The second meeting of the Historical Commission was held on November 11th to 12th in the community of Saints John and Paul, Rome. The Participants were Fr. Alessandro Ciciliani (President, MAPRAES), Fr. Robert Carbonneau (member, PAUL), Fr. Andres San Martin (member, SCOR), Fr.. Lawrence Rywalt (translator, PAUL), Fr. Miguel Angel Villanueva (translator, REG). Father Pablo Gonzalo (member, SCOR) could not attend due to illness.
Here are some of the points discussed…..
Introduction to the meeting by the Superior General.
The Superior General, Fr. Joachim Rego, introduced the meeting, thanking the members for the work they had already accomplished in such a short time, despite their personal commitments. He also highlighted the important role of the Historical Commission for the whole Congregation. The Historical Commission’s work is not only for the past, during which our confreres produced a lot of material, but it also prepares material for the future. Apart from the European point of view, the General asked that history also help us to look at new areas of the world, missionary areas, such as Latin America, South-East Asia, Africa, where the Congregation is expanding; not look only to the West, towards Europe, but also to the Eastern part of the world.
The Spirituality and History booklet Series
The Commission decided to suggest some history topics to our university students for their thesis dissertations and to collaborate with them so that their work may eventually be published in this series.
For next year, 2016, it was decided to publish, in the same series, research on the presence of the Passionists in China and the Philippines by Fr. Robert, as well as a Licentiate thesis on the letters of Saint Paul of the Cross to Tommaso Fossi. The final revision of the latter will be entrusted to Fr. Alessandro.
For 2017 we plan to publish a study of Fr. Andrés on the “Rancito”, the first Passionist community in Mexico and “The Popes and the Congregation” research that will be done by Fr. Alessandro.
In 2018 we will publish a work of Fr. Pablo on the methodology of historical research and a work of Professor Giovanni di Giannatale about the history of intellectual education in the Congregation.
In 2019, we will publish research on noteworthy and important figures in our history, 18-20 profiles of religious, and research about the apostolate and the popular missions in our history: “The popular mission apostolate as a charismatic expression of the Congregation”. Both of these research projects had been budgeted in the first meeting of the Commission.
Father Andrés has collected material on the beginning of the founding of the Congregation in Mexico, and has already written something, but there is still much to investigate. This research could also be published in the History and Spirituality series.
The PowerPoint history of the Congregation
With regard to the realization of the PowerPoint program on the history of the Congregation, Fr. Andrés communicated to the members of the Committee about his work of about 600 images divided into six parts. Captions will be short and simple so that anyone who sees the image will immediately understand its meaning within the context of the history of our Congregation.
Portraits of our brothers
Then, there will be commissioned portraits of our brothers to be placed in the corridors of the community of Saints John and Paul. The proposed list will be considered by the General Council.
Articles for the PIB
The PIB is an excellent means of communication because the articles are brief and easily readable by most of our confreres. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen this collaboration because each issues tries to include an article that deals with our history. Fr. Alessandro will prepare an article for an upcoming issue about the relationship between the Passionists and the first Jubilee of 1725.
Another article could be an interview prepared by Fr. Alessandro with the General Archivist, Eunice dos Santos, about the General Archives. It could include information about the nature of the General Archives; the importance of archives, scanning documents, including what kind of documents should be stored in the new provinces, what kind of material should be sent to the General Archives and how to structure an archive after the union of various provinces.
One-volume History of the Congregation
Fr. Alessandro proposed the possibility of preparing a one-volume work summarizing the history of our Congregation from its origins, 1720, until 1965, approximately 300 pages. This could be done for the third centenary of our Congregation. It will follow the study of our history in those books already published. Since it will follow the chronological organization of our history found in already published volumes: volume I (1720-1775), volume II/1 (1775-1795), II/2 (1795-1839), and volume III (1839-1863) it is already possible to begin the work.
Collaboration with the Secretariat for Formation
Fr. Alessandro reiterated what he wrote in his report. He met with Fr. Martin Coffey to put into practice what the General Chapter had asked him to do re. collaboration between the Historical Commission and the Secretariat. Next year there will be a workshop for all formation personnel of the Congregation. However, there are still no details, especially the place, whether in Italy or abroad as well as the subdivision of participants. Everything will be discussed and determined at the next General Council meeting at the end of November. A proposal emerged during the meeting: offer three courses of ten days each, in May, June and July 2016.
The Historical Commission would be responsible for two days of the workshop. Desiring to offer formation personnel useful topics for their ministry, we decided to propose the following themes:
- an introduction to the historical-social context of the 18th century, the age in which St. Paul of the Cross lived and worked;
- the history of formation in our Congregation;
- the Passionist identity according to St. Paul of the Cross;
- the practice and life style of the Founder as a model of living formation;
- Prayer-community-mission: how these have developed in the history of the Congregation.
An important aspect is to arouse an attraction for reformers in the history, showing it as a discipline and basic supplementary to other theological disciplines.
Regarding translations, something that is very important for the dissemination of our publications, we need to study if any booklets of the History and Spirituality series exist in French and Portuguese.
We also need to prepare a parallel listing of the entire series in order to see which booklets are available in each of the major three languages. As the Superior General stated in his opening remarks at this meeting translation is a priority. It is much easier to read a booklet that is short and concise, compared with a text of hundreds of pages, which however remains indispensable for more in-depth research.
For the formation workshop next year, we have decided to make available to the participants the first five books of the series of History and Spirituality in different languages. According to the funding and staff available, we need to choose some booklets of this series that would be essential for formation, and offer them to the participants during this course. If needed these could then be translated so that there is some uniformity with the three official languages.
Committee members appreciated and praised the work done so far by Fr. Alessandro, reminded him that this process has just begun, it would be long, arousing interest in our history and the preservation of documents by the General Council .
In our classes to postulants, novices and students, the main task we have is to motivate the brothers to take an interest in our history, otherwise one can never love what one does not know, and this would be a serious lack in our formation.
It would be good also to introduce our archives, making them available to students of history what have been preserved so that they become spaces that are alive and vital.
Date of the third meeting of the Historical Commission
We chose October 25-26, 2016 as the date for the next meeting of the Historical Commission. We also verified that the Superior General would also be able to participate.
Fr. Alessandro Ciciliani C.P.
President of the Historical Commission
Secretary ad interim