Acts of the Twenty-fourth 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 9th to August 15th, 1932.
In accordance with the prescriptions of our Holy Rules, a circular letter, under date of May 15th, was sent by Very Reverend Father Justin of the Infant Jesus, Provincial, to all the Brethren of the Province, convoking the Twenty-Fourth Provincial Chapter. The date of the Chapter was fixed for the morning of the Ninth of August and the place assigned was the Monastery of St. Paul of the Cross at Pittsburgh, Pa. After prescribing the customary prayers to be said and ordering the usual Triduum to be held August 9th, 10th, and 11th, in each retreat of the Province, Father Provincial went on to request the Priests, Students, and Brothers to remember this intention daily in their Masses, Communions and Prayers.
In his letter of convocation, Father Provincial made the happy announcement that the Most Reverend Father Titus [Finocchi] of Jesus, General, accompanied by the Very Reverend Father Bonaventure [Oberst] of the Assumption, First Consultor General, would preside in person at the coming Chapter. It can truthfully be said that every Passionist in the Province welcomed the good news of Father General’s proposed visit.
As the Capitular Fathers gathered on the eve of the Chapter in this historical old Monastery, holding, as it does, fond recollections of their novitiate days and associated, as it is, with the work of the pioneer Passionists in America, all were deeply impressed with the importance of the work before them. The Provincial Chapter is always a matter of keen interest to the Province at large. The coming Chapter was no exception. Weighty matters were to be discussed; Superiors were to be chosen.
The work of the Order in America must continue. Our missionaries are successful: our houses are flourishing: vocations are numerous: the missions in China are prospering: the Sign Magazine is hailed as the best Catholic publication of its kind in the country. All this is a source of great satisfaction to every true son of St. Paul of the Cross. Whilst the Chapter takes note of all this, it is chiefly concerned with reconciling our multiple activity with the spirit of our Holy Founder and the early traditions of the Province.
The work of the Order is twofold. To harmonize the spirit of apostolic labor with the spirit of solitude, penance and prayer, is the aim and purpose of our Holy Rule and has ever been the concern of our Superiors, the guardians of the Rule. The triennial Chapter offers splendid opportunity to encourage work in the vineyard of the Lord and at the same time to protect by wise legislation our spirit of solitude, penance and prayer. With this brief introduction, we proceed to relate the Sessions of the Chapter.
At nine o’clock on the morning of August the Ninth, the first session was opened with the recitation of the Veni Creator and the prescribed prayers by the President of the Chapter, the Most Reverend Father General.
A guardian of the Chapter Room was then chosen in the person of Reverend Father Alphonsus Maria of the Sacred Hearts. The Father being summoned to the Chapter Room, took the oath of secrecy.
At the suggestion of Father General and with the unanimous consent of the Capitulars, Very Reverend Father Edward of the Infant Jesus, was appointed Secretary pro tem to the Chapter.
At this juncture, Very Reverend Father Bonaventure, First Consultor General, was introduced to the Chapter as official interpreter to Father General. Having taken the oath of secrecy, he assumed his duties. Father General then, through his interpreter, delivered the following address:
It is a great joy to me to meet you Venerable Fathers and most dear Brothers in Christ, assembled as we are to open the Chapter of this Province of St. Paul of the Cross; and to open it in this Retreat of St. Paul of the Cross, which has the glory to have been the first Retreat established in the new two flourishing American Provinces. This Retreat in its location and its construction, with its property surrounded and protected by a wall, reminds us forcibly of the system of making foundations brought from Italy by the first Fathers of this Province. Having come to you as the Father of the Passionists the world over, I am glad to open to you my paternal heart in this Retreat, dedicated to our Holy Founder and hallowed by the lives of so many Passionists, who were formed here according to the model laid down in our Holy Rules. I have come to you as the successor, though unworthy, of our Holy Founder and Legislator. Some of you I have known and esteemed for years. The others I met for the first time during the recent Visitation of the Province.
The purpose of our assembling here is one of great importance. We are to elect the superior who is to rule the Province during the coming three years and to lead it, in all prudence, further over the glorious path upon which our first religious so well walked. We are to choose Consultors, who by their wise counsel will assist the Provincial. We must provide the several Retreats with Rectors, who being imbued with the spirit of Christ, will, by their word and example, by their prudence and holiness of life, firmly yet gently direct the Brethren in the path of Christian perfection, according to the prescriptions of our Holy Rules and the traditions handed down by our forefathers in religion. We will elect the Master of Novices, who is to train and form those who are to live according to the Holy Rule we have professed. Finally, we will discuss and decide matters relating to the welfare either of the individual houses or of the entire Province; as also to correct abuses that may have crept in, and to take steps needed to preserve and foster the spirit of our Congregation.
During the Visitations of the various retreats of the Province, one of the many things that caused me great joy and consolation was the goodly number of young religious, whose fervor and earnestness promise so much not merely for the Province but also for the entire Congregation. Through them the whole Congregation shall flourish more and more before God and man. But in order that it may be so, it is necessary that this goodly number of choice youth be imbued with the spirit of our Institute and be well trained according to the requirements of the Church and of our Holy Rules and Customs.
You know very well that for some years past abuses have been creeping into the Province. If those abuses should in any way receive express or tacit approbation, they will very shortly change the entire aspect of the Province in such a manner that it will cease to be a choice portion of our Congregation. Hence, it is necessary that the ruling portion of the Province, who are the Superiors and Capitular Fathers, upon whom lies the responsibility, provide timely remedy by wise counsel, and salutary decrees. The matter is so urgent that we cannot delay applying the remedy. The abuses to which I refer have not as yet gained the upper hand; yet, if we do not remedy things now, then surely the saying—”Sero medicina paratur, cum mala per longas invaluere moras“—”Too late is the remedy, when the evil has had much time to become deep rooted”—will find its verification.
There is surely not one of you who does not see how important the task is that is before us, and, therefore, I consider further words useless. I am also certain that the assembled Fathers will fulfill the task now before them in peace and charity, as I so ardently desire.
I invoke the special assistance of the Holy Ghost upon this Chapter, as also do I beg the maternal protection of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, as likewise the intercession of the Archangel Saint Michael, and of St. Joseph, and finally that of our heavenly Patrons, our Holy Father and Founder, and St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows and Blessed Vincent Mary Strambi.
Under the help and guidance of these, let us, then, begin this the first and preliminary session.
The Fathers sincerely welcomed the words of Father General and under their guidance hoped to accomplish much for the welfare of the Province.
The reports of Administration of all the Retreats of the Province were then submitted and read by the various Rectors. A committee was appointed by the President to review these reports. The remainder of the session was spent in reviewing some of the proposals submitted for legislation.
SECOND TO FOURTH SESSION (Inclusive)
These sessions were held on the afternoon of the Ninth, and the morning and afternoon of the Tenth. The time of these sessions was spent in thorough discussion of the matters proposed for legislation. The results of these discussions will be found in the formal decrees of the Chapter.
At the beginning of the Third Session, Father William, religious Superior of our Missionaries in China, was introduced to the Chapter. In an eloquent address, Father William thanked the Fathers for their great interest in the Chinese Missions and pleaded for a continuance of the same. We think it well to embody his address here for the interest and enlightenment of the Brethren of the Province.
Father William’s address:
Most Reverend Father General and Very Reverend Capitular Fathers:
We Fathers of the Passionist Mission in China present our profound respects to Most Reverend Father General and to this Venerable Chapter. We express our gratitude to Very Reverend Father Provincial who has summoned the Religious Superior of our mission in China to the United States, and we express our deepest thanks to this Venerable Chapter for its kind invitation to the Religious Superior to address the Chapter. We Fathers assure the Venerable Chapter of our sincere well wishes, of our keen interest in the welfare of the Province, of our loyal attachment to the Province, and of our everlasting gratitude for the fatherly interest of the Provincial in our work. And with a grateful heart we tell you, Venerable Fathers, of our appreciation and thanks for the whole-hearted, disinterested, unselfish and unstinted support given us missionaries in China.
By support we mean, first: spiritual support—the charity and fervor of your prayers; second: support of personnel—the sending of truly apostolic men to the mission; third: material support—funds with which to build up the mission materially. For all this we Fathers in China are entirely indebted to the Province of St. Paul of the Cross.
The Venerable Chapter is, no doubt, eager to hear a resumè of our missionary activities during the past three years and a half. First—the tragic deaths of Fathers Walter, Clement and Godfrey at the hands of bandits on April 24th, 1929; and the death of Father Constantine from typhus on the day following. The deaths of these heroic missionaries has had a most beneficent influence upon our native Catholics. They know now that we priests who have come to them with the doctrines of Jesus Christ, are ready, yea willing to lay down our lives for that doctrine. Naturally, there has been a quickening and a deepening of the faith in their hearts. And we note a more earnest endeavor on their part to live out that faith in their daily lives. Truly, our Fathers have not died in vain.
The resignation of Monsignor Dominic Langenbacher as Prefect Apostolic and Administrator Apostolic of Schenchow, Hunan, China: We wish to record that this zealous and sincere Passionist has left to the Province, and especially to us missionaries in Hunan, an example of virtue seldom, if ever, equalled. He has nobly remained on the mission with us, happy, content, and entirely devoted to his work as missionary in the mission at Kienyang, Hunan.
Then there is the appointment of Monsignor Cuthbert O’Gara, C.P., as Prefect Apostolic of Schenchow on February 12th, 1930. On Pentecost Sunday, the same year, Monsignor Cuthbert was solemnly installed as Prefect Apostolic in our central mission of Schenchow. The spirit with which our Fathers shared in this momentous event in the history of our mission, as well as the fervor of the Christians, attest the genuine satisfaction this appointment received. The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Cuthbert, on the following day, outlined clearly and succinctly the missionary policy he intended to follow. To inaugurate this policy and to establish it successfully, it was deemed not only advisable but necessary to make a complete change of missionaries in the various missions. This was done. And we are happy to state the change resulted in untold good both to the missionaries and to the Prefecture.
Among the benefits of this change we mention: (1) Destruction of the narrow, one-mission outlook some Fathers had of their work in China; (2) It served to broaden the vision of our Fathers—it made them realize as nothing had before that their confreres on the mission, especially their predecessors in the mission to which they were now assigned had also accomplished wonderful things for God and souls.
It likewise taught them new methods of establishing contacts with the pagans; and it rooted their missionary and religious life more firmly to the bed-rock of obedience; and without obedience, no one can be a missionary.
Following this, as a natural consequence, an admirable spirit of union and charity manifested itself amongst the Fathers on the mission. Co-operation, hearty and unfeigned, became the outstanding virtue in our midst. And with the civil and military peace that settled down over the district, our Fathers gave themselves whole-heartedly to the work of evangelizing and catechizing the catechumens and Christians in their new missions. Would that it were in my power to describe adequately the zeal, the fervor and heroic self-sacrifice expended by our Fathers in this “opus Dei!”
During the past three years, six Fathers have been sent to the Prefecture of Schenchow, China, by the Province of St. Paul of the Cross. Five or six more are preparing to go this Fall. The number of Passionists sent to China since the beginning of our mission now totals forty-seven. Of this number, five died in China; eleven have returned to the Province because of ill health. At the present time eleven Fathers are living in missions by themselves—alone—one day’s journey from a neighboring priest. Four missions have two priests or more in them—Schenchow, Yuanchow, Yungshun and Chenki. Sisters of Charity and Sisters of St. Joseph sent to the Prefecture of Shenchow number fourteen; two Sisters died in China and four have returned to the United States. During the past three years, three new outmissions have been opened; suitable priests’ houses have been erected in four missions; three chapels have been built—also three primary schools. Mission property has been purchased in two important cities, and a new site for our Procuration in the French Concession, Hankow.
I read the following statistics, from which you may gather some idea of the work accomplished by our Fathers. Instructions given to Catholics, 40,811; to pagans 32,850; converts from Protestantism 14; baptisms of adults in danger of death 131; of adult pagans 395; of children in danger of death 253; of children of Catholics 244. Easter confessions 3,734—devotional 78,322—devotional communions 211,417; Confirmations 403; Marriages, Catholics 44; Mixed 22; Enrollment in our primary schools number 537; catechumens under instruction 322.
A word about a few hardships and difficulties we Fathers put up with and contend against. In China, we priests are foreigners—and the consciousness of this increases the longer we remain in China. We live amongst a people who differ from us in temperament, language, color, customs, religion. It is necessary for us to “go native,” insofar as this is compatible with our priestly dignity—we dress Chinese, we talk Chinese, we live and eat Chinese. We adopt Chinese custom in everything that does not contradict matters of faith and morals. We live, for the most part, alone—in a state of incertitude; meanwhile battling against thirty centuries of established paganism—a witness of perpetual depression and poverty, disease and vices of all kinds, lack of sanitation—no frigidation nor the convenience of anything that turns on a wheel.
It is a common sentiment amongst us that loneliness is our most trying hardship. Our religious training in the monastery is communitive. Our Regulations speak of two dangerous periods of transition in the life of a Passionist—first, from the Novitiate to student life; second, from student life to that of professed priests. What of the transition from the seclusion and protection of community life in a monastery to that of life alone amongst pagans in a far flung outpost of the Church’s foreign mission? Solitude does not grow easier with the years; loneliness becomes harder and harder to endure. Bereft to a very great extent of the company and the counsel of compatriots—placed among tens of thousands of yellow faces that stare at us with curiosity, or worse still, ignore us—we missioners cannot be blamed, if at times, we feel helpless, aloof, alone.
We appreciate the fact that the beginning of any worthwhile work is attended with difficulties, and be it said unhesitatingly, that the story of those hardy and self-sacrificing pioneers to our mission in China is one that must ever elicit feelings of sympathy and reverence for their endeavors. Truly, the progress of winning the pagan world to Christ is slow—so much effort is expended with so little apparent result. I have never heard of anyone totally ignorant of the Gospel who had been persuaded to accept Jesus Christ as His Lord and Saviour after hearing it preached once. Conversions come after long study and much prayer. In case of most converts, baptism does not necessarily mean a true understanding of its significance or a definite commital to Catholic dogma. Our Catholics in China must be taught and built up in the faith and Catholic morals—a slow process requiring unlimited patience, Christlike charity, unrelenting sacrifice.
The unflinching courage of our Fathers in the face of unmentionable difficulties, their intrepid effort against almost insurmountable odds, their patient perseverance in spite of little results, show in strong relief their greatness. Our work, far from being a failure, is a triumph for God, for His Church, for souls. We Fathers in China are realizing the dream of our Holy Founder, St. Paul of the Cross, who himself once volunteered for the Chinese missions. Withal, we labor under no illusions. We are but the sowers of the seed in the spring-time, content for others coming after us to reap the greater harvest.
The great fallacy in modern missionology is the conception that many means much. It does not. Many Christians do not necessarily mean much Christianity; many institutions do not necessarily mean much Christian influence. We must not depend on statistical tables to estimate the power of Christianity. The Kingdom of Heaven on earth is not a chamber of commerce, for in the strange mathematics of Jesus Christ, as we missioners have come to know, one soul may be more important than the ninety and nine. Not a Father amongst us in China who does not realize the truth of these words; not a Father over there but has his missionary and religious life grounded solidly and fundamentally on FAITH in Jesus Christ and HOPE that, in God’s own good time, China will be won away from her paganism unto the Gospel of Christ the King. We Fathers understand our tremendous responsibility. The Vicar of Christ, acting with the power of God Almighty, has put us in China, there to live our life as “alter Christus” in the midst of a nation “sitting in darkness.” We represent the Church, yea, we are the Church for these people in a forgotten byway of the world.
And to the everlasting credit of these heroic sons of St. Paul of the Cross let it be said that we are trying to put the emphasis where Christ put it. We are endeavoring to preserve the balance between the different ways of spreading the Gospel that He exemplified in His ministry. In proof of this contention, I need but remark that three of our Fathers paid the supreme sacrifice of their vocation with their lives; two other Fathers and two Sisters died martyrs of duty to their God-given vocation, leaving to contemporary Catholics, as well as to ourselves, an undying example of heroicity in apostolic activity.
Among prospects for the future welfare of the mission, I mention the era of peace which we have enjoyed for the past year and a half. This peace is of immediate concern to us Fathers, for the absence of bandits and hordes of Communists, such as infest other mission fields in China, makes it possible for us to get about unmolested and unhampered in our missionary work. We have every reason to hope for a continuance of this peace and quiet in our mission territory.
Progress has been made toward the founding of a native clergy in the Prefecture. We have one seminarian now in his second year of philosophy at the Regional Seminary, Hankow. This young man, P’eng Aloysius, gives excellent promise of completing his studies and becoming a zealous and worthy priest. There is another boy from our Prefecture studying in the Petite Seminary at Wuchang. Speaking of Seminarians, it is well to remark that the Apostolic Delegate, Peiping, has expressed his determined will that we Passionists in Hunan open a small seminary for native vocations to the priesthood. He desires this to be done immediately.
The Sisters of Charity have, at present, one Chinese professed Sister, Sister Therese, in their Community in China. Two candidates are preparing to make their Novitiate, but as the Sisters’ convent burned to the ground last April, this most cherished work of securing native Sisters must be further postponed. The convent must be rebuilt. The Sisters of St. Joseph at Yuanchow have a number of promising candidates. It is merely a question of time when they, too, will number Chinese Sisters in their Community.
I wish to record here a word of praise for the work the Sisters are doing in our mission. The Sisters, by their example and through their work in the dispensary, succeed in forming contacts with pagans, and thus break down and destroy many unreasonable fears that exist in the minds of the pagan Chinese regarding the Catholic Church and us foreigners. Many of these contacts ultimately result in the pagan’s entrance into the Church. Numerous baptisms are secured through the care of the sick and dying, especially during times of flood, famine, and pestilence. The training of women catechists for our various missions is entrusted entirely to the Sisters. Medical attention given our Fathers by the Sisters is of incalculable value. Our Sisters in China are Angels of Mercy, and their presence there constitutes one of the brightest prospects of the mission.
Another heartening prospect is this: the excellent type of men now being sent to China by the Province of St. Paul of the Cross. We Fathers on the mission appreciate the sacrifice of the Province in sending such truly heroic and self-sacrificing missioners—men filled with the spirit of the mission—men of good, common sense—men who are physically able to carry a heavy burden without becoming unbalanced.
In conclusion, we thank the Venerable Chapter for its kind interest in this report—your patience in hearing it through to the end. I have spoken in behalf of our Fathers in China, and I have brought you their best wishes and sincerest greetings. We Fathers in China are most grateful for the interest shown and the assistance given us by Most Reverend Father General and his Consultors; by the Very Reverend Father Provincial and his Consultors; by the Rectors and Brethren of the Province through their prayers and good works. We wish likewise to emphasize our lasting vote of thanks to “The Sign” and its staff for the magnificent work they are doing in behalf of our mission in China.
And we who bear the name of Christ on our breast and the love of His Passion in our hearts, are grateful to our Crucified Saviour, Jesus Christ, to our Sorrowful Mother Mary, to our Holy Founder, St. Paul of the Cross, for the vocation which is ours of laboring and praying to convert the heathen Chinese. We Fathers hereby renew our fealty to all these and pledge ourselves to work together in unity and harmony entirely subject to our Superiors.
During the Fourth Session a letter of salutation to the Venerable Chapter from Monsignor Cuthbert was read by the Secretary.
Monsignor Cuthbert, expressing high appreciation for the unstinted moral and material support given by the Province to the Missions in China, wished every blessing on the efforts of the Chapter. Monsignor Cuthbert said in part:
I beg your Paternity to extend to the Capitular Fathers my fraternal and cordial greetings. Assure them of my profound esteem and devotion for the confidence they have deigned to repose in me, and that I shall do all in my power to correspond to their expectations, trying ever to advance our holy cause which has cost such great sacrifices and which will cost equally as much in the future.
I heartily desire that the Capitular Fathers would know the profound gratitude I hold towards them, for the abundant financial help always given to me, but much more for the splendid phalanx of missionaries who now work with such generosity to extend the kingdom of God in this distant land. I esteem it an honor and a privilege to be at the head of such a noble body of the Sons of St. Paul of the Cross.
FIFTH TO THE EIGHTH SESSIONS
These sessions, held on the mornings and afternoons of Thursday and Friday, were spent in reviewing the merits of those who, according to our Holy Rule, have a right to Passive Voice. Before undertaking this difficult but important scrutiny, the Fathers took the oath of secrecy “de secreto servando.”
After Vespers in the Choir previous to the Eighth Sessions, Very Reverend Father Cyprian of the Immaculate Conception, delivered an inspiring address to the Capitular Fathers and the Religious of the Community. It is difficult here to portray the power and beauty of the words of the speaker. Father Cyprian outlined the Passionist ideal of sanctity and the requirements of efficient superiorship. The Fathers welcomed his words. They were timely, encouraging and helpful. His words will long be remembered.
On the morning of August Thirteenth at seven o’clock, a Solemn Mass, De Spiritu Sancto, was sung in the Church by the Most Reverend President; the Capitular Fathers acting as ministers and minor officers.
At nine o’clock on the same morning, the entire Community joined the Capitular Fathers in the Sanctuary where the Vexilla Regis was intoned. They then proceeded to the Chapter Room chanting the sacred words of the hymn. The usual prayers having been said, all, except the Capitulars, were ordered to depart. Our esteemed President then addressed the assembly in the following words:
Venerable Fathers and most dear Brethren in Christ. As in the first session, so now also before the elections, do I consider it necessary to speak a few words to you in order that you may be all the more impressed with the seriousness of the work we are about to do. We are now going to take an oath before Heaven and Earth, before God and Man, before Christ our judge, that we will elect as superiors only those whom we judge worthy of the office which we will entrust to them, i.e., that we are convinced that those for wham we cast our vote will both by their word and by their example be a light and a model to our Religious, especially in the keeping of our Holy Rules and their adherence to the spirit of our Congregation; and who will take diligent care that their subjects will keep our Holy Rules and live in accordance with our spirit.
Let us not, therefore, be led by human motives, by external appearances, but solely by the spiritual welfare of our Religious, the honor of the Province, the Divine Glory.
It is well to recall to mind what the Holy Scripture says about the election of David as King of Israel. God sent Samuel the Prophet to anoint among the sons of Isai, him whom God would designate. Now, when the Prophet saw Eliah, the oldest of the sons of Isai, and was thinking within himself whether he be the one whom God had chosen, the Lord said to him: “Look not on his countenance nor on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; nor do I judge according to the look of man, for man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart.” (I Kings 16-7).
Let us, therefore, inasmuch as is possible, put aside our human weakness, our passions, our feelings. If the Lord show us that neither this nor that one is His choice, let us consider others until we find him whom God has chosen.
Therefore, with our eyes turned to Heaven, let us listen to God Who will say to us: “This is he”. (I Kings 16-12). Behold My elect one, let him be your choice.
If our Superiors are acceptable to God, all things shall be done well by them; for God will be with them, as we read in the History of the Patriarch Joseph: “The Lord was with him and made all things he did to prosper in his hand.” (Gen. 39-3).
After this allocution, the roll was called and the following responded:
Most Reverend Father Titus of Jesus, Superior General—President.
V. Rev. Father Justin of the Infant Jesus, Provincial.
V. Rev. Father Cyprian of the Immaculate Conception, First Provincial Consultor.
V. Rev. Father Benedict of Our Lady of Victory, Second Provincial Consultor.
V. Rev. Father Wendelin of the Cross, Rector of the Retreat of St. Paul of the Cross.
V. Rev. Father Edward of the Infant Jesus, Rector of the Retreat of St. Michael the Archangel.
V. Rev. Father Sebastian of the Holy Family, Rector of the Retreat of St. Joseph.
V. Rev. Father Alban of the Five Wounds, Rector of the Retreat of St. Ann.
V. Rev. Father Philip of the Holy Family, Rector of the Retreat of St. Gabriel.
V. Rev. Father Hilarion of the Sacred Hearts, Rector of the Retreat of Our Mother of Sorrows.
V. Rev. Father Roger of the Sorrowful Mother, Rector of the Retreat of the Immaculate Conception.
V. Rev. Father Alexander of the Sacred Heart, Master of Novices.
The Most Reverend President than asked the Fathers if they thought the Chapter was canonically convoked. All replied in the affirmative. He then declared the Chapter officially opened.
By the singing of the Veni Creator, the help of divine guidance again was sought. All now delivered up their seals of office.
By a secret ballot the power of active voice was given to Very Reverend Father Bonaventure. By secret ballot also Very Reverend Father Edward was appointed Permanent Secretary to the Chapter. Two Scrutineers were now appointed in the persons of Very Reverend Father Alban of the Five Wounds and Very Reverend Father Philip of the Holy Family.
The Fathers next took the oath prescribed, whereby they bound themselves to elect only those who, according to their enlightenment, should before God be chosen. Then the Most Reverend President pronounced the absolution “Ad cautelam,” and he in turn received it from Very Reverend Father General Consultor. Then the election of Superiors began.
Balloting for one to fill the office of Provincial was now begun. On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Benjamin of the Immaculate Conception was elected to this office. A cablegram was sent to him in Austria informing him of his election and his consent requested. Early next day his acceptance of office was received.
The balloting for the choice of a First Consultor now followed and on the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Justin of the Infant Jesus was chosen. Father Justin arose and thanked the Fathers more for relieving him of the office of Provincial than for electing him to the office of First Consultor. However, he accepted and promised to give all assistance to the newly elected Provincial.
The balloting then continued for the choice of a Second Consultor. On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Linus of the Heart of Mary was elected. Word was sent to him immediately and his consent was awaited. Later in the day, Father Linus graciously accepted the office.
At three o’clock in the afternoon of August 13th, the Tenth Session was begun. During this session, the balloting for the Rectors of the various Retreats and a Master of Novices was held.
On the first ballot, Very Reverend Father Alexander of the Sacred Heart was elected Master of Novices. The Father arose and expressed his reluctance to accept so arduous an office, but bowing to the manifest will of God, he acceded.
By a secret ballot the following order in the election of Rectors was decided on: St. Michael’s, Union City, N. J., Immaculate Conception, Jamaica, N. Y.; St. Ann’s, Scranton, Pa.; St. Gabriel’s, Brighton Mass.; St. Joseph’s, Baltimore, Md.; St. Paul’s, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Our Mother of Sorrows, Springfield, Mass.
On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Edward of the Infant Jesus was elected Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat, Union City, N. J. The Father arose and thanked the Capitular Fathers for the confidence placed in him and promised to the best of his ability to fulfil the duties of his charge.
On the sixth ballot a Rector for Immaculate Conception Retreat at Jamaica, N. Y., was chosen in the person of Very Reverend Father Benedict of Our Lady of Victory. Father Benedict arose to thank the Fathers and kindly accepted.
On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Alfred of the Mother of God was elected Rector of St. Ann’s Retreat, Scranton, Pa. Father Alfred, reached by telephone, accepted the charge.
On the fifth ballot Very Reverend Father Austin of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was elected Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat, Brighton, Mass. Father Austin was reached by telephone and accepted the office.
On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Luke of Our Lady of the Rosary was elected Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat, Baltimore, Md. A telegram was sent to Father Luke, and he, by telephone, accepted the office tendered him.
On the sixth ballot Very Reverend Father Regis of the Blessed Sacrament was elected Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat, Pittsburgh, Pa. Father Regis was notified by telephone and gave his consent.
On the second ballot Very Reverend Father John Joseph of the Immaculate Conception, was elected Rector of the Retreat of Our Mother of Sorrows, Springfield, Mass. Father John Joseph was reached by telephone and accepted the office conferred on him.
The Community was now summoned to the Chapter Room and the results of the elections were announced to them. Then the Capitulars adjourned.
The Eleventh Session was taken up in formulating the decrees of the Chapter. These decrees are few in number. In this feature the Twenty-Fourth Provincial Chapter differs not a little from many of its predecessors. This feature is best explained by the fact that of the many important matters discussed, few were found which were not already the subject of a decree in former Chapters. It is the mind of the present Chapter, therefore, that Very Reverend Father Provincial summarize the decrees of former Chapters.
DECREES OF THE TWENTY-FOURTH PROVINCIAL CHAPTER
1. The Venerable Chapter, unwilling to see a Monastery well adapted for Community Life left vacant, and realizing the usefulness of this Monastery in the early days of the Province, decrees that a Community be re-established in St. Mary’s Monastery, Dunkirk, New York, if Father Provincial find it opportune.
The Venerable Chapter, wishing to encourage the valiant Sons of the Cross laboring in the foreign fields, and to demonstrate the close bond of union existing between them and their Brethren at home, has formulated three decrees pertaining to them. We take them in order:
2. The Venerable Chapter decrees that application be made to the General Curia that active voice in our Provincial Chapters be extended to a representative of the Missions in China.
3. The Venerable Chapter decrees that the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, recited daily as part of the night prayers, be applied to our Missions in China.
4. The Venerable Chapter decrees to accept the four new counties in China, as proposed and conditioned by Monsignor Cuthbert, provided that the Province has priests and means to undertake the evangelizing of the said counties.
5. The Venerable Chapter wishing to encourage our young men in study and the better to equip them mentally for their theological course, decrees that a Third Year be added to the course in Philosophy.
6. The Venerable Chapter, realizing the inconvenience caused by the late hour of the evening meal at sundry times during the year, decrees that the evening meal be taken at seven o’clock throughout the year in all our monasteries.
7. Economy, when practical, is sound business and in accordance with the Vow of Poverty. Where economy can be practiced, religious Poverty dictates its adoption. Realizing the waste in dollars and cents expended by the various Retreats in the buying of Habit Cloth, the Venerable Chapter decrees that the Provincial purchase the habit cloth and flannel for the entire Province.
The Venerable Chapter gave considerable thought to our good Lay Brothers. It appreciates the valuable service the Brothers, with few exceptions, render to God and the Congregation. We remind the Rectors to take a fatherly interest in the material, physical and spiritual welfare of the good Brothers, especially of those recently professed and we recommend to all the religious the fostering of vocations to the Brotherhood.
For “The Sign” Magazine, the Fathers have only words of praise. From small beginnings it has, through talented leadership, surpassed all competitors in the field. In literary excellence, it is equaled by few. As the organ for promoting the knowledge of the Passion and of creating interest in our foreign missions, it has rendered priceless service. It is a credit to the entire staff and a glory to the Province.
The Venerable Chapter recommends that the Provincial Curia take into consideration the matter of Insurance on the various houses of the Province in order to determine whether or not the present methods can be improved upon to obtain greater security and economy.
The Fathers assembled for session Monday, August fifteenth at ten o’clock. The “ACTS OF THE CHAPTER” were read and discussed. Very Reverend Father Justin then arose and with great sincerity gave expression, in the name of the Chapter, of gratitude to Most Reverend Father General and his Interpreter, Very Reverend Father Bonaventure, for their untiring labors in the interest of the success of the Chapter. He declared that Father General had made a lasting impression on the Brethren of the Province and that his visit would be fruitful of great good for years to come.
Most Reverend Father General then arose to address the Fathers in the following words:
We most heartily thank your Paternity for the kind and appreciative words spoken in reference to me, and to the pleasure which my coming to America has given. We have long known something of the great good that was being accomplished in this most flourishing Province of St. Paul of the Cross. And it was in order that we might see with our own eyes the good that was being done, and to be of help in its continuance and to increase it, that We, along with our interpreter and co-Visitor, the Very Reverend Father Consultor Bonaventure, crossed the ocean, thus leaving Europe, where grave affairs of the Congregation also claimed our presence.
Having come here, and gone the rounds of the Houses of the Province, We were much rejoiced during the time of the Sacred Visitation to see that there was in truth a great amount of good works of the Apostolate zealously done by you, and also to see the houses flourishing with youths that promises so much for the future. And We were so moved by such a splendid record of the past and of what might be expected in the future, as to appear somewhat severe in eliminating by decrees those evils and abuses which could in any way threaten or compromise such a record of eminent good. You certainly will understand that it was this and naught else that moved us to some severity. Now that We find ourselves at the end of the work, We have no regret, for which We thank God.
We also thank you for the charity and the kindness you have manifested to us during the Visitation and during the Chapter, and especially do we thank Very Reverend Father Justin, Provincial, who disposed of all things so well for our reception, as also do We thank him for all the good done in the Province during his government. May Jesus Crucified and Our Holy Founder reward all a hundredfold spiritually and temporally.
We rejoice with you and We congratulate you for all the good you have done and We warmly exhort you to seek to bring it about that our Religious may ever produce more abundant fruit in the vineyard of the Lord and the garden of our beloved Congregation. It is not for us Passionists to undertake to do all that which is good but only that which is in accord with our Holy Rules and with the spirit of our Holy Father and Founder. Then you will ever deserve more praise in the eyes of the entire Congregation and before His Divine Majesty.
Finally, We most earnestly beseech all the Superiors to enforce, and We enjoin upon all the religious faithfully to observe whatsoever We ourselves have decreed during the Sacred Visitation or recommended during the Chapter, for the good of the Province.
The Most Reverend President then asked if there was anything further to consider. To which all answered in the negative. He then asked if, in the opinion of the Fathers, the Chapter should be closed. An affirmative answer having been received, he declared the Chapter closed. Then the Fathers affixed their signatures:
Titus of Jesus, President
Justin of the Infant Jesus, Provincial
Cyprian of the Immaculate Conception, First Provincial Consultor
Benedict of Our Lady of Victory, Second Provincial Consultor
Wendelin of the Cross, Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat
Edward of the Infant Jesus, Rector of St. Michael’s Retreat
Sebastian of the Holy Family, Rector of St. Joseph’s Retreat
Alban of the Five Wounds, Rector of St. Ann’s Retreat
Philip of the Holy Family, Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat
Hilarion of the Sacred Hearts, Rector of Our Mother of Sorrows Retreat
Roger of the Sorrowful Mother, Rector of Immaculate Conception Retreat
Alexander of the Sacred Heart, Master of Novices
St. Paul’s Retreat, Pittsburgh, Pa.
August 15th, 1932.
Edward of the Infant Jesus,