consultor. On the sixth scrutiny, V. Rev. Father Carrol of Mary Immaculate was elected to this position. Father Carrol arose and thanked the Capitulars, and promised to do his best to assist Father Provincial to shoulder the very heavy tasks of his office.
Balloting for the office of Master of Novices showed V. Rev. Father Gregory of the Infant Jesus to be elected on the sixth scrutiny. Father Gregory thanked the Fathers for their confidence in him and promised to do his best to train the Novices according to the ideals of St. Paul of the Cross.
Father Boniface of the Precious Blood was chosen to the office of Rector of Holy Cross Seminary on the first ballot. Father Boniface expressed his appreciation of the confidence placed in him, and assured the Fathers of his best endeavors in the training and formation of our postulants.
The rectorship of Pittsburgh Monastery was next to be filled. On the third ballot, Father Theodore of Mary Immaculate was chosen. Reached by telephone, Father Theodore humbly accepted the office and expressed the hope he would be able to fulfill the obligations of his new assignment.
On the sixth ballot, Father Clement of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was chosen as Rector of St. Michael’s Monastery in Union City. Father Clement graciously accepted the position and expressed his thanks to the Capitulars.
Election of a Rector for Immaculate Conception Monastery in Jamaica was next undertaken. On the twenty-first ballot, Father John Joseph of the Holy Family was chosen as Rector. Reached by phone, Father John Joseph asked time to consider the matter. After mature consideration and counsel, Father asked the Chapter to reconsider his election, feeling himself unable to undertake this responsibility.
Balloting was resumed at 8:30 P. M. on Tuesday evening. On the sixth scrutiny, Father Felix of Our Sorrowful Mother was elected Rector of Immaculate Conception Monastery. Father Felix thanked the Fathers for their trust and promised to fulfill the duties of his office to the best of his ability.
On the first ballot, Father Connell of St. Ann was elected Rector of St. Gabriel’s Monastery in Toronto. Father Connell graciously thanked the Capitular Fathers and promised to dedicate his best efforts to his office. Ballots were now cast for the Rectorship of St. Ann’s in Scranton. On the second scrutiny, Father Rupert of the Sacred Heart was elected. Father Rupert expressed his appreciation of the confidence of the Fathers and promised to fulfill his duties to the best of his ability.
On the sixth ballot, Father Canisius of Our Mother of Holy Hope was chosen as Rector of St. Gabriel’s Monastery in Boston. Graciously thanking the Fathers for their trust, Father Canisius assured them that he would strive whole-heartedly to fulfill this responsibility.
Election of a Rector to our Holy Family Monastery in West Hartford was effected on the eighth ballot. Since it was late at night, Father was not contacted until the following morning. When reached by phone, Father Aloysius [of the Holy Family] submitted to the choice of the Chapter, and promised to make every effort to carry out his new assignment conscientiously.
The twelfth session of the Chapter was opened at nine o’clock on Wednesday morning. The first balloting was for the rectorship of Our Lady of Sorrows Monastery in Springfield. Father Luke of the Sorrowful Virgin was elected on the first ballot. Father arose and thanked the Chapter and promised that with God’s help he would try to be a good Superior.
On the sixth ballot, Father Owen Mary of the Holy Family was elected Rector of St. Joseph’s Monastery in Baltimore. Father Owen Mary was reached by telephone and graciously acceded to the desire of the Chapter, thanking them for their kind consideration.
The final balloting elected the Rector of St. Mary’s Monastery in Dunkirk. On the sixth scrutiny, Father Walter of St. Patrick was chosen to this office. Called to the Chapter Room, Father Walter with some reluctance was prevailed upon to accept the will of the Chapter. He thanked the Fathers for their confidence in him and promised to fulfill his new office to the best of his ability.
The election of Superiors having been concluded, Father President directed that the community be summoned to the Chapter room. Father Rupert, the Secretary, was directed to read to them the results of the elections. The rest of the day was declared free for the community. Telegrams were sent to all the houses of the Province, as well as to the Provincial of Holy Cross Province.
Following an arrangement previously agreed upon, His Excellency, Most Reverend Cuthbert O’Gara, C.P., D.D., Bishop of Yuanling, was now invited to the Chapter Room. He spoke in part as follows:
Some years ago, a young Passionist student wrote to me in China. He had some advice to ask of me. How could he best prepare himself during his days of student life so that he might one day become a good missionary in China. I wrote to him, and the advice I gave him was very simple: Live your life as a Passionist student with the utmost sincerity and fidelity, and you will some day find yourself well prepared for the life of a Chinese missionary. The years passed. One day, in China, I visited the mission of one of our younger missionaries. He said: “Bishop, I have something I would like you to see.” He opened a drawer, and brought out an old faded letter. It was my letter of long years past. And he told me how true and how effective was the advice I had then given to him.
As I now look back over the long years of my own life, I have many reasons for gratitude. I am grateful for my life as a Passionist missionary in China; I am grateful for the wonderful opportunities it has given me to work for God and the faith; I am grateful for my many experiences in China and for the lessons they have taught me; but I am grateful most of all because all of these factors have worked together to give me a deeper appreciation and understanding of my Passionist vocation.
The other Fathers and myself have been expelled from China. We are missionaries in exile. But China is still ours, and one day we hope to reclaim it. All of our American Fathers have been driven out, but there still remain a few native priests, a few native Sisters, and the faithful themselves, so many of whom have shown heroic fortitude. I am still their Bishop. If and when there comes a break in the Bamboo Curtain, we will return. When that comes it will be an answer to prayer. We count on this particular prayer to be answered just as were our prayers in the past. My own deliverance from China, my unbelievable return to health has been nothing short of miraculous intervention in answer to prayer. And so many of our returned missionaries can say the same, in varying degrees. It was the prayers of our Passionist brethren, particularly those of our own Province that produced these marvels of God’s grace. There were human factors, too, involved in our rehabilitation. The enthusiasm of your reception of us on our return; your understanding of our wants and problems; your sympathy for us in our sufferings and hardships—all of these have been important factors in bringing us back to normal life and health. It is hard, if not impossible, for any of us returned missionaries to express our gratitude. I am trying to do it, however inadequately, in the name of all.
Years ago during the peaceful days in China, many of us missionaries used to speculate about how it would be to return to monastery life after spending so many years in China. How would we react to community life after so much solitude? How would we react to monastic obedience after so many years of directing activities? How would we react to life in one place after so many travels? Recent years have shown that we had little to fear. And the one and only reason we had so little to fear was the fact of our Passionist training. It taught us, as it has taught Passionists for two hundred years, to adapt ourselves to life as we found it, life as holy obedience presented it to us.
During these days, I think often of those to whom I owe so much gratitude. There are the Maryknoll Fathers in Hongkong who have shown us so many kindnesses, and who have received Father Anthony Maloney as their welcome guest over a period of years. There are the Jesuit Fathers at the University in Calcutta. Fathers who were passing through that city, Fathers who were compelled by sickness to leave the missions, found in the Jesuits of Calcutta warm friends who regarded it as a favor to serve them. Moreover, when it was necessary to bring supplies into China through India, it was these Fathers who made the necessary arrangements and provision. There are many in China who deserve our warmest gratitude and financial support, and whom we will be happy to help if the opportunity ever offers itself. I have so many debts of gratitude which I can never repay. I have, however, tried to do what I can. That is why during the past years, whenever the opportunity has presented itself I have talked about the danger of Communism. It is so important that America be warned of this danger, to arm against it while yet there is time. We cannot tell what the future will bring. But perhaps some, perhaps many, perhaps all of us may one day have to face that evil and suffer from it. But we need not fear. God’s grace, working with the Passionist training that has been granted us, will see us through. And if we continue to impart that same traditional training to our students, then the future, whatever it may be, is safe.
Father President thanked His Excellency for his timely words. The session was then adjourned.
This final session of the Provincial Chapter was called at 3 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon. The final items of business and legislation were proposed by Father President. The decisive votes of approval or dissapproval of the various Recommendations and Decrees were recorded. Among the subjects considered at this and other sessions was the use of Television in our Monasteries. After extensive and thorough discussion, it was voted by the Chapter to adhere to the existing legislation of the Thirtieth Provincial Chapter in this matter.
The Acts of the Chapter were read and approved.
As a result of the Committee Reports, and the subsequent discussion of all the matters on the agenda, the Ven. Chapter submits the following Recommendations and Decrees:
1. The Venerable Chapter recommends that the Community Mass during the annual retreat be set at 9:00 A.M.
2. The Venerable Chapter re-affirms paragraph No. 42 of the Mission Directorium that “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 (Prov. Chapter XXI, Decree 7), let there be a spirit of harmonious cooperation between the Rector and the Retreat Director so that laymen making the retreat will reap the greatest measure of spiritual profit. During the retreat the Director should not be employed in Sunday work, or any other work that would take him away from his retreatants.”
3. Recognizing the fact that the study of Passiology has already been integrated into our Ratio Studiorum, the Venerable Chapter recommends that the Provincial Curia study the feasibility of supplementing this by additional courses or instruction to be offered after ordination to the priesthood.
4. Following the recommendation of the last Provincial Chapter, the present Provincial Curia has explored the various possibilities of affiliating our course of studies with some existing College or University. As a result of these studies, it has been found preferable to obtain our own Charter to issue higher scholastic degrees. The Venerable Chapter approves the findings of the Provincial Curia and urges that as soon as practicable all necessary steps be taken to implement this program in the place and manner deemed most desirable.
5. In order to make our vocational program more effective, it is recommended that Father Provincial appoint one of his Consultors or some other experienced religious as General Director of Clerical and Lay Brother Vocations. It would be his responsibility to see that Local Directors are qualified and effective in fulfilling their duties. Also, to promote further vocations from our Monastery parishes, it would seem highly desirable that there be in each of our parishes an assistant who is interested in fostering vocations by conducting a Parish Vocation Club. This would supplement the broader program of the Local Vocation Director. Hereafter, the procedure outlined at the Meeting of Vocational Directors for processing prospective clerical vocations, shall be followed likewise with Brother vocations, i.e., Local Director contact and screen candidates and when preliminary inquiries are satisfactorily completed, send file material to Provincial Vocation Director for Brothers, viz, Father Master.
It is suggested that one or more full-time Vocational Recruiters be appointed to visit prospective candidates and their families. He (or they) would operate in conjunction with the Provincial Vocational Director, and under the supervision of the General Director. The office and work of the present Provincial Vocational Director for Clerics, and the Board of Admissions at Holy Cross, shall continue as heretofore.
6. The Venerable Chapter recommends that the Provincial Curia select a ceremonial book compiled by a recognized author.
7. The Venerable Chapter recommends that the Provincial Curia study the feasibility of providing a Pension Plan for our workmen in each Monastery of the Province.
8. The Venerable Chapter recommends that the Provincial Curia study the advisability of hospitalization insurance for the brethren of the Province.
1. In conformity with the faculty granted by the 36th General Chapter, Decree No. 10, this Venerable Chapter decrees that the last bell for Prime and Tierce be rung at ten minutes past six in the morning.
2. The Venerable Chapter decrees that the Recommendations and changes in our Mission Directorium endorsed by the Missionary Congress are hereby officially approved, except that in accordance with paragraph 54-a of the Mission Directorium, the mantle should be worn when delivering the Catechism.
3. The Venerable Chapter Decrees that Retreat Directors are to encourage, foster, and promote closed retreats for High School Students in our retreat houses. Local Superiors should supply such added assistance as may be required to assure their proper supervision and success.
4. While paying due tribute to the indispensable contribution of laymen in the promotion of laymen’s retreats, this Venerable Chapter decrees that complete control of the Laymen’s Retreat Movement should be held by the Rector and the Retreat Director. All ordinary and extraordinary income shall be controlled by Father Rector. All special funds of whatever kind or purpose require the approval of Father Provincial and must be in a joint bank account, requiring the signatures of the local Rector and Retreat Director.
5. The Venerable Chapter decrees that our Brothers celebrate only silver, golden, and diamond jubilees of profession; and our priests celebrate golden jubilee of profession, as well as silver, golden, and diamond jubilees of ordination; and that the official celebration be held in only one monastery and church. Also, the written permission of Father Provincial is required for the collecting and spending of jubilee funds, which must be kept on deposit with Father Rector.
6. It is decreed that each scholastic year begin with a Solemn Votive Mass in honor of the Holy Spirit.
The Venerable Chapter, at this concluding session, took occasion to publicly express most sincere appreciation to all the Religious of the Province whose united efforts have assured our spiritual and material growth and prosperity. In particular, it paid a well-deserved tribute to our outgoing superiors for their self-sacrifice and generous service to the Province during their terms of office.
a) The Chapter emphasizes the work of our missionaries as being the exemplification of our special apostolate. The phenomenal growth and success of our ministerial endeavors to clergy, religious, and laity are in themselves a commendation of their efforts.
b) Passionist tradition has always emphasized the spiritual support of the home life and the regular monastic observance. The Venerable Chapter again expresses appreciation to those whose fulfillment of this observance is guarantee of the continuance of our monastic life and an assured source of spiritual support. Particularly, it singles out for appreciative commendation the Directors, Lectors, Students, and Brothers whose fidelity contributes so much to the maintenance of the Passionist way of life.
c) In an age when added emphasis is placed on the apostolate of the press, the Capitular Fathers express gratitude to The Sign staff for the efforts that have won for this outstanding magazine an enviable reputation as an authoritative voice of Catholic thought and opinion.
d) Although recently established, the Missionaries in our new foundation in the British West Indies have already been recognized as men of truly apostolic zeal. Their difficult work has been and will be a valuable source of spiritual blessings to this Province.
e) The work among the Colored is winning increasing recognition as one of the great modern challenges to the Church in America. Our priests engaged in this work have reflected in their lives and achievements the finest tradition of Christian concern.
f) The progress of our Mexican foundation is a tribute to the self-sacrificing zeal of those engaged in this important assignment.
g) No particular apostolate of ours has been more rightly blessed by God than that of our closed retreats to laymen. The Directors, Assistant Directors, and Retreat Masters have been largely responsible for this success and spiritual blessing. They are deserving of rich commendation.
h) Few parishes receive more selfless service than those staffed by our priests assigned to parochial duties. The Venerable Chapter commends our religious so assigned for the valuable contribution constantly made by them to the spiritual welfare of the souls entrusted to their care.
i) The fulfillment of the obligations of our Fourth Vow has been strikingly realized through the new impetus given to the Confraternity of the Passion and the growth of “The Hour of the Crucified.” The Venerable Chapter commends the zealous efforts and promotional activities of all the religious responsible for this success.
j) Favorable reports from official sources attest the spiritual effectiveness of our Military Chaplains. This specialized ministry merits the commendation of this Venerable Chapter.
k) The tangible blessing of God has been evidenced in the increased number of our Lay Brothers. The Venerable Chapter, cognizant, of the important part played by our Brothers in our home life, pays deserved tribute to their lives of work and prayer.
V. Rev. Father Provincial now addressed Father President as follows:
Now that we have concluded all but the closing formalities of the 32nd Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross, it is my happy privilege to say a few words of appreciation in the name of all the Capitular Fathers.
In the history of our Province, I believe this is the first time that our highest Superior has found it possible to conduct the canonical visitation and preside personally at three Provincial Chapters. Moreover, as an American, you knew our language, you knew our problems, you knew us better than any other Superior General, hence, it is easy to understand why we are convinced you have made an outstanding contribution to the progress of the Province.
We are well aware of the grave responsibility imposed upon you by your position as General of the Congregation and President of this Chapter. We want you to know that we feel you have carried out your difficult assignment prudently, patiently, efficiently, and charitably; you have permitted full freedom of discussion; you have given us wise counsel. In a word, you have merited the gratitude of all the members of the Province, superiors and subjects alike. We hope to prove our gratitude by our wholehearted cooperation with your Paternity, our fidelity to our Holy Rule, and our loyalty to our Mother the Congregation.
Most Rev. Father General responded by expressing his deep appreciation to Father Provincial and all the other members of the Province. He declared that a time such as the closing of a Chapter is not an occasion for eloquence but for the simple expression of our innermost feelings. He expressed his deep satisfaction with the work of the Chapter and the zealous and sincere spirit in which it had been undertaken. In particular he commended the charity that had been shown among the Capitulars and to himself, the absence of contention, and the constant effort to consider and respect other points of view.
Father General then expressed his gratitude to the outgoing Curia for their cooperation during the past three years. Relations between the General and Provincial Curia have been most cordial. There have been, at times, differing points of view. But with mutual charity and respect, all of these have been settled to the satisfaction of everyone. With the new Curia, these fine relations will be maintained.
Father General expressed his confidence that he was leaving the Province under capable leadership. The rest must be left to God. If mistakes have been made, they were made honestly and in good faith. Knowing that in God’s sight we have done our best leaves us no room for any regrets.
The Father President then expressed his gratitude to Father Rector and Father Vicar for their thoughtful hospitality during the days of the Chapter. He thanked all the Capitulars for their assistance and cooperation.
After Father General had concluded his final address, he asked if there were any other matters to be considered or discussed. All responded in the negative. Father President then declared the 32nd Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross formally closed.
The Capitulars expressed their gratitude to Father Rupert for his services as Secretary of the Chapter.
The Custos of the Chapter Room, Father Justin, was now summoned and thanked for his diligent attention to his responsibility.
The Acts of the Thirty-second Provincial Chapter were now signed by each of the Capitulars taking part in the Chapter. In conclusion, Most Reverend Father President confirmed the Decrees and the elections of the Rectors and Master of Novices. The concluding session was terminated with the customary prayers.
The Capitular Fathers of the 32nd Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross appended their signatures as follows:
Malcolm of Mary, Superior General and President
Ernest of the Cross, Provincial
Canisius of Our Mother of Holy Hope, First Consultor
Carrol of Mary Immaculate, Second Consultor
Cuthbert of Mary Immaculate, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat
Rupert of the Sacred Heart, Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat
Berchmans of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat
Clement of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat
Felix of the Sorrowful Mother, Rector of St. Ann’s Retreat
Dennis of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat
Boniface of the Most Precious Blood, Rector of Holy Cross Retreat
Luke of the Sorrowful Virgin, Rector of Our Mother of Sorrows Retreat
Cornelius of Our Lady of the Eucharist, Rector of Immaculate Conception Retreat
Thaddeus of the Holy Family, Rector of Holy Family Retreat
Connell of St. Ann, Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat, Toronto, Canada.
Gregory of the Infant Jesus, Master of Novices.
Rupert of the Sacred Heart,
St. Gabriel’s Retreat,
July 11, 1956