THE GENERAL’S NEWS XVII
ST. LÉONIE AVIAT: MOTHER FRANCES DE SALES AVIAT
THE NEWEST SALESIAN SAINT
On November 25, 2001, the Salesian family will have a new saint! In honor of her canonization, I would like to reflect briefly on St. Léonie Aviat, Mother Frances de Sales. I will begin my reflections with a few remarks on the central place of “Nazareth” in the spirituality of our founders, for that appreciation provides a helpful clue into the “sleeves rolled up” holiness of that remarkably contemporary woman and saint.
You can learn much about the spirituality of saints from their favorite scriptural passages. Whenever I read something by St. Francis de Sales, for instance, I am careful to observe what Scripture he is quoting, or paraphrasing or alluding to. In this way, I have discovered that a particular favorite of our Patron is Galatians 2:20: “the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me.” This passage is central to an appreciation of his Jesus-centered spirituality: “Live Jesus!” In Galatians 2:19 St. Paul affirms that Christians are now dead, having been “crucified with Christ.” Dead, we no longer live; now Christ lives in us and acts through us. And this is how he continues to pour out the effects of his Redemption throughout time and history. Our role in all of this is a simple one: to “get out of the way”so as to make room for the Savior to live and act in us and, thus, to be seen once again walking upon the earth. (Cf. Article 16 of the Constitutions) We know that because of the peculiar law of grace, we are in no way displaced when Jesus lives in us. On the contrary, it is only then that we are fully actualized as the unique persons we are meant to be.
According to the Founder, we are to make room for Jesus by imitating both what he calls his “interior life” and his “exterior life.” We are to imitate his interior life by prayer and a continual union of wills. As for his exterior life, we are to reproduce it completely, the three years of his public ministry as well as the thirty years of his hidden life at Nazareth with Mary and Joseph. “Our existence is the totality of our life conformed to the life of the Savior.” (Article 16) The Good Mother and Father Brisson understand the imitation of Jesus’s “exterior life” in a very realistic, even tangible manner. Thus, according to Father Brisson, we are
“to act as he acted and eat as he ate; we are to have his manner of seeing things, of thinking, of living, of speaking....Jesus Christ is the great model which we give ourselves to imitate, my dear children. We must reproduce in our life his entire life, just as it has been revealed in Scripture. As he was, so must we be: in prayer, in his daily renunciations, in his intimate union with his Father, in his zeal for God’s glory and the salvation of souls.”
(Positio, 151, Instruction, March 7, 1869)
Again and again Father Brisson returns to the theme of “reproducing the Savior” in both his interior and exterior life. Originating with the Good Mother, this theme is like a multi-faceted diamond which he finds endlessly fascinating. I would like to explore just one of those facets here because I believe it can unlock for us an important aspect of the vocation and holiness of St. Léonie Aviat. That facet is ‘work’ as it figured in the “exterior life of Jesus at Nazareth.” (For much of what follows, see Positio super virtutibus, pp 149 ff, and the texts cited there.) Father Brisson often speaks of the spiritual meaning of work which he bases on the saving significance of every aspect of Jesus’s life, including his physical labor. “It was not,” he taught, “only at the moment of his passion that he merited [redemption for us ]; he also merited it by his work”during those thirty years of hidden family life at Nazareth. (Positio, p. 165-66; Soeur Aimée de Sales de Cissey, Recueil de sourvenirs sur le père Brisson, 1889-1908, vol. II, 1897, polyc. Pp. 41-42).
Thus, by our work we imitate Jesus. “Oblates have a special way of resembling the Savior and Our Lady. It is by work.” What did Jesus do for the thirty years prior to his public ministry while he lived a family life in Nazareth? “He worked.” “We Oblates must, therefore, be inculcated with a love for work, for by it we imitate the Savior’s life at Nazareth.”
And why did Jesus work? To teach us the poverty which is experienced by working to earn our daily bread. Each time, then, that we pray in the Lord’s Prayer for our daily bread, let us think that “today I must earn my bread.” In doing this, we imitate the Savior whose goal, while living in Nazareth, was also “to earn his daily bread.”
Because we imitate Jesus by our work, Mother Mary de Sales Chappuis “had a special appreciation for any money which is earned by a little hard work. She used to call such money, ‘Nazareth money’. (Positio, pp. 165-66)
We are familiar with the social background which prompted the Founder’s frequent reflections on the role of work in the life of Jesus and in the lives of Oblates. The secularized atmosphere of mid-nineteenth century Troyes threatened the faith of many people, especially young people. That threat engaged the priestly zeal of Father Brisson. He saw in Jesus the Worker a way of realigning the workers of the Industrial Revolution with both the Savior and the saving mission of the Church. It was for this reason that he encouraged his Oblates of both Congregations to be in the forefront of the Church's efforts to win back workers and their world to Christ. Armed with the Directory, they were to use every possible means, including work, to enter their world, just as it was, and save it. “We cannot change the material conditions [of our society]... Let us, therefore, enter it feet first, without reservation ...in order to save it” and direct it back to God. (Tilburg 3.14-19) The Founder was very much aware that, in proposing this manner of acting, he was following the lead of Pope Leo XIII who "declared that it is work which must lift up the world." (Tilburg 3.19)
While a young boarding student at the Troyes Visitation, Léonie Aviat came under the influence of Father Brisson’s celebrated ministry on behalf of working girls. The Visitation students lent their hands and support to the homes which their chaplain had established in order to provide these girls with a loving and supportive Christian environment. Léonie’s involvement in these projects caused “her social sense to develop.” (“To Forget Myself Entirely,” p. 23)
She soon felt the first stirrings of a call to religious life. Aware of parental, especially paternal, opposition to a religious vocation, both the Good Mother and Father Brisson counseled her to wait until her 21st birthday before acting on that call. Shortly before that birthday, Léonie received a clear indication of the nature of her vocation. While waiting in an eyeglass factory for her mother’s glasses which had been repaired, she took note of the young girls who were working there. She was particulary struck by the gentle and maternal manner with which their supervisor was caring for them. “For a moment, she imagined herself in the midst of these teenaged girls, an older sister counseling, encouraging , directing or consoling them.” She exclaimed to herself, “How I would love to work with these girls and do them good!” Her vocation was born: she would be “a worker among workers!” (Cf. “To Forget Myself Entirely,” p. 7)
In fact, Father Brisson had already given her a hint of the nature of what he hoped
they would one day realize together. His homes for the working girls of Troyes sorely needed the direction of solid Christian women who, in addition to teaching the faith and conveying values, would be undaunted by the hard work that such endeavors entailed. Hadn’t he, as her spiritual guide, told her to spend the time while waiting for her 21st birthday to learn how to ‘mend’? “‘Mend’ in this sense was a specific term at the factory...Only the lower class women did this humble work!” (Ibid., p. 29)
The rest is history. The Oblate Sisters were soon founded. The new Congregation patterned its interior life and much of its religious practices after the Visitation sisters with whom Léonie, now Mother Frances de Sales, and her first companion, Lucie Canuet, had spent their formative years. But theirs would be an apostolic life. A new kind of religious, they would be “workers among workers,” identifying in this manner with the young working girls for whom they ministered, while doing all in their power to keep them close to the Church and the practices of their faith. (See the title of chapter III of “To Forget Myself Entirely.”)
Just one quote from the young Foundress will make it clear how totally she embraced this new form of religious life. In speaking to her early followers, she remarked: “Your principal occupation is work. Give yourself to it as graciously as possible. Go to your work when the clock chimes; set out joyfully, according to our Rule, as if you were going to the chapel to say the Office and make meditation, because for you, work is a continual meditation.” (Ibid., p. 49)
Thanks to the reflections of Father Brisson, Léonie and all the Oblate Sisters who would follow her, had a model for the life they were to lead, Jesus himself. By interior prayer and a continual union of wills, they would imitate his interior life. By hard work, they would imitate his exterior life as it was symbolized for them by the Founder’s emphasis on his life as a carpenter at Nazareth. Given the particular social needs of their day, this was how Jesus was to live in them and act through them and, once again, in their time and place, be seen walking on the earth.
And if there was ever any doubt as to the spiritual efficacy of this new form of religious life, a thoroughly apostolic life with a deeply rich contemplative core, the events of November 25, 2001, will lay that doubt firmly to rest. For on that day, the “worker among workers” will become St. Léonie Aviat, Mother Frances de Sales Aviat!
MAJOR SUPERIORS WELCOME NOVICE DIRECTORS
General Chapter XVII encouraged “the formulation of common guidelines...suitable for the formation to religious life within the Congregation.” (Cf. Directive # 5) As a first step in the implementation of this directive, the Congregation’s novice directors were invited to participate in the 2001 meeting of major superiors. The goal of this meeting was a simple one: to reflect together on the novitiate year as it is conducted throughout the Congregation.
During the course of several days, both in full assembly and in language groups, the novice directors exchanged ideas on several areas which had been prepared before hand, translated, and distributed prior to the meeting. Among others, these several ideas included the following: the goals, challenges and needs of the novitiate year; its several Oblate and Salesian components; and the place of prayer, work and community in the life of the novices.
We reviewed one of Father Brisson’s chapters in which he shared his thoughts on the structure of the Oblate novitiate as well as the characteristics and virtues which he found most desirable in Oblate novices. A young priest from the Diocese of Paderborn who is an expert in religious formation addressed us on the novitiate year. His insightful reflections prompted much thought and many favorable comments.
In order to better follow up on the suggestions which the novice directors formulated during the course of this meeting, I have appointed the General Councillor, Father Aldino Kiesel, as the General Council’s representative to the Congregation’s novice directors and formation personnel. Being the Congregation’s longest serving novice director at the present time (eleven years), Father Aldino is an excellent choice for this position.
From the very start, the parameters of Father Aldino’s responsibilities in the area of formation must be clearly stated. The Constitutions are unambiguous in their affirmation that the Provincial or Regional Superior has the “primary responsibility for recruitment and formation.” (Article 322) Thus, Father Aldino’s purview will be to assist only in those areas in which cooperative efforts among provinces and regions are envisioned. Some examples of these areas are: Directive # 4 of General Chapter XVII which invites the major superiors of the Congregation to “explore the feasibility and desirability of a common period of time during formation for the Congregation;” and Directive # 5 which encourages “the formulation of common guidelines ...suitable for the formation to religious life within the Congregation in all Provinces and Regions.”
FATHER GORE REPORTS ON UKRAINE
For almost three years Father William Gore of the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province has been living and working in Ukraine. While there, he has shared the Oblate charism with the seminarians to whom he has taught English and Salesian spirituality. A number of those young seminarians have begun to express an interest in our Congregation. Some have even visited Oblate communities and worked for short periods in Oblate apostolates.
Father Gore gave the major superiors a very full and informative presentation on his experiences thus far, concluding with suggestions for the next tentative steps in the exploration of a possible long-term Oblate presence in Ukraine. In that report, Father Gore made it clear that the greatest help to him at this time would be another Oblate whose presence would permit him to experience community life, something which he has greatly missed these past three years.
During the course of my March-April visitation to the Austria-South German Province, I urged the confrères there to visit Father Gore in Ukraine and to explore ways in which they might assist him. I am happy to report that, prior to this meeting, there was some initial contact. During the course of our days in Fockenfeld, others possibilities were explored and fresh enthusiasm fired.
At this point, only God knows where this might lead in the future. For now, though, I wish to thank Father Gore for taking this brave and, at times, very lonely step. I also wish to thank his Provincial and Province for giving him the opportunity to do so and for the generous support and recent visit by Father John Hurley, Mission Procurator of the American Provinces. Finally, I thank the Provincial and members of the Austria-South German Province for taking my request to heart and for following through on it.
I ask all of you who are reading this letter to say a prayer that this and other efforts to extend the beautiful and balanced charism of the Congregation throughout the world will touch God’s generous heart. Only He can bring forth fruit from what has been sewn.
GENERAL MISSION COORDINATOR APPOINTED
For many years General Statute # 28 remained only words on a page. In calling for its implementation, General Chapter XVII changed all that. Revised, GS # 28 reads: “The Superior General will appoint a General Mission Coordinator to serve as a liaison between the Provinces and the Mission territories.” I am happy to announce the appointment of Father Josef Költringer to this position, with the approval of his Provincial, Father Konrad Haußner. With seven years of experience as a missionary in India, Father brings to this new assignment proven ability and unmitigated enthusiasm for the missionary character of the Church and Congregation. In order to fulfill his responsibility as “liaison between the Provinces and the Mission territories,” Father will, in due course, visit all the missions many times. He will become familiar with their ministries as well as with their present and future needs. In an ongoing way, he will represent those needs to the General Administration, Provinces, Regions and mission procurators, attempting in the process to link needs to resources in a fair and balanced way.
I am delighted that the General Chapter has re-vitalized this important position and I am grateful that such a competent and hard-working confrère has accepted it!
APPOINTMENT OF THE “DELEGATE SUPERIOR FOR OBLATE ASIA”
India is the fastest growing area of the Oblate world today. This will give you a quick idea of its growth. Today there are seventeen novices in the Congregation. Twelve of them are in India. The wisdom and courage of two successive General Chapters, under the leadership of my predecessor, Father Roger Balducelli, is bearing much fruit!
The India Mission comes directly under governance of the General Administration. For its day to day care and management, however, General Chapter XVII wisely recommended the appointment of “a confrère who is responsible for the existing community and for new foundations in Asian mission territories...He is to be provided with the necessary authority for his work.” I am happy to announce that Father Sebastian Leitner, with the consent of his Provincial, Father Konrad Haußner, has accepted this position. As both a General Councillor and missionary in that part of the world, Father brings to this new and important position the gravitas and authority called for by the General Chapter’s directive.
Although the particulars of his “job description” will develop only with time, it is my understanding, and that of the General Council, that his role is comparable, on the day to day level, to that of a Regional Superior, differing only is this way. Father Leitner will bring the larger concerns and future directions of this part of the world to me and to the members of the General Council. Together with him we will deliberate and decide upon them. Once a decision is taken, however, we will look to him for its implementation in place.
I am pleased to announce that Father Mark Wrightson, with the consent of his Provincial, Father Joseph Morrissey, has been assigned to St. Charles as parochial vicar beginning after mid-September, 2001. It is my hope, pending the outcome of his discernment while there, that Father Wrightson will succeed Father Cesare Penzo as Pastor in September, 2002.
To meet the spiritual needs of a growing number of Italian-speaking members of St. Charles parish and of the Archdiocese of Monaco, Archbishop Barsi has requested that in the near future an Oblate who is knowledgeable in both French and Italian be assigned to St. Charles. If any Oblate with those language skills is interested in exploring this possibility and has the consent of his Provincial to do so, please let me know.
PERSONNEL DIRECTORY AND NECROLOGY ON-LINE
The Oblate Personnel Directory and Necrology can now be found on the world wide web at this address: www.desalesoblates.org. The information located there will be updated every month. As they occur, therefore, please send changes to Mr. Robert Carlston, whose e-mail address can be found at that web site.
Because not every Oblate has ready access to the internet, the information found on this web site will form the basis for an abbreviated, printed version of the Directory and Necrology. Work will begin on this printed version in early November. Since its accuracy will depend on the accuracy of the information on the web pages, please make sure that your information there is accurate.
With information on the world wide web potentially available to anybody, privacy is a growing concern. If there is any information which you do NOT want readily available to non-Oblates, such as private phone or fax numbers or private e-mail addresses, please let Mr. Carlston know that. It will be removed from our web site, the OSFS database and all future printed versions of the Directory.
NEW GENERAL TREASURER AND ASSISTANT APPOINTED
After fifteen years of competent and generous stewardship over the material and financial resources of the Congregation, Father John McGinley offered his resignation as General Treasurer effective August 15, 2001. All of us gathered in Fockenfeld for the recent meeting of major superiors drank a champagne toast to this kind and gifted confrère and presented him with a gift which we hope symbolizes how he will spend many days ahead: a Waterford crystal golfer in the act of swinging his club! Father John, a grateful Congregation says, “Thank you!”
Father Rainer Vorsmann, who until now has been the Assistant General Treasurer, has accepted the position of General Treasurer. As provincial councillor and treasurer of the German Province and Pastor of three parishes, Father Rainer already has plenty to do. But he proves that the old adage is still true: “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy man!” The same can be said of his new Assistant, Father John Crossin. A noted moral theologian and author, Father is also the Religious in Charge of his Oblate community and the Executive Director of the Washington Theological Consortium. Thus, he too adds new responsibilities to an already full plate.
I thank these Oblates for taking on these new responsibilities for love of the Congregation. I know that they will have the fraternal and prayerful support of all their Oblate confrères.
MISSION PROCURATORS INVITED
In response to Directive # 2 of General Chapter XVII, the mission procurators of the Congregation have been invited to the 2002 meeting of major superiors. The Congregation owes a great debt of gratitude to these dedicated Oblates and to the confrères who assist them. Through the years they work tirelessly and in many ways to raise funds for our missions.
Thanks be to God, vocations are on the rise in many of our missions today. This means, of course, that in order to provide well for this welcomed growth, costs will increase. These increased costs are coming, however, at the very time when, in many parts of the Oblate world, our numbers are declining and, as a result, our annual assessments decreasing. At this stage of simultaneous growth and decline, careful planning becomes even more essential. An important focus for this meeting will, therefore, be planning for how to meet the immediate and long-term financial needs of our missions under these challenging circumstances.
In order to better prepare for this meeting I have, with the consent of the General Council, appointed an “Ad Hoc Committee on Oblate Missions and the Chablais Fund.” Its member are: Fathers Konrad Esser, Mission procurator for the Austria-South German and German Provinces; Josef Költringer, General Mission Coordinator; Joseph Morrissey, Provincial of the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province; and Rainer Vorsmann, General Treasurer. Father Morrissey has generously agreed to serve as the committee’s Chair.
While this ad hoc committee will have several areas of concern, one area of particular importance is the Chablais Fund. Our long-term goal is to build up this Fund so that it will be able to provide for the future financial needs of our missions --no matter the state of our numbers. This committee will recommend to the meeting of major superiors several well reasoned and crafted proposals by which to accomplish this goal.
Another important area is the annual budget for the reestablished position of General Mission Coordinator. Once again, a concrete proposal to this effect will be presented to the major superiors for their consideration and action.
Only to the extent that their data is accurate will the members of this Committee be able to formulate helpful proposals in these and other related areas for consideration by this joint meeting. Therefore, I urge all provincials, regional superiors, treasurers and mission procurators to be as cooperative as possible if approached by Father Morrissey or any member of this committee for information and data. Be assured that their intent is not to be in any way intrusive. It is, rather, simply to gain the necessary information by which to fulfill the directive of General Chapter XVII to “include on the agenda of a future annual meeting of Major Superiors the nature and objectives of the Chablais Fund;” and to implement that same Chapter’s new General Statute on the Chablais Fund. General Statute # 37 describes the nature and purpose of the Chablais Fund while directing that the Fund be “fed by the Provinces which will annually give a percentage of the money collected by the mission procurators or, in cases where this is not feasible, an appropriate donation consistent with the resources of the Province. In solidarity, the mission territories and new foundations will also contribute, even in a symbolic way, to the Chablais Fund.”
THE CHABLAIS FUND
I am delighted to report here that some provinces and communities, as well as individual Oblates, eager to help, have already spontaneously contributed to the Chablais Fund. The Austria-South German Province, for instance, donates an annual percentage of its revenues. A recent decision by The Netherlands Province has made a similar commitment. The Swiss confrères have made a commitment to contribute a portion of the proceeds from the expected sale of one of their properties. The St. Charles Community of Monaco made a substantial contribution to the Fund. Finally, individual Oblates from the Austria-South German, Italian, and Wilmington-Philadelphia Provinces have recently made welcomed donations.
Such spontaneous generosity speaks of a genuine solidarity with the missionary thrust of the Congregation. It also indicates, I believe, a Congregation-wide commitment to the goals of the Chablais Fund.
What has struck me in a particular way during the past seven years as Superior General is this. Unlike the older and larger Orders of the Church, our Congregation is blessed with neither great wealth nor many possessions. We have what we need, but little surplus. Still, like the poor widow in the Gospel whom Jesus praised for giving “every penny she had to live on” (Luke 21:4), we give with generous hearts --in time, talent and treasure. The above examples of spontaneous financial support for the Chablais Fund are just one more indication of the generosity that I have come to expect from my confrères!
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MEETING OF MAJOR SUPERIORS
Each provincial and regional superior gave a report on the state of his province or region, with particular emphasis given to the implementation of the decisions and directions of General Chapter XVII. We received a report on the activities of the International Commission on Salesian Studies and acted on this year’s grant proposals to the ICSS. It is gratifying to see that so much good work is being done on the charism throughout the Oblate world! The General Treasurer gave his annual report and responded to questions. The Procurator General clarified the process for seeking and granting exclaustration and updated us on the General Statutes in light of the actions of the recent General Chapter and in remote preparation for a complete review of the General Statutes by the General Chapter of 2006. We received a written report from the Archivist on his work on a new edition of the Founder’s chapters and instructions, as well as his plans for a study of Father Brisson’s spirituality, both which promise to be important resources for the Congregation. Each major superior, as well as Father Gore and Father Költringer, met privately with myself and the General Council.
FATHER BRISSON AS SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR: A NOTE
General’s News XVI dealt with Part I of “Spiritual Direction: A Salesian Perspective.” I promised in that letter to continue that topic in subsequent issues and I will do so, in a fuller fashion, in the future. Here I would like to comment very briefly on our Founder’s fundamental approach to spiritual direction. My principal source for these reflections is the Positio super virtutibus, pages 231, 267-268, and the sources cited there.
One sure way to know whether someone’s approach to spiritual direction is of value is to see whether they have ever directed saints. St. Francis de Sales was the spiritual guide of St. Jane de Chantal; Father Brisson was the spiritual guide of St. Léonie Aviat. Obviously, both of these men have something important to tell us about the art of Salesian spiritual guidance.
In his Instruction on May 4, 1896, Father Brisson treats of two basic approaches to spiritual direction, two fundamental methods by which to gain access to a person’s soul, understanding, heart and will. The first method he calls the “Method of Authority,” by which the spiritual guide begins with himself, that is, with his authority, merit, or personal influence. In this method, one imposes himself on the other. The second method, Father Brisson’s method, is the “Method of Persuasion.” In this method the spiritual guide searches for just the right point within the person (l’endroit propice) by which to gain access to his or her spirit and will. That point is, of course, unique for each person. But it is precisely that point, not ourselves, which is to be the starting point for the spiritual guidance of that person.
Father Brisson tells us that the “Method of Persuasion” originated with Jesus himself who varied his approach to people depending on the unique personality of each of them. With the apostles, for example, he began slowly because, initially, “they grasped very little” of what he was all about. With time, however, their understanding gradually expanded under the influence of grace. Eventually, they were able to lay hold of the truth of Jesus entirely. Jesus began where each of them was able to begin and dealt patiently with them as grace gradually worked to transform them into the pillars of faith and heros of the Church which they at last became. Persuasion was also the method of St. Francis de Sales and therefore “must be ours as well.” The essential starting point in this method is an appreciation of each person’s uniqueness in character, personality, and life circumstances.
Father Brisson, like St. Francis de Sales, believed unshakably in divine providence. Thus, no matter what the circumstances are which has led the person to you, you can begin with the presumption that the Lord has led them to you precisely because there is something within them that will resonate positively with the Salesian charism. Father Brisson’s own experience has confirmed that truth for himself. As soon as the people he is guiding learn a little about Salesian spirituality, “they are ecstatic, truly ravished.” They exclaim, “That’s exactly what I have been looking for all this time!”
More than in the method of authority, the method of persuasion calls for a generous amount of good judgement, familiarity with various approaches to people, great ability and genuine virtue in order to engage fruitfully in the ministry of spiritual guidance and the discernment of spirits.
At this point in his instruction, Father Brisson says that this same method of persuasion is what has guided his approach to the young working girls on behalf of whom he has ministered tirelessly during much of his apostolic life. They are never dealt with in an authoritarian manner. No attempt is ever made to form them into a “rigorously disciplined army.” No, one attempts rather to win over their hearts and consciences by gentle persuasion, never force. “These young working girls are given a home, a Christian family, where their conscience develops and where, little by little, a sense of responsibility is formed. This becomes their most secure protection” when they leave us.
In concluding his remarks, he assures his confrères that this method of persuasion will be useful in all their apostolic settings, in the class room, in the parish, in the missions--“with all of those whom God will send to us.” “It is the tried and true method of leading souls to God.”
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES: ANNIVERSARIES IN 2002
Next year, 2002, will be the 400th anniversary of the episcopal ordination of our Patron (December 8, 1602) and the 125th anniversary of his being declared a Doctor of the Church (July 19, 1877), and the Doctor of the Love of God (November 16, 1877). In addition to adding solemnity to our celebrations of his feast day in 2002, this information may well be helpful in the various promotional activities of the Congregation during the course of 2002.
The dates have not yet been determined but at some point during the months of September through December, I will make a visit to the confrères of the Keimoes-Upington Region. Like many of you, I will be in Rome for the happy celebration of the canonization of Mother Aviat on November 25th. I will also participate in the celebrations during the week following the canonization in Perugia and Troyes. The January meeting of the General Council will take place in Eersterust (Pretoria), South Africa, January 3-6, 2002.
Soon we will celebrate Founders’ Day. May it be a moment of quiet gratitude for all those whose courage and faith brought about our Congregation as well as the particular province, community or apostolate with which each of you is associated.
Fraternally yours in our saintly Patron and holy Founders,
Lewis S. Fiorelli, O.S.F.S.