Acts of the Twentieth Provincial Chapter
of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross
Held in the Retreat of St. Paul of the Cross, Pittsburgh, PA.
From August 20th to August 28th, 1920.

Passionist Fathers at Twentieth Provincial Chapter - 1920
Passionist Fathers at Twentieth Provincial Chapter – 1920. Seated: Stanislaus Grennan, Justin Carey, Alfred Cagney (General Consultor), Theodore Noonan, Sebastian Stutts, Clement Lee. Standing: Colman Byrne, Patrick Darrah, Hilarion O’Rourke, Dominic Langenbacher, Matthias Mayou, Guido Teresi (Custodian). Click image for larger view.

In accordance with a letter issued by the Very Rev Father Justin, Provincial of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross, the 20th Provincial Chapter was convoked and the Capitular Fathers met in the Retreat of St. Paul of the Cross, Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug. 20th, 1920.

The General Chapter having been delayed this year to coincide with the Canonization of St. Gabriel, it was impossible to comply with the decree fixing an earlier date for the Provincial Chapter.

This our twentieth Provincial Chapter convenes in an epochal year. Just two centuries have passed since our Holy Founder first put on the livery of the Passion shown him in vision, and set down the rule dictated to him from heaven. Thus did he lay the corner-stone of the Congregation soon after blessed and sealed by the approbation of the Sovereign Pontiffs.

Before the year passes we shall hear in the commemoration of this event how much of that span covers the existence of our own Province; how close, after all, were its founders to the first generation, and therefore, how intact and sacred the traditions they entrusted to us.

Again it is a memorable year: “ex fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos.” That same infallible authority which declared our rule a secure means of perfection, on this bi-centenary declares one, who did no more than faithfully keep that rule, a Saint in glory—an intermediary for our prayers to the Divine throne.

With the Fathers returning from the General Chapter, where he was elected 2nd General Consulter, and from the Eternal City where they were enviable witnesses of honors paid our new Saint by Cardinals, notables and the enthusiastic Roman people, was the Very Rev. Father Alfred of St John, former Provincial of the Western Province, duly appointed to preside at this Chapter.

On the morning of the 20th of August, at 9 o’clock, the Capitular Fathers assembled in the Chapter room for the first session. The “Veni Creator” and the prescribed prayers were sung. The Very Rev. President presented his credential letters. The roll was called and the following responded:

V. Rev. Fr. Alfred of St. John, President.
V. Rev. Fr. Justin of the Infant Jesus, Provincial.
V. Rev. Fr. Theodore of the Assumption, 1st Consultor.
V. Rev. Fr. Sebastian of the Mother of Mercy, 2nd Consultor.
V. Rev. Fr. Matthias of St. Ann, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Clement of St. Peter, Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Dominic of, the Sorrowful Virgin, Rector, of St. Michael’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Hilarion of the Sacred Hearts, Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Patrick of the Sorrowful Mother, Rector of St. Ann’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Colman of the Immaculate Conception, Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Stanislaus of the Most Holy Redeemer, Master of Novices.

The President after the prescribed inquiry, declared that the Chapter was canonically assembled and that the formal sessions might begin “Quod ad auctoritatem.”

After this a custodian of the Chapter room was chosen by secret ballet in the person of Father Guido and he was duly sworn. A permanent secretary was also chosen in the person of V. Rev. Fr. Hilarion of the Sacred Hearts. The V. Rev. Rectors read the financial statements of their various Retreats, and presented the prescribed inventories of same as well as the necessary attestation to the celebration of masses and the proper custody of the archives. A committee was then appointed by the Very Rev. President to examine these documents and report to the Chapter.

The remainder of the session was taken up with proposals for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the Province. These were classified and consigned to committees.

After Vespers of this day the Capitular Fathers with the Professed community in choir were addressed by the V. Rev. Fr. Theodore upon the qualifications required in a superior, and the responsibility imposed upon the Capitular Fathers to choose the most worthy and capable.

In seven sessions until Aug. 23rd inclusive, the reports of committees were reviewed and their subject matter discussed. The discussion resulted in the following decrees; all the Fathers being present and voting on each.

1. Observing that some of the proposals concerning the observance, the spirit of poverty, the ministry, the preservation of fervor among students, and other vital matters are provided for in the enactments of former Provincial Chapters, the Venerable Chapter orders a new summary of the same, and calls attention to the regulation prescribing the public reading of this summary at least four times a year.

2. There seems to be a misunderstanding about the obligation of visitors from other houses saying “culpa” on Fridays along with the religious of the house which they are visiting. The Venerable Chapter declares that while indeed they are not supposed to be present at the Local Chapter on Fridays, they are, however, expected to prostrate after dinner along with the religious of the house, and to say “culpa” with them to the Rector.

3. The Venerable Chapter decrees that the reading of the Rules and Regulations be changed from the evening to the noon-day meal on Wednesdays and Fridays.

4. With the opening of the Alumnate at Hemlock Grange, the Venerable Chapter orders that the day-hours of the Divine Office be recited by the boys, and that the Professed be present with them at this exercise and at meals; that High Mass be celebrated and an instruction on the Passion be given each Sunday morning.

5. Inasmuch as the decree of the 31st General Chapter allows endowments for the Alumnate, and since there will be a large increase in the upkeep of our Alumnate at Holy Cross Preparatory College, and as we may presume that there are persons of means to whom the education of boys for our ministry can be attractively explained as a truly apostolic work, the Brethren are urged prudently to seek occasions so to explain it. The sum of $3,000 is formally established as a burse for a scholarship to be contributed in whole or in part, by individuals or by parishes, societies or the like, and such contributors shall be recorded on a memorial tablet. Furthermore, the Rectors of the Province shall contribute to the maintenance of the College according to any “pro rata” plan submitted by Father Provincial.

6. In order to lend solemnity to the occasion and the more securely to safeguard the secrecy required, it is directed that in all the Chapters held to discuss the fitness of our students for perpetual vows and for ordination, an oath of secrecy shall be taken by all in said chapters.

7. Rectors are reminded that it belongs to Very Rev. Provincial and his Consultors to accept indefinitely the office of chaplain, confessor, ordinary or extraordinary, of any convent or institution.

8. The Ven. Chapter decrees that the Province of St. Paul extends to the Province of Holy Cross the privilege of the daily Mass in favor of members of the Purgatorian Society.

9. Taking its inspiration from a most praiseworthy decree of the 31st General Chapter which emphasized the desire of our Holy Founder that our Congregations extend its missionary activities even to infidel nations, and moreover wishing to encourage the zealous aspirations of not a few of our Province, the Ven. Chapter, by unanimous vote, subject to the approval of the Most Rev. Father General and his Council, presents the services of the Province to the Holy See, offering to send a band of missionaries to China, there to lay the foundation of a new Province and labor for the salvation of the Chinese people by the preaching of the life-giving Passion of our Divine Lord according to the spirit and rule of St. Paul of the Cross.

10. Opportunities presenting themselves for a foundation in Canada, including a request from a Bishop there, the Ven. Chapter judges it timely to petition the General Curia that we may proceed definitely in the matter.

11. As our beloved Congregation was founded to labor for souls through promotion of devotion to the Sacred Passion; and as among the effective means of spreading this devotion used by St. Paul of the Cross, our Holy Founder, were societies, called by him, sodalities of the Passion, and since a new impetus has been given to this work by the special encouragement of the present Holy Father and by the letter of our Most Rev. Fr. General—branches of the Archconfraternity of the Passion having lately been formed in our Province of St. Paul of the Cross—in order that they might remain fervent and active the Ven. Chapter directs:

(1) That a central bureau of communication between the branches of the Archconfraternity of the Passion in the Province be established under the supervision of the Very Rev. Fr. Provincial and his Consultors.

(2) That the Central Bureau fulfill its purpose principally through the issuing of leaflets, folders, pamphlets and by an official organ in the form of a magazine.

12. The Ven. Chapter recognizes in the great number of peoples from foreign parts who have come to our shores, a great field of work which we should not leave uncultivated, especially as the demand for laborers therein is most urgent. Therefore, it desires the religious to encourage vocations among the boys and young men of these peoples both as clerics and lay brothers.

13. The Ven. Chapter directs Father Provincial to appoint one who acting as commissary for the entire Province, will endeavor, in co-operation with the local superiors, to secure provisions and material supplies at the lower cost consequent on purchasing in quantity and at the sources of supply.

14. It being noted that among the proposita there was nothing new pertaining to missionary work, the Ven. Chapter assured that the previous ample legislation regulating and making effective that work was being generally complied with, takes this occasion to express its appreciation of the tireless efforts of the older missionaries in maintaining the standard of our missions, and trusts that the younger Fathers entering this field will emulate their zeal and self-sacrifice.

15. The regulations of the Parish priests ordained by the previous Provincial Chapter, promulgated subsequently by the Provincial Consulta, and amended to conform with Canon Law, are hereby approved. The Chapter deems them wise and feasible in their provision for the spiritual life of the Fathers engaged in this arduous work, accurate in their estimate of the apostolic dignity of that work and calculated with ordinary good will and mutual understanding to prevent complications in the relations between the parish priests and the Superior of the house.

16. Regarding our Brothers, it was with deep concern the Fathers of the Chapter recalled how death had further reduced their ranks, removing some, who in a special manner had conceived a high ideal of their vocation and had faithfully conformed their lives to it. That concern was tempered by consolation through the assurance that their blessed example remained, as the conduct of the brothers was reviewed—their labors, their wholesome respect for the Priests, and their appreciation of the need of prayer and of union with God. The Ven. Chapter takes this occasion to renew its expression of the esteem in which our good brothers are deservedly held and its appreciation of the splendid aid they are rendering the Congregation, while we pray God to fill their depleted ranks with vocations worthy of those departed ones who were an edification to us all.

17. Observing here in Pittsburgh the lay retreat building ample in its proportions and complete in its accommodations, ready for use, the Fathers of the Chapter, gratified at the success attending the erection of this material structure and at the popularity and immense spiritual benefits derived from the lay retreats at our Boston Monastery, heartily commend the efforts of the Fathers who thus so energetically responded to the recommendations of the previous Chapter regarding this work.


At the eighth session, Tuesday morning, Aug. 24th, the report of the auditing committee was heard and approved. All then took the oath “de secreto servando” and proceeded to the discussion of the merits of those eligible to office.


This discussion continued during the 9th and 10th sessions on Wednesday, August 25th. Preparatory to the elections of Rectors and in conformity with the decree of the 31st General Chapter, the order of retreats at this time, according to their importance, was agreed upon.

On Thursday morning, August 26th, at 6:30, the Solemn High Mass “Pro Re Gravi” was sung with the Very Rev. President as celebrant and the Capitular Fathers as officers. At 9 o’clock the Capitulars with the community went in procession to the Chapter room singing the “Vexilla Regis.”


The others being dismissed, the President addressed the Capitular Fathers upon the gravity of the task in hand. The customary acts of humility were performed and the absolutions imparted. After the surrender of the seals of office, the Very Rev. Fathers Matthias and Dominic were elected and sworn as scrutineers. All then took the oath of secrecy and the elections were in order.

Ballots were cast for the office of Provincial. The scrutineer having announced that the ballot was complete, published the result, showing that the Very Rev Father Justin of the Infant Jesus was elected on the first ballot. The decree was formally published. Father Justin accepted in words that sprang from evident emotion, protesting that he had hoped at the end of his term of office to rejoin the ranks of the missionaries. In yielding to the confidence reposed in him by the Capitulars, he assured them that it would still be his endeavor by word and example above all else to keep us enamored of the Crucified, and, on the principle that the spirit of fervor depends largely on the keeping of the observance, urged the selection of superiors who could be depended upon to set such an example The community having been admitted to the Chapter room for the customary announcement and greeting, all adjourned to the Church where the “Te Deum” was sung and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament imparted.


The choice of The Fathers for First Consultor favored V. Rev. Father Theodore of the Assumption on the first ballot. The decree of his election being published he graciously accepted.

One ballot was sufficient to elect V. Rev. Father Matthias of St. Ann Second Consultor, and upon the formal publication of the decree, he accepted not without manifesting sentiments of gratitude and true humility.

For the important office of Master of Novices, immediately on the first ballot, the choice fell upon Rev. Father Stanislaus of the Holy Redeemer. The decree being duly published the Fathers were gratified at his willingness to continue in this arduous charge for another term.

Balloting for the first Rector of Holy Cross Preparatory College at Dunkirk resulted in the choice of Very Rev. Father Clement of St. Peter on the first scrutiny. The decree was formally published. The Father manifested real astonishment at this choice of him and declared that while he accepted the office it was with reluctance that he suppressed his desire to labor for the Congregation in the ranks.

For the Retreat of St. Michael, West Hoboken, Very Rev. Father Dominic of the Sorrowful Virgin was elected Rector on the first ballot. The decree was duly published. After considerable hesitation and deliberation he gratefully acquiesced.


St. Gabriel’s Retreat, Boston, was provided with a Rector in the person of Very Rev Father Patrick of the Sorrowful Mother, on the sixth ballot. Upon the formal publication of the decree he graciously accepted.

On the fourth scrutiny, Rev. Father Victor of St. Nicholas was elected Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat, Pittsburgh. The decree was published and notification forwarded.

For St. Ann’s Retreat, Scranton, on the first ballot Rev. Father Linus of the Heart of Mary was found to be the choice of the Fathers. The decree was published and announcement forwarded.

Very Rev. Father Colman of the Immaculate Conception was the choice of the Fathers on the sixth ballot as Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat, Baltimore. The decree being published the Father declared that he had come to the end of his office with a sense of relief and the hope that he might not be obliged to serve, but that without further deliberation now he would yield to the manifest Will of God.

Finally, V. Rev. Father Hilarion of the Sacred Hearts, on the sixth ballot, was chosen for the Rectorship of St. Mary’s Retreat, Dunkirk, and the decree was duly published. After candidly avowing that he would have been pleased had the result been otherwise, he acquiesced in the Will of God as manifested.


At the beginning of this session the President announced that Father Victor had forwarded his acceptance of the Rectorship of St. Paul’s Retreat, Pittsburgh. The remainder of the session was occupied in a review of the decrees.


Saturday morning, Aug. 28th. In this session further attention was given to the review and redaction of the decrees.

Rev. Father Linus of Holy Mary had in the meantime sent word expressing his appreciation of the honor implied in conferring upon him the Rectorship of St Ann’s, but declining it. Having been summoned to this Retreat for the further consideration of his decision, he urged reasons based on his health that moved the Capitulars to accept his resignation.

Balloting was again in order for a Rector of St. Ann’s Retreat. On the third ballot the choice fell upon the Rev. Father Alban of the Five Wounds. The decree was duly published and notice sent him.


Saturday afternoon, Aug. 28th. The President announced that he had been in communication with Father Alban, and the latter, not without protestation of his unworthiness and unfitness, had been finally persuaded to see the Will of God in the Fathers choice of him, and had accepted the Rectorship of St. Ann’s, Scranton.

Very Rev. Father Provincial Justin moved a vote of thanks to the Very Rev. President for the efficient manner in which he had conducted the deliberations, and took occasion formally to congratulate him in the name of the Province upon his elevation to the General Consultorship. The motion was carried unanimously and fervently. In response the V. Rev. President declared that it would be his aim to deserve the confidence reposed in him by the Capitular Fathers and that he would be obliged to keep at heart in a special manner the interests of the two American Provinces, co-operating with them in the extraordinary projects undertaken according to the call of God and the need of souls in these extraordinary times.

The President then asked the Fathers whether they had anything further to propose, and they answering in the negative, he inquired further whether they thought it proper now to bring the Chapter to a close, and they replied in the affirmative.

The elections of the Rectors and Master of Novices were confirmed in writing by the President.

The Fathers then affixed their signatures to the Acts of the Chapter, as follows:

V. Rev. Fr. Alfred of St. John, President.
V. Rev. Fr. Justin of the Infant Jesus, Provincial.
V. Rev. Fr. Theodore of the Assumption, 1st Consultor.
V. Rev. Fr. Sebastian of the Mother of Mercy, 2nd Consultor.
V. Rev. Fr. Matthias of St Ann, Rector of St Paul’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Clement of St. Peter, Rector of St. Mary’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Dominic of the Sorrowful Virgin, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Hilarion of the Sacred Hearts, Rector of Joseph’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Patrick of the Sorrowful Mother, Rector of St Ann’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Colman of the Immaculate Conception, Rector of. St. Gabriel’s Retreat.
V. Rev. Fr. Stanislaus of the Most Holy Redeemer, Master of Novices

Hilarion of the Sacred Hearts,
Secretary of the Chapter