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15 October

Saint Teresa of Avila

Marist Calendar - October

XIV Chapter - 1946, Grugliasco (Italia)

 

09/1946 - 99 Brothers participants

Social and political context1

The XIV General Chapter was called after the upheaval of the Second World War.

Reason for convocation

Re-elected in 1932 for a period of 12 years, Br. Diogène did not live out his second term. After a long illness, he died on 23 February 1942 at Saint-Genis-Laval (France), which had become Mother House once more in 1939.
One could not think then, in the middle of a world war (1939-1945), of calling a General Chapter to provide a much loved Superior with a successor.

Brother Michaëlis, first Assistant, therefore, carried out the functions of Vicar General until 1945, when he resigned for health reasons. Brother Marie-Odulphe then assumed the office and, once the war was over, convoked the General Chapter at Saint-Genis-Laval in his circular of 25 December 1945, without fixing a date2. In the following circular, 24 May 1946, the Vicar General wrote: « In the Circular of 25 December 1945, I told you of the General Council’s decision to hold the Fourteenth General Chapter at Saint-Genis-Laval 3 ». Subsequently, unanticipated problems with regard to visas and voyages obliged the Superiors to reconsider the question, and, after having prayed, consulted, and carefully weighed matters, they decided the Chapter should be held at  Grugliasco (Italy) 4.

In view of the elections to the Chapter, they requested an indult from the Holy See allowing, besides the 27 then existing Provinces, which had each to elect two delegates, the very important  Districts of Italy, Germany and Chile-Peru to each be represented at the Chapter by the Brother Visitor responsible and one elected delegate. This was because these Districts would have been erected into Provinces, had not the world war intervened. They also requested that the Vice Province of New Caledonia and the District of Notre-Dame de Lacabane, with fewer personnel, should each be represented by a single elected delegate. Rome responded favourably to the requests on 12 November 19455.

The total number of capitulants, elected or by right, thus rose to 1016. The opening date was fixed for 24 September 1946. The retreat was from the 16th to the 23rd, so the capitulants had to arrive no later than the 15th7.

So the General Chapter was held for the fourth time at Grugliasco. The old Mother House, sadly dilapidated following bombings, the occupation by Italian and German troops, the inevitable deterioration caused by climate and time, had just been magnificently restored under the energetic and able drive of Br. Euphrosin, Assistant, very experienced in matters of construction8.

The preparatory retreat opened at 7 pm on 16 September. It was preached, as at the previous Chapter of May 1932, by Father Hilaire Balmès, Vicar General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a man with great affection for the Little Brothers of Mary, who did not hesitate to leave his important  occupations in Rome to come to the service of the  capitulants of 1946.

On the fourth day of the retreat, a preliminary meeting was held to verify credentials, designate provisional scrutators, and for the other formalities required for holding a chapter.

Elections

On 24 September, feast of Our Lady of Mercy, the vote of the Chapter went to Brother  Léonida, Assistant General, to take on the  supreme responsibility of the Institute as seventh Superior General. 

The next day the other general officers of the Institute were elected: the Assistants were Brs. Marie-Odulphe, Euphrosin, Clément, Jean-Emile, Sixto, Désiré-Alphonse, Paul-Stratonic, re-elected, and  Sebastiani, the replacement for Br. Michaëlis, former Vicar General. The latter, because of his age and infirmities, had stayed at Saint-Genis-Laval and made known officially his wish not to be re-elected to any post.
Br. Louis-Marie was re-elected Econome General, his responsibility since 1922, and Br. Avit, re-elected Secretary General, the office he had held since 1938.

Decisions

For fifteen days the Commissions went on with their work, as at previous Chapters.

The circular of 8 December1946 gives, in about 60 pages9, the reports of the Commissions, generally in summary form, for many were of considerable length; the Recommendations presented by the Commissions and adopted by the Chapter Assembly; and the Statutes voted by the Chapter to the number of 40, some of them confirming or completing similar ones voted by previous Chapters.

In its report, the Commission on Regularity, basing itself on a study prepared by the General Council, explained the type of  correction which needed to be made to clarify and correct the text of the Common Rules  in view of a new edition. It was left to the General Council to draw up the definitive draft of the Common Rules before they were sent to the printer.

1 Ce travail s’inspire presque totalement du F. Jules-Victorin Bulletin de l’Institut T. 23, (1958-1959) p. 238-242.

2 Circulaires, T. 19, p. 417.

3 Circulaires, T. 19, p. 429.

4 Circulaires, T. 19, p. 454.

5 Circulaires, T. 19, p. 418-419.

6 Circulaires, T. 19, p. 421.

7 Circulaires, T. 19, p. 455.

8 Bulletin de l’Institut, T. 17, p. 313.

9 Circulares, T. 19, p. 490-557.

 

XIV Chapter - 1946, Grugliasco (Italia)

 

Government of the Insitute (1946 - 1958)