published by the
Generalate of the
Congregation of the Holy Spirit
as part of the celebrations of the
Spiritan Year
(February 2002- Pentecost 2003)
The birth of Libermann - 12.04.1802 (200 Years)
The death of Libermann - 02.02.1852 (150 years)
The foundation of the Congregation
Pentecost 1703 - (300 years)
“To walk humbly with our God” (cf. Micah 6:8)
The historical data and the texts that have been gathered together for
this Diary are like footprints: they invite us to join our Spiritan ancestors in the long journey they made in the service of the Gospel.
What comes down to us is the witness of their lives which is their
lasting homily. On each page of the Diary you will find historical
events recorded followed by a text for our meditation. The very first
page, January 1st, sets the tone with the martyrdom at Kongolo of our
20 confreres from Belgium and Holland, a sign of love par excellence: “They were willing to sacrifice their lives for the people whom
they loved so much » .This was their contribution to a magnificent
history, not a history of the powerful, the rich or the learned, but of
the poor and humble who find their joy in meeting other poor people,
to « serve and protect them » and to share their own life-giving faith
with them.
In the great variety of styles to be found in religious families, we
have our own particular charcteristics which must be preserved.
Amongst the gifts which come from the meeting of the human heart
with the mystery of the Spirit of God, Claude Poullart des Places,
François Libermann, Jacques Laval, Daniel Brottier and our other
great predecessors inherited a special trust in the poor, a corollary of
their own confidence in a humble God who had put his trust in them
from the beginning.
The Diary reminds us of this long and inspiring tradition; alongside
this, our own personal experiences should teach us to be humble. The
greatest threats to our mission are not our limitations or our faults
and weaknesses, but a certain self-assurance which can make us difficult to live and work with and can cut us off from others. But we
must not allow ourselves to be crushed by a conviction of our nothingness, of our lack of means or of the size of the obstacles that face
us. We believe that in reaching out to others in difficult situations,
our simple and fraternal approach will bring out the best in those we
meet – the generosity and good will inherent in all the peoples of this
earth. This is the spirit which should permeate our mission, our
community life and our search for God.
In the framework of a calendar year, the Diary calls to mind events
that took place in different continents over the last 300 years – a collection of anniversaries for each day that make up the shared
memory of our Spiritan family and remind us of our identity and our
This book can obviously give us no more than examples; there is so
much that could be said – good and bad, sad and funny, successes
and failures, what is genuine and what is fake. But it will help us to
have a better understanding of our inheritance and remind us that our
greatest riches are not to be found in our ideas, our fleeting emotions,
our social accomplishments, but in the book of our lives, in the concrete choices that we make each day under the guidance of the Spirit.
Perhaps some of the pages of our own personal diary have been left
blank, indicating “nothing to report!”: the Spiritan Year in exposing
us to the lives of our predecessors should help us to do better in the
pages that we still have to write. Let it not be said of us, as it was of
one Roman Emperor: “He died at the age of 60 without ever having
really lived”! It is good to return to our sources, not to start walking
backwards but to press ahead, because our ancestors are very much
with us in our daily endeavours. In our aggressive and competitive
world, the Spirit breaths into us a desire to live lfe to the full in line
with the spirit of our times but illuminated by the light of the Gospel
and the charism of our founders (cf. SRL 10).
Pierre Schouver
Superior General
One of the tasks given to the History and Anniversaries department by the General Chapter of Maynooth was to gather historical information on the life and work of the Congregation
with a view to producing a Spiritan Diary. It also recommended
the collection of major texts from our spiritual tradition. We
have now collected the material together (for which we are also
indebted to Père Jean Claude Pariat who worked assiduously
and methodically in the early days of the project) :
1) For the collection of historical data on the Congregation and
its missions, we received more than 3,200 items concerning
the Congregation as a whole and the individual circumscriptions. The information came from 70 different sources, written in French, English, Portuguese, German and Spanish.
Nearly every circumscription contributed.
2) The relatively brief texts illustrating our Spiritan missionary
spirituality come primarily from our founders, a good proportion from Libermann, but also from great Spiritan missionary figures (such as Laval, Brottier, Shanahan, the Kongolo martyrs. Felgueiras etc.), from General Chapters and
Enlarged General Councils and from several Superiors General. There are also excerpts relating to mission from some
of the major documents of the Church.
3) This is the make-up of the Spiritan Diary that we now present to you. It takes the form of a calendar that can be used
each year, every day recalling several important events in
our history, as far as possible on the day on which they occurred. These are followed by an inspirational text.
 With much sorting and checking, we have tried to
ensure that the reported events cover most of the Spiritan circumscriptions. Some have an exact date, but
for others we can only give an approximation.
 Our guiding principle has been to chose four events
each day which were important, not just for the circumscription in question but for the whole Congregation. However, where on a particular date several
noteworthy events took place, we have temporarily
abandoned this arrangement so that all may be recorded.
 The exact dating of certain events proved problematical; sometimes we received conflicting dates from
different sources for the same event. This is understandable as many circumscriptions are working out
of an oral tradition rather than from written archival
documents. So a good number of events remain imprecise regarding their date, even if there is no doubt
as to their historical accuracy. It was impossible for
us to check on such a large amount of material. So
we can claim that the Diary is accurate in the historicity of events recorded but slightly less so as regards
precise dates.
 The accompanying texts of Spiritain spirituality for
each day have been chosen to represent a wide variety of sources. They are sometimes short, but more
generally, 6-7 lines. In order to convey the essence of
an important text, we have tried to avoid cuts that
would obscure the meaning of the message.
 We would like to have presented testimonies from a
wider range of Spiritan confreres who have influenced the Congregation and its mission in different circumscriptions, but we did not receive as many such
texts as we would have liked.
 The Diary appears in English, French and Portuguese
in the same format. The original intention was to
produce it in loose-leaf form in a stout ring-binder,
but considerations of cost and weight made us finally
decide to settle for a book form.
Our hope is that the Spiritan Diary will make members of our
Congregation more conscious of the work of the Lord in our history, and that the texts will help us to continue with the tasks of
those who preceded us in our religious, missionary family. As
members of the same body, inspired by the same spirit, we can
make a reality of the motto that was known to Claude Poullart
des Places1 and which was adopted by the Congregation shortly
afterwards: “One heart and one soul”.
Christian de Mare
The “Gathering of Friends” to which Claude belonged, used this motto
from the Acts of the Apostles.
Haiti 01.01.1804: Independence of Haiti.
Gambia 01.01.1864: Fr. Jean LACOMBE appointed to Bathurst. He is the first African priest to join the Spiritans.
Born in 1829 of a French father and a Fula mother in
the Gambia. Ordained in Gorée, 1852. Died in 1900.
Mauritius 1868: The Holy Ghost Fathers open a large diocesan secondary school, the Collège Saint-Louis at Port
Louis. Thirty years later, their number had grown to
Congo Kinshasa 01.01.1962: 20 confreres (19 Belgian and 1
Dutch) are killed at Kongolo (Democratic Republic of
Congo). A national memorial service is held in Brussels, led by Cardinal Suenens in the presence of the
« Two or three minutes after the last priest had left the guardroom,
there was the sound of repeated firing. It was about half past nine in
the morning. In the centre of the army camp, surrounded by a crowd
of soldiers and young people, 22 Europeans were killed. Of these, 20
were Spiritans and 2 were lay people (Dr. Moreau and Mr. Melkebeeck). I was subsequently told by the children that the dying men
fell to their knees and blessed their executioners. There was no cry of
defiance from them, only groanings because of the pain they were
undergoing.They were willing to sacrifice their lives for the people
whom they loved so much ». (From the testimony of Fr. Jules Darmond c.s.sp. and Mgr. Kabwé)
C.S.Sp. 02.01.1734: The Séminaire du Saint-Esprit is approved by Mgr Gaspard de Vintimille, the Archbishop
of Paris. Despite his efforts from May, 1726, M. Bouic
had failed to get recognition for the work because of
opposition from the Jansenists
02.01.1763: The death of the third successor of
Poullart des Places, M. Louis Bouic, after directing the
Congregation for 53 years.
Deux Guinées 02.01.1844: The death of Louis Pindar (USA)
at Capes des Palmes.
Tefé 1910: Erection of the Prefecture Apostolic of Tefé: Dom
Barrat is the first Prefect.
« Listening calmly to what the Holy Spirit has to tell us and living
intensely the love of Christ so as to be close to the poor – this is the
essence of the teaching of Père Libermann, the summary of his spirituality » (J. Gay, « Les Chemins de la Paix », p. 173).
Australia 1847: Bishop Brady makes a verbal agreement with
Fr Libermann in Amiens (1845) that his Congregation
should have control of the Vicariate; but he contravened this agreement. The Religious were to concern
themselves with the aborigines
Congo 1885: The Berlin Conference divides the region of the
prefecture of the Congo between Portugal (Angola
and the enclave of Cabinda), King Leopold II (the independent State of the Congo) and France (French
East African Province 03.01.1974: The first group of East
African Foundation Novices make their temporary
profession. They are Liberatus Kundy, Daniel Macha,
Paul Chuwa and Alois Minde.
1975: A period of great difficulty because of the
changes of personnel over 14 years. But also a time
of listening to the people, adaptation, training of catechists and creation of lay movements with the help of
religious sisters and lay people from America.
“On virtually every page of his letters and spiritual writings, our
Venerable Father reminds us that our missionary life is essentially
something supernatural and that the duties of our religious life are to
be seen in the context of our ministry. So if we want our work to produce results that are deep and lasting, it is essential that while we
are working for those who are confided to our care, we equally look
to our own sanctification and be faithful, whatever the cost, to the
duties to which we have freely committed ourselves in our Constitutions”. (Fr. Francis Griffin: “Letter to the Congregation”
01.01.1849: From January 4 until April 30, 1850,
Francis Libermann presides at 47 meetings of about
15 clerics and gives them spiritual conferences under
the patronage of St. John the Evangelist.
Sierra Leone 1859: Mgr. de Bresillac and the first five members of the Society of African Missions arrive in Freetown. Within six months, all are dead. They are buried
in the Circular Road Cemetery in Freetown.
1877: The first Junior Seminary is started at Ross
Manor: it transfers to Perrysville a few months later.
Bagamoyo 1932: The Apostolic Vicariate of Bagamoyo (Tanganyika) is confided to the Dutch Province.
“Although Libermann was nothing out of the ordinary as a student of
theology, he was quite exceptional as regards his spirituality. But one
of its characteristics was that it looked ordinary and unobtrusive,
sticking closely to the principles of the faith, thus leaving him largely
unknown and unnoticed, which was how he preferred things to be.
…But God did not allow him to escape the notice of everybody: his
superiors observed and thanked God for the graces he had put into his
heart and, from the start, some of his fellow students at Saint-Sulpice
were considerably helped by the spiritual advice he gave them.”
(From the Memoirs of Tisserant, N.D.I, p. 595).
Haiti 1859: Propaganda asks the Congregation to negotiate a
concordat between Rome and the State of Haiti.
Three priests are sent to help Mgr. Monetti, the Apostolic Delegate. He appoints Père Pascal as Vicar
General and Père Cheney as his assistant. Père Aymonin is made parish priest of Pétionville.
Germany 1897: The mission of Tefé begins with German
confreres, including brothers.
Portugal 05.01.1901: Fr. Eigenmann is named Visitator of the
Province of Portugal and Provincial « ad interim », replacing Fr. Rulhe whose bad health made it impossible for him to continue. Fr. Rulhe died in 1904.
Nigeria 1905 : Fr. Joseph Shanahan is appointed Prefect Apostolic of Southern Nigeria. He made education the
cornerstone of his apostolate. He was also the founder of the Holy Rosary Sisters.
“Be perfectly human, perfect the human and the natural, be fully a
woman. Don’t be afraid of your little heart; it is made to be used. If
it becomes too exuberant, it can always be cut back and pruned and
still remain a useful, healthy organ... You cannot say you love God
and remain aloof from your neighbour”. (Joseph Shanahan to Holy
Rosary Sisters)
Libermann 06.01.1840: Francis Libermann arrives in Rome,
with Maxime de la Brunière, to submit his project for
the Black People to Propaganda Fide.
Nigeria 06.01.1886: Fr Joseph Lutz and his Spiritan companions sign an agreement with the Chief of Onitsha, Obi
Anazonwu, for a piece of land close to the River Niger; this was to become the first Spiritan mission base
in Nigeria. The Anglican bishop, Samuel Ajayi
Crowther, who had previously been promised the
same peace of land, graciously cedes his claim to the
Catholic Mission - a very early demonstration of the
spirit of ecumenism.
France 06.01.1921: The Foundation of the Missionary Sisters
of the Holy Spirit.
Mexico 06.01.1999: Ordination of the first two Spiritan priests
from Mexico: Juventino Hemandez Flores and Victor
Martinez Martinez. It takes place at Aquismon, the
birth place of Victor.
« I appeared in Rome before the ecclesiastical superiors with nothing to
recommend me, no guarantees and no supporters. All I had was a plan to
put before them. I had no reason to expect anything but rebuffs, especially amongst so many wise people. But it is the Holy Spirit who is in charge
of everything there and that is what makes me so happy. The Spirit is
leading the Head of the Church and those who are helping him and
through them he even gives us encouragement in writing. I have had such
reassurance several times in the letters of the Cardinal in charge of the
Propaganda. Who is behind all this ? Certainly not myself; I have left
everything to Mary, putting all my trust in the goodness of her Immaculate Heart » (Letter from Libermann to Desgenettes, 07.02.1844, N.D.VI
, p.44-45).
Australia 07.01.1846: The first Spiritans to set foot in Australia, 3 priests and 2 brothers arrived at Freemantle,
Western Australia. They were, Fr François Thévaux,
Fr Maurice Bouchet, Fr François Joseph Thièrse,
Brother Vincent and Brother Theodore.
Senegal 07.01.1850: The foundation of St. Joseph de Ngasobil, destined to become the bishop’s house, the centre for workshops for the development of the area
and, subsequently, a seminary. Mgr. Kobes welcomes
the refugees fleeing from the wars of Saloum and attempts to introduce the cultivation of cotton. A combination of locusts and drought brings the experiment to
an end.
Portugal 1894: The review “Portugal em Africa” is launched
with the aim of “making people more aware of the colonies and of the future of Portugal in Africa”.
Spain 07.01.1972: The first meeting of the European Provincials takes place in the Senior Seminary of San Cugat
del Vallés (Barcelona).
“The Itaici Chapter had been remarkable for the emphasis it put on Spiritan experience as a source for seeing where the Spirit was leading us. It is in experience
that we also find a new vitality for a mission which is a
spirituality before being a strategy. From the last Chapters & EGC, it gradually dawned on us that the most important thing for the Congregation is to tap into the living
sources where it is once more seeking meaning and energy for a difficult mission. Before being a body organised for action, our Congregation is, and must be, a body
organised for capturing inspiration” (Maynooth)
Sierra Leone 1860: The Vicariate Apostolic is restored to the
Congregation. It is made up of Sierra Leone, Liberia
and Guinea. Bishop Kobes is placed in charge after
the death of Mgr de Bresillac.
Congo 1875: Foundation of the junior seminary of Landana
(Père Duparquet), subsequently transferred to Loango in 1887.
Brazil 08.01.1885: Dom Antônio Macedo da Costa, the bishop of Belém, asks the Spiritans to take over the direction of the Junior Seminary of Our Lady of Carmel in
Switzerland 08.01.1919: Père Joseph Villetaz, assisted by
Frère Clair, opens the first junior seminary in Switzerland in a small private house in Coméraz, a village in
the commune of Grimisuat in the Vallais.
« I am searching for God. He has given me life for the purpose of serving him faithfully. The world would never bring me any reward for being atached to it: only God really loves me and is genuinely concerned
about me. If I can please him, then I am happy; if I displease him, I am
the most miserable man in the whole world. If I live in grace, I have
everything; if I lose it, I have nothing ».
(Poullart des Places, Retreat 1701).
St. Pierre & Miquelon 1763: The Treaty of Versailles. The
only remaining French possession in North America is
St. Pierre et Miquelon. In the same year, a Prefecture
Apostolic is created and confided to the Messieurs du
Ireland 09.01.1917: The faculty of Theology for Irish aspirants, until this year housed in Chevilly, near Paris, is
opened in Kimmage Manor with 29 students.
Belgium/Netherlands 1931: Belgian/Netherlands province
was split into two provinces. Père Sébire, the superior
before the division, becomes the first provincial of
Nigeria 09.01.1968: Fr. Paulinus Ezike is killed during the civil war. Ordained in 1966, he was killed during an air
“It is the children of Nigeria who are responsible for the amazing
things that have happened, and the unbelievable rapidity with which
God’s Church has branched and blossomed in a few short years. A baptised child is a temple of the Holy Ghost and his instrument. These children, going into their pagan homes, full of the life of God, and carrying
with them his intimate presence and all the radiance of the supernatural
- God worked the miracle through these tiny apostles”. (Bishop Joseph
Shanahan to the Holy Rosary Sisters, 07.10.1928. Letters I, p. 83)
10.01.1901: The orphanage and property of
Misserghin are ceeded to the Spiritans by the Brothers of Our Lady of the Annunciation. Several of the
brothers joined our Congregation, including Frère
Clément Rodier, who had produced the famous
« Clementine » through grafting.
Nigeria 1940: The German Spiritans, who had arrived in the
Benue area of Nigeria in 1930, are compelled to leave
in 1940 and are interned in Jamaica for the duration
of the war until 1947. During those 10 years, 29 Fathers and 10 brothers are involved in the evangelisation of the region.
Tefé 1950: Tefé becomes a Prelature Nullius and Joaquim de
Lange is ordained the first bishop, to be succeeded by
Mário Clemente Neto in 1980.
E.A.F. 10.01.1973: The first group of Novices are received
into the Noviciate: this marks the beginning of the
East African Foundation (at Usa River, Tanzania).
“From now on, the Congregation has to accept that the Church of
origin is a part of the Mission. Unfortunately, it cannot yet be said that
this is true everywhere. There still exist deep divisions because of that
fact. Formerly, the theory was that our Mission was exclusively
«abroad», and that the Provinces of origin had no task other then to
supply the «missions» with personnel and material means. This is no
longer true today. Besides, we know that Our Venerable Father always maintained a much broader view than that” (Fr. Frans Timmermans: Superior General’s Report to the General Chapter, Chevilly,1980).
Senegal 1831: The island of Gorée becomes a centre for the
struggle against slavery.
East Africa 1858: Bishop Maupoint of Reunion asks his Vicar
General, Père Armand Fava, to make an exploratory
expedition to Zanzibar.
Haiti 1950: President Estimé asks the Congregation to direct
a house for street children, and it does so for the next
ten years. The Spiritans witdraw from the work in
1960 because the Duvalier government no longer
keeps to the terms of the original contract.
Spain 11.02.1969: The General Council decides to separate
the foundation in Spain from the Province of Portugal.
Thus, by a decree of 21.02.1969, the Congregation
for Religious erects the autonomous Province of
Spain and the General Council nominates P. Joaquin
Ramos Seixas as the first provincial.
« According to the estimates of the experts, the number of blacks
shipped to the New World from the start of the slave trade until 1826
was around 14 million. If we add to that an average of 70,000 a year
from 1826 until today, we have a figure of 1,400,000. And we can add
at least another million who died before they got to their destination,
giving a total of around 16 million…The interior parts of this vast
country (the West Coast of Africa) were too remote to have been affected by this shameful trade» (Libermann, Mémoire of 1846 ; Chapter III, Population)
Senegal 12.01.1920: The « Afrique », after leaving Bordeaux
on January 9 with 599 persons on board, is shipwrecked off the coast of the Ile de Ré in France, with
the loss of Mgr. Jalabert and 20 missionaries. Coming soon after the loss of so many confreres in the
First World War, this new disaster makes the already
critical personnel situation even worse.
Puerto Rico 12.01.1931 : The first Spiritans from the U.S.
East Province arrive at San Juan, Puerto Rico, to
start a missionary project in Arecibo, P.R. They are
Frs. Plunkett (Superior) Regis Guthrie, G. Duffy and
J. Boyd.
Makurdi 1938 : The headquarters of the Church in the Benue
Prefecture is moved to Otukpo. Fr. Strick opens a
new mission in Gboko. Adamawa Province in the
north is detached from the Benue Prefecture and
confided to the Augustinians.
Nigeria 12.01.1970 : As the civil war ends, about 300 Irish
Spiritans, and all other foreign missionaries whose
passports are stamped by the Biafra Republic, are
expelled from the country and forbidden to return.
« I wanted to arrive at a situation where, having given everything
away, I would just live on charity. I wanted to keep nothing apart
from my health so that I could give myself totally to God in working
for the missions. Having enfolded everybody in the love of God, my
greatest happiness would have been to give the last drop of my blood
for him whose gifts always surrounded me» (Poullart des Places: Reflections on the Past).
St. Pierre & Miquelon 1793 : The two priests in charge of the
islands of Miquelon and St. Pierre refuse to take the
oath of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, introduced
at the French Revolution ; they leave the islands and
seek refuge in the coastal area of Canada.
East Africa 1860: Père Armand Fava begins the mission in
Zanzibar and asks for more missionaries
Brazil Amazonas 1897: The Congregation leaves its task in
the Seminary of Belém and starts to work with the Indians and rubber-planters from its centre at Tefé.
Central Africa 13.01.1993 : Second session of the committee
preparing for the centenary of the Church (January
1994-January 1995). There are now 6 dioceses with
more than 100 priests from the country and about half
a million catholics in a population of 3 million.
« The Holy Spirit wants to be the soul of your soul. Our task is to
make him absolute ruler of our spirit so that he will share his life and
action with us. Let him act within you as our body lets our soul act
within us, moving it as it will. We would be so happy, so holy, if only
we had no will or life that was not in him and by him ! There would
no longer be anything standing in the way of our perfection and
sanctification » (Letter to Ignace Schwindenhammer, 13.01.1842,
N.D.III, p.102)
Congo 14.01.1866: The Superior General, Père Ignace
Schwindenhammer, is appointed Prefect Apostolic of
Congo with permission to delegate his authority to a
Vice-Prefect of his choice: he chooses Père JosephMarie Poussot.
U.S.A. 14.01.1874: Arrival of Fr. Joseph Strub and other Spiritans exiled from Germany as "Jesuit- related". Fr.
Strub becomes the true founder of the Province and
makes Pittsburgh the centre. Its purpose: pastoral
care of foreign immigrants, educating aspirants in an
open school or schools and work among African
Switzerland 14.01.1920: Opening of the house at Bois-Noir.
Having started a missionary school in his own village,
Père Villetaz now moves it to a rented house at Bois
Noir, near Saint-Maurice. It will remain there for the
next ten years.
Netherlands 1920: The French Jesuits finally leave the
house in Gemert and it becomes a junior seminary for
the Spiritans.
« You probably remember, Monseigneur, that several things made me
hesitate about perpetual vows. I had often felt drawn (and it still occurs sometimes) by a desire for the contemplative life. But each time I
wanted to do something about it, I was prevented by ill health. Most
probably, this will also stop me dreaming about a return to Senegal ».
(Daniel Brottier to Mgr. Le Roy : 06.01.1919)
Brazil Amazonas 15.01.1886: The Spiritan community of
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, at Bélem, Para, (7
priests, 3 brothers and 1 student) opens a college.
116 students are enrolled for the first year: 56 in the
primary section, 60 in the secondary).
Bagamoyo 15.01.1907 : Mgr. Xavier Vogt becomes Vicar
Apostolic of the New Vicariat of Central Zanzibar. He
establishes his residence in Bagamoyo. The new Vicariat has 30 priests, 20 brothers and 13.600 Christians. The name of the Vicariat changes to the Vicariat of Bagamoyo soon afterwards
Poland 15.01.1952 : Fr. Dalkowski is arrested at Lesno. Several others are imprisoned for periods between one to
seven years. By 1956 all have been released and the
Junior Seminary is re-opened in 1956.
Trans-Canada 1967 : A missionary outreach to Brazil begins
with Fr. S. Meagher. Others go to work with the Native Peoples (Cree) of Alberta.
« We thank God that identification with the people we serve is nothing new in the Congregation. The stories we heard at Itaici show
that this sharing the lot of people, in good times and bad, is still the
ideal of Spiritans throughout the world. The present commitments of
some of our confreres represent a real struggle as they question
deep-rooted mentalities, structures and vested interests » (General
Chapter, Itaici, 1992. No 4).
East Africa 1863: The Congregation takes on responsibility
for East Africa and Zanzibar (The Prefecture Apostolic of Zanzibar). Bishop Maupoint becomes Apostolic
Delegate for East Africa and Prefect Apostolic for the
new Prefecture.
France 16.01.1882 : Frédéric Le Vavasseur dies in Paris.
Algeria 1903: In the wake of the laicisation laws, the government gives verbal permission to continue to run the
property at Misserghin as a nursing home and retirement house for Spiritans.
Senegal 16.01.1966: Creation of the Diocese of Nouakchott,
comprising the whole of Mauritania. Mgr. Michel Bernard c.s.sp. is the first bishop
“As soon as historical conditions made Spiritan missionaries possible (around 1730), foreign missions were added to the list of preferred poor and abandoned works. Then, the splendid work done by
the few dozen priests who went to Canada and the Far East induced
the Chaplain General of the colonies to propose that the Congregation accept formal charge of overseas assignments. When this proposal was accepted, the new situation induced the governing board
of scholars and educators who, legally constituted the Institute, to
accept missionaries as associates.” (Henry Koren C.S.Sp: “Essay on
the Spiritan Charism and on Spiritan History”, p. 51).
1732: The first Spiritan missionary arrives in the
Western hemisphere, Père François Frison de la
Mothe and is stationed as a teacher at the Quebec
seminary. He is followed in 1735 by Pierre Maillard
and in 1737 by Jean-Louis de Loutre. Both were
apostles to the Micmac. They are followed by other
priests trained at the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit in
U.S.A. 1793: From 1793-1794, several Spiritans settle in the
USA after being expelled from Guyane.
Guyane 17.01.1818: Death of L’Abbé Legrand, the Prefect
Trans-Canada 1974: Beginnings of the Lay Spiritan Association in Ontario.
« The end of the Congregation is to form « poor clerics » in zeal for
the principles of the Church and love of virtues, above all, those of
obedience and poverty – so that they will be ready for anything under the guidence of the bishops, to serve in hospitals, to evangelise
the poor and even the non-believers, to accept, or better still, to prefer the most humble and difficult works for which the Church has
difficulty in finding workers ». (From the first Spiritan Rule, 1734,
St, Pierre & Miquelon 1767 : Mgr Julien Becquet, is made
Prefect Apostolic of St. Pierre et Miquelon, Préfet apostolique de St Pierre & Miquelon. He is succeeded
by 13 other Prefects up until 1970.
Mauritania 1779 : L’Abbé Glicourt (Spiritan) is made Prefect
Apostolic of Saint-Louis in Senegal.
18.01.1848 : Arrival of the first two permanent
priests in Bathurst: Frs. Ronarc (French) and Warlop
(Belgian). They were sent from the Dakar mission by
Bishop Aloysius Kobès.
Senegal 18.01.1849 : the mission of Our Lady of Gambia is
« If Our Lord gives us his Spirit, it is not so that we will continue to
live, even partially, according to our own; this same Spirit has to be
our leader, our love, our all ». (Libermann - Ecrits Spirituelle Supplement, p. 79).
Angola 19.01.1870: The death of Père Fulgence Lapeyre at
the age of 28. He is the third victim of the mission of
Angola : Père Espitalié and Mr. Billon have already
France 19.01.1882: Funeral of Le Vavasseur in the chapel of
the Séminaire du Saint-Esprit.
Guinée Conakry 19.01.1918: Even before the war had come
to an end, Père Lucas founded the mission of Kourouss.
Spain 19.01.1970: The Province joins the Association of exclusively missionary Congregations and the service
for missionary animation formed by the same group.
“Uniting our soul to God means a renunciation and loving abandonment of all that we are into his hands, so that we no longer live
but by him, with him and in him. It means forgetting ourselves totally, looking towards God in everything and resting in him in the
depths of our heart. Or you could call it an outpouring of our hearts,
a tender dwelling in his presence, or a movement of faith by which
we cling to the Eternal Truth in all things, everywhere and always.
So you can see it is a union of love, not the result of an effort of our
natural selves”. (Libermann: Ecrits Spirituels Supplement, pp 1719).
C.S.Sp. 20.01.1883: On the death of Père Frederic Le
Vavasseur, Père Ambroise Emonet is elected Vicar
General of the Congregation.
Guinée Conakry 20.01.1948: The General Council approves
the foundation of the mission of Faranah in a strongly
Moslem area. Frs. Petersen and Chamagne are put in
Congo 20.01.1949: The Vicariate Apostolic of Loango changes its name to the Vicariate Apostolic of Pointe-Noire.
Portugal 20.01.1983: A house is acquired in Benfica as a
centre for missionary animation.
“God is full of a tender love for me and is anxious that I should not
get lost; he arranged for me to do this retreat when nothing was further from my mind. He has made it easy for me to find a path that
would lead me back again to my duty and away from all those specious excuses that could help me avoid it. I believe that God will
once again have pity on me if I return to him with all my heart. So
now that God has filled me with this renewed confidence, I am going
to search for the most direct path that will lead me back to him –
without whom, try as I will, I cannot find a moment of peace in this
life”. (Poullart des Places: “Reflections on the Past”).
Gabon 21.01.1850: Libermann writes to Bessieux that he is
not against the creation of a new congregation to provide personnel for Gabon but he feels the time is not
yet opportune.
Canada 21.01.1905: As a result of a long search by Père
Limbour, the Congregation purchases the property of
Alonzo Wright, 1,631 acres of forest and arable land
on the river Gatineau close to Ottawa. It is made possible by a gift from Mme Jules Lebaudy, a rich benefactress, to establish an institute to receive young
French people coming to Canada. It is also as a consequence of the religious persecution in France which
forces the closure of 12 Spiritan houses.
Cabo Verde 21.01.1947: Approval by the Generalate of the
contract between the District and the Diocese.
Senegal 21.01.1957: Prefecture of Kaolack established and
confided to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
“The importance of a good director is very great; but the firmness
and perseverance of our will in the service of God, and the constant
desire to live for him alone are infinitely more important and necessary. Our Lord never said in the Gospel that any one who wants to
be perfect must take a spiritual director! But he did say that such a
person must deny himself, take up his cross and follow him. We need
a director like an army needs a general - but an army without a general can do a lot more than a general without an army!”(Libermann:
Spiritual Letters 1 pp246-247. 1836).
Senegal 1822: Arrival of Mère Anne-Marie Javouhey in Senegal. She immediately begins working for vocations
and in 1827, three future priests set out for studies in
Paris: Frs. Moussa, Fridoil and Boilat.
Deux Guinées 22.01.1842: Rome appoints Bishop Barron as
Prefect Apostolic of Guinée.
Germany 1852: The first candidate from Germany is received
into the Congregation by Francis Libermann, FranzJosef Düllmann from Neheim-Hüsten. He had already
begun his theological studies in Paderborn. He is ordained priest in Paris in1854 and teaches philosophy
at Notre-Dame du Gard. He dies in Martinique in 1892
where he was involved in education.
Brazil South East 22.01.1989: Spiritans leave the diocese of
Jales in the State of Sao Paolo where they have been
working for the last 13 years.
“In 1733, the Spiritans obtained access to the Far East when Fr.
Guillaume Rivoal was sent to Cochin China by the Foreign Missions
Society. Others followed. How many is difficult to determine, but 23
years later in 1756, the Spiritan missionary in China, Peter Kerverhé
wrote to Fr. Darragon, then one of the directors of the Foreign Missions Society and himself also a former student of the Holy Ghost
Seminary, that 4 of the 6 bishops of the Foreign Missions in the Far
East were Spiritans” (Henry Koren: “To the Ends of the Earth”, p.
Gabon 1845: The opening of the first catholic school in Gabon
at the mission of Sainte Marie. Mgr. Bessieux gives
lessons in French and religious instruction.
Madagascar 23.01.1964: an inter-denominational prayer service took place in the cathedral of Majunga, marking
the beginning of the ecumenical movement in the
Brazil Province 23.01.1969: The first Spiritan candidate from
the junior seminary at Salete arrives in San Paolo and
starts philosophy with the Redemptorists.
Brazil South West 23.01.1990: Fr Hugh de Blacam, appointed to the parish of St Alfonso, in the diocese of
Juazeiro, Bahia, becomes an affiliated member of the
new Brazilian Province while continuing to participate
in the meetings of the Brazil South West District.
“This desire to be in a constant state of prayer is a great blessing
from God and you should pursue it seriously. But be careful that it is
not simply an effort or an exercise of your mind alone; for it to be
genuine, it has to come from your heart or by a raising up of your
spirit or by letting your soul rest in God by directing all your faculties to him, or by a simple looking towards God who is present, for
whom we do everything in order to please him. Blessed are the poor
in spirit, for the Kingdom of God is theirs! Your soul must be poor,
empty and naked before God, and then it will be capable of possessing God with his overwhelming light and graces” (Libermann
writing to Grillard, 23.01.1838. L.S. 1, p. 404-408).
Australia 24.01.1846: One of the Immaculate Heart Fathers,
Fr Maurice Bouchet, dies within weeks of his arrival at
Perth. He had got sunstroke during a stopover at
Cape Town and contracted a fever from which he and
one of the sisters never recovered.
U.S.A. 24.01.1946: Fr. James Hyland and several others become the founding fathers of Spiritan missions in the
Far West of the U.S.A., notably in Southern California
at Hemet, Riverside and Bakersfield. They address
themselves mostly to Mexican-American immigrants.
Canada 24.01.1973: The community at Ste. Foy moves to
2121 rue de La Somme. A house in Hull opened the
year before but it has to close in 1975. The Spiritan
house “In’Afu” opens in 1972.
Indian Ocean Foundation 24.01.1988: First 3 missionaries
of the Foundation set out from Mauritius for Papua
New Guinea.
“Our consecration goes to the very spirit of our Constitutions: the
promises we make are the inheritance we have received from our
predecessors. They had none of the riches of this world; the only
treasure they wanted was the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They consecrated themselves to the Holy Spirit, under the protection of Mary conceived without sin and they offered us to them as well. So let us give
ourselves to both, as our fathers wished us to do” (From the Homilies of Père Warnet, 1840).
Senegal 25.01.1842 : Mgr. Barron arrives in Monrovia with
his two American companions, John Kelly and Denis
Pindar. They reach Cap des Palmes on January 31,
St-Coeur de Marie 25.01.1847 : Episcopal ordination of Père
Truffet as Vicar Apostolic of the Two Guinees by Mgr.
Mioland, bishop of Amiens.
West African Foundation 25.01.1982: At a meeting of West
African Superiors at the Pastoral Centre in Banjul, it
was decided that bilingual formation would no longer
be maintained for WAF. From September 1984, the
Noviciate will be located in Ghana while philosophy
will be done at Isienu, Nigeria.
Ireland 25.01.1988: A decision in principle was taken by the
Provincial Council to set up a project in Dublin's inner
city. Bishop Joseph Carroll approved the establishment of the Fatima Mansion's Group. Brother Liam
Sheridan was appointed its first Superior.
« As for Père Laval, he is all in, he needs a retreat, he is flying on
one wing, he is all but ruined and does no more than spoil the work
of God. He piles as much of the work as possible onto his two confreres so that his own burden will be lighter. Where have those days
gone when our hearts beat just for him, when we only lived for Jesus
and Mary? I often miss those times; we ate the white bread first and
now we have to be satisfied with a few mouldy crusts. It is our preoccupations, our lack of fidelity to God’s grace that have led us into
such a state. It is very hard, but may his will be done. It is nothing to
sacrifice one’s goods for God, but to give up one’s interior self is
something else!» (Jacques Laval writing to Libermann, 25.01.1848).
Germany 26.01.1845: Père Libermann writes about his new
Congregation in the “Katholik”, a newspaper, founded
by Bishops Raess of Starsbourg and Weis of Spire
that covers the whole of Germany.
St-Coeur de Marie 26.01.1848: Date of a letter from Libermann to Eliman, the King of Dakar, after the death of
Mgr. Truffet. In it he says, “I have given my heart entirely to the Africans”.
C.S.Sp. 26.01.1852: Francis Libermann receives the last sacraments from Père Le Vavasseur. He asks whom he
wishes to lead the Congregation in his place.
Madagascar 26.01.1938: Apostolic Vicariate of Mahajanga is
cut off from a territory in the north to form the Prefecture Apostolic of Ambanja (a name given to it in
“The missionaries in Guinée must be, above all, men of God and of
the Church, and after that, they are members of the Congregation to
which God has called them and to which they are attached with all
their hearts. Within this Congregation, they are employed for the
salvation of the people of Guinée since that is where God wants them
to be. In Guinée, as elsewhere, they are members of that body to
which God has drawn them” (Libermann to Fr. Boulanger,
13.11.1850. N.D. XII, p. 464-465)
Senegal 1779: The creation of the Prefecture Apostolic of
Saint-Louis after the town had been re-taken by the
French. Fr. Deglicourt was appointed as the first Prefect. He was joined by Frs. Saveur and Guyot as the
Seminaire du Saint-Esprit had the responsibility of
providing priests.
Portugal 27.01.1866: Departure from Lisbon of the first Spiritan group for the mission of Congo: Frs. Joseph Marie
Poussot (who had already done 15 years in Guinée),
Antoine Espitallié and a lay aggregée, Mr. Billon.
East Africa 1867: Fr. Baur begins work at Bagamoyo. He
builds a school, a church and a hospital, the latter run
by the Sister of Mary from the island of Reunion. This
work is greatly admired by some of the famous explorers of East Africa, e.g. Stanley and Livingstone.
Slaves are ransomed, educated, baptised and set up
in the Christian villages – a work greatly developed by
Mgr. Le Roy.
Congo Kinshasa 1986: A third confrere from Zaire makes his
profession in the EAP. Henceforth, students from
Zaire will be trained in the Central African Foundation.
“To be consecrated to the Holy Spirit means to do what is pleasing
to him; there can be no devotion to one’s master unless his wishes
are what motivates us. We must allow the Spirit to rule us, follow his
inspirations and resist those that come from the flesh. We should
trust him and never worry: “He is my shepherd, there is nothing I
shall want”. (Nicolas Warnet, Sermons. 1840 c.)
C.S.Sp. 28.01.1852: On his death bed after two days of reflection regarding his successor, Libermann says to Père
Schwindenhammer, “I think you are the one who must
sacrifice himself”.
Sierra Leone 1864: Frs Blanchet and Koeberle arrive in Freetown. This is the start of the new mission and of the
Sacred Heart Parish which is still an active parish today.
East Africa 1874: The junior seminary with 24 students is
moved from Zanzibar to Bagamoyo. Brother Oscar
from Dusseldorf runs a sort of procure for the mission,
collaborating with the White Fathers and some explorers.
Haiti 1997: In September, the opening of the first Spiritan novitiate on Haitian soil.
“The more we get to know him, the more we appreciate and admire
him. He has an extraordinary prudence in what he does, a clarity of
view, an aura of peace and yet a great strength of heart and soul in
difficult and irritating moments. He has calmness, strength, patience
and courage – all of which come from God. He is not a great intellectual - he is far more than that: he is totally possessed by the spirit
and life of Jesus! Pray with us to Our Lady that she will let him stay
with us for a long time yet” (Le Vavasseur, talking of Libermann.
N.D. (appendix) p.151-152).
Mauritania 1819: L’abbé Baradère, a Spiritan and parish
priest of Saint-Louis, makes a journey to visit the Fulani and Moors.
East Africa 1875: The first Spiritan brother, Philip Mzuako,
makes his profession.
C.S.Sp. 29.01.1888: the last Spiritans leave India.
Belgium/Holland 1910: Erection of Vice-Province of Belgium
and the Netherlands (including Luxembourg). The first
superior of this new circumscription is Père Sébire.
“Forgive my presumption, but if are looking for someone for a dangerous and risky place, you can count on me. The blood of the missionary is the seed of Christians; this was the first thing I said to
Père Genoud when I talked to him about the future and there is no
way I intend to go back on it after a year in the novitiate” (Daniel
Brottier, in his letter requesting profession; 19.08.1903).
C.S.Sp. 30.01.1852: Libermann gives his final testament: “Be
fervent, always fervent…and above all, charity. Charity in Jesus Christ, by Jesus Christ, in the name of Jesus Christ…fervour, charity, unity in Jesus Christ. To
the community he added, “I am seeing you for the last
time, I am happy to see you…Sacrifice yourselves for
Jesus, for Jesus alone…God is all, man is nothing.
The spirit of sacrifice, zeal for souls and the glory of
United Kingdom 1863: The Spiritans are invited by the Archbishop of Birmingham to accept a parish in his diocese. The offer is declined, as well as another request
to take on the parish of Culpar in Scotland.
East Africa 1877: After the Mission had recovered from the
destruction of the cyclone the original idea of penetrating into the interior was taken up again and a Mission was founded at Mhonda in the Nguru moutains.
Soon other stations at Mandera (1881), Morogoro
(1882), Tununguo (1884), and Ilonga (1886) followed.
Poland 1903: At the invitation of Countess Oginska, Mgr. Le
Roy and Père Acker travel to Oswiecim where she
wishes to confide an orphanage to the Spiritans. Le
Roy plans to attach a junior seminary to the orphanage under the direction of Père Zygmunt Rydlewski
from the USA.
“The wind blows wherever it wants: you hear its sound but you do
not know where it comes from…” Blessed is the one who listens to
this divine voice and follows it! Holy and adorable Spirit of Jesus,
help me to hear this gentle voice. Refresh me with your welcome
breeze. Holy Spirit, I want to be like a feather in your path, so that
your breath will carry me wherever you want and I shall never put
up any resistance”. (Libermann: Commentary on St. John: 3.8).
Deux Guinées 31.01.1842: Edward Barron, John Kelly and
Denis Pindar land at Cap des Palmes.
Ireland 31.01.1874 : In a settlement with the Scottish Bishops, brokered by Cardinal Cullen, the Spiritans purchase Rockwell College for the sum of £ 7,000; it is
henceforth used as a college and junior seminary.
Nigeria 1929 : The first members of the English Province arrive to work in the Vicariat of Southern Nigeria; they
are Frs. Murray, Foreman, Hagan, Grice and Hamill.
Ethiopia 1943 : Prehistory of our presence in Ethiopia, when
Fr Devenish (Trinidad), as Pro-Vicar Apostolic, leads
a group of Spiritans (Frs. Fitzsimmons, Watkins and
Grennan), replacing Italian missionaries expelled from
“One can see with the examples of Fr. Caris, Allenou, Le Loutre,
Bishop Kerhervé, Fr Maillard, Bishop Pottier, Frs Lanoë, John Moranvillé and Matthew Hérard, how the Spiritans or yesteryear lived
their apostolic life on the basis of a mystique of evangelical poverty
and with evangelical availability before God and man. In the concrete situation of their lives, they listened to the Holy Spirit, first, by
listening to the voice of their superiors and then, when they were
dispersed by persecution, by seeking in their various situations the
evangelical appeal addressed to them by concrete history” (Henry
Koren: “Essay in the Spiritan Charism and on Spiritan History”, p.
Ethiopia Sidamo 01.02.1975: The team leave Addis Abeba
for Dadim and by 11th of March they have everything
ready to begin work.
Ethiopia Gamu Gofa 01.02.1978: The "Medhanie alem" (the
Saviour of the world) Orthodox Clergy Training Centre
at Chencha, Ethiopia, is established by Frs Jan Ermers, C.M., and Owen Lambert, C.S.Sp
01.02.1982: A meeting of Major Superiors at Doumé
sets up a Council consisting of the directors of the
formation houses and the Superior of FAC. They will
meet once a month.
Pakistan 01.02.1986: Attack of RYK church and parish house
by a mob of students in "retaliation" for incidents involving Israelis in the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Demonstrations of Christians throughout the country.
Public apology in the town hall attended by Government officials, local politicians and dignitaries.
“The Missionaries of the Holy Heart of Mary will consider zeal to be
at the heart of the apostolic spirit which will animate them. They will
make it their main preoccupation, the object of the desires of their
hearts and the reason for all their spiritual exercises. The source and
strength of this zeal will be found in a love of God that is pure, holy
and ardent, engraved deeply in their hearts. They will look for the
best way to remain solidly and perfectly in the love of God. This will
be the characteristic virtue of the fervent missionary of the Holy
Heart of Mary” (Provisional Rule, nos. 229-231)
02.02.1852: Death of François Libermann at about
15.45, while the community is singing the Magnificat of the
Vespers of the Feast of the Purification. Père Ignace
Schwindenhammer takes over as interim Superior
General as Vicar General of the Congregation.
Portugal 02.02.1921: The Province is canonically erected.
Nigeria 02.02.1951: Fr Anthony Nwedo is the first Nigerian to
profess as a Spiritan at Kilshane, Ireland. He had
been ordained a diocesan priest in 1945. He was also
the first Nigerian bishop to head a diocese in 1959.
Trans-Canada 02.02.1976: The District of Ontario becomes a
Province. The superior, Fr. Michael Doyle, is named
the first Provincial.
E.A.F. 02.02.1989: The East African Foundation becomes the
East African Province with Fr Daniel Macha as its first
Brazil Province 02.02.1990: Brazil becomes the 19th Province
of the Congregation.
Bagamoyo 02.02.1990: The end of the District of Bagamoyo.
The remaining group of Dutch confreres now come directly under the General Council.
“At half past three in the afternoon, as I told you yesterday, our dear
Father was almost unconscious, apparently seeing and hearing nothing. This lasted until two this afternoon. Suddenly, he woke up and
opened his eyes. He was shown a crucifix and we said to him, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph… In manus tuas Domine, commendo spiritum
meum”. He saw, understood and was transformed. It was very beautiful. We were convinced that he had had some sort of vision. They
began the Magnificat in the chapel and he expired”. (Schwindenhammer).
C.S.Sp. 03.02.1816: By command of King Louis XVIII, the
Congregation is re-established, having been suppressed at the French Revolution. This ruling is the
basis of the legal status of the Congregation in
Zambia 03.02.1971: The first group of Spiritans (6 Irish confreres) arrives in Zambia and starts working in the diocese of Monze, run by the Jesuits.
Trans-Canada 1973: Spiritans join the Calgary diocese in a
mission outreach to Malawi, where as many as five
Spiritans and two Calgary Diocesan priests eventually
worked together (until 1983).
Brazil SW 1992: Fr. Edward Nealon is appointed Episcopal
Vicar for the region of Sao Joao de Metiti in the diocese of Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro
“The Christian life of Père Libermann can be summed up as follows:
a serene abandonment to the Holy Spirit and unfailing openness to
his influence…He was perfectly sincere when he talked of his poverty
and his miserable state; he attributed all the graces he received solely to the generosity of God. He was remarkably intelligent, with a
psychological balance that is surprising in one who suffered from a
nervous disease. His audacity was always tempered by a prudence
and flexibility, doubtless inherited from his Jewish ancestors, which
allowed him to adapt with ease to different people and circumstances. He had great common sense and a realistic vision of what was
possible” (J. Gay: Libermann, p. 288).
C.S.Sp. 04.02.1852: The funeral of François Libermann, presided over by Fr. Desgenettes, the parish priest of
Notre-Dame des Victoires, in the chapel of the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit (rue Lhomond).
Haiti 1870: The Junior seminary of Saint-Martial is confided to
the Spiritans. 43 Spiritans are working in the country
at this time.
Canada 1912: Opening of the Junior seminary of the Canadian Missions and the secondary school of St. Alexandre at Hull, Quebec. There are 5 students at the start.
Teaching is in both French and English.
Switzerland 04.02.1947: The Vice-Province of Switzerland is
erected, cut off from the French Province. Père Antoine Clivaz becomes the vice-provincial.
“Simplicity means the refusal of everything that is complicated, out
of the ordinary, showy, excessive…no spectacular poverty, no dramatic tormenting obedience, no dazzling mortifications. But it also
means a sincere and total acceptance of all the demands made on
those trying to follow the poor, obedient, chaste and crucified Christ
in the service of the most abandoned. I have seen this in so many
Spiritans, who will rarely talk about themselves but are always ready
to accept anything, to go wherever they are sent, to live the life of the
poorest people, to take on the humblest of tasks as something quite
natural. And without intending it, their lives radiate joy and peace”
(Joseph Lécuyer, Superior General, talking of the Spiritan charism.
B.G. 1974, pp 34-37).
Portugal 05.02.1866: Departure from Lisbon for the Congo of
the first three Spiritan missionaries
East Africa 05.02.1871: A famous British journalist and explorer, Henry M. Stanley visits Bagamoyo mission and
commends the Holy Ghost missionaries for the work
they are doing in instilling in their converts “principles
of religion, education and business of life".
Guadeloupe 1912: Propaganda confides the diocese to the
Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Mgr. Pierre Genoud is
the first bishop, from 1913 to 1945. In 1910 there
were 2 Spiritan priests, in 1939 there were 39 and in
1970 there were 65.
Spain 05.02.1984: The Casa Padre Laval was opened in Madrid in the presence of a large number of Spiritans.
“Be both sympathetic and understanding to African people, especially the women: meet the people of Africa with courtesy and respect;
never do for them the things they can do for themselves. Teach,
demonstrate and encourage them to develop, but let them develop in
their own way. Do not usurp or supplant them in anything. Be ready
to move off as soon as your missionary work is done. Do not dig in
permanent roots - that is not your function as missionaries. While
leading others to Christ and the true Christian spirit that Christ is
bringing to them through you, be always careful to respect their pagan customs as an expression of the human spirit” (Joseph Shanahan
to Holy Rosary Sisters. Fox, p. 25)
Senegambia 06.02.1863: The Vicariate of the Two Guineas is
divided in two. Mgr. Kobès becomes the first bishop of
Poland 1921: Arrival of Fr. Zygmunt Rydlewski at Bydgoszcz
where he opens the house at 2, Jary Road and then
reopens an “Orphanage for the children of the defenders of the Country” in Czerwony Krzyz Road.
Congo Kinshasa 1935: The Prefecture of northern Katanga is
raised to a Vicariate. Mgr. G. Haezaert is ordained
Mauritius 06.02.1969: Mgr. Margeot is named bishop of PortLouis. He is ordained on May 14 at the monument of
Mary, Queen of Peace, at Port-Louis.
“The basic work of Claude Poullart des Places was that of the “Poor
Scholars”. He certainly showed a great concern for the material and
spiritual poverty of these young clerics who were too poor to pay
their way through the seminary; but it is also true that in devoting
his life to them, his primary aim was to come to the aid, through
them, of abandoned souls. Amongst these “abandoned souls”, the
founder certainly included pagans” (J. Michel in Spiritus, October
Libermann 07.02.1838: A violent epileptic fit in public. The
last took place at Strasbourg on May 19, 1846.
Portugal 1911: Publication of the decree by which all the
moveable and immovable goods of religious congregations, both in Portugal and in her overseas territories, are confiscated. As a consequence, all the houses of our Congregation are expropriated.
South Africa 1935: The Prefecture of Kroonstad is raised to
a Vicariate.
Makurdi 1947: The Prefecture of the Benue is confided to the
English Province and soon after becomes the Prefecture of Otukpo. The first four members of the
Canadian Province arrive in the Prefecture.
“Since I came to Rome concerning our project (the work for the
Black People), my policy was never to do anything that was not
straightforward. I kept quiet and stayed at home. I got to know nobody and did no lobbying. I saw the Cardinal twice and his secretary
twice. When the need arose or circumstances made it desirable, I
would visit them again. I acted in this way because I feared that my
desire to succeed may have been excessive and that I would force my
ideas on those in charge; all I wanted was to carry out the will of
God as shown through the superiors” (Libermann to Salier,
09.07.1840. N.D.II, p. 153).
Australia 08.02.1846: The two surviving priests of the Congregation of the Heart of Mary, Joseph Thiersé and
the two lay-brothers, Vincent and Theodore, leave
Perth for King George Sound.
Sierra Leone 1953: Fr Thomas Brosnahan from Nigeria and
Ireland is appointed the first residential Bishop of
Freetown and Bo. He undertakes a major campaign in
the expansion of primary and secondary schools.
Many new personnel are appointed from the Province
of Ireland.
Haiti 1957: The reign of terror of the Duvalier family. The
Spiritans try to defend the people and look after the
young. Père Grienenberger, the superior, as well as
his successor, are expelled from the country. The
others would follow soon after.
Nigeria 1957: Establishment of Holy Ghost Noviciate, AwoOmamma.
« Dialogue is mission. This is the first time in history that the Church
in its Magisterium recognises other Religions as true partners in a
common search for God. We cannot yet say where this is to lead us but, no doubt, very far! Our confreres in Mauritania and Algeria are
our explorers in this expression of mission, as well as our Pakistan
group with their tiny Christian communities. This calls for deep reflection on the theological and anthropological motivations of mission” (Frans Timmermans: Report to General Chapter, 1986)
Haiti 1878: Père Weick, professor of physics, sets up a meteorological station at St. Martial which continues to
function until 1969. The first fire brigade at Port-auPrince is established by the Spiritans.
Brazil 1886 : First Spiritan activity in Brazil. The first seven to
arrive started the Colege of Mt. Carmel where they
taught. They also did pastoral work in the surrounding
area – catechesis, confessions and singing classes.
East Africa 09.02.1891: Holy Ghost missionaries open a
mission at Kilema, the first at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Belgium 1913 : The brothers’ novitiate is transferred from
Donk to Baarle-Nassau in the Netherlands.
“To become men…this must be your aim. You see, it is so necessary
and yet so difficult. A man is somebody who knows what he wants to
do and carries it out whatever the cost. He is a person who, once and
for all, sets himself an ideal and then sets out to achieve it, whatever
the suffering involved” (Daniel Brottier, 01.09.1935. Foyers à la
Campagne, III 339).
France 10.02.1831: The death of Lazarus Libermann, the father of François.
C.S.Sp. 10.02.1853: Père Ignace Schwindenhammer (aged
35) is elected Superior General. He will lead the Congregation until his death in 1881. The assembly which
elects him is the first General Chapter of the Congregation.
Central Africa 10.02.1964: The Prefecture of Bangassou becomes a diocese. The first bishop is Mgr. Antoine
Maanicus c.s.sp.
Gambia 10.02.1970: The District of Sierra Leone/Gambia is
split in two. Gambia becomes a District on its own.
“At Dakar, we realised once more our personal weaknesses, the fragility of our communities and the difficulties of our mission – but we
were in no way discouraged. We left strengthened by a new vision of
our Spiritan mission, with a greater realisation of how much we depend on each other. Despite all the difficulties, it is the Holy Spirit
who gathers us together for mission. A real feeling of solidarity typifies our Congregation: it unites in one and the same family the old
missionary and the young one, full of energy in the front line of missionary commitment” (E.G.C. Dakar, 1995).
France 11.02.1849: First meeting in the chapel of the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit (rue Lhomond) of the project for
Poor Workers.
Germany 1905: The first Spiritans ordained at Knechtsteden,
Frs. Brüning and Ritter, arrive in East Africa.
South Africa 1945: These years were characterised by increased building activity; in this period, 29 churches, 8
chapels, 5 schools, 11 parish houses, 12 houses for
catechists, and 3 parish halls were built.
Guadeloupe 1989: The basic Christian communities have
study sessions with a specialist priest from Brazil.
There is much damage in the island as a result of cyclone “Hugo”.
“At Maynooth, we spoke of “sources of inspiration”. Before being a
body organised for action, our Congregation is, and must be, a body
organised for capturing inspiration, like a large ship which lets out
all its sails to catch the wind, whose crew is united together for better or for worse…The vision of the Maynooth Chapter gives greater
unity to the four dimensions of our commitment : missionary, communitarian, spiritual and open to collaboration. These elements of
our missionary life reinforce each other like the plaited strands of a
rope” (Maynooth General Chapter 0.5)
South Africa 12.02.1948: The Prefecture Apostolic of Kroonstad, is entrusted to the Spiritans in 1922. It becomes
a Vicariate in 1935 and is later divided into the Vicariates of Kroonstad (1948) and Bethlehem (1948), with
Bethlehem designated as the Episcopal seat.
Nigeria 12.02.1958: First Spiritan African noviciate opens at
Awomama. Bishop J. B. Whelan of Owerri celebrates
the inaugural mass for the five novices who start their
noviciate with Fr J. Mohan as first novice master.
12.02.1986: The Council of Major Superiors meets
with the Superior General at Brazzaville
12.02.1995:The first Chapter of the WAF opens at
Ejisu, Ghana.
“At present, Christianity is in search of a basic spirituality that is
meaningful not only for members of a specific religious community in
a specific culture but for all cultures. By means of foundational tracing, we trace in various spiritualities and their masters those elements that are fundamental for any spirituality and a priori for a
transcultural, missionary spirituality. Not all masters of the spiritual
life have equally elaborated such basic elements. Due to his special
grace and calling, background and apostolic concern, our Venerable
Father in this regard is unique”. (Adrian Van Kamm: Spiritan Papers no. 21, p. 59).
Haiti 13.02.1844: Père Eugène Tisserand is appointed Prefect Apostolic of Haiti.
Guadeloupe 1877: The population of Guadeloupe is a little
over 110,000 and there are 85 priests to minister to
them, i.e. 1 priest per 1,650 people. (The figure in
2000 is 1 priest per 8,000 people). Laicisation soon
begins: in 1889, the Brothers of Ploërmel lose the
community schools that they have founded 50 years
Central Africa 13.02.1894: Mgr. Prosper Augouard, Vicar
Apostolic of Oubanghi (residing at Brazzaville) starts
the mission of Saint-Paul des Rapides at Bangui.
1955: Establishment of the hierarchy in French
Africa. On September 14, 1955, Mgr. Levebvre becomes the first Archbishop of Dakar. Henceforth, the
local Church is responsible for the mission; the Congregation no longer has specific areas confided to it.
“The number of priests formed at the Holy Ghost Seminary until
1792 may be estimated conservatively to have been at least 1,300.
Only about 130-140 (i.e. 10-11 percent of the total) went to the overseas missions, hardly enough to justify the claim that one had to do
here with an exclusively missionary institution” (Henry Koren: “To
the Ends of the Earth” p. 120).
C.S.Sp 1732: The Seminaire du Saint-Esprit moves into the
rue des Postes (now rue Lhomond).
Congo Kinshasa 1888: Erection of the Vicariate Apostolic of
Congo. Four Scheutist priests arrive in September in
Zaire. They will soon take over Nemlao and Boma
Zambia 1961: Makunga parish (Livingstone diocese) is one of
the earliest mission which Spiritans take on arrival in
the diocese (67 kms west of Livingstone).
Zimbabwe 14.02.1996: The Spiritan District house in Fern
Valley is blessed by Bishop A.C. Muchabaiwa and is
officially opened by Pierre Schouver, the Superior
“The future looks bright for the Oeuvre d’Auteuil and our founders
would surely be happy at the prospect. If Père Libermann would rejoice to see his sons looking after the first sanctuary in Paris in honour of the patron of the missions (St. Theresa), Poullart des Place
would be equally pleased that the Congregation he founded to help
the “poor scholars” was now caring for poor and abandoned orphans, and that perhaps in the future, a great number of destitute
children without a family will be welcomed by his sons.” (Père Brottier, 01.01.1936. Lt.14.)
Liberia 1844: The American Hierarchy are concerned about
the liberated slaves in Liberia and Sierra Leone. They
send Monsignor Barron, Fr Kelly and a catechist,
James Pindar, to investigate.
Senegal 15.02.1846: The first Mass is celebrated on the peninsular of Dakar. The Spiritans leave the honour of
presiding to M. Arlabosse, Vice-Prefect of Saint-Louis
and the homily is given by L’abbé Boilat, one of three
first three Senegalese priests.
Trinidad 1950: Numerous vocations to the Holy Ghost Congregation from past students of the College. Eventually, 14 Trinidadians are to serve on the Nigerian mission, mainly with the Irish Spiritans.
Puerto Rico 15.02.1982: After 50 years working in Puerto Rico, the District holds its first Chapter, with the participation of 26 members.
“I am convinced, my dear friend, that the ultimate consummation of
our love that will take place in heaven is foreshadowed in this life in
the Eucharist, this masterpiece of unity that Jesus gave to his saints
on this earth. He made sure that we would always live in perfect union with him by giving us his Holy Spirit; but in the Blessed Sacrament, he bestows on us such a fullness of this Holy Spirit and such a
great gift of love and union that we would surely die if we were completely aware of it”. (Libermann to Leray, 24.07.1834. LS I, p. 5152).
16.02.1712: Ordination to the priesthood of RenéJean Allenou de la Ville-Angevin, a disciple of
Poullart des Places and second father of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit (Brittany).
Reunion 16.02.1842: Frédéric Le Vavasseur, co-founder of
the Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary, leaves
France to rejoin his mission on the island of Bourbon.
Belgium 1912: The senior scholasticate opens at Louvain.
Until now, candidates from Belgium did their novitiate
and studies in France.
Congo Kinshasa 1944: Ordination to the priesthood of the
first local priest.
“Lord, you were looking for me and I was running away. You gave
me reason but I refused to use it…How loveable you are, my saving
God! You do not want my death but only my conversion…You love
me, Lord, and you give me so many signs of your love…For a long
time you have wanted to speak to my heart but I did not want to listen…I have not come here to defend myself: I have come to let myself
be conquered”. (Poullart des Places: Reflections on the Truths of Religion”).
East Africa 17.02.1869: A minor Seminary is opened at
Bagamoyo by the Spiritans. It is later transferred to
Zanzibar in 1872 where it dies a natural death.
Guinée 17.02.1875: Jean-Jacques Katty, son of the king of
Thia, writes to Mgr. Duret (Vic. Apostolic of Conakry)
asking for missionaries. He had been instructed and
baptised by the Spiritans, along with his brothers
Benoît and Emmanuel. The request was forwarded to
the General Council and resulted in an exploratory
journey by Père Gommenginger from Sierra Leone. It
marks the start of the mission in Guinée.
1898: Foundation of the mission school at
U.S.A. 17.02.1992: The noviciate of St. Mary Magdalene of
the province of USA East is set up in the diocese of
“Dear Father, the work of God and the Blessed Virgin is proceeding
very slowly in this poor island of Mauritius because of a lack of sufficient workers…At present, where there were not even 20 blacks
practising their religion, there are now more than 3,000. Of these,
900 are married in Church and 800 come to communion on the big
feast days (the rest not yet being sufficiently instructed). This is the
result of four years’ work; it’s not much, but there is a great movement towards religion”. (Jacques Laval: unedited letter).
St. Pierre & Miquelon 1814: The Treaty of Paris. Spiritans
return to the archipelago.
Sierra Leone 1866: St Edward's Primary School is opened in
Freetown. "Edward" is Father Blanchet's Christian
name and it becomes very popular. He is looked upon
as the Founder of the Church in Sierra Leone.
Gambia 18.02.1965: The Gambia becomes independent.
Ethiopia 1968: It is at the Chapter of 1968 that the question
of first evangelisation is discussed and put on the
agenda as a priority. Fr Eugene Hillman goes to Ethiopia and visits the areas of Gambels and Gamo Gofa.
He runs out of time for visiting Borana land, but in his
reports he mentions Borana as the third possibility.
“An event does not become God’s word to us and a sign of his Spirit
until we have interiorised it and reflected on it in prayer. Jesus
speaks to us in the Gospel of signs of the times to be watched for, to
be understood, and he himself gives an example of how to read the
Father’s will in hours of prayer and meditation. Mary, who is put
before us by our Rule of Life as a model of docility to the Holy Spirit,
was able to face up fully to things that shattered her life, thanks to
the “pilgrimage of faith” (to use the expression of John Paul II in
“Redemptoris Mater”) in which she “pondered these things in her
heart”(Lk 2:51), thus gradually discovering their meaning and mystery”. (Pierre Haas, Christmas Letter, 1987).
Portugal 1890: Opening of a senior scholasticate at Sintra for
philosophy and the first year of theology. Fr. Rooney
is in charge.
C.S.Sp. 19.02.1910: Proclamation of the heroicity of virtues of
François Libermann by Pope Pius X.
England 19.02.1946: The Vice-Province of England becomes
a Province with the Provincial House at Bickley, Kent.
This house also becomes a centre for late vocations
and over the years produces 33 Spiritans.
Senegal 19.02.1950: Mgr. Georges Guibert becomes the auxiliary of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre at Dakar. Since
October 23, 1948, the latter had also been Apostolic
Delegate for French Africa.
“Our renewal has two main objectives: to reinvigorate the spiritual
life of each member of the Congregation and to relocate our missionary work in the context of the present needs of the Church…a
candid look at the style of our apostolate and the historic evolution
of some of our engagements. The current recruitment situation and
the urgent need to help those who are far from the Lord means that
we have some choices to make. The criteria for these choices will be
our desire to remain faithful to the courage of our Founders and the
magnificent outreach of the great pioneer Spiritans in the evangelisation of Africa”. (Joseph Lécuyer, Superior General, 11.01.1969,
before the second session of the General Chapter)
Alto Jurua 1917: Fr. Donnadieu establishes a mission in
Cruziero do Sul.
Switzerland 20.02.1962: The Villa Notre Dame at Montana is
henceforth to be run by the Province of Switzerland
as a rest house.
America: 20.02.1977: First meeting of the Major Superiors of
North America and the Caribbean in Puerto Rico.
Central African Foundation 20.02.1997: Opening of the
Chapter at Kribi, Cameroon, which is to prepare the
way for the establishment of the Province of Central
Africa. The Superiors of the four Districts and representatives of the Foundation are present.
“Our Lord gave me the strength to stand up to my father who wanted
me to abandon the Christian faith. He then unexpectedly came to
tear me away from myself. He took over all my faculties for about
five years and, throughout that time, it never entered my head to try
to acquire one virtue or another: my only concern was to be with
him, and that could not have been easier”. (Libermann to J. Schwindenhammer, 03.08.1846. L.S. IV, p.327).
Canada 21.02.1905: Purchase of the property of Alonso
Wright, 1,631 acres of forest and arable land. It was
made possible by a gift from Mme. Jules Lebaudy to
set up an establishment for young French people
coming to Canada.
Germany 21.02.1921: founding of the Mission Society of the
Holy Ghost.
Guadeloupe 1928: Centenary of the arrival of the Sisters of
St. Joseph de Cluny. It was also the year of the worst
cyclone of the century.
Makurdi 1936: Mgr. Philip Winterle is made Prefect Apostolic
of the Benue. There are now 200 pupils and 11
teachers in the Catholic Primary School, Makurdi
town. 500 copies of a Bible History in the Tiv language are produced, followed by a Tiv Prayer Book.
“The first characteristic trait of the Spiritan charism is, without
doubt, “Evangelic Availability”. This availability has two aspects:
first of all, availability before Our Lord - we place ourselves before
God , desirous of being fully available to him. Secondly, availability
before our fellow men, which makes us add to “Here I am” the
words “Send me”. This is our apostolic life, based on our availability before God. The compenetration of the two aspects of availability
contains, in principle, the key to the eternal problem of how to reconcile the apostolic life with the religious life” (Henry Koren: Essays
on the Spiritan Charism. p.15-18 condensed. )
C.S.Sp. 22.01.1842: Rome names Mgr. Barron as Prefect
Apostolic of Guinée.
East Africa 1883: The Prefecture Apostolic becomes a Vicariat and Raoul de Courmont is named the first bishop
on November 23, 1883. The pastoral aim is to create
a Christian village community of craftsmen and farmers.
Mexico 22.02.1971: The arrival of the first three Spiritans at
Tanlajas (in the State of San Luis Potosi) in the newly-created diocese of Cuidad Valles. The local people
are Tenek Indians (Huastecos), responsible for the
Mayas civilisations, and evangelised by the Franciscans at the end of the “Spanish Conquest”.
Mexico 22.02.1996: Celebration at Tanlajas of 25 years of
Spiritan presence, presided over by three bishops (Arturo Szymansky of San Luis, José Guadalupe Galindo
of Valles and Rafael Gallardo of Tampico), with fifty
diocesan and religious priests and three thousand
Christians from all the Spiritan parishes.
“In me, as in the four directors who have preceded me at Auteuil,
you will find a great desire to be of service to you at a time when
things are far from easy, above all with those who also have the responsibilities of their own families. For the good running of our
house, I intend to encourage and develop the existing collaboration
which you know well and which has contributed so much to bringing
the orphanage to its present successful state at the end of this year,
1923. Let’s get to work – with hearts united for our beloved house of
Auteuil!”. (Père Daniel Brottier, 1923).
Libermann 23.02.1841: François Libermann enters the Seminary of Strasbourg to prepare for his ordination.
Gabon 1861: The school at St. Marie now has between 73
and 80 students. Six have begun to study Latin with
Mgr. Bessieux -–when he is not cutting, clearing the
ground, planting with a cutlass or a pickaxe in his
hand. (B.G. 2, p. 229)
Brazil S.W. 23.02.1969: Fr. Ailbe O’Brien, with Séan Ryan as
assistant, is installed as parish priest of Nossa
Senhora do Carmo, Via Alpina, on the east side of
Sao Paolo city. This is the first parish taken by the
Spiritans in the city of Sao Paolo and has been extensively developed by the American Province of the
Papua New Guinea 1971: The presence of Spiritans in PNG
starts in 1971 when seven priests from the Irish Province who have worked in Nigeria arrive in the Mount
Hagen area. These pioneer Spiritans and others who
will join the team later will labour in the Mount Hagen
diocese for nine years.
“In the wake of Itaici, recent chapters of provinces, foundations, districts and groups have shown a surprising dynamism, not just in facing up to present difficulties but in renewal and formulating new projects. Young confreres requesting their first appointment are not asking for quiet postings but for the most demanding of missions. We
are also discovering that we are not alone: we are working with lay
people in a new way. We are sharing some of our responsibilities
with them, as well as our inspiration and spirituality. In our mission,
there is no way in which are seen as inferior replacements; they have
their own unique witness to give, showing a more authentic face of
the Church, extending into ways beyond our reach” (Pierre Schouver, Christmas Letter, 1993).
C.S.Sp. 24.02.1868: Opening of the diocesan process towards the beatification of François Libermann. The
tribunal is set up by Mgr. Darboy, Archbishop of Paris.
Congo Kinshasa 1873: Propaganda approves the setting up
of a new mission in the Prefecture of the Congo. The
chosen centre is Landana in Cabinda. It was from this
base that the evangelisation of Congo Kinshasa was
Angola 24.02.1987: Fr. Nicolaas Ligthart of the Dutch province is killed in an ambush between Huambo and
Chinguar. He was aged 46.
Bagamoyo 24.02.1993: The number of confreres continues
to decrease and so the circumscription can no longer
operate as an independent district. Henceforth it becomes a Group under the jurisdiction of the General
“Total abandonment to God as a part of his spiritual teaching grew
from his own complete refusal to put any trust in himself or any other
created thing. The situation that God allowed him to experience right
up to the time of the foundation of our Congregation gave him an
unbroken opportunity to practice it to an heroic degree. His sickness
and unmitigated poverty forced him to count no longer on human
help but to look habitually towards God. His relationship to God was
that of a child who sleeps peacefully in the arms of its mother. No
worries could weaken this trust: in giving his whole self to the Lord
in total and unending confidence, he became incapable of doing the
slightest thing for personal reasons” (Le Vavasseur: his witness regarding Libermann).
Germany 25.02.1895: Opening of the junior seminary at
Knechtsteden by Fr. Amandus Acker. First group of
German confreres leave for the Prefecture Apostolic
of Tefé in Brazil.
St. Pierre & Miquelon 1908: Opening of the College of St.
Christopher at the request of Mgr. Le Roy.
F.A.C. 25.02.1977: At a meeting of the Major Superiors of
central Africa in Bangui, it was decided to launch the
Central African Foundation (FAC).
Mexico 25.02.1996: A walk by 500 young people between
Coxcatlan and Tanlajas, passing through San Antonio.
“We must recognise and give high praise to the achievements of the
Pallotine Fathers in Cameroon. We should never speak of them disparagingly. They experienced far more difficulties than we have done
and their work was crowned by the supreme sacrifice of having to
leave the mission that they started and loved so much (when they
were expelled at end of the First World War). It is understandable if
we have our own way of doing things in certain areas. But let us
never be men who think there is only one way of doing things, criticising anything that is not in line with our ideas. That would be most
unjust” (Bishop François-Xavier Vogt c.s.sp.).
C.S.Sp. 26.02.1679: Birth at Rennes of Claude-François
Poullart des Places, the son of François-Claude
Poullart des Places (an inspector of counterfeit money) and Jeanne le Meneust.
C.S.Sp. 26.02.1885: Conclusion of the Berlin conference
which had begun on 15.11.1884 under the presidency
of the German Chancellor, Otto von Bismark. Central
Africa is divided amongst several European countries.
“Christian missionaries, scientists, explorers and their
escorts, together with their goods and their collections, will enjoy special protection”.
Trinidad 1894: the first Trinidadian is professed in the Congregation: Henri Pollonais takes his vows, under the
name of Brother Rupert, in Pittsburgh, USA.
Ethiopia 1977: The general meeting of the Apostolic Vicariate
of Gimma accepts the principle that all the apostolate
in Gamo-Gofa, while assisting the existing Catholics,
will be conducted with and through the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
« M. Claude-François Poullart des Places, to whom the Seminaire
du Saint-Esprit owes its existence, came from a very ancient family
of Brittany in the diocese of Saint-Brieuc. He was born at Rennes on
February 27, 1679 in the parish of St. Peter and St. George and was
baptised the same day. His mother consecrated him to the Blessed
Virgin and dressed him in white until he was seven years old in honour of Our Lady » (Ch. Besnard : Vie de Grignon de Montfort).
France 27.02.1679: Baptism of Claude-François Poullart des
Places in the church of St. Peter and St. George. His
godfather is Count Claude de Marbeuf, president of
the parliament of Brittany: “a high and powerful Lord”!
Rome 27.02.1853: Arrival in Rome of Père Louis-Marie
Barazer de Lannurien, “to establish a house of the
Congregation and, if possible, a French seminary”
(General Council 26.03.1853).
Tefé 27.02.1927: arrival of the first group of German Spiritans
in the Prefecture Apostolic of Tefé.
Cameroon 1936: The “Ad Lucem” foundation sends personnel
for a medical establishment. It is still in existence today.
“Friendship is to forget oneself for the happiness of another person.
It is a rare and divine gift – the most perfect of human virtues. By
sharing joys, we increase their delight: by sharing sorrows we soften
their bitterness” (Daniel Brottier, quoted by Père Pichon in his life of
Brottier, 1938, p. 329).
C.S.Sp. 28.02.1805: The death of Jean-Marie Duflos, the 5th
Superior General. His nephew, Jacques Bertout, returns from his exile in England and finds he is the only
remaining Spiritan. His uncle tells him he must reestablish the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit, destroyed by
the French Revolution. After struggling for 15 years,
he is successful.
France 28.02.1936: The death of Daniel Brottier, worn out by
his total dedication to the young people of Auteuil.
Guinée Conakry 1945: Père Michel Chaverot organises the
first Christian trade union in the country (C.F.T.C.).
F.A.C. 28.02.1988: Inauguration of the Seminaire Brottier at
“The doctors are trying to decide what is wrong with me: if they only knew how many desperate people come knocking on my door and
how powerless I am to help them all, they would soon realise what is
tearing me apart” (Quoted in the process of beatification, p. 24).
East Africa 1889: Tana River foundation and the first baptism
in modern times in Mombasa (Vicariat Apostolic of
North Zanguebar).
Madagascar 1894: A Jesuit, Père Chervalier, ministers for a
few months at Mahajanga but there is still no church.
There have been two Protestant churches there since
1874, one at Rova and the other in the town.
Martinique 1912: Spiritans take over parishes in the north ruined by the volcano of 1902: St. Pierre, Le Carbet,
Fonds Saint-Denis, Morne Vert, Morne Rouge, Ajoupa-Bouillon, Basse Pointe, Macouba and GrandRivière.
Guyane 29.02.1956: The Vicariate Apostolic of Guyane becomes the Diocese of Guyane.
“M .Libermann did nothing out of the ordinary. No external mortification. His terrible health even prevented him from observing the
days of fasting and abstinence laid down by the Church. So how did
he become so high in sanctity? It is because he had the secret of doing even the most ordinary things in an extraordinary way, i.e. of
doing them all in Our Lord. He was not particularly learned; he just
did his prescribed studies like many other people. But his heart was
always overflowing with God and his conversation filled us all with
enthusiasm. He was full of life, he seemed almost to catch fire, he
knew what it was to love and to help others to love” (From the testimony of a Sulpician, Père Pinault, quoted by Gay in “Libermann”).
Guyane 01.03.1612: Arrival of the first priests in Guyane –
C.S.Sp. 01.03.1710: Death of Jacques Garnier, the successor
of Poullart des Places. The seven most senior students chose Louis Bouic, aged 25, as the new superior. He is subsequently re-elected 17 times and is superior altogether for 53 years.
Australia 01.03.1891: The Spiritan Community abandons
Ballarat. This means that the Congregation will have
no province in Australia. "Your fathers have made a
mistake in withdrawing from the college", writes Cardinal Moren in 1892.
01.03.1971: The first three Spiritans arrive; seven
more will follow during 1971. A special appeal is
made by the Archbishop for staff for the Minor Seminary so as to upgrade it to a full secondary school;
three confreres are appointed to Pius XII Seminary.
Ethiopia Sidamo 01.03.1976: The school is officially opened
in the presence of government representatives.
“Port-Louis, where I am working, is a large town; with its suburbs,
there are around 30,000 people, all of whom have to be visited. We
have to teach, catechize, console, visit and administer the sacrament
to all these people, so you can see that there is much work to be
done. The good Lord for whom we are working has blessed our efforts and has made his word bear fruit. This country, and above all
the poor blacks for whom we have been sent here, did not even know
that there was a God when we first arrived” (Jacques Laval to his
sister and brother-in-law, 13.09.1853).
East Africa 1891: Foundation in Mombasa in Kenya (Vicariat
Aposotlic of North Zanguebar). The mission of Bura is
started soon afterwards.
C.S.Sp. 02.03.1963: The Superior General moves to 393, rue
des Pyrénées in Paris, while the Provincial of France
returns to rue Lhomond.
W.A.F. March 1982: The Foundation has its first Director in
March 1982; Fr Peter Newman (Irish Province) takes
up the responsibility of Director from the Superiors of
Senegal and the Gambia who have been entrusted
with the special responsibility to care for the Foundation by the initial 1979 meeting. The first group of professed students moves to Isienu, Nigeria, for philosophy studies.
Ireland 1987: An international Spiritan noviciate is set up in
the former provincialate in Cypress Downs, Templeogue, Dublin.
“I was aware of being dragged by the train and left in bits on the
sleepers. I counted the wagons still to pass over me until the end of
the train, but the presence of God never came so clear and real to me
as at that moment. I felt overcome by a twofold sentiment. First, I
saw with shattering clarity that the Lord Jesus is the sublime High
Priest; he sacrifices his victims when and as he wishes. At the same
time I understood as never before that obedience is everything in our
life; without that, nothing counts. We make lots of plans, we fantasise
many things, we make ourselves important; then all of a sudden, Our
Lord comes forward to demonstrate that he can get along without us,
and that perfectly well”. (José Maria Felgueiras, a Portuguese confrere fatally wounded in an accident while trying to save a young boy
in Spain. Spiritan Papers no. 19).
Senegal 1865: Mgr. Kobès founds the Congregation of the
Brothers of Saint Joseph at Ngazobil. He is regarded
as the real founder of the Church of Sénégambia.
Cameroon 03.03.1949: Mgr. Teerenstra of the Netherlands
was chosen as Auxiliary to Mgr. Graffin with responsibility for the region of Doumé. This was the solution
chosen to avoid possible difficulties with the French
Gabon 03.03.1982: Opening of first Chapter of the District of
Congo Kinshasa 03.03.1989: District of Kongolo becomes
the District of Zaire.
“A Samaritan woman came at that time to draw water from the
fountain. It was divine Providence which led here there at that exact
moment for her own salvation. Our Lord is happier to announce
eternal truths to this poor woman – degraded by sin, ostracised by
her people, a foreigner despised by the Jews – than to Nicodemus,
even though he was a pious Jew, a doctor of the law and a prince of
his people. Jesus…speaks more clearly and precisely to this poor
woman than he does to the doctor” (Libermann: Commentary on St.
John’s Gospel, 4:8).
East Africa 04.03.1868: The first Roman Catholic Mission on
the mainland of East Africa is founded at Bagamoyo
(Apostolic Prefecture of Zanguebar) by Fathers Antoine Horner and Edouard Baur. Fr Horner and
Brother Marcellin settle at Bagamoyo.
Ireland 04.03.1878: Bro Onuphre Cooney set out from Ireland
with Fr Charles Duparquet for the mission of Cimbabasie (Angola), later to be followed by Frs. John Hogan, Gerald Griffin and Joseph Lynch.
Martinique 04.03.1912: Propaganda asks the Congregation
to assume responsibility for the old colonial dioceses
of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Reunion, as well as
the Apostolic Prefectures of St. Pierre & Miquelon and
French Guiana.
Nigeria 4.03.1974: The first-ever meeting of African Spiritans
starts at Awomamma, Nigeria. Statistics from the
meeting show that there are now 102 professed African members. A resolution is passed asking the forthcoming General Chapter to consider electing an African into the General Administration of the Congregation.
“The poor person’s money is extremely honest; our own money is
honest, which comes more from widows’ mites than from the crumbs
that fall from the tables of the rich. The money earned by the work of
our confreres, whether salaried or not and which in accordance with
the logic of our vow of poverty is put into the common purse is also
honest. The same goes for the money which they inherit from their
families, possibly the fruit of the toil of several generations. Money
that is entrusted to us is especially worthy of honour because it is
intended for the evangelisation and liberation of the poor”. (Pierre
Haas, Superior General: Christmas Letter, 1990).
Guyane 05.03.1822: Departure of the first Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny for Guyane.
Libermann 1841: Libermann considers setting up a community in Strasbourg to gain access to Germany and Alsace.
Trinidad 1876: Fr. James Browne from Ireland is appointed
Principal of St. Mary’s College. With one exception,
from this time till 1957, all the College Principals are
Sierra Leone 1893: Fr James Browne, who was a delegate at
the General Chapter in Paris in 1892, is appointed to
succeed Fr. Blanchet as Vicar Apostolic of SierraLeone. A remarkably apostolic man, his ten years see
continued growth and expansion in rural areas. He
greatly improves relations between the Church and
the civil Administration.
“Every little detail is meant to mould our souls and draw them nearer to Himself. Then let us throw all - our sins, our faults and all besides into the boundless ocean of God’s mercy and love and let us
say: “My God, I give thee all”. Our life is as a psalm. At the end of
every psalm, and often in the liturgy, we say: ‘Glory be to the Father’; we shall say it for eternity. My dear Sisters, accept all - your
weakness, imperfections, trials and difficulties and offer all to God.
Above all, do not be proud; love God, praise God, trust God. (Joseph
Shanahan, quoted by Sr. M.Philomena Fox, p.50).
Sierra Leone 1867: Two Spiritan Brothers take charge of St
Edward's School which houses 130 pupils. Fr
Blanchet leaves Freetown for Senegal, but later returns as Pro-Vicar of the Church in Sierra Leone; this
is the first time it is separated from Liberia, Guinea
and the remainder of West Africa.
U.S.A. 1877: The first Junior Seminary starts at Ross Manor:
it is transferred to Perrysville a few months later.
Brazil SW 06.03.1963: Fr Timothy O'Driscoll, the Irish Provincial, and Fr Patrick Walsh, the second Assistant, arrive in Rio de Janeiro to spend a month in Brazil in
contact with the German and Dutch Provincials for the
purpose of beginning an Irish Province foundation in
Spain 06.03.1978: A team from Spain and Portugal leave for
Paraguay. They will reinforce the Spiritan international
group and will be working in the mission of Lima in
the diocese of San Pedro.
“Going over the writings of Poullart de Places meditatively (a thing
we seem to do seldom today) and abstracting from their dated style,
there comes across a sense of great modernity as well as an echo of
the doctrine of the Venerable Father…Certainly, there is a youthfulness about his writings which could help us keep among ourselves a
certain breath of youth” (Joseph Lécuyer: Spiritan Papers no 3,
Germany 1918: During the First World War, 54 confreres
were killed. At the end, the province lost the Alsatian
confreres and houses as well as the mission of East
Haiti 1919: Spiritan personnel are reduced in number as a result of the war. The Congregation tries to hand over
the management of Collège St. Martial to the Archdiocese, but the plan is dropped after the intervention of
the Holy See.
Ireland 07.03.1924: Joseph Shanahan founds the Missionary
Sisters of the Holy Rosary to assist him in his work
with the women of Nigeria.
France 1946: The Bulletin of the province gives the number
of confreres who died during the Second World War:
9 priests, 5 brothers and 9 scholastics.
“Gradually, the faith-perspective of St. Paul and François Libermann began to take hold: ‘For it is when I am weak that I am strong’
(2Cor 12:10). The trust of our contemporary Spiritans seemed to
echo that of our ancestors in the faith – Laval, Brottier, Shanahan.
Further back stood des Places, who refused to stop believing in the
young men of his time, and Libermann, whose personal life illustrated one of the main threads of today’s missionary spirituality…waiting for God”. (General Chapter Itaici, no. 9).
St-Coeur de Marie 08.03.1846: Mgr. Luquet, a friend of
Libermann, writes from Rome, advising him to draw up
a Memorandum on Guinée to be presented to the
Propaganda. He includes advice on how to go about it.
Gabon 1856: Having arrived on 01.03.1854, Père Duparquet
begins Latin classes for several students. The only one
to persevere is Guillaume Dorsay who becomes a
Spiritan scholastic in France and dies at Ngazobil on
St. Pierre & Miquelon 1874: The Congregation opens a secondary school on St. Pierre.
Sierra Leone 1922: St. Edward’s Secondary School is opened
and blessed by Bishop O’Gorman. It becomes one of
the great schools of the country, both academically and
on the sports field.
“We experienced an ardent and continuous desire to help these unfortunate people (the Blacks). We regarded this desire as an inspiration from God, strengthened by the encouragement we received from
the Sacred Congregation in Rome. We began to hope that the time of
salvation had finally arrived for these poor people and that they
were being called to share in the graces of Jesus Christ in the
Church. As soon as we got to work, we continued to be assured in
our hope by the many blessings that were given to us by the Lord”.
(Libermann: Memorandum of 1846, Introduction).
U.S.A. 09.03.1804: Fr. Jean Moranville becomes the first
Spiritan holding American citizenship.
Libermann 09.03.1851: From March 9 to April 20, Père
Libermann resides at Notre-Dame-du-Gard, giving talks to the
novices and brothers. (N.D. XIII).
East Africa 1891: Fr. Gommendinger starts the Kilimanjaro
mission. Père Le Roy begins work in Mombasa where a group
of Christians had been killed in 1630.
Congo Kinshasa 1909: Foundation of the mission of Kongolo
by Frs. Villetaz and Brangers and Br. Euloge.
“I have had the joy of making my perpetual vows in the church of
Sainte-Croix in the presence of the Reverend Father Visitor. I believe
that I made them with all my heart and with the desire to be a good
religious and missionary, living in conformity with the Rules and
Constitutions. So here I am, by the mercy of Our Lord and the goodness of the Holy heart of Mary, a simple missionary and religious. As
a labourer of the eleventh hour, I will try to make up for all the faults
of my long-lasting pride by a life of complete obedience to our holy
Rules and Constitutions. (Jacques Laval to Ignace Schwindenhammer, 06.09.1859).
Switzerland 10.03.1913: Opening of “des Taulettes in the
Vallais as a nursing home for confreres with tuberculosis. In 1919 it will be replaced by the house at Montana.
Mauritania 10.03.1915: Mauritania, which had been confided
to the White Fathers in 1901, is once more attached
to Saint-Louis at the request of Mgr. Jalabert.
Cameroon 1929: Mgr. Vogt asks for the Vicariat of Cameroon
to be split in two because of the increased work occasioned by many new foundations.
Australia 1998: Six new posts are given to the Congregation
at the end of the 2nd millennium. Altogether, there are
now fourteen Spiritan places in Australia.
“The Spirit goes ahead of us on the path of mission and signs of his
presence accompany our work. Mission is therefore a pilgrimage, an
adventure, contemplation and discovery of the work of the Spirit. It
is, above all, a witness through the quality of our lives. We are called
to conversion and transformation by a process of kenosis” Maynooth
General Chapter, Spirituality Ch. 2).
U.S.A. 11.03.1878: Fr. Strub obtains a property of 900 square
miles near Morrilton, Arkansas. A brothers’ community is opened and confreres build schools and churches throughout the region. The project comes to a halt
in 1892 because of persistent tempests.
Liberia 1885: Frs. Blanchet and Lorber go to Monrovia at the
request of the Liberian Administration to re-establish
the Mission there. Fr Blanchet returns once more to
Freetown and continues his work of expansion.
East Africa 1899: First mass in Nairobi at the new Railway
Station. Beginning of Holy Family Parish. Foundation
of St. Austin's Mission and the first planting of commercially successful coffee in Kenya (Vicariat Apostolic of North Zanguebar).
Ireland 1917: The Faculty of Philosophy is transferred to St
Mary's College, Rathmines. The Provincialate also
transfers to this location. The faculty of Theology of
Irish aspirants, until this year housed in Chevilly, is
opened in Kimmage Manor with 29 students.
“The aim of M. des Places and his successors in establishing the
Seminaire du Saint-Esprit is to train priests who are hardworking,
capable and unselfish, ready to fill the most difficult and the least
sought-after jobs – for example, hospitals, small country parishes,
missions in France, in the colonies of the Kingdom and elsewhere,
running seminaries, directing sisters and other similar work” (Pierre
Thomas, Memoires, c 1730).
Malawi 1897: The Vicariat of Nyasa is entrusted to the White
Fathers. Six years later, the Prefecture of Shire in the
southern half of the country is given over to the Montfort Fathers.
C.S.Sp. 1956: Cardinal Tisserant goes to several capitals in
francophone West Africa to establish the new hierarchies set up by Mgr. Lefebvre c.s.sp., the Apostolic
Delegate. Henceforth the local Church is responsible
for mission: the Congregation no longer has any territory confided to itself.
Ethiopia 12.03.1979: The Spiritan team presents itself to the
people (elders) to start their work as evangelisers
around Dadim. The elders agree that those who want
to be baptised in the Catholic Church are free to do so
and will not be regarded as belonging less to the
Borana people because of it.
Sierra Leone 12.03.1994: Fr. Felim McAllister (Ireland) is
killed in an ambush at Panguma at the age of 53. He
had been appointed to Sierra Leone in 1968 and
served the refugee people in the war zone.
”Once we had all been beaten, we were marched out of the cells in a
line. We filed in front of the guard and at the door we were made to
empty our pockets. We were only allowed to keep our rosaries. When
I got to the door, I saw the drunk soldiers beating the prisoners to
make them move faster. We all had bare feet. We realised that we
were not going towards the mission but in a different direction. I was
with them for about thirty metres while we were being flogged. As
we passed in front of Mgr. Kabwe he blessed each one of us. He
wanted to join us himself, but the soldiers would not let him” (Kongolo, 01.01.1962: testimony of Père Jules Darmond).
Libermann 13.03.1829: On this day, the day before he is due
to receive the sub-diaconate, François Libermann has
a serious epileptic attack in the room of his spiritual
director, Père Cabon. Ordination is now out of the
Rome 13.03.1865: The remains of Mgr. Luquet, the friend of
Libermann and the inspiration for much of his missionary ideas, are transferred to the chapel of the
French Seminary in Rome.
Congo Kinshasa 1880: Foundation of the mission of Boma
by Pères Carrie and Visseq – the first in Belgian Congo.
Germany 1899: First edition of the missionary magazine
“Echo aus Knechtsteden” (which becomes “Echo aus
den Missionen” in 1910; today the title is “Kontinente”).
“I have not advanced to the sub-diaconate because my sickness has
not altogether left me – in fact, I will probably have it for a long time
to come. So it will be several years before I can move on and perhaps it will never happen. In itself it is a tragic and insupportable
affliction. But that is the language of somebody who belongs to this
world…It is not the way that the children of God, genuine Christians,
should react. They are happy with whatever their Father gives them
because they know that everything he sends is good and useful for
them…” (Libermann to his brother Samson, 08.07.1830. L.S. 1, p.9).
Australia 14.03.1847: Coming from his mission (Albany &
Mollyalup) where Libermann’s missionaries are completely abandoned, Fr Thévaux arrives in Perth on
March 14. There are several stormy interviews with
the Bishop, which seem to indicate some mental derangement. Finally, Fr Thévaux resolves to return to
France to report on the situation.
Guadeloupe 14.03.1851: Mgr. Lacarrière sets out for Guadeloupe and Mgr. Leherpeur for Martinique. They are
the first bishops of the new “colonial” dioceses, the
creation of which was one of the last major tasks of
Angola 14.03.1866: The first three Spiritans disembark at the
port of Ambriz from the steamer “Lincolnshire”: Frs.
Joseph Marie Poussot (Vice-Prefect), Antoine Espitallié and Etienne Billon (an Agregé).
Makurdi 1921: The first serious attempt at a mission to the
Tiv people of central Nigeria: Frs Mellett (Ireland) and
Douvry (France) go to live in Ogoja to the north-east
of Igboland and within striking distance of the vast
unexplored area to the north.
“In Africa, where light and shadow, joy and sorrow, hope and
despondency, good health and bad will follow each other in
such disconcerting and rapid succession, one needs an extra
dose of cheerfulness. I suppose that was one of the reasons why
St Paul - the great missionary - was so insistent on ‘cheerfulness. You will remember his “Gaudete, iterum dico: gaudete”.
(Joseph Shanahan, to the Holy Rosary Sisters, 02.07.1934, Letters I, 100)
Libermann 15.03.1825: Baptism in secret of Samson Libermann (brother of Jacob) and his wife Babette. Their
conversion has a profound effect on Jacob and on his
own religious development.
Senegal 15.03.1849: Arrival at Gorée of Mgr. Bessieux (Vicar
Apostolic of the Deux-Guinées) and his coadjutor,
Mgr. Kobès. After a few weeks, Mgr. Bessieux moves
on to Gabon.
Angola 15.03.1866: Spiritan missionaries celebrate Mass for
the first time on Angolan soil (at Ambriz).
U.S.A. 15.03.1984: With the backing of the USA-East Province, Fr. James F. Healy, Director of Justice and
Peace for the province, opens the Washington Center
for Haiti to obtain redress for Haitian victims of injustice, whether in the U.S.A. or in Haiti itself. It becomes
a powerful factor in their search for human rights.
“The Church, by beatifying Jacques Laval and Daniel Brottier, recognises that the way pioneered by Claude Poullart des Places and
Francis Libermann, and subsequently followed by generations of
Spiritans, is a sure path to follow. So it is in complete confidence that
I present this Rule of Life to you as being a gift from the Holy Spirit.
It takes up our fundamental inspiration and carries it forward from
our former Rules and Constitutions. It represents the application of
the charism of the Founders to the Church of our times and the modern world – God’s present day – an application made possible by the
research that has gone on in our Congregation since the 1968 General Chapter” (Pierre Haas, Superior General, in his introduction to
the Spiritan Rule of Life).
Switzerland 16.03.1931: Death of Sister Eugénie Caps,
Founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit
(Spiritaines) at Montana.
South Africa 1943: Three local priests are ordained by Bishop
Angola 16.03.1976: Death of Fr. Ties Thijssen (Holland) and
Br. Alfonso Rodriques (Portugal), killed by a government soldier at the mission of Caconda.
Guadeloupe 16.03.1997: A demonstration at Basse-Terre by
at least 12,000 Christians in support of the Association for homeless children in danger of abuse. In August of the same year, 231 boys and girls from the diocese went to Paris for the World Youth Day.
“In all my struggles and temptations, I turn to prayer rather than
reflection. At the most difficult moment, I stand and wait…Here I am,
Jesus!. The future doesn’t matter, I belong to you. Let me always be
faithful to you and make more and more progress. Jesus, continue
your work within me. You know that my heart is listening to you, that
it needs you, that it wants nothing more than to suffer for you and
leave you to do as you will. I want to lose myself in you, to become
nothing, to abandon myself with total confidence and love you perfectly; I want to love and serve you in such a way that the black people whom I love so much may come to know you”…(The last writings
of Sr. Eugénie Caps [25.02.1931] before her death in the hospital at
Sierre in Switzerland).
Holy Heart of Mary 17.03.1844: Foundation of the mission of
Assinie (in present-day Ivory Coast) by MM. Bouchet,
André and John Egan.
Rome 17.03.1860: Visit by Pope Pius IX to the French Seminary.
East Africa 17.03.1873: A British Minister, Sir Bartle Frere on
his mission to abolish the slave trade, visits
Bagamoyo mission and commends the Holy Ghost
missionaries in their work of liberating and rehabilitating the slaves.
Rome 17.03.1998: Pierre Schouver, the Superior General,
approaches Cardinal Camillo Ruini with a view to the
Congregation taking over a parish in Rome. The reply
is positive and encouraging.
“We must be faithful to our missionary tradition of learning languages and taking root amongst a people. We should not feel guilty
about limiting our work to a specific human group. Let us not be
over-impressed by large-scale performances. The fruits of an evangelisation that is too rapid, simply in order to occupy an area, can be
swept away by the first storm that comes along. I think we are on the
right track whenever we are working with people from the heart of
their unique cultural experience from which God calls them by name.
In our mission, we are not looking for immediate results; we put our
trust in the slow and lasting fruits of the witness given by communities inspired by the Gospel”. (Pierre Schouver, Superior General.
Pentecost Letter, 1996).
Haiti 18.03.1845: Eugène Tisserant, who had arrived in Haiti
in December, 1843, leaves the country for good, convinced that any apostolic ministry there is impossible.
Germany 18.03.1864: Père Schwindenhammer acquires Kaiserwerth in Westerwald (26.03.1864) and Marienthal
(23.03.1864). :
Angola 18.03.1922: The Portuguese government allows
brothers to enter the country, on condition that they
do not work in groups.
Canada 1928: First edition of the “Bulletin des Pères du SaintEsprit”. The College now has 13 fathers (including 2
Canadians), 13 brothers (1 Canadian), 5 Scholastics
and 11 Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Mormaison.
“The father of Claude Poullart des Places decided that his son
should be a member of the parliament of Brittany and Mme. des
Places bought the necessary clothes for that function. When the time
came to try them on, he felt very unhappy with it. He looked at himself in a mirror and reflected that it was much easier to put on the
robe than to acquire the necessary qualities to be a judge. But God
made it clear to him that he was not being called to that way of life.
He took off the robe and declared to all that he would never put it on
again. At the same time, he asked his father’s permission to enter the
ecclesiastical state” (Charles Besnard: Life of L-M Grignon de
C.S.Sp. 19.03.1707: Claude-François Poullart des Places is
ordained deacon in Paris.
Senegal 19.03.1819: Arrival of 7 Sisters of Saint Joseph of
Cluny for the hospital of Saint-Louis as well as 2 Senegalese priests sent by the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit.
France 19.03.1866: Abbé Roussel starts the Work for First
Communion which is the origin of the Work for the
Orphans of Auteuil.
Tefé 19.03.1897: Profession of Brother Wilfried at Chevilly.
He leaves immediately for Tefé where he will be the
first German brother to work there.
Canada 19.03.1921: The first four Canadian Spiritains are
ordained: Pères Gawlick, Bériault, Chalifoux and Dolan. There are two novices at Grignon in France and
three more are preparing to succeed them.
Ireland 19.03.1968: “Concern” is founded to assist refugees
during the Nigerian civil war. Later, “African Concern”
is formed as an inter-denominational organisation of
Irish people devoted to education, economic progress
and relief of hunger and suffering in developing countries. Up until 1997, “Concern” is a Spiritan project.
“The marriage of Joseph and Mary was entirely spiritual and
brought about to implement the plans of God for mankind, so Mary’s
dowry was also spiritual. Hence the greatness of St. Joseph, since the
soul of Mary, which was far greater than his own, shared all its
richness and graces with him…Joseph was chosen with Mary to
spread her graces and blessings on the whole human race”. (Libermann: Meditation on St. Joseph. E.S. supplement, pp66-77).
Senegal 20.03.1908: Shipwreck of the “Saint-Joseph” between Ngazobil and Dakar, resulting in the death of
Bishop Alphonse Kunnemann, Vicar Apostolic of
Senegal (1901-1908).
Cameroon 1935: Brother Mauritius is transferred from Nigeria
to Cameroon where he will spend almost 40 years as
a builder.
France 1939: First edition of the “Bulletin de la Province de
Makurdi 20.03.1948: The Benue Province of Nigeria, previously staffed by members of the German Province, is
confided to the Province of England. The same area
now covers four dioceses with their own local bishops
and clergy. More than 50 British Spiritans have since
served in the area.
“Mgr. Vogt opened a junior seminary at Mvolyé (Yaounde) in September, 1923. As there were no other teachers, the Vicar Apostolic
himself became the director and teacher of the children. By 1925,
there were 40 students in the school. The senior seminary was
opened in 1927 and on March 19, 1928, the first 12 seminarians took
the soutane. The first four priests were ordained in the Cameroon in
December, 1935. When Mgr. Vogt died in 1943,he had already ordained 41 Cameroonian priests” (Mgr. Vogt: Spiritan Papers 19,
Reunion 21.03.1904: A cyclone devastates Reunion. 25 are
killed and thousands made homeless.
Netherlands 1905: First edition of the Spiritan missionary review, “The Messenger of the Holy-Spirit”.
Madagascar 1911: M. Augagneur. Governor General of Madagascar, forbids Malagasy children to attend the
same schools as the Europeans and those of mixed
blood; he later leaves Madagascar “to the great delight of the whole population”!
France 21.03.1979: The District of Auteuil, created by Mgr.
Le Hunsec on 11.11.1943, is suppressed; Auteuil
once again becomes part of the Province of France.
“The missionaries must be determined to love and cherish the
Blacks like their own brothers; their friendship for them should be
deeper than for the Whites. They must be so identified with the
Blacks that they will be despised, like them, by other white people.
This great concern they will have for the black people will make
people look down on them at first, but in the end they will be deeply
admired, as happened to St. Peter Claver” (Memorandum of Le
Vavasseur, to Galais).
Reunion 22.03.1917; Père Georges Marie de Beaumont
c.s.sp. is appointed Coadjutor Bishop to Mgr. Fabre,
Bishop of Saint-Denis. He will succeed him on
Alto Jurua 22.03.1947: Père Joseph Hascher c.s.sp. from
Alsace is appointed as the second Bishop of the Prelature. The ordination is held at Blotzheim (Alsace).
Cameroon 1952: Foundation of Collège Vogt at Yaounde and
Collège Libermann at Douala (by P. Boulanger). It
was confided to the Jesuits in 1956.
Congo 22.03.1977: Following the assassination of the President of the Republic of Congo, Marien Ngouabi, Cardinal Emile Biayenda is also killed in mysterious circumstances. He had been coadjutor to Mgr. Mbemba
(03.07.70), Archbishop of Brazzaville (14.06.71) and
Cardinal (09.03.73).
“The proposed missionary method rests on two co-related principles: the first is that we are convinced that the Faith will not have a
firm foundation amongst these people, nor will the young Churches
be assured of a future unless they are backed up by a civilisation that
has reached a certain degree of perfection. By a “perfected” civilisation we mean one that is based, apart from religion, on knowledge
and work. It is not enough to show these people the practice of work:
they must be gradually introduced to the theories behind things so
that they will eventually arrive at a stage where they will no longer
need the help of missionaries to continue the project” (Libermann,
Memorandum of 1846: The Way we intend to follow.).
23.03.1805: Napoleon signs the decree reestablishing the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, along
with the Foreign Missions of Paris and the Priests of
the Mission (Vincentians). But four years later, he will
suppress them again as a result of a quarrel with
Pope Pius VII.
East Africa 1899: Bishop Allegeyer starts a mission at Simonsdale in Kikuyu country (Vicariate Apostolic of
North Zanguebar.
Guinée Conakry 1924: Père Orcel prints the first Coniagui
catechism with the Sunday Gospels. Père Leclerc begins the seminary at Dixinn.
Tefé 1935: Consecration of the cathedral of Tefé.
“The second principle on which our missionary method rests is our
conviction that civilisation is impossible without the Faith. Hence the
task of the missionary is not just to work in the area of morality but
also in the intellectual and physical sphere, i.e. in education and
training in agriculture and practical skills. Because of his supernatural authority as one sent by God, as well as his charity and priestly
zeal, he alone is capable of bringing about a balanced result. Thus
the success of the work will depend on him alone” (Libermann:
Memorandum of 1846: The Way we intend to follow.).
Guinée Conakry 1921: Thanks to a lessening in the militant
anti-clericalism of recent times, the Spiritans are able
to move ahead with their schools programme.
South Africa 24.03.1924: Appointment of the new Prefect
Apostolic of Kroonstad, Mgr. Leon Klerlein.
Cameroon 1935: Launching of a newspaper in the Ewondo
language, “Nleb Bekristen”.
Spain 24.03.1981: First meeting of the new Provincial Council.
Fr, Joaquin Ramos Seixas, who was the first Provincial of the Spanish Province, is re-appointed for a further mandate.
“Libermann was physically strong and nervously fragile. Vulnerable
to stress, his body possessed a wiry endurance. He was sensitive, affectionate and shy. He had a penetrating mind that went straight to
the heart of a matter, paying little attention to appearances. He was
not without intellectual curiosity, though it rarely surfaced. His was
largely uncritical towards those he trusted. His intelligence was of an
essentially practical bent and had a cutting edge. Theories were a
luxury unless they led to decisions. If he considered the will more
important that the intellect, this was no speculative conclusion. It
was simply that, in looking around him, he saw more people who
knew what to do than those who were prepared to do it”. (Bernard
Kelly: Life began at Forty, p.111-113)
Poland 25.03.1925: Erection of the Vice-Province of Poland.
Fr. Zygmunt Rydlewski is named superior with Michal
Retka and Pawel Baranski as assistants. The councillors are Frs. Stanislas Kolipinski and Jozef Halba.
Madagascar 25.03.1925: The Vicariat Apostolic of Mahajanga
is created from the western part of the Vicariat of
North Madagascar. Père Paul Pichot, the Vicar General of Mgr. Fortineau, is named as Bishop and is ordained on June 30 at rue Lhomond, Paris.
Nigeria 25.03.1976: Establishment of the Province of Eastern
Nigeria by the General Council. Fr Philip Aguh, who
has been principal superior, will end his mandate on 5
January 1977 to be succeeded by the newly elected
provincial, Fr Moses Orakwudo.
Algeria 25.03.1986: The Spiritan Group of Algeria is detached
from the Province of France. Henceforth, it will depend directly on the Generalate. Père René You is
the superior.
«To carry out its mission and build up communion within, the
Congregation gives itself various structures. Central to all these,
however, is community living. It is practised differently in response
to differences both in the members themselves and in the work they
are doing (151). Every confrere has the right to live in a local Spiritan community (152). Circumscriptions exist to allow the Congregation to be present and accomplish its apostolic task in one or more
local Churches » (156). (Spiritan Rule of Life).
U.S.A. 26.03.1879 : Despite dire warnings against accepting
African-Americans as members of the Congregation,
Fr. Strub courageously begins to admit some as postulant brothers in Arkansas. As a former missionary in
Senegal, he has seen African Blacks become excellent religious and priests.
Guinée Conakry 1942: Père Le Mailloux launches the first
Catholic Action group in Conakry.
Rome 26.03.1967: Publication of the encyclical “Populorum
Progressio”. Justice and Peace are intimately linked
together by Pope Paul VI.
Spain 26.03.1985: From the start, the Noviciate community of
Aranda de Duero opts for an apostolate to the most
abandoned people in the vicinity: the mentally handicapped, gypsies, the sick and elderly and drug addicts. The Province identifies itself with the project by
signing a contract ad experimentum with “Adroga”.
“To be liberated from misery; to be able to enjoy support, good
health, a stable job; to have more responsibility, free from oppression, protected from situations offensive to human dignity; to be better informed, to have more so as to be more – all this is the great desire of men and women today, yet many of them are condemned to
live in conditions that make such legitimate hopes an impossible
dream. The Church identifies with these worthy aspirations and suffers to see them unsatisfied; she wishes to help people achieve their
full potential” (Paul VI: Populorum Progressio nos 6 and 13).
Libermann 27.03.1840: François Libermann, who has been
in Rome since the beginning of January and is now
abandoned by Maxime de la Brunière, submits his
seven-page Memorandum on Foreign Missions to
Mgr. Cadolini, the secretary of the Propaganda Fide.
Central African Republic 27.03.1938: Mgr. Grandin, now
Vicar Apostolic, consecrates the new cathedral and
ordains his first priest, l’Abbé Barthélémy Boganda.
The western part of the Vicariat (Berbérati, Bozoum
and Doba) is given over to French and Italian Capuchins expelled from Ethiopia.
Senegal 1958: Dakar replaces Saint-Louis as the capital of
Central African Foundation 27.03.1993: Start of the first
Chapter of the Foundation. The headquarters is fixed
at Libreville.
“Our project consists in giving ourselves entirely to Our Lord for the
salvation of the Black Peoples, being those who are the most unfortunate, the furthest removed from the means of salvation, and the
most neglected in the Church of God. It was about two years ago that
we were first deeply touched by the misfortunes that are crushing
these poor people in many countries. We have decided to dedicate
ourselves to their salvation whatever it costs us – because we are
well aware of all the sufferings, humiliations and contradictions that
we will have to face in this holy work for God” (Libermann: Memorandum to Mgr. Cadolini, 27.03.1840).
Guadeloupe 1858: Four Sisters of Saint-Paul de Chartres go
to the camp of Désirade for lepers. Sr. Elisa Brière will
work there for the next 35 years.
France 1860: The first edition of The Messenger of St. Joseph, the bulletin of the Archconfraternity of St. Joseph. It continues to this day.
Germany 1900: The Provincial of Germany, Père Acker, acquires the house at Saverne in which François Libermann was born.
East Africa 1900: The first adult Kikuyu baptism in Kenya.
“Like Simeon, I want to give thanks to God. The Holy Spirit pushed
us forward, he swept away the doubts and hesitations we had about
these new experiences. Spiritan vocations are coming…what joy to
see new generations coming along. The Congregation is alive, very
much alive. Let us bless the Lord!” (General Chapter, Itaici: reaction
of the oldest delegate present. No. 18).
Holy Heart of Mary 29.03.1844: A start is made at Grand
Bassam (in present-day Ivory Coast) by Pères
Audebert, Laval and Frère Grégoire.
Angola 29.03.1868: Fr. Antoine Espitallié dies in hospital in
Luanda, the first Spiritan to die in Angola. He is buried
in the cemetery at Cruzes, Luanda.
Senegal 29.03.1902: Mgr. Kunnemann ordains l’Abbé Sané
Sonko in Saint-Louis, the 10th. priest from the seminary in Senegal.
Central African Republic 29.03.1959: Just before the declaration of independence, l’Abbé Barthélémy Boganda,
the President of the Council of Government, disappears in an air crash.
“Have courage, brothers and dedicate yourselves totally to the glory
of God and the salvation of so many poor people. You have suffered
much and you will suffer more; but remember that you are suffering
for God who will find ways of rewarding you a hundredfold in this
world for all the sacrifices you are making for him. Every time you
suffer for the salvation of souls you will perhaps save many more.
Perhaps that is the hundredfold that Jesus promised. Remember the
unbelievable agony that he went through for the salvation of the
world. As disciples of Jesus, do not expect to be treated better than
he was. (Libermann to the community at Palmas, January 1844).
U.S.A. 30.03.1911: The Spiritan College in Pittsburgh is now
Duquesne University.
Gabon 30.03.1921: At Donguila, three girls take the habit in
the new congregation of the Sisters of Mary: Marie
Philomène Fatou Berre, Catherine Toubanga Diouf
and Anna Raspe.
Germany 30.03.1923: Death of Fr. Armandus Acker (born in
Weyersheim, Alsace 24.04.1848). He is the founder
of the German Province.
Spain 30.03.1953: The community moves to 12, de la Calle
de los Olivos, Madrid 3, which will be the headquarters of the Congregation in Spain.
“In the house of Poullart des Places, poverty is less of a necessity
than a mystique. His spiritual poverty led him not just to accept but
to love and seek out material poverty. This spiritual poverty, a cardinal virtue of the priesthood, was recommended by Poullart in his
spiritual conferences and talk but even more by his personal example. Although he stood to inherit a vast fortune, he took a vow of
poverty and shared the life of the poor scholars in its entirety. He
refused three benefices that were obtained for him by his father in
Rome” (J. Michel: Memoire Spiritaine no. 4, p. 99).
Congo Kinshasa 1911: Foundation of the mission of Lubunda
and erection of the Prefecture Apostolic of Northern
Katanga.The new Prefect, Père Callewaert, resides at
Cameroon 31.03.1931: Creation of the Prefecture Apostolic
of Douala with Mgr. Mathurin Le Mailloux in charge. In
Yaoundé, Mgr. René Graffin is appointed coadjutor to
Mgr. Vogt.
Nigeria 1933: Mgr. Charles Heerey founds the Sisters of the
Immaculate Heart of Mary and builds Onitsha Cathedral.
Canada 31.03.1946: Mgr. Le Hunsec creates the Province of
Canada, with Père Louis Taché as Provincial. The
provincial house is at Collège Saint-Alexandre. In the
Province, there are 76 members: 44 fathers, 18
brothers and 14 scholastics.
“I don’t have the talents that a superior needs. He has to be at the
very least at the level of his confreres but I am far below them – and
that isn’t just false humility. So my conclusion is that this small
community of Mauritius needs a superior who is capable and formed
in the religious spirit if it is to achieve the desired reform. If one of
my confreres were to take my place, I would offer sincere thanks to
God and the Blessed Virgin. However, if it is the will of God that I
should stay, I will do my best, with the help of Our Lord, to do as
little harm as possible”.
(Jacques Laval to Ignace Schwindenhammer, Superior General.
U.S.A. 01.04.1877: Opening of a junior seminary for American
aspirants at Perrysville, Pa.
East Africa 01.04.1939: Fr Alfonse Mtana, a diocesan priest
of the Apostolic Vicariat of Kilimanjaro, becomes the
first African priest to be ordained in the Holy Ghost
Vicariates of East Africa.
Zambia 1971: The Spiritans take over the parish of Kaziya
(Monze Diocese).
Poland 01.04.1973: Start of a new noviciate at Bydgoszcz.
“The second aspect of the Spiritan charism of availability is evangelical poverty in its twofold dimension: material poverty and spiritual
poverty. The first can be summarised thus: while respecting the basic
needs of life, we should have a moderated attitude towards material
goods, both as individuals and as communities. Spiritual poverty
means that we will cultivate an attitude of permanent openness to the
world and to the constant changes that life brings” (Henry Koren:
Essays on the Spiritan charism [condensed] )
Germany April 1920: The junior seminary at Heimbach becomes the noviciate of the Province of Germany.
Kenya 1939: Opening of St. Mary’s School, Nairobi.
Ethiopia April 1981: The first twelve Boranas are baptised in
Spain 02.04.1986: Three new associates leave for the Prelature of Tefé: Adela Amaya, Carmela Fuentes, and
Pepa Contreras. The experience is so successful that
Adela and Carmela renew their commitment after
three years and Pepa joins a missionary congregation.
“O God, who leads people towards the heavenly Jerusalem when
they put all their trust in you, I want to abandon myself entirely to
your divine providence; I put aside my own inclinations, my own
ambitions and desires and dedicate myself to blindly follow yours.
Please let me know what you want me to do, so that in following the
sort of life you have mapped out for me on this earth, I will be able to
serve you during this pilgrimage in a way that is pleasing to you. I
know you will then give me all the help I need to be able to give you
glory for ever” (Poullart des Places: Fragments of a personal rule).
Trinidad 03.04.1923: German personnel to Trinidad: Fr. Leimann returns and Brothers Benno and Florian are
sent on loan. Fr. Leonard Graff remains there until the
South Africa 1945: These years were characterised by increased building activity; in this period, 29 churches, 8
chapels, 5 schools, 11 parish houses, 12 houses for
catechists and 3 parish halls were built.
Congo Kinshasa April 1986: The General Council decides
to set up a Spiritan Foundation in Zaire.
France April 1995: The first edition appears of “Mémoire
“Why mission? Because to us, as to St. Paul, ‘has been confided the
privilege of announcing the unfathomable riches of Christ to the pagans’ (Eph. 3:8). New life in him is the Good News for men and
women of all times; everybody is called to it and destined for it. In
fact, everybody is searching for it, even if, at times, they are looking
in a confused sort of way, and everybody has the right to know the
value of this gift and to possess it. The Church and every Christian
within it cannot hide or keep this new treasure to themselves, because they have received it from God precisely to pass it on to everybody else. This is why mission does not just flow from the formal
command of the Lord but also from a deep imperative of the life of
God within us” (Redemptoris Missio no. 11)
Australia 04.04.1847: Returning from Perth, where it has
been decided with the Bishop that the Holy Heart of
Mary missionaries will withdraw from an impossible
mission in Mollyalup, they wait until June before a
ship bound for Mauritius arrives in the port of Albany.
Germany 1918: The reconstruction of the province begins
with the foundation of houses and works: Spire
(1922); Donaueschingen (1923); Winterberg (1925);
the Provincialate in Cologne (1925); the start of the
junior seminary at Menden (1928).
Cameroon 1924: Arrival of Frère Blaise; he will work there for
the next 54 years.
Portugal 1933: First edition of the review ‘Entre Nós’, which
in 1940 will become ‘Acção Missionária’.
“Towards the end of 1831, the Directors of St. Sulpice sent François
Libermann to Issy. For 15 – 18 months, he had nothing else to do
apart from sweeping up the leaves and concentrating on his own
spiritual life. But the fire of God that burnt within him to help other
people would not die down. He kept begging the authorities to let
him spend his time bringing the Spirit of the Lord into the hearts of
the seminarians, who in turn would be the chosen channel to bring
the same Spirit to the people”(Memorandum of Tisserant. N.D. 1, p.
C.S.Sp. 05.04.1832: The seminary of rue des Postes (later
rue Lhomond) is turned into a hospital during the
cholera epidemic in Paris. The army return it to the
Congregation three years later, greatly damaged.
Madagascar 05.04.1898: Mgr. Alexandre Le Roy agrees to
send missionaries to Madagascar.
Angola 05.04.1978: News arrives of the brutal assassination
of P. José da Silva Pereira, aged 72, a Portuguese
Spiritan who has been in southern Angola for 43
Nigeria 05.04.1983: For the first time in the history of the
Province, a General Assembly of all priests, brothers
and scholastics is held at Isienu. There is a seminar
on Missiology and Spiritan Spirituality.
“You know that for some time now I have been using all that I have
to help poor seminarians pursue their studies. I know several who
are excellent subjects but unless they can find some help, their talents will be lost to the Church. I would like to help by bringing them
together into one house. It seems that this is what God is asking of
me” ( Words of Poullart des Places, recorded by Charles Besnard in
his Life of Grignon de Montfort).
Haiti 06.04.1923: Several German confreres are working in
Haiti: Frs. Spies, Scherer and Weik. Fr. Scherer starts
a meteorological station and Fr. Daniel Wiek is the
founder of the fire brigade of Port-au-Prince.
South Africa 1925: Foundation of several independent mission stations: Ladybrand (1925), Bethlehem (1926),
Winburg (1926), Heilbron (1930), Ficksburg (1933),
Vrede (1934), Senekal, Arlington and Frankfort
Central African Republic 1929: The new Prefect Apostolic of
Ubangui-Chari, Mgr. Marcel Grandin, opens three
new missions: Bangassou, Bozoum and Moundou (in
present-day Chad).
Cameroon 1933: Profession of the first sisters of the Filles de
Marie in the Vicariat of Yaoundé. They are sent to
Nkolavolo with two novices and a Spiritan sister.
“We must speak now of ‘personnel policy’ at the level of the General
Council rather than that of the Provinces. This is the background
against which we must project the whole idea of international teams.
It is a shifting of a responsibility which has become almost exclusively that of Provinces towards “their” Districts towards a responsibility shared by all the Provinces, co-ordinated by the Generalate. It is
a collaboration that will take the form of mutual sharing in personnel and in many other areas as well. Internationalisation thus viewed
is a practical consequence of the development of Mission” (Frans
Timmermans, Superior General: Letter of April/May, 1976).
Congo Kinshasa 07.04.1911: Foundation of Saint-Joseph de
Lubunda (Mgr. Callewaert, Pères Windholtz, Ferry
and Brangers: Frères Euloge. Constantin, Bruno and
Portugal 07.04.1932: P. Moisés Alves de Pinho is named
Bishop of Angola and Congo and is ordained on the
17.07.1932 at Viana do Castelo. Prior to this he was
Provincial for 13 years and was then in charge of the
senior scholasticate with 60 students.
Zaire 07.04.1986: the birth of the Foundation of Zaire.
Poland 07.04.1996: Celebrations for the 75th anniversary of
the founding of the Province.
“Mission, seen as the announcing of the Good News of the Kingdom,
has always been at the very heart of our Spiritan life (SRL 1). But
recently, a certain style of Spiritan approach to mission has emerged
more clearly: more emphasis is put on being close to people, on the
quality of our life and presence, on solidarity, on opening up to new
horizons and a greater collaboration with others. The missionary
adventure gives us the chance to share a journey with many other
people which stimulates us to spiritual growth and a renewal of the
meaning of our own commitment” (Maynooth: Our Mission, p. 98).
Holy Heart of Mary 08.04.1842: Bishop Edward Barron, recently arrived at Cap des Palmes with John Kelly and
Denis Pindar, sets out for Europe to look for more
Netherlands 1936: Consecration of the new chapel of the
“Kasteel” at Gemert.
Congo Kinshasa 08.04.1961: Père Albert Forgeur (Belgium),
chaplain to the gendarmes of Katanga, is killed while
helping a soldier who is gravely wounded. His body is
thrown into the Lualaba river.
Guinée Bissau 08.04.1980: Opening of the mission of Bajob
in Guinée Bissau.
“I base my hopes for the conversion of these people on their characteristics of gentleness and friendliness that they have already shown
towards us. From dawn to dusk they come to visit us, listening to
what we say about religion, looking at pictures of Jesus Christ and
his blessed Mother and asking us when we are going to build a
school for them. We are convinced that the best way to attract the
many tribes to religion and gain their total confidence will be to
teach them skills that will be useful to them in the future” (Bishop
Edward Barron, writing to the Cardinal Prefect of Propaganda Fide,
Mauritius 09.04.1850: Jacques Laval, the superior of the
Spiritans in Mauritius, sends Père Thévaux to the island of Rodrigues. He starts evangelisation and builds
the chapels of Saint-Coeur de Marie and Saint Gabriel.
Rome 09.04.1856: A Motu Proprio of Pius IX gives the ruined
church of Santa Chiara to the French Seminary. In the
same year, they buy the old Poor Clare convent which
is next door. The former Irish college, where the seminary has been so far, has become too small.
Guadeloupe 1865: A devastating cyclone is followed by a
cholera epidemic. There are 6,000 victims in the region of Basse Terre alone.
Sierra Leone 1875: The Mission continues to grow under the
energetic care of Père Blanchet. The turnover of missionaries is the highest in the Congregation: the average length of service there is five years. There is intense opposition from the many different Protestant
groups in Freetown.
“Regarding the subject of his meditations, the first was his own sins.
This is how he normally started to pray and he often spent the whole
time he had set aside for prayer on that topic. However, it was not
the fear of punishment nor the thought of hell that dominated his
prayer but rather the feeling of his own ingratitude in the face of the
goodness of God…The second subject of his prayer, which he never
really left, was the passion of Our Lord. Poverty, humiliations, sufferings, derision and even martyrdom could not frighten a man who
carried the crucified Jesus in his heart” (Pierre Thomas: Mémoire
sur la Vie de Claude Poullart des Places).
Sierra Leone 1889: Père Blanchet brings the Sisters of St.
Joseph of Cluny to the town of Bonthe, some 50 miles
south of Freetown in the creeks. It is the first station
outside the Capital. He goes on to Sulina, up-river
from Bonthe, and tries to start another mission there.
He has just returned to Freetown when the brutal
Mende wars break out. He retires soon after and dies
in 1895.
East Africa 1913: Bishop Emile-Auguste Allgeyer moves the
seat of his diocese from Zanzibar to Nairobi. He retires on 24.04.1913 and is replaced by Bishop Gerald
Neville of the Irish Province.
Canada 1943: The senior scholasticate opens at Daulac
Gabon 10.04.1975: The Episcopal Conference decides to set
up a mobile team for on-going formation of priests,
sisters and laity in the four dioceses of the country.
“You must be holy because the Father of Our Lord is holy and because his Spirit, who must live and act in you, is holy. Give yourself
up entirely to the plans that our Master has for your holiness. Get rid
of everything that is not love, that is not holiness. Abandon yourself
completely to this Spirit of holiness; not only will he then live in you,
but you life will no longer be your own – it will be the life of the Spirit of Jesus Christ who will be everything within you” (Libermann to
Carron: 20.09.1837. L.S.1, p.301-302).
Germany 1851: From 1851 onwards, several bishops in the
USA ask for help from the Spiritans, but there are
simply not enough confreres available.
Congo Kinshasa 1874: Spiritans make exploratory journeys
along the river as far as Boma. In 1876, Père Carrie
buys 5 hectares of land there for a future mission.
Portugal 1875: The College of the Holy Spirit is moved from
rua do Carvalhal to Quinta das Hortas in Braga.
Madagascar 11.04.1984: The cyclone “Kamisy” devastates
the town of Mahajanga and the surroundings. Considerable damage to the cathedral and bishop’s
house. Also much damage in Amborovy.
“The second element of the Spiritan charism is attention to the revelation of the Holy Spirit in the concrete situations of everyday life.
For such an openness, we must detach ourselves from the past. If the
Spiritan does not want to preach to the dead, he must base his approach on what is actually being lived by those who are listening to
him. He will hear the whisperings of the Holy Spirit in what is being
lived today; only by paying close attention to the Spirit will he be
able to distinguish what is coming from God and what is coming
from elsewhere. This flexibility of mind which should characterise a
Spiritan implies that he must be ready to abandon positions taken up
long ago and which perhaps underlay many years of hard work”.
(Henry Koren: Essays on the Spiritan Charism p.15-18).
Libermann 12.04.1802: “22nd of Germinal, Year X: The birth
at Saverne in Alsace of Jägel (Jacob), the fifth son of
Samson Libermann, Rabbi, (but who declares he was
a trader during the Revolution) and of Hindel Jacob”.
From 1806-1813, Jägel went to the Jewish primary
school in Saverne. In 1808, all Jews were ordered to
sign up to the Civil State: the Rabbi took the name of
“Lazar”, his wife the name of Suzanne Haller and Jäger became “Jacob”. The following were the brothers
and sisters of Père Libermann: (from the same mother) Samson, David, Hénoc, Félix (Felkel), Samuel and
Esther; (from the second marriage of the Rabbi with
Violette Weill) Sara and Isaac (the chief Rabbi of
Congo Kinshasa 12.04.1957: Creation of the new Apostolic
Vicariat of Kindu with Mgr. Jean Fryns as bishop.
“All I can remember is that he had a delicate constitution, which
made him the underdog with his brothers, but they still loved him
very much. He stood out by his deep humility, which was so sincere
that he always regarded himself as the least amongst men. He had an
unlimited veneration and respect for myself as the eldest of the family; he regarded me as a being superior to himself in every department” (Note from Doctor Samson Libermann on his young brother,
Jacob. N.D. 1, p. 50).
Reunion 13.04.1843: MM. Blanpin and Collin, missionaries of
the Holy Heart of Mary, go to the island of Bourbon to
join M. Le Vavasseur who has already been there for
one year. This is the first missionary community of the
Senegal 13.04.1857: Admiral Protet installs the first French
troops at Dakar, more than 10 years after the arrival
of the first missionaries in the Cap Vert peninsular.
Guadeloupe 1859: The first diocesan synod takes place.
East Africa 1917: German and Alsatian nationals are interned
and eventually expelled to Egypt and India. Bishop
Vogt is declared persona non grata. Fr. Bartholomew
Wilson of the Irish Province replaces him and is ordained bishop in 1924. He moves the residence to
“The apostolic life is at the heart of our Spiritan vocation. It is ‘that
life of love and holiness lived on earth by the Son of God in order to
save and sanctify people. By it, he continually sacrificed himself,
thereby glorifying the Father and saving the world’ (Rule 1849). So
that we may lead this apostolic life in Christ’s footsteps, our consecration includes three essential dimensions: the proclamation of the
Good News, the practice of the evangelical counsels and a life in a
fraternal and praying community” (SRL 3).
C.S.Sp. 14.04.1778: Departure from Le Havre for Cayenne
(Guyane) of MM. Bertout (the future restorer of the
Congregation) and de Clicourt, but they are shipwrecked off the coast of Senegal (near St. Louis) on
July 13th. As a result of this “accident”, St. Louis is
confided to the Spiritans shortly afterwards.
Gambia 14.04.1850: Arrival of the Sisters of the immaculate
Conception (alias the Blue Sisters of Castres) at Our
Lady of Gambia.
C.S.Sp. 14.04.1851: François Libermann begins to write his
“Instructions to Missionaries”.
Brazil SE 14.04.1986: A group of Poor Clare sisters moves
into the District house for three years on their arrival
from the island of Madeira in order to prepare for a
new foundation in the diocese of Nova Iguaçu.
“Just as Jesus Christ was sent by his Father and lived for his Father,
you also have been sent by him and you must live for him in the spirit
of his holiness. Jesus , your Saviour, sanctified himself and his sufferings for the salvation of souls, and in this way he suffered in
bringing them to birth and sanctified them in the truth. A missionary,
sent by Jesus, who does not sanctify himself or his sufferings will be
incapable of sanctifying others in the truth. The holiness of Jesus
must live in the missionary. In this way, like Jesus, he will give birth
to souls for God in truth, because he will pass on the life of the Saviour which is in himself” (Libermann: Instructions to Missionaries,
14.04.1851. E.S. p. 480-495).
Libermann 15.04.1827: François Libermann is confirmed in
the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
Deux Guinées 15.04.1844: Three missionary communities
are established: Grand Bassam, with Pères Audebert
and Laval and Frère Grégoire; Assinie, with Bishop
Barron, Pères Bouchet and Maurice, Mr. James Keily
and John Egan; Cap des Palmes, with Pères
Bessieux and Jean Fabé.
East Africa 15.04.1872: A cyclone does much damage to the
whole of Bagamoyo Mission compound: roofs are
blown off, walls collapse, trees are uprooted - but fortunately no lives are lost.
Spain 15.04.1976 : 300 young people come to celebrate Easter in the Noviciate community. The organisers see
this as a way to attract young people to Jesus and the
challenges of his Gospel.
«Libermann was ambitious. He wanted badly to make the most of his
life and, to this end, he was prepared to make great demands on himself. He was a man of action who often agonised about whether or
not to act. He was moved by a restless desire but anchored by strong
emotional attachments to people and places. He liked the comfortable feel of the familiar, the firm feel of the traditional. Schooled to
believe in a God who is transcendent, he was shocked by the intervention of God who is available in Christ. At his baptism and in
other mystical experiences, he was lost in wonder at God"s invitation
to intimacy. Communion with Christ became the centre of his life »
(Bernard Kelly: Life began at Forty. p. 111-113).
Nigeria 16.04.1903: The catechists at Onitsha mission go on
strike. The majority of these catechists, who were
formerly Protestants, have become disenchanted with
Leon Lejeune's policies and prefer to continue their
relatively comfortable lives at Holy Trinity mission rather than going out into the countryside.
Guadeloupe 1907: As a result of the law separating Church
and State, nurseries, orphanages, hospices and prison infirmaries are closed and 100 sisters are left without work.
Madagascar 1907: From July to September, the plague devastated Mahajanga and Mahabibo. Many houses
were burnt down: at least half of Mahabibo and one
fifth of Mahajanga are reduced to ashes.
St. Pierre & Miquelon 1907: Spiritans leave the archipelago
in 1793 after refusing the oath of the Revolution, returning only in 1814. They leave again in 1882 and return in1907.
“I am convinced that all missionaries should have an unbounded
confidence in God’s holy Providence, especially in the midst of grave
temptation: e.g. serious difficulties of no matter what nature, or
when all one’s wishes and efforts seem to be futile as regards results,
when failure seems marked on our whole being in its every activity.
A cheerful, loving trust in Providence will carry every missionary
over the most difficult passages of the missionary road to heaven.
One has to keep on looking right over the difficulties up to that Light
that is ever to be found illuminating the summit of one’s soul - that
dawn of the Eternal Light which will illuminate heaven” (Joseph
Shanahan, to Sister Brigid, 17.11.1935. Letters II, p.221).
Martinique 17.04.1794: Arrival (by accident!) of the first Spiritan in Martinique: M. François Legrand is deported
from Guyane and becomes parish priest of GrosMorne in Martinique from 1794 to 1807. He then returns to Guyane and is made Prefect Apostolic.
East Africa 17.04.1870: A serious epidemic of cholera claims
the lives of more than 1,000 people at Bagamoyo
mission. Sister M. Julienne of the Filles de Marie, a
collaborator with the Spiritan Pioneers, also dies.
C.S.Sp. 17.04.1955: At Bandoung (Indonesia), 29 countries
from Asia and Africa condemn colonialism, racial discrimination and nuclear weapons.
Makurdi 1962: The administrative centre of the diocese is
moved from Otukpo to Makurdi; henceforth it is known
as the Diocese of Makurdi.
“Since the beginning, the service of the poor has been one of the
basic commitments of the Congregation and nearly all the significant
experiences take root in this same concern. Our work with ethnic
minorities, with the marginalised in the great cities, with the youth
that an uncaring society leaves to its own devices - none of this is
new for those who follow Poullart des Places and François Libermann. It is seen rather as a basic obligation and is engraved in our
Rule of Life. …Our mission is, above all, a commitment, in the name
of Jesus Christ, to the total liberation of all people from all those
things that enslave them. The Gospel is not just a message; it is a
project of love aimed at transforming the world, to struggle for justice and peace” (Itaici 14).
Portugal 18.04.1901: After a turbulent period for religious
congregations, our own is officially approved under
the title of “Association of the Missionaries of the Holy
Gabon 18.04.1913: The Protestant pastor and doctor, Albert
Schweitzer, arrives with his wife Hélène at Lambaréné. He opens his hospital which is organised in such
a way that the sick will not be separated from their
families. He receives the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954
and dies at Lambaréné in 1965.
Mauritius 1926: Bishop John Murphy confides several more
parishes to the Spiritans: Pamplemousse, NewGrove, Chemin-Garnier, Notre-Dame du Rosaire and
the service of the cathedral.
Germany 1929: Premiere of the missionary film, “Christ in the
virgin forest”. This is followed by “The Lord in the
bush” and “Consecration of daughters amongst the
Kwanyama” (1929-1933).
“I won’t talk to you about my poor soul; it is very tired and cowardly, rarely thinks about God, hardly loves Our Lord Jesus any more
and is no longer tender and affectionate towards its good Mother! I
long for those days when my heart beat continuously for God, when I
only lived for Jesus and Mary. I sometimes look back with sorrow at
those times: we ate the good bread first and now we are given only
stale crusts. It is infidelity to the grace of God that has brought me to
such a state. It’s very hard, but may the holy will of God be done, as
long as we do not fall into hell. All I ask for is the last place in purgatory and I will be content. To sacrifice one’s goods for God is
nothing, but to give up one’s interior life – that is the hardest thing
you could imagine” (Jacques Laval to Libermann: 25.01.1848).
Holy Heart of Mary 19.04.1848: After the students of the
young congregation have left La Neuville for l’Abbaye
Notre Dame-du-Garde (November 1846), the noviciate, directed by François Libermann, also moves to
Notre Dame in order to save money.
Sierra Leone 19.04.1940: During the Second World War,
Freetown harbour became a huge centre for the Royal Navy and there were also many army camps near
the town. Bishop Kelly received no extra help and yet
he allowed three of his priests to become full-time army chaplains and two part-time.
TransCanada 19.04.1955: Irish Spiritans open a residence in
Woodstock (Ontario) in Canada. This is the first step
in the development of the new circumscription.
Taiwan 19.04.1998: The second Spiritan appointed to Taiwan,
James Sandy, joins Seán O’Leary and starts to study
“There are some countries and geographic and cultural areas which
do not have a local community of Christians; elsewhere such communities are so small that they are hardly a clear sign of the Christian presence in the area…In Asia in general, where mission ‘ad
gentes’ must now be given priority, Christians are a small minority,
even if at times there are significant movements of conversion and
remarkable types of Christian presence” (Populorum Progressio no.
Gabon 20.04.1857: Frère Grégoire dies at sea on the way
home to France for medical treatment. A native of
Bordeaux, he was in the first group of Libermann’s
missionaries to the west coast of Africa. He survived
the disaster of Guinée and travelled on with Père
Bessieux to Gabon, working there for 13 years.
Congo Kinshasa 1891: The Spiritans hand over the missions
of Boma and Nemlao to the Scheut Fathers.
Germany 1908: First Spiritan missionary calendar produced.
It was eventually printed on their own press at
East Africa 1920: By the end of the first half of the year,
nearly all the German missionaries have been repatriated after the war: 12 priests and 26 brothers.
“Don’t allow yourself to get upset about the faults you commit.
Guard against becoming impatient with yourself or getting depressed
because of your weaknesses. Beware of any sort of anguish that you
might feel in the presence of God at the thought of your offences.
Don’t let evil make you angry and never berate yourself; treat yourself with gentleness and peace” (Libermann to Luquet: 26.11.1838.
L.S. II, p.116-117).
Martinique 21.04.1851: Arrival of Mgr. Herpeur, the first
Bishop of Martinique. He is one of the three Bishops
for whose appointed Libermann has worked so hard
in the last year of his life. The new bishop is anxious
to start a junior and senior seminary.
Cameroon 21.04.1932: Père Maupeou is mortally wounded
by a polygamous Christian with whom he is in discussion. His attacker asks his forgiveness and the Spiritan blesses him as he dies.
France 21.04.1938: The death of Mgr. Alexandre Le Roy,
Superior General from 1896 to 1926. A great missionary and ethnologist, he guided the Congregation
through the crises of the French anti-clericalism and
the First World War.
Rome 21.04.1957: The encyclical “Fidei Donum” of Pius XII.
In it, he invites bishops to send some of their diocesan priests and committed lay people to help in the
“With the coming of independence in Africa and the establishment of
hierarchies to govern the local Churches, the resultant missionary
needs are urgent and serious. Everybody, from bishops to lay people,
is called upon to come to the aid of Africa’s new Churches. Bishops
in particular, as successors of the Apostles, share the responsibility
for the missionary work of the Church. Let them do everything they
can to help: they should encourage and support missionary vocations in their diocese; they should allow some of their diocesan
priests to help the African bishops, a least for a certain period of
time” (Pius XII: Fidei Donum).
Libermann 22.04.1815: Young Jacob Libermann celebrates
his Bar-Mitzva.
Congo 22.04.1907: The Apostolic Vicariat of French Lower
Congo changes its name to the Apostolic Vicariat of
Loango. The bishop is Mgr. Jean Derouet.
Belgium 22.04.1922: The “Holy Ghost Fathers” are legally
incorporated into Belgium.
Germany 22.04.1944: The Provincialate in Cologne is destroyed during an air raid.
Cape Verde 22.04.1975: P. Paulino Evora is appointed bishop
of Cabo Verde.
“Up to the age of 15, Jacob studied nothing but Jewish theology. The
only subject for his meditations was the Talmud and its various
commentaries. Until he was 20, he scrupulously observed all the
precepts of the Talmud even to the most absurd details. During
meals, my brother always wore a hat; orthodox Jews never eat bareheaded” (Samson Libermann, talking of his younger brother, Jacob.
N.D I, p. 51).
Canada 1738: Père Le Loutre, formed in the spirituality of
Poullart des Places, devotes himself totally to the
cause of the Acadians in present-day Nova Scotia,
both before and after their forced deportation by the
English in 1755.
U.S.A. 1745: First recorded presence of a Spiritan in what is
now the USA: Père Pierre Maillard at Boston.
C.S.Sp. 1765: Père François Becquet succeeds Père Bouïc
after his long period as Superior General (17101763). He will lead the Congregation right up to the
eve of the French Revolution (1788) and build the
present chapel at rue Lhomond.
St. Pierre & Miquelon 1765: Père Manach, the first Prefect
Apostolic, failed to arrive at the islands because of unfavourable winds. He ended up in the West Indies.
“As the Congregation, along with all its members and all its works,
exists only for the glory of God, …all its undertakings must be of a
religious nature. Consequently, nobody will be received into the Society until he has first consecrated his whole being to God: his use of
material goods by evangelical poverty, his use of the senses by chastity and the exercise of his will by obedience” (Libermann: Règlements of 1849. III,I, nos. 2-3).
East Africa 24.04.1862: As a result of negotiations between
Rome and the Congregation, including the intervention of Mgr. Maupoint c.s.sp., Apostolic Delegate for
East Africa, the Superior General (Schwindenhammer) agrees to take on the mission of Zanguebar.
France 24.04.1920: The Congregation buys the property of
Allex and transfers there the junior seminary of St.
Joseph; it had been started at Beauvais and subsequently moved to Seyssinet and Susa (in Italy) before
settling at Allex.
Congo Kinshasa 24.04.1956: Erection of the new Vicariat of
Kindu. It is made up of the northern part of Kongolo
and the southern part of Stanleyville (Kisangani).
Angola 24.02.1992: P. Abilio Guerra (47) of Portugal is killed
in mysterious circumstances at Luanda; he is taken
from the entrance of the Provincialate and found dead
on the following day in the outskirts of the town.
“The missionary is a person of the Beatitudes. Before sending out the
Twelve to evangelise, Jesus teaches them the paths of mission: poverty, meekness, acceptance of suffering and persecution, the desire
for justice and peace, charity - in other words, the Beatitudes, lived
out in the apostolic life. By living the Beatitudes, the missionary experiences and shows concretely that the kingdom of God has already
come, and that he has accepted it. The characteristic of every authentic missionary life is the inner joy that comes from faith” (John
Paul II: Redemptoris Missio no. 91).
Germany 25.04.1897: Mgr. Allgeyer is ordained bishop at
Knechsteden, the first bishop of the German Province. At the same time, the Province was given its
own mission territory in East Africa.
France 25.04.1915: Eugènie Caps decides to found the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit (Spiritaines).
Nigeria 25.04.1950: Fr. Joseph Whelan of the Irish Province
is ordained Vicar Apostolic of Owerri in Onitsha.
West African Foundation 25.04.1979: Six superiors of West
African circumscriptions establish the Foundation at
Dakar Senegal: the superiors of The Gambia, Senegal, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Makurdi and Kwara-Benue.
Fr. John Hogan (Irish Province) is appointed the first
“During my thanksgiving after communion this morning, Jesus made
it clear to me that he wants a new order of missionary sisters and
that you and I must bring it about…I am fearful that I will get discouraged at times but I will not cease to trust because the will of Jesus will always be accomplished” (Eugènie Caps, foundress of the
Spiritan Sisters. Fours years later, having read the life of François
Libermann, she declared “Here is the spirit of our congregation already written!)
Senegal 26.04.1838: L’Abbé Lambert of the Seminaire du
Saint-Esprit is sent to the island of Gorée as parish
priest. He writes the first catechism in the Wolof language; it will be used to great profit seven years later
by Libermann’s missionaries.
Belgium 1931: Up until the separation of Belgium and Holland
in 1931, there were many common formation houses:
Lier, Gentinnes, Leuven, Gemeert, Weert, Donk,
Baarle-Nassau, Bonsecours, Gennep and Inglemunster. After the split, Gentinnes and Leuven were
the main formation houses of the Belgian Province.
Guadeloupe 1932: The ordination of Georges Magloire who
came from Les Saintes on the island.
Gabon 1934: Père René Lefebvre, the elder brother of Marcel,
starts many social works in the country, especially for
young people. The national football stadium of Libreville is named after him.
“Mission beyond frontiers is open to us over there (The Far East).
Some things have stuck in my memory: a Franciscan in the mountains of Taiwan who had taken to the local people like a duck to water; a group of Moslems and Christians on the island of Mindanao
who met every month ‘to become friends’; a Jesuit who had devoted
himself for forty years to dialogue and friendship with Buddhists to
such an extent that the bishop was in admiration of the power of the
Holy Spirit which had prevented him from becoming a Buddhist himself; a large number of young men and women who are entering
Buddhist monasteries ‘to find a real spiritual life’, as some of them
told us” (Pierre Schouver, Superior General: Christmas Letter,
France 27.04.1848: Abolition of slavery in the French colonies
and overseas territories. It had been originally abolished at the Revolution but was re-introduced on
Canada 27.04.1909: The Spiritan property of St. Alexandre
de la Gatineau is legally incorporated by the parliament of Quebec under the title of “The Agricultural
and Industrial Corporation of the Missionaries of the
Holy Spirit” .
Zimbabwe 27.04.1995: The Zimbabwe Spiritan group is
raised to the status of a District.
Tanzania 27.04.1997: Fr Augustine Shao is ordained Bishop
for the Diocese of Zanzibar in Zanzibar. He is the first
member of the East African Province to be ordained a
Bishop; Bishops Joseph Kilasara and Bernard Ngaviliau belonged to the USA - East Province at the time of
their ordinations.
“It is important that we Spiritans see ourselves as religious missionaries. There may be an unconscious assumption amongst us that the
priesthood is more ‘important’ than the religious life; that the Fathers are mainly priests and that the Brothers are religious. Until the
members of the Congregation accept, existentially as well as theoretically, that we are all brothers, sharing the same religious commitment, there will always be a certain alienation in the Congregation.
The Chapter of 1974 has said it already: ‘All the members of the
Congregation share in one common project. All are gathered into
one fraternal community, all share in the same rights and duties in a
diversity of service, the service of the priest and the service of the
consecrated layman’” [Guidelines for Animation nos. 56,57]. (From
E.G.C. Knechsteden, 1978. cf. I/D no 18).
C.S.Sp. 28.04.1845: M. Alexandre Leguay, Vicar General of
the Diocese of Perpignan, is elected the 9th Superior
of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, even though he
is not a member. He devotes himself to the renewal of
the Congregation and the Seminary and opposes the
“fusion” of the two congregations suggested by Père
Sierra Leone 1932: Bishop O’Gorman resigns and dies in
Switzerland in 1935.
Netherlands 28.04.1958: The junior seminary at Weert is officially recognised by the State as a secondary
Madagascar 28.04.1989: Pope John Paul II beatifies Victoire
Rasoamanarivo at Tananarive. A delegation from the
diocese of Mahajanga takes part in the ceremonies.
“The aim of the Congregation is to form associates who will be
committed to ecclesiastical discipline, with a love for all the virtues,
especially obedience and poverty. They will be offered to ecclesiastical superiors, ready to go anywhere to evangelise the poor, even infidels; they will lovingly carry out the most humble and difficult jobs,
especially those for which the Church has difficulty in finding volunteers” (Spiritan Rule of 11.03.1848, edited by M. Leguay).
East Africa 29.04.1878: The Spiritan pioneers are restricted
to 300 miles from the coast with the arrival of the
White Fathers who, at the end of February, 1878, are
granted permission by Propaganda Fide to work in
Central Africa, especially around the great Lakes. The
Spiritan missionaries help them in their thrust inland.
Cameroon 1937: The newspaper “Cameroun Catholique” is
launched by the diocese of Brazzaville.
Congo 1945: The start of a great increase in parishes in the
diocese of Brazzaville. The seminaries are also developed.
C.S.Sp. 29.04.1979: Père Jacques Laval is beatified by Pope
John Paul II. His feast day is fixed for September 9th,
the anniversary of his death.
“The poor are evangelised by the poor. It was the custom in the colonial society at that time for mothers to give their babies to local
women to nurse because they were so impressed by the depths of
their conversion. It was the employees in the houses who used to persuade their masters to call the priest for the last sacraments if somebody was dying. Eventually the colonials, who no longer practised
their religion, were so impressed by the behaviour of their servants
that they asked if they too could have direct access to Père Laval”
(Cardinal Margéot: Homily for the beatification of Jacques Laval).
Gabon 30.04.1876: The death of Mgr. Bessieux. He holds his
crucifix in his right hand as he is dying.
Portugal 1943: The review “Portugal in Africa” is restarted as
a substitute for “Missions in Angola and Congo”.
30.04.1960: The work of the Spiritans in Arecibo
(Puerto-Rico) is so successful that the Holy See creates the Diocese of Arecibo, entrusted to the diocesan clergy.
Spain 30.04.1972: The first team of Spanish Spiritans leaves
from Lisbon for the mission of Balombo in the Diocese
of Benguela, Angola. A second team goes to the mission of Camacupa in the Diocese of Silva Porto.
“Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit, whom I adore with all my
heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, I beg you to grant me
faith, humility, chastity and the grace to say, think, see, hear and
wish only what you want me to do and say…My God, I beg you to
give me this blessing so that my heart and soul will be filled with
nothing apart from yourself, that I may live always in your presence
and pray to you without ceasing” (Claude Poullart des Places:
Fragments from a personal Rule).
Canada 01.05.1903: Visit of Mgr. Le Roy to prepare for the
establishment of Spiritans in Canada. The following
year, Père Amet Limbour discovers the beautiful
property of Alonso Wright on the banks of the Gatineau river, near Ottawa.
Poland 01.05.1945: All the work of the Province comes to a
halt because of World War II: 3 priests and 2 scholastics change circumscription; 3 scholastics, 7 brothers
and 7 novices leave the Congregation; 2 priests, 2
scholastics and 3 brothers die or are killed; Fr. Pawel
Baranski and Michal Poplawski (scholastic) both die
in Dachau.
Guinée Conakry 01.05.1967: President Sékou Touré expells
non-African bishops, priests and religious from the
country, including 31 Spiritans.
Mexico 01.05.1986: The group acquires the house of Ciudad
Madero for the first Spiritan students.
“We are called to the apostolate; to carry out this apostolate fruitfully we need the apostolic spirit. Apart from Our Lord himself, where
can we find this spirit more perfectly and abundantly than in the
heart of Mary? Her heart was eminently apostolic, on fire with the
desire for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. The Holy
Heart of Mary is given to us to be our light, our guide and our
strength to supports us in all our work” (Libermann: Règle Provisoire, 1,2,3, gloss).
C.S.Sp. 02.05.1726: First letters patent from King Louis XV of
France, authorising the establishment of a community
of students under the title of the Holy Spirit and the
Immaculate Conception.
Canada 1791: Up to this date, 22 French Spiritans have worked
in St Pierre & Miquelon and Acadia (Canada) as missionaries to the Indians or as seminary professors in
Quebec City. But henceforth, with the gradual establishment of a British Colony, the French Spiritans are
expelled from mainland Canada. They continue to work
in St Pierre & Miquelon.
Australia 02.05.1847: A letter from Libermann telling Pères
Thévaux and Thiersé to leave Australia. Both subsequently served in Mauritius until their deaths in 1877
and 1880 respectively.
Mauritius 02.05.1854: Jacques Laval is joined by two more
confreres: Pères Bourget and Tanguy.
“I don’t know if I was right, but I felt that since they (people being directed by Libermann) were really trying to live the interior life and to
renounce all things, that God himself would perfect their approach to
prayer; if they continued to aim at a spirituality of peace and gentleness, at moderation and a serious attitude, they would surely get to
know God and follow his inspirations. Whenever they talked to me
about it, I would examine what attracted them in the interior life and
the way in which they prayed; I tried to correct what was defective, but
in general, I did not interfere. I believe that gradually they were led to
a prayer of faith and union with God through an uncomplicated type of
contemplation” (Libermann to Poupart, 01.01.1839. L.S.II 386-390).
Holy Heart of Mary 03.05.1842: Libermann accepts the mission
of Bourbon.
Cameroon 03.05.1916: The fall of Yaoundé puts an end to the
fighting in Cameroon during the First World War. P.
Hoegn (Pallotine) passes on jurisdiction for the English
zone to Joseph Shanahan and for the French zone to
Jules Douvry. Both are Spiritans from Nigeria.
Nigeria 03.05.1930: Bishop Shanahan welcomes the German
Spiritans to work in the northern part of his Vicariate,
the mission of Benue. The contract is signed on May
Canada 03.05.1979: The first associates of the Canadian Province make their formal commitment.
“I see now more fully realised than ever the beauty of religious life the staunch fraternal love both human and divine that binds us all together in and with Christ. We have fought many a hard battle, weathered many a storm, known the ferocity of Satan’s assaults, thinking at
times that all was lost. And here we are together after it all with greater faith and hope and love in God than ever - and for each other in
God. (Joseph Shanahan to Mother Bernard, 01.07.1935, Letters II,
Gabon 04.05.1919: Ordination of Frs. Gustave Bâtonnier, Jean
Obame and Jean-Baptiste Adiwa.
Germany May 1938: The 800th anniversary of Knechtsteden.
France May 1959: First edition of the review “Spiritus”.
Netherlands May 1970: The last session of the Provincial
Chapter at Gemert which had begun in 1969. The
Chapter opts for a collegial administration with a provincial team of 5 members.
“From his childhood, Claude Poullart des Places had a great concern
for the poor. He was convinced ‘that their souls were no less dear to
Jesus than those of the greatest nobles in the land and that one could
expect as much or even more from them’; therefore, he set out to produce virtuous and learned priests from amongst their number. Those
he chose were freed from all material worries. They followed the same
courses as the Jesuit scholastics and were carefully trained in catechism and preaching” (J. Michel: Mémoire Spiritaine, Etudes et Documents no. 4, p. 113).
Deux Guinées 05.05.1847: Mgr. Truffet, the first Vicar Apostolic
of the Deux Guinées, arrives at Goré (Senegal). He
dies the same year at Dakar on November 23rd.
Nigeria 05.05.1900: The appointment of Fr Léon Lejeune as
Prefect Apostolic of Southern Nigeria after 14 years in
Gabon sets the mission on a new course. His program emphasises the planting and developing of the
local Church, especially through education.
Gambia 05.05.1931: The Gambia is separated from the Apostolic Vicariat of Senegambia and becomes a mission “sui iuris”.
Brazil SW 05.05.1969: Fr John Fitzpatrick is installed as parish priest of Sao Sebastiao parish in the rapidly growing city of Suzano in the diocese of Mogi das Cruzes.
“Libermann welcomed the invasion of God into his life. His natural
sensitivity gave a richness and depth to the impression he received.
Periods of solitude and passivity became the most rewarding times.
If he renounced himself, it was in order to hold on to his hunger and
his thirst. No real nourishment or refreshment could be expected
from anyone but God. No desire was worthy unless it was a share of
God’s gaze. “As” was the key word in “Be holy as your heavenly
Father is holy.” Holiness meant authenticity and quality of life”
(Bernard Kelly, Life began at Forty, p.111-113).
France 06.05.1855: A decree from Rome raises the Congregation from a “Society of the Apostolic Life” to the
rank of a “religious Congregation”.
Gabon May 1874: Armand Bambara from Gabon receives
the tonsure at St. Joseph de Ngazobil (Senegal). He
continues with his theological studies but dies at Libreville (Gabon) on June 30th, 1883.
TransCanada May 1970: The Volunteer International Christian Service (VICS) is founded by Fr. Des McGoldrick.
Ethiopia May 1989: At the Enlarged General Council in
Arusha, Tanzania, a special appeal is made by the
Borana group for personnel. The Nigerian Province
agrees to send one of their men, Peter Osuji, to join
the group.
“Three elements go to make up the spiritual state of the Congregation: community life, the apostolate and the spirit of religion. The
“spirit of religion” means that we totally abandon all personal interests and consecrate ourselves to the glory and the will of God. Although the spirit of religion, stability and the spiritual good of the
Congregation all make us wish that we could take the three vows of
religion, present circumstances oblige the Congregation to deprive
itself of this great good and to force nobody into taking them” (Provisional Rule , 2nd part, Chapter 1).
May, 1919: As soon as the war is over, Mgr.
Jalabert contacts Père Daniel Brottier in Paris to relaunch the plan, first formulated in 1912, to build a cathedral for Dakar in memory of all the dead of francophone Africa.
Gabon May, 1941: Three Spiritan sisters die of yellow fever
at Mayumba.
Zimbabwe 07.05.1995: The foundation mass is celebrated in
Gokwe where two confreres - Frs J. Uche and A.
Njoku will open a mission for the first time. The Bishop of the Diocese, M.D. Bhasera, is present.
C.S.Sp. 07.05.1995: The 5th Enlarged General Council is held
at Dakar in Senegal. There are 51 Spiritans present.
“With the passage of time, all institutes grow old in their commitments and fall away from their ideal. There is constant need for the
Congregation to rejuvenate itself, especially in these times of falling
numbers. Our first criteria are our traditional ones: ‘the poor and
abandoned’, ‘difficult situations’, works for which it is difficult to
find personnel’…A missionary Congregation has to respond to the
missionary challenges of the day if it is to maintain its credibility.
The commitments of the past must be confronted with the calls of the
present: from the poor who suffer injustice and have their human
rights spurned, from neglected minorities, from the victims of racism,
from the refugee and migrants…” (EGC Carcavellos, 1982. cf. I/D
no. 32).
C.S.Sp. 08.05.1848: On behalf of M. Monnet, Superior General of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, M.
Loevenbruck visits Père Libermann at Notre-Damedu-Garde regarding a possible union with his Congregation.
Martinique 08.05.1902: Eruption of Mt. Pelée: 13 Spiritans
are killed at St. Pierre (12 priests and 1 brother). Another eruption on August 30th claims a 14th victim at
Mourne-Rouge. The District no longer exists.
Tanzania 08.05.1960: Fr Joseph Kilasara is ordained a Bishop in Rome. He is the first East African Spiritan Bishop as well as the first African-born Bishop of Moshi.
C.S.Sp. 08.05.1989 : The 4th Enlarged General Council takes
place at Arusha, Tanzania. There are 49 Spiritans
South Africa 08.05.1996 : Adoption of the new constitution of
South Africa and the end of apartheid.
« Young Provinces and Foundations are increasing in number: what
is the process for passing from Foundation to Province ? Above all,
we must preserve both the originality and identity of the young Provinces and Foundations and the unity of the Congregation – both in
the context of Mission. Regarding Regionalisation, which has also
been developing in the last ten years, there is no desire at this point
for the creation of regional superiors nor rigid regional structures;
we must leave room for spontaneity based on common interests, with
a minimum of administrative structures » (EGC Arusha, 1989. cf.
Spiritan News no. 77).
Haiti 09.05.1844: Revolution in Haiti and departure of Eugène
Bagamoyo 1932: The Province of the United States takes
over responsibility for the Vicariat of Kilimanjaro. Two
years later, Dutch Spiritans will be asked to run
Brazil SW May, 1977: Bishop Ivo Lorsheider, Secretary General of the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) invites Fr David Regan to act as a full time
consultant to that body for 6 years.
United Kingdom May, 1989: The parish of St Matthew on the
island of Jersey is confided to the Spiritans so as to
form a community base for work with the Portuguese
community. The Portuguese parish, which will cover
the whole island, will be called “Our Lady of Fatima”.
“The EGC of Arusha invites us to turn our gaze towards the future.
During its recent session, the General Council, taking into account
the suggestions made at Arusha, decided that the next General Chapter in 1992 would be held at Itaici in Brazil…Using a more inductive, pastoral method, we would like, at the next Chapter, to start
from some of our more significant missionary experiences and widen
the field to other experiences of Spiritan life as it is lived. Reflection
in depth will enable us to make a sort of “reading of experience”.
Comparing this with our Rule of Life, we would hope to arrive at
some new guidelines for action, with missionary orientations for the
Congregation as a whole” (Pierre Haas, Superior General: Christmas
Letter, 1989).
MAY 10
Deux Guinées 10.05.1855: Jean Lacombe from Senegal is
accepted as a novice by Mgr. Kobès at Dakar. He
does his noviciate at Monsivry in France.
Haiti 10.05.1860: A Concordat with Rome is approved by the
Government of Haiti. Henceforth, bishops will be appointed by the Head of State instead of by the Vatican.
Trinidad 10.05.1870: The murder of the Parish Priest of Diego Martin and refusal of other priests to take the parish leads to the acceptance of this ministry by the
Spiritans, the first of many parishes to be served by
Gabon 10.05.1876: The death of King Denis, baptised on his
death-bed by his son, Félix Adendé.
“I fear that our missionary enterprise has resulted in failure. I believe that the best way to evangelise the west coast of Africa would
be to find young boys in Saint-Louis or Gorée and train them in Europe. They could then return to their country and to Joal, because
more or less the same language is spoken in Saint-Louis and Gorée,
and gradually, they could move down the coast to evangelise it. I am
writing to Propaganda Fide to allow me to return as a missionary to
America. I feel it is my duty to let you know about this but I would
ask you not to mention it to anybody else for the moment” (Bishop
Barron to Libermann, N.D.5, p. 64-65. In the same letter he informs
Libermann of further deaths amongst his first group of missionaries).
MAY 11
Canada 11.05.1730: L’Abbé de l’Isle-Dieu becomes the Vicar
General of Mgr. Dosquet; thanks to him, the seminary
at Quebec receives staff from the Seminaire du SaintEsprit in Paris. To show his gratitude, Mgr. Dosquet
gives his country house at Sarcelles (near Paris) to
the Spiritans.
East Africa 11.05.1906: The Holy See creates the Vicariat of
Bagamoyo (Central Zanzibar) out of the Vicariat of
Northern Zanguebar. Fr François-Xavier VOGT is appointed Bishop for the new Vicariat of Kilimanjaro.
Gambia 11.05.1989: The WAF Spiritan Noviciate was transferred to its present location at Ejisu in Ghana.
Ethiopia 11.05.1997: Dida, the first Ethiopian Borana candidate, flies to Arusha to begin his training.
“What must be aimed at is complete humanism. And what is that if
not the fully-rounded development of the whole person? A humanism
closed in on itself and not open to the values of the spirit and to God
who is their source could achieve apparent success. True, man can
organise the world apart from God, but without God, man can organise it in the end only to man's detriment. An isolated humanism is
an inhuman humanism. There is no true humanism but that which is
open to the Absolute and is conscious of a vocation which gives human life its true meaning. Far from being the ultimate measure of all
things, man can only realise himself by reaching beyond himself. As
Pascal has said so well: "Man infinitely surpasses man". (Pope John
Paul II: Populorum Progressio, no, 42).
MAY 12
Congo Kinshasa 12.05.1880: Foundation of the mission of
Boma under the patronage of Our Lady of Victories.
The Spiritans left Boma in 1888. The first priest from
Zaire, l’Abbé Maombe, ordained in 1897, came from
this mission.
Germany 12.05.1946: The German Spiritans celebrate the
Golden Jubilee of their Province and of the Junior
Seminary at Knechtsteden.
Guinée Conakry 12.05.1949: Kankan becomes an Apostolic
Spain 12.05.1969: The General Council appoints P. Joaquin
Ramos Seixas as the Provincial of the new Province
of Spain.
“Why do we fail to make progress in our union with God? Because
we are never within ourselves to listen to him. We don’t hear him
because there is no peace and recollection in our souls; we are too
excitable both inside and outside ourselves, too preoccupied with our
own ideas – perhaps even too caught up with a desire for spiritual
progress. We must not just give ourselves internally to him; all our
life, our feelings, our preferences, joys and sorrows must be in him,
through him and with him: “It is no longer I who live…”
(Libermann: E.S. supplement, p. 17-19).
MAY 13
United Kingdom 13.05.1841: Père Jacques Laval arrives in
England on his way to Mauritius. After a short stay
waiting for a ship in the East End of London, he finally
sets sail on June 4th on board the “Tangora”, bound
for Bombay via Mauritius.
Portugal 13.05.1937: Launching in Fatima of an organisation
for the promotion and support of missions by P.
Agostinho de Moura and two scholastics, José Felício
and Augusto Teixeira Maio. This body came to be
known as LIAM.
Ireland May, 1989: Following the promulgation of SRL, Spiritans in parish and hospital work in Ireland and the
USA are grouped into Regional Communities.
Pakistan May, 1992: At a meeting at Bahawalpur, a decision
is taken to establish a third community at Sadiqabad,
within the boundaries of one of the existing parishes.
Work with the Marwaris will be given priority by the
new community.
“Claude began by renting a room in the rue des Cordiers near the
College and gathered there the poor students whom he had already
been helping before and whose dispositions were known to him. The
progress made in every line of endeavour was too remarkable not to
attract other excellent candidates to him. Consequently, he decided
to rent a house for them in which they would be less cramped for
space. After a short time, a community of priests formed itself there
and he gave it a set of very wise rules that experienced people had
previously examined and approved. He himself was the first to practise what he recommended to others” (Charles Besnard: Life of Grignon de Montfort).
MAY 14
C.S.Sp. 14.05.1849: M. Monnet, the 10th Superior General of
the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, leaves Paris for
his Apostolic Vicariat in Madagascar, having resigned
on November 22, 1848, in favour of François Libermann.
Sierra Leone 1940: Fr Edward Hamelberg, who is a Creole
from Freetown of mixed Austrian and Mende roots,
becomes the first Sierra Leonean priest and Spiritan.
He studies at Chevilly and is ordained there. He dies
in Paris in 1989 during a recyclage and is buried in
Rome 14.05.1999: The Congregation takes over a parish at
Palmarola on the outskirts of Rome. The Spiritan
team which moves in is made up of Jean-Jacques
Boeglin (France), Peter Kilasara (Tanzania) and
Maciej Sierzputowski (Poland).
Guadeloupe 14.05.2000: A Creole diocesan priest, Fr. Manuel Moralès, is assassinated at the age of 83. In August, a group of young adults, men and women, takes
part in the Jubilee World Youth Day celebrations in
“We live out our mission in willing obedience to the Holy Spirit, taking Mary as our model. This condition of habitual fidelity to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is the ‘practical union’ of which Libermann speaks. It is the wellspring of our apostolic zeal and leads us to
being completely available and making a total gift of ourselves”
(SRL no. 5).
MAY 15
Madagascar 15.05.1845: Having received a letter describing
the climate of the island of Nossy-Bé as “unhealthy
and debilitating”, Libermann postpones a decision to
send some of his missionaries to Madagascar.
Guyane 15.05.1875: In a letter to the Minister in Paris, the
Governor of Guyane, Delacroix, insists that the Spiritans be put in charge of the pastoral care of the island.
Rome 15.05.1886: A decree from the Congregation for Saints
in Rome approves the writings of François Libermann,
adding that “it is rare that an examination arrives at
such a favourable conclusion”.
15.05.1890: Profession of the first religious sisters
from Gabon, in the Congregation of the Immaculate
Conception of Castres.
“Our brothers and sisters in Africa, including our confrères, have a
lesson for us as we come up against obstacles and an awareness of
how weak we are. We sometimes hear people who are handicapped
in some way being referred to as "challenged" by their condition.
Such people often make huge efforts to overcome the limits imposed
on them by such difficulties. They draw upon hidden resources that
they have never used before. Many people in Africa are faced with
incredible difficulties. It is a constant struggle to keep themselves
and their families alive. In seeing this courageous suffering before
their eyes, Spiritans from Africa and elsewhere find unsuspected reserves of strength within themselves, just as it was for the first Spiritans who arrived on the continent with a very short expectancy of
life. Many confrères, both young and old, willingly put their own
lives at risk” (Pierre Schouver, Pentecost Letter, 1997).
MAY 16
Madagascar 16.05.1937: Mgr. Pichot receives the vows of
the first sisters at Maevatanana after a noviciate of 7
Germany 16.05.1941: Knechtsteden is closed down by the
government and priests and seminarians are expelled. 35 brothers and 4 priests are sent to forced labour.
Congo Kinshasa 1942: A Junior seminary is built at Kongolo.
Netherlands 16.05.1954: Opening of the Africa Museum at
Berg en Dal. It receives a large number of visitors and
becomes an important means of spreading missionary awareness.
“Always derived from experience, never tied to a system, personal
holiness was for Libermann the key of life. In a sheltered seminary
setting, it took the shape of a personal project of perfection. It has a
private character, which greatly appealed to the shy and reserved
Libermann. Yet it was only when it went public that Libermann was
able to give it its full embodiment, its full statement with an obvious
ecclesiastical ring. Then it was characterised by great gentleness
and compassion. Then, too, the worst enemy was clearly identified:
the deadly danger was discouragement. (Bernard Kelly: Life began
at Forty, p.111-113)
MAY 17
Congo Kinshasa 1922: Founding of the missions of Ankoro
and Malela. Père Louis Lempereur succeeds Père
Callewaert as Prefect Apostolic of North Katanga. He
will be succeeded by Père Georges Hazaert in 1930.
Makurdi 1932: There are already 70 pupils and 3 teachers in
the Catholic primary school in Makurdi town, only 2
years after the arrival of the German Spiritans.
Sierra Leone 1933: Bishop John Wilson, Vicar Apostolic of
Bagamoyo, is appointed to succeed Bishop
O’Gorman in Sierra Leone. He is already in poor
health and only spends two years in the country. He
retires in March 1936 and dies two years later in Ireland at the age of 54.
Tefé 17.05.1963: The current District of Tefé is divided into
Tefé and Central Brazil.
“For me, the most striking thing about his (Poullart) spirituality is
that he followed the path of the rich young man but in the opposite
direction! In contrast to the man in the Gospel, he decided to leave
absolutely everything so as to become like Jesus – poor amongst the
poor, just like Jesus with the fishermen of Galilee – with nowhere to
lay his head. The Congregation of the Holy Spirit that he founded
was based on this idea from its conception and has remained so ever
since” (Nazaire Diatta: Memoire Spiritaine on Poullart des Places, p.
MAY 18
Congo Kinshasa 18.05.1886: Foundation of the mission of
St. Paul of Kasaï at Kwamouth (Mgr. Augourd, Père
Sand and Frère Savinien). The Spiritans leave
Kwamouth in 1887.
18.05.1948: Founding of the Senior Seminary of
Puszczykówko. The communist government that follows the war is very hard on the Church; 7 of our confreres are arrested and accused of spying on behalf of
the Vatican.
Ireland 18.05.1996: The process for the canonisation of Joseph Shanahan is started.
Switzerland 18.05.1997: On Pentecost Sunday, the Centre
Ruah for missionary animation if opened at Le Bouveret.
“Missionary activity proper, namely the mission ad gentes, is directed to "peoples or groups who do not yet believe in Christ," "who
are far from Christ," in whom the Church "has not yet taken root"
and whose culture has not yet been influenced by the Gospel. It is
distinct from other ecclesial activities inasmuch as it is addressed to
groups and settings which are non-Christian because the preaching
of the Gospel and the presence of the Church are either absent or
insufficient. It can thus be characterised as the work of proclaiming
Christ and his Gospel, building up the local Church and promoting
the values of the kingdom” (John Paul II: Redemptoris Missio 34).
MAY 19
Reunion 19.05.1849: One year after the abolition of slavery,
Aimée Pignolet de Fresnes (Mother Marie Madeleine
de la Croix) and Frédéric Le Vavasseur found the
Congregation of the Filles de Marie of Reunion for
young girls of whatever origin or social background.
Guadeloupe 1905: Henceforth, the diocese of Guadeloupe is
no longer dependent on the diocese of Bordeaux but
directly on the Propaganda Fide in Rome.
Brazil 19.05.1971: Inauguration of the “Instituto Poullart des
Places”, the Spiritan formation community in the Vila
Mangalot district of São Paulo.
Zambia 1972: 4 Irish confreres start missionary work, first in
Lusaka Diocese (Kabwe), then in Livingstone Diocese; nine more Spiritans join the group in the two dioceses (parishes, diocesan seminaries, schools…)
“The specific nature of this mission ad gentes consists in its being
addressed to "non-Christians." It is therefore necessary to ensure
that this specifically "missionary work that Jesus entrusted and still
entrusts each day to his Church" does not become an indistinguishable part of the overall mission of the whole People of God and as a
result become neglected or forgotten” (John Paul II: Redemptoris
MAY 20
Ireland 20.05.1848: Death of Mr John Hand, the founder of
All Hallow's College for Foreign Missions, Dublin.
John Hand visits Libermann at La Neuville in
May,1842 and they keep in touch subsequently.
Deux Guinées 20.05.1848: Père Bessieux is appointed Vicar
Apostolic of the Deux Guinées. He is ordained bishop
in Paris on January 14, 1849.
Poland 20.05.1932: Consecration of the chapel of the community at Bydgoszcz by the Superior General, Mgr.
Le Hunsec, accompanied by Père Daniel Brottier.
Portugal 20.05.1982: Opening of the 3rd Enlarged General
Council at Carcavellos.
“Through our missionary undertakings, we receive something of the
abundant riches of grace that God gives to different nations. Before
drawing up our own initiatives and programmes, it is our task to
perceive the grace of God everywhere and to welcome it. This is why
we are so keen to retain the diversity in our Congregation, to preserve the “trade marks” that show that these things come from God.
In this way, mission itself will create a Congregation which shows
the glory of God to greater effect, a sign that encourages faith”
(EGC at Dakar, no. 4.4.4).
MAY 21
Holy Heart of Mary 21.05.1844: Bishop Collier, the Vicar Apostolic of the island of Mauritius, visits Père Libermann at La Neuville at brings him news of Jacques
Deux Guinées 21.05.1852: Mgr. Bessieux lives for two years
at Dakar, from which he administers both the Vicariats
of the Deux Guinées (Gabon) and Senegambia (Dakar) after Mgr. Kobès, his coadjutor, has returned to
Central African Republic 21.05.1909: Père Pierre Cotel becomes the first Prefect Apostolic of Oubangui-Chari.
Brazil SE 21.05.1975: Arrival in Rio de Janeiro of P. Francisco Fernandes Correia, asked by the Generalate to
welcome confreres transferring from Angola and Portugal. On 21.05.1977, he is nominated by the Portuguese Province as superior of the group of Portuguese in Brazil.
“The first Mass of Claude (who had been ordained on 17.12.1707)
must have been a big event, too large to have taken place in the
property of rue Rollin. We can be certain that it took place at Louisle-Grand. The first Mass offered by him in the seminary that he had
founded must likewise have been a memorable occasion for his large
family; for better or worse, he was currently their father. Finally, we
can also assume that he would have celebrated Mass as soon as possible at the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Bonne-Delivrance, where he
had consecrated his new community on the day of Pentecost, 1703”
(Séan Farragher in Memoire Spiritaine devoted to Poullart des Places
p. 162.).
MAY 22
C.S.Sp. 22.05.1710: The death of Michel-Vincent Le Barbier,
the first one to help Claude Poullart in establishing the
Seminaire du Saint-Esprit and his first confrere in the
Society of the Holy Spirit, the community of formators.
Alto Juruá 22.05.1931: Erection of the Prelature Nullius of
Alto Juruá. Mgr. Barrat is the Apostolic Administrator.
Makurdi 1937: The first Idoma prayer book is printed. Mgr.
Joseph Kirsten succeeds Mgr. Philip Winterle as Prefect Apostolic.
Zambia 1976: The first member of the East African Foundation is appointed to the Spiritan group in Zambia.
“Libermann would insist that the real source of unity and continuity
in his life was his relationship with God. Nothing is more true. Psychologically unsuited to life in public eye, he was an unlikely apostle.
Stricken with epilepsy, the source of his ability to bring peace to the
disturbed is not obvious. The frugality of his needs is insufficient explanation for the simplicity of his life. In the struggle against his sensuality and his pride, he need not have won. No personal attraction
explains the influence he had over people. Nothing of note need have
happened, but something did. The most important lines in the portrait of Libermann belong to the finger of God. But the image that
emerges is a very human face” (B. Kelly, Life began at Forty, p.111113).
MAY 23
C.S.Sp. 23.05.1896: Opening of the 6th General Chapter in
the noviciate at Orly. There are 54 capitulants. For the
first time, the Chapter works with commissions. Mgr.
Leon Le Roy is elected as the 15th Superior General.
Ireland 23.05.1911: Kimmage Manor, Whitehall Road, Dublin
is acquired by Fr John Murphy, Provincial. The first
clerical Spiritan noviciate in Ireland is inaugurated
with Fr Michael Kelly as master of novices. A brothers’ noviciate is also set up. A school of philosophy
begins there with 11 scholastics who follow classes at
the National University. With these new developments, Ireland officially becomes a Province of the
Cape Verde 23.05.1944: P. Augusto Nogueira de Sousa is
the first Spiritan to work on the island of Maio.
Central African Province 23.05.1999: The Province of Central Africa is erected on the Feast of Pentecost with its
headquarters at Douala in Cameroon.
“By your life in all its activities, teach them the secret of God’s living
love in the very centre of their own soul… And so, the stream of divine life will continue to flow from heart to heart, pouring out from
the heart of Christ and passing ever through your heart to the millions of other hearts through which it will continue to flow until the
last soul is saved. God’s life passing through our hearts and lips and
through our whole life into other hearts and souls. How beautiful
and how true” (Joseph Shanahan: to a Holy Rosary Sister
11.02.1937. Letters I, 133).
MAY 24
Nigeria 1938: The northern area of the Benue Prefecture is
given to the Irish Augustinians. Four new German
confreres arrive in the Benue District.
Germany 1939: The “Echo” and the missionary calendar are
suppressed by the government.
Kenya 1939: Opening of St. Mary’s College in Nairobi.
24.05.1982: The American Provinces of the SMA,
CSSp., and White Fathers finance a feasibility study
for an African Faith and Justice Network, which results in its creation. It subsequently spreads to Europe
and over forty religious institutes become members.
“We count the following as constitutive parts of our mission of
evangelisation: the ‘integral liberation’ of people, action for justice
and peace and participation in development. It follows that we must
make ourselves ‘the advocates, the supporters and the defenders of
the weak and the little ones against all who oppress them’” (SRL 14)
MAY 25
Guyane 25.05.1852: A decree is issued establishing the prison (Le Bagne) in Guyane. It will be abolished 86
years later in 1938.
Brazil 25.05.1950: Bishop Hascher, P. Sonnenschein and P.
Klein arrive at Bom Sucesso in the State of Sao Paulo
to prepare for a foundation of the German Spiritans in
south Brazil.
Nigeria 25.05.1992: The District of Kwara-Benue, run by the
Canadian Spiritans, changes its name to the District
of Kogi.
25.05.1997: A close associate, Maria Louisa Mora,
who wishes to be more united to the mission of the
Congregation, makes an apostolic promise on the day
of Pentecost in the presence of the parish community
of Ciudad Real and the Spiritan confreres of Madrid.
“Once, while preaching, someone asked Jesus where he lived. His
answer was ‘Come and see’. The Lay Associates are also asking our
Spiritan family a similar question: ‘Where do you live? We are interested in sharing with you your mission and your founders’ spirituality!’. The spirituality of François Libermann appears right for the
Lay Associate, with its emphasis on the concrete lived experience
and practical union with Christ. ‘One Heart and One Soul’ expresses
the essence, the heart of a Lay Spiritan. It is a response to a call, towards a way of life” (Itaici 38.1.2).
MAY 26
Senegal 26.05.1901: Mgr. Kunemann is ordained bishop by
Mgr. Le Roy on Pentecost Sunday. The Vicariat now
has 35 Spiritans priests and 22 brothers, 6 Senegambian seculars, and 127 sisters from different congregations. There are 20 mission stations in all.
C.S.Sp. 26.05.1918: Pope Benedict XV signs the decree for
the introduction of the cause of Jacques Laval.
Makurdi 26.05.1930: The German Spiritans arrive in the Benue area of Nigeria to start evangelisation. The Prefect Apostolic is Mgr. Philip Winterle.
Angola 26.05.1985: Death at Malanje of Jean-Etienne Wozniak (France) aged 29, who had been in Angola for only
one year. He and John Kingston (Ireland) ran into an
ambush as they approached the mission of Kiwaba.
“When the Society of the Holy Heart of Mary had passed through
many trials to which the Lord, in his goodness, allowed it to be exposed, and had gained a sufficient growth and stability, it appeared
that the plan of God was that it should join together with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit; in this way, the different parts of the
work to which the two societies were committed would be completed
and they would then form a whole unit. All the difficulties disappeared which had seemed so intractable up to that point, so towards
the end of 1848, the members of both societies joined together.
(Libermann: Notice, 15.08.1850).
MAY 27
Poullart des Places, in the year one thousand,
seven hundred and three, on the Feast of Pentecost, while still only an aspirant to the ecclesiastical state, began the establishment of the
so-called Community and Seminary consecrated to the Holy Spirit, under the invocation of
the of Holy Virgin conceived without sin”.
(From an old register of Spiritan archives, copied in
‘Gallia Christiana’)
Central African Foundation 27.05.1998: The General Council decides, after discussions at Kribi in Cameroon,
that the four founding districts of the FAC should work
towards a fusion to be known as the “Province of
Central Africa”.
“The Congregation of the Holy Spirit was founded on the day of
Pentecost, 1703, by M. Poulart-Deplaces of the diocese of Rennes
with a view to training priests consecrated to working in the most
neglected works. For a long time, this work relied entirely on alms
given by charitable people; the venerable founder himself used to go
looking for such help and then he would serve the students with his
own hands and help them by doing the most menial of tasks”
(Libermann: A Notice on the Congregation of the Holy Spirit and the
Immaculate Heart of Mary and its works, 1850).
MAY 28
Rome 28.05.1853: Père Lannurien buys the old Irish College,
close to Trajan’s column, to start the French Seminary
of Rome. Three years later, the seminary moves to its
present location in via Santa Chiara because more
room is needed.
East Africa 28.05.1863: After seven years working in the island of Bourbon, Père Horner leaves for Zanzibar with
three sisters of the Filles de Marie. On arrival, he
meets up with Père Baur and Brothers Félicien and
Célestin who have been appointed to the same mission.
Congo 28.05.1886: Rome confides to Mgr. Carrie the Vicariat
of French Congo. The centre will be at Loango.
Nigeria 28.05.1952: The Holy Ghost Juniorate at Ihiala was
established by Fr John Jordan, district superior of the
Spiritans in the Onitsha - Owerri vicariate, as the first
seminary for the future Nigerian Province.
“The Spirit implants in us the desire to serve the poor and oppressed
and shapes our hearts to respond to this desire. The Spirit is behind
all the sources of encouragement and inspiration that have directed
and sustained the members of our missionary family over the centuries – Sacred Scripture, personal and shared prayer, our life in
common with our confreres and with those to whom we are sent, the
example and writings of those Spiritans who have gone before us”
(Maynooth General Chapter: chap. 3, p. 107).
MAY 29
Guinée Conakry 29.05.1901: As a result of the change of
boundaries between the Vicariats of Senegambia and
the Sudan, the Spiritans of the Prefecture of Guinée
take on Kissi country, a forested area to the southeast. In exchange, the White Fathers are given the
missions established in the Sudan (Kayes, Kita and
East African Foundation 29.05.1972: The Superior General
authorises the erection of a Noviciate at Usa River,
Tanzania, which marks the beginning of the East African Foundation.
Ireland 29.05.1974: The Provincial Council decides to close
the Junior Scholasticates at Rockwell and Blackrock.
TransCanada 29.05.1982: Ordination of the first Canadian
member of the Province, Fr. Pat Callaghan.
“We do not bring Christ to where he is not already present: Christ
and his Spirit are already there, in a hidden way, before we arrive.
So our task is to discover him and to make his presence and his action grow. Our primary duty is contemplation: to look for and discern the presence and action of the Word and the Spirit, without getting in the way ourselves. Mission is not our project; we are at the
service of the project of God” (Michael Amaladoss S.J.: PlanèteMission. Lourdes, 1994).
MAY 30
Libermann 30.05.1846: François Libermann meets Pauline
Jaricot at Lyon; she is the foundress of the Pontifical
Missionary Works.
30.05.1851: In a letter to Dom Salier, Libermann
identifies works that the Congregation could take on
in France (priority being given to foreign missions):
preaching in rural parishes, working with labourers
and the poor and giving retreats.
Martinique 30.05.1902: A further eruption of Mt. Pelée.
Mourne-Rouge is destroyed and Père Mary is killed.
Guinée Conakry 30.05.1967: Between this day and June 2nd,
all non-African priests and religious are expelled from
the country by the President of the Republic, Ahmed
Sékou Touré.
“So to be on mission is to come in contact with a mystery that embraces the whole world, the whole of history and all peoples: to look,
contemplate, discern, listen, learn, reply and collaborate. The basic
attitude of such a mission is dialogue with God and with men and
women. It is a mission that has hope and trust. It is respectful. It is
neither impatient nor aggressive” (Michael Amaladoss S.J.: PlanèteMission. Lourdes, 1994).
MAY 31
Gabon 31.05.1901: Beginning of the first Synod to be held in
Guinée Conakry 31.05.1962: Mgr. Tchidimbo is ordained the
second Archbishop of Conakry. He is subsequently
imprisoned for nine years by his one-time friend,
President Ahmed Sékou Touré.
Spain 31.05.1968: On the Feast of Our Lady, Queen of the
World, the foundation stone is blessed for the house
of Aranda del Duuero at Castrillo de la Vega, which
will become the noviciate of the province.
Senegal 1982: The Daniel Brottier Centre at Saint-Louis is
built in the place where he worked for many years. It
is an audio-visual training centre and it has a unique
archive on the cinema in francophone Africa.
“The Church does not create dialogue between God and man, but
she is an on-going sign of its presence, she nourishes it and strengthens it by symbolic acts both at key moments in life and in the fabric
of everyday events. One dimension of mission is to set up witness
communities throughout the world. Another, the most important, is to
harness our collaboration in helping the on-going action of God to
grow in the world and among the peoples” (Michael Amaladoss S.J.:
Planète-Mission. Lourdes, 1994).
C.S.Sp. 01.06.1876: Pius IX signs the decree introducing the
cause of François Libermann.
Portugal 01.06.1877: The house at Braga becomes a principal community.
United Kingdom 01.06.1904: Mgr Le Roy, Superior General,
and Fr Larry Healy, Provincial of Ireland, agree to rent
a property at Prior Park, near Bath. The noviciate for
future Irish clerics and brothers opens there on 8 October 1904, with Fr. John T. Murphy as novice master,
and continues until 1907.
Nigeria 01.06.1967: The beginning of the civil war in Nigeria.
Subsequently, approximately 280 Irish confreres are
displaced and later find work in other circumscriptions, including Zambia, Malawi, Ghana, PNG & Australia.
Rome 1923: In the wake of the communist revolution in Russia, the Congregation is asked by Pius XI, through
Cardinal Gasparri, to open a seminary in Rome for
the training of priests for Russia. Mgr. Le Roy is most
reluctant, saying that our resources are already overstretched. Finally, the Jesuits agree to take it on and
they are running it to this day (B.G. 31, p. 189).
“From the beginning, our mission has favoured the poor. Today, we
reaffirm our commitment to the poor…As for Justice and Peace, the
members of the Chapter noted that an awareness of J & P issues has
greatly increased in the Congregation but much remains to be done
in clarifying the type of action to be undertaken. It is not just a question of denouncing abuses, but also of wise action and encouraging
what is good. Each Spiritan will look for opportunities for action
within his grasp in order to become the voice of the voiceless”.
(Maynooth 2, 11-19).
Rome 02.06.1951: Publication of the first missionary encyclical of Pius XII, “Evangelii Praecones”. The Pope
praises the work accomplished by missionaries and
sets them new tasks. He talks of the place of lay people in the missionary apostolate.
Martinique June, 1918: Père Janin takes over responsibility
for the cathedral. Spiritans are running nearly all the
urban parishes, plus a number of chaplaincies.
Madagascar June, 1930: Mgr. Pichot presides over the taking of the habit by the first 9 young girls to join the diocesan congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of
U.S.A. June, 1960: One half of the confreres in the U.S.A.
are engaged directly in mission work with AfricanAmericans (90), Africans in Kilimanjaro (51) and Puerto Ricans (26); the others are in ethnic parishes, education and formation.
“I felt God’s blessings visibly in my eagerness to approach the
Blessed Sacrament. Although I was fortunate enough to receive
communion frequently, I did not yet receive it as often as I would
have liked. I desired it with such great love that when I went to communion, I could not hold back torrents of tears. It was through receiving the Body of Christ that I derived the detachment which made
me despise the world and its ways. I cared very little for its esteem
and sometimes, I even tried to displease it” (Poullart des Places,
quoted by Pierre Thomas in his “Mémoire sur la Vie de Claude
Poullart des Places”).
Senegal 03.06.1882: Ordination of Père Simon Fall at Ngazobil by Mgr. Duboin. He is the first Spiritan from Senegal.
USA June, 1889: Spiritans take charge of the first black parish in Philadelphia; St. Peter Claver. Many more will
be taken on subsequently.
Gabon 03.06.1892: Père Alexandre Le Roy is appointed Vicar Apostolic of Gabon. Ordained at Coutances in
France on October 9th he arrives in Gabon on
Guyane 03.06.1893: The Spiritans are expelled from the mission of Guyane.
“Sometimes we become almost drugged by our work, to the detriment of our openness, our relationships with others and our prayer
life. We become so attached to our job that we identify ourselves with
it and we cannot imagine us doing anything else. But there are frontiers to be crossed, moments of generosity to be lived, in which we
are willing to leave our work and our position and admit that others
can continue it and do so just as well as us” (EGC Dakar, 1995,
C.S.Sp. 04.06.1761: Père Louis Bouic buys a property in the
rue des Postes, (30, rue Lhomond) Paris, for the
Seminaire du Saint-Esprit. They move in on January
1st, 1732.
Mauritius 04.06.1841: Jacques Laval leaves London for Mauritius on board the “Tangora”, in the company of Bishop Collier, Père Gilles O.S.B., Fr. Larkan (Irish) and
L’Abbé Rovery (French).
Zambia 1980: The Spiritans take charge of the parish of Linda on the outskirts of Livingstone
Madagascar 04.06.1995: A Spiritan archive is opened on the
feast of Pentecost at Maison Libermann in Antanimalandu (Majunga), centre of our operations in Madagascar. The diocese has its own separate archives
“This is the fruit of three years work: about 250 instructed and baptised, both Madagascans and Mozambicans, around 350 first communions – nearly all old people. Nearly all have persevered, apart
from a few young men and women whom we had to stop going to the
sacraments” ( Jacques Laval to Libermann, 1844. N.D.VI, 515-517).
France June, 1930: Blessing of the new chapel at Chevilly on
June 1st. by Mgr. Louis Le Hunsec, Superior General.
Portugal June,1951: Death in Pittsburgh, USA, of P. Joaquim
Alves Correia of the Portuguese Province. He had a
great influence on the catholic renewal movement in
Portugal during the time of the Salazar government.
TransCanada 05.06.1970: Two hospital chaplaincies are taken on: St. Joseph’s, Hamilton, and St. Joseph’s, Dundas.
Tanzania 05.06.1980: Fr. Bernard Ngaviliau is ordained as
the first bishop of Zanzibar diocese.
“Stay quiet and allow God to do what he wants. Never seek to advance further than he wishes you to do. Be content to aim at a total
self denial in all things and to have only one ambition: to live for
God alone. Then simply wait for him to give you what he judges to be
needful. Do not tell him what to do and do not prescribe anything for
yourself.”(Libermann, to the Director of a Seminary. 01.01.1839.
L.S.II, p. 392-393).
Holy Heart of Mary 06.06.1840: François Libermann in
Rome receives a favourable response from the Propaganda Fide to his Memoire submitted earlier. One
condition: he must be ordained a priest. Eight days
later, he pays a visit to Cardinal Fransoni at the Propaganda. Exactly one year later, he is ordained subdeacon by Mgr. Raess for the diocese of Port Louis,
Nigeria 06.06.1920: The Prefecture of Lower Niger is raised
to a Vicariat and Joseph Shanahan is ordained its first
bishop at Maynooth in Ireland.
Nigeria 06.06.1965: Ordination to the priesthood at Isienu of
the first four Spiritans who are products of the Holy
Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala, by Archbishop Marcel
Lefebvre, Superior General.
Germany 06.06.1995: Centenary of the re-foundation of the
Province of Germany and the foundation of the junior
seminary at Knechtsteden (25.06).
“Tell Jesus something like this: ‘Dear Jesus, you know very well that
I’m nothing, that I’m worth nothing and that I can do nothing. But
here I am, a poor man; please take me in your great kindness. I want
to give myself entirely to you and I want nothing more than that.
Watch over me, Jesus. I want you, not me, to want things for myself.
Act within me, turn me this way or that way as you please. If I sometimes try to resist, don’t take any notice”. ((Libermann, to the Director of a Seminary. 01.01.1839. L.S.II, p. 392-393).
Congo Kinshasa 07.06.1909: Foundation of the mission of
the Holy Heart of Mary at Kongolo (Pères Villetaz and
Brangers and Frère Euloge).
TransCanada June, 1975: A Caribbean Centre (Cari-To) is
opened in Toronto.
West African Foundation April, 1984: The West African Superiors meet in Dakar with a representative of the
General Council: the WAF and the Nigerian Province
will have a common theologate in Enugu, Nigeria,
projected to open in 1986; the noviciate will open in
Ghana in 1986; philosophy will be done at Isienu in
Nigeria until the WAF philosophicum is ready in Ghana.
Spain 07.06.1992: On the feast of Pentecost, 3 collaborators
at the Centre for Missionary Animation in Madrid
make a public promise of closer union with the Congregation.
“Above all, the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness. Take a Christian or a handful of Christians who, in the midst of their own community, show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their sharing
of life and destiny with other people, their solidarity with the efforts of
all for whatever is noble and good. Let us suppose that, in addition,
they radiate in a simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go
beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and
that one would not dare to imagine. Here we have an initial act of
evangelisation”. (Pope Paul VI: Evangelii Nuntiandi, 21).
Ireland 08.06.1862: Père Frédéric Le Vavasseur, Provincial
of France, comes to Ireland for the first official visitation. He approves of the Congregation taking charge
of St Vincent's Orphanage, Glasnevin, Dublin, built by
the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. This is officially
confirmed on June 8th, 1862. To the great disappointment of the Mother House, the project is abandoned after one year.
C.S.Sp. 08.06.1886 : The Congregation buys a property at
Grignon, near Orly, for the noviciate. For years, it was
the only noviciate for the whole Congregation. It was
closed in 1939.
Pakistan June, 1988 : First all-day co-operative meeting in
Ryk; it involves 150 members and is followed by an
all-night Bhagti.
Madagascar 08.06.1991: L’Abbé Ernest Ramiaramanisa dies
in hospital at Rova. Ordained in 1943 at Mahabibo, he
is the first local priest from the diocese of Mahajanga.
“Preaching is always indispensable. We are well aware that modern
man is sated by talk. The fatigue produced these days by so much empty
talk and the relevance of many other forms of communication must not
however diminish the permanent power of the word, or cause a loss of
confidence in it. The word remains ever relevant, especially when it is
the bearer of the power of God (cf. 1 Cor 2: 1-5). This is why Saint
Paul's axiom, "Faith comes from what is heard" (cf. Rom 10: 17), also
retains its relevance: it is the Word that is heard which leads to belief”.
(Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n°42)
Libermann 09.06.1827: Less than six months after his baptism, François Libermann receives the tonsure in the
cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris as a cleric for the
diocese of Strasbourg.
Portugal 09.06.1987: The death of P. Francisco Nogueira da
Rocha. He was General Bursar from 1962 to 1974.
Netherlands June, 1990: The first lay associate signs a contract with the Congregation on leaving for Tanzania.
Another follows shortly afterwards.
Ethiopia June, 1993: Two students of the East African Province come for a year of Spiritan and Pastoral experience. It is repeated for the next three years. Out of
the first two to come one is appointed to join the
group after his ordination but unfortunately he dies
shortly afterwards.
“They (the products of the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit) consecrate
themselves preferably to missionary activity both foreign and domestic, offering to go and stay in the poorest and most abandoned places
for which it is especially difficult to find candidates. Whether it is a
question of being exiled into the remote countryside or buried in the
caverns of a hospital, teaching in a college, lecturing in a seminary,
directing a poor community, travelling to the farthest corners of the
Kingdom of France or staying there in an austere post, whether it is
a question even of crossing the seas and going to the very ends of the
earth to gain a soul for Christ – their motto is ‘Behold, we are ready
to do your will: Ecce ego, mitte me’” (Charles Besnard: Vie de Grignon de Montfort).
Reunion 10.06.1842: Frédéric Le Vavasseur, co-founder of
the Holy Heart of Mary, starts the second mission of
the young congregation in the island of Bourbon and
leads it for the next eight years.
C.S.Sp. 10.06.1848: On the eve of Pentecost, 1848, after a
few days of discussion, the representatives of the
Congregation of the Holy Spirit and the Society of the
Holy Heart of Mary agree unanimously to a union of
the two religious families.
East Africa 10.06.1871: Bishop Maupoint (of Saint-Denis,
Reunion) gives up his jurisdiction over East Africa,
thereby allowing the Apostolic Prefecture of Zanzibar
to be confided to the Spiritans.
Germany June, 1995: The Provincialate of the German Province moves back from Cologne to Knechtsteden.
“For missionaries to succeed in such an admirable mission, they
have to adopt a life-style that is poorer and more mortified than the
local people to whom they are sent; as long as these poor people see
a life that is easier than theirs, they will not be impressed; this is why
Our Lord was born in a stable and died on a cross – so as to gave
him the right to preach poverty and mortification to others” (Le
Vavasseur to M. Galais, June 1939).
C.S.Sp. 11.06.1737: The Major Seminary of Meaux (France)
is confided to the Congregation of the Holy Spirit; they
direct it until its suppression at the French revolution.
Canada 11.06.1905: Foundation of the community of SaintAlexandre by Mgr. Le Roy. The future school of agriculture is constructed over the next two years.
Canada 11.06.1929: Three young confreres make their consecration to the apostolate in the chapel of SaintAlexandre; seven took the habit the previous month.
The first Canadian postulant for the Spiritan sisters,
Sister Marie-Leon, leaves for France in 1930.
Ethiopia 11.06.1993: Pope John Paul II, who has already received the patriarch of Ethiopia, Abuna TekleHaymanot, (17 October 1981), welcomes in Rome
H.H. Abuna Paulos, the present patriarch, and confirms that their two Churches possess the same apostolic tradition, faith in Christ and ministry, and should
collaborate. He praises the values of the Ethiopian
tradition, e.g. inculturation, liturgy, monasticism.
“It fills me with joy to hear of all the wonders that the Heart of Mary
is doing in Paris and in the Seminary. Our poor little Congregation
rejoices over this in a special way, since we have been consecrated
the heart of Mary since we started, and her feast is the one that we
celebrate with greatest solemnity. I pray that the heart of Mary,
which is so dear to all her children, will be your refuge and your
hope amidst your sufferings” (Libermann to M. Telles L.S.II, p.
Guyane 12.06.1709: Arrival of the Jesuits. They are responsible for all the missionary work in the country up to
their suppression in 1784. The work is then continued
by the Spiritans.
East Africa 12.06.1878: The first caravan of White Fathers to
the interior is organised by Fr. Baur and Br. Oskar
(Spiritans) On 11.06.1878, it sets out from Bagamoyo
with 300 porters to the great lakes in Central Africa.
Three other caravans, organised in the same way, follow in 1879, 1883 and 1887.
Senegal 12.06.1947: Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre is appointed Vicar
Apostolic of Dakar. He invites many congregations to
join in the work: White Fathers, Marists, Sacred Heart
of Issoudun, Maronites, Presentation Sisters, Carmelites etc. There is a great increase in parishes both at
Dakar and in the interior.
12.06.1958: The General Council erects the new
community of the Holy Spirit in the place of the community of Daulac. The senior scholasticate moves
there with a team of four fathers. The community
closes in 1979.
“I am very annoyed that you are not in charge of the mission in Senegal. I am very anxious to hear that a seminary will be established by
your congregation at Gorée or Saint-Louis. In the government school
at Saint-Louis there are several young men who want to be priests.
They study Latin along with other subjects. Please try to do something soon with M. Cabeuil of Gorée” (Bishop Barron to Libermann,
08.04.1845. N.D.5, p. 78).
C.S.Sp. 13.06.1850: Frédéric Le Vavasseur is recalled from
Bourbon by Père Libermann to assist him in his task
as superior of the Congregation. Le Vavasseur is appointed General Councillor of the Congregation.
Belgium 1919: The school at Lierre is taken up again as well
as the senior scholasticate at Leuven. The novices go
to Orly. The French Spiritans leave Gentinnes which
then becomes a junior seminary for francophone Belgian students. Leuven is also the residence of the
Provincial and the mission Procure.
Portugal 13.06.1948: Land is bought at Quinta da Torre
d’Aguilha for the building of a theology house for Portuguese Spiritans. The first Mass is celebrated there
on the first Sunday of Advent.
Sierra Leone 1950: The Holy Year. Many West Africans go
on pilgrimage to Rome. Pope Pius XII announces the
creation of the hierarchy of West Africa. Sierra Leone
is made into a diocese, subject to the Holy See.
“At the Itaici Chapter, it was said that ‘our mission is a spirituality
before it is a strategy, that we are being evangelised at the same time
as we evangelise’. It is in our mission that, like St. Paul, we discover
Christ and his Spirit. Like him, we need time to interpret our apostolic experience in prayer, to discern what is cause for praise, for supplication or for asking pardon. In fact, what gives life and joy to
Spiritans is their pastoral and missionary relationships. Initial and
on-going formation must teach us to purify them and to make them a
source for our prayers” (EGC Dakar, 1995. 4.4.4).
Nigeria 1951: The first two Nigerians make their profession in
Ireland as Spiritans: Frs. Godfrey Okoye and Anthony
Sierra Leone 1951: Bishop Ambrose Kelly welcomes the Xaverian Fathers from Italy into his diocese; they are
given the care of the Northern Province, centered on
Mauritania 1951: The only priests in the country are military
chaplains. The Church of Rosso is built by Émile Salomon (Spiritan) but it is not occupied until 1958.
Congo Brazzaville 14.06.1971: Death of Mgr. Théophile
Mbemba, the first local Archbishop of Brazzaville. He
is succeeded by his coadjutor, Mgr. Biayenda.
“Excessive economic, social and cultural inequalities among peoples arouse tensions and conflicts, and are a danger to peace. As we
said to the Fathers of the Council when we returned from our journey of peace to the United Nations: "The condition of the peoples in
process of development ought to be the object of our consideration;
or better: our charity for the poor in the world (and there are multitudes of them) must become more considerate, more active, more
generous". To wage war on misery and to struggle against injustice
is to promote, along with improved conditions, the human and spiritual progress of all men, and therefore the common good of humanity. Peace cannot be limited to a mere absence of war, the result of an
ever precarious balance of forces. No, peace is something that is
built up day after day, in the pursuit of an order intended by God,
which implies a more perfect form of justice among men” (Paul VI:
“Populorum Progressio”).
France 15.06.1835: Jacques Laval, a medical doctor, enters
the seminary of Saint-Sulpice to study theology; a few
miles away, François Libermann is studying philosophy at Issy.
Kenya 1953: The hierarchy is established in Kenya.
Bagamoyo 1954: Bishop Herman van Elswijk resigns and is
succeeded by the first African bishop in the diocese.
There are 87 priests, 19 brothers and 168,000 Catholics in the diocese.
Gabon 15.06.1969: Inauguration of Maison Libermann as the
residence of the Principal Superior in Gabon. During
his time as Superior General, Mgr. Lefebvre urges all
Districts to have a house that belongs to the Congregation.
“You always deal kindly with me as if you were in need of me. It is as
if you glory in subjugating a heart as insensitive as mine. You seem
to delight in this conquest…In acknowledging your power, I also
acknowledge your love. I know that your tenderness is infinite because it is not exhausted by my innumerable past ingratitudes. For a
long time you have desired to speak to my heart but I have refused to
listen. You try to convince me that you want to use me but I try not to
believe you... Now I am ready to listen to the commands of your divine providence” (Claude Poullart des Places: “Reflections of the
Truths of Religion”).
East Africa 16.06.1863: Père Horner lands in Zanzibar with
Père Baur and two brothers. Nearly all the first converts are freed slaves. The idea of Fr. Horner is to put
these converts in villages, where they can be taught
religion, agriculture and a trade. Fr Horner surveys
the mainland coast and decides that Bagamoyo is the
most suitable for his purpose.
Guyane 16.06.1876: Père Emonet, Prefect Apostolic and future Superior General, consecrates Guyane to the
Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Guadeloupe 1939: There are 61 priests in the diocese: 22
seculars and 39 Spiritans.
Mauritania 16.06.1965: Accidental death of Mgr. Joseph
Landreau (Spiritan), the first Prefect Apostolic of Mauritania. The military plane in which he was travelling
crashed at Zouerate and he was buried there.
“In the summer of 1837, M. Libermann left Saint-Sulpice for Rennes
where he joined M. Louis, the superior of the Eudistes, hoping to do
some good in that congregation for the salvation of souls. M. Louis
had been very insistent that he should follow him and after two
months in the house he was appointed novice master. But despite the
fervour of the superior, Libermann found the place to be in great
disorder and he was heart-broken to see that all his efforts to improve things met with failure” (Memoire of Eugène Tisserant).
Cameroon 1954: At Bafia, Mgr. Loucheur opens a professional school and a leprosium (at Nyamsong).
United Kingdom 1956: The first Spiritan house in Scotland is
opened at Uddingston in Glasgow. It thus becomes
the most northerly house in the whole of the Congregation.
C.S.Sp. 17.06.1991: The first world-wide meeting of Spiritan
Lay Associates is held at Bethel Park, Pittsburgh.
Gabon 17.06.1999: The 50th anniversary of the foundation of
Collège Bessieux. The ceremony is presided over by
Mgr. Basile Mvé Engone, Archbishop of Libreville,
and the Prime Minister, Jean-François N’toutoume
Emane. Both are past students of the college.
“In the long run, is there any other way of handing on the Gospel than
by transmitting to another person one's personal experience of faith? It
must not happen that the pressing need to proclaim the Good News to
the multitudes should cause us to forget this form of proclamation,
whereby an individual's personal conscience is reached and touched by
an entirely unique word that he receives from someone else” (Paul VI:
“Evangelii Nuntiandi”, n°46).
Senegambia 18.06.1846: Père Gravière, the new Prefect Apostolic, lands at Gorée. A junior seminary is opened,
following the instructions of Père Libermann. (The first
Prefect was Père Tisserant, shipwrecked on
Mauritius 18.06.1848: Blessing of the foundation stone of the
church of Sainte Croix. Bishop Collier is met at the
chapel by all the missionaries and the men of the locality, carrying their work tools. Jacques Laval is subsequently buried in this church.
Trinidad 1957: Appointment of Father Pedro Valdez as Principal of St Mary's College, the first past-student and
Trinidadian to hold this post.
Ireland 18.06.1961: The Patrician Congress, commemorating
the 1,500th anniversary of the death of St Patrick is
celebrated in Ireland with Cardinal Agagianian as Papal Legate. Among the highlights is a Missionary Exhibition mounted with the collaboration of all the missionary congregations. A garden party, organised by
the hierarchy, is held in Blackrock College (21 June,
“And if ever I have done any good for my God whom I love, I beg
him to grant me that I may shed my blood with those exiles and captives for his name, even though I should be denied a grave, or my
body be woefully torn to pieces limb by limb by hounds or wild
beasts, or the fowls of the air devour it. I am firmly convinced that if
this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul together with
my body, because on that day without doubt we shall rise in the
brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as sons of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be
made conformable to his image; for of him, and by him, and in him
we shall reign” (Confessions of St. Patrick).
Reunion 19.06.1847: Père Alexandre Monnet, of the 2nd order of Spiritans, returns to Bourbon. He is met by violent demonstrations because of his stand against
slavery. He is expelled by the governor shortly after
his arrival. He is subsequently elected the 10th Superior General of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit.
Gabon 19.06.1871: The birth at Libreville of Ignace Raponda
Walker, the first priest from Gabon (ordained
21.07.1899) and a great expert on the history and culture of his people.
Switzerland 19.06.1906: A new house is opened in Fribourg
at 18, rue du Botzet. It will be an international student
community for Spiritans attending the university.
Rome 19.06.1910: Pius X declares the heroicity of virtues of
François Libermann. Henceforth, he will have the title
of “Venerable”.
“I must not miss this opportunity to say a couple of words about the
immense love that Jesus has for us. You can see it clearly in the
Blessed Sacrament. His love is so great that he wants to transform
and change us in his love; he wants to make us one with him in his
Father. The Father is in him and he comes into us so that we will be
consumed in him and in his Father who are one” (Libermann to Leray, 24.07.1834. L.S.1, p. 51-52).
Deux Guinées 20.06.1848: Père Bessieux is appointed Vicar
Apostolic of the Deux Guinées. Mgr. Kobès, aged 28,
is named as his auxiliary on 22.09.1848 and is ordained at Strasbourg on 30.11.1848.
Angola 20.06.1977: Foundation of the Province of Angola.
The first Provincial is P. Bernardo Bongo.
Spain 20.06.1986: At the request of his family, the body of
Padre José Maria Felgueiras is taken to Portugal for
burial in the family grave at Taipas. A huge crowd of
Spiritans, family and friends are there to pay honour
to this “martyr of charity”, killed by a train while trying
to save a young boy in Spain.
Province of Central Africa 20.06.1999: First Chapter of the
new Province at Libreville in Gabon. Père Ferdinand
Azegue is elected Provincial.
“Jesus took steps to ensure that we could always be in perfect union
with him by giving us the Holy Spirit who is the consummator of all
sanctity. But in the Blessed Sacrament, he gives us such a fullness of
the Holy Spirit, such a gift of love and union, that we would surely
die if we could see clearly what was happening. This is why Our
Lord hides himself in the Blessed Sacrament; if he showed himself as
he really is, there would be no way in which we could go on living
after receiving him” (Libermann to Leray, 24.07.1834. L.S.1, p.5152).
C.S.Sp. 21.06.1757: Death of Père Pierre Caris. He was the
bursar of the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit for 45 years:
“This poor priest of outstanding virtue and regarded
by all as a saint” made it possible for the seminary to
continue by begging each day in the streets of Paris.
Portugal 21.06.1877: After three years in the Seminary of the
Congo at Santarem and two years at St Bernard’s
College at Gibraltar (1870-1872) the Congregation
finds a permanent home at Braga where the foundation stone was blessed on this day.
Puerto Rico 1956: The mission of Puerto Rico becomes a
District. The central house is at Dorado and the first
superior if Fr. R. Eberhard.
Guadeloupe 1959: A delegation goes to Rome for the beatification of Mère Anne-Marie Javouhey, the founder of
the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny. Her first missionaries arrived in Guadeloupe in 1822 and she visited the
island in 1828 and 1833.
“The mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption is thus described as
a total self-emptying which leads Christ to experience fully the human condition and to accept totally the Father's plan. This is an
emptying of self which is permeated by love and expresses love. The
mission follows this same path and leads to the foot of the cross. The
missionary is required to "renounce himself and everything that up
to this point he considered as his own, and to make himself everything to everyone”. This he does by a poverty which sets him free for
the Gospel, overcoming attachment to the people and things about
him, so that he may become a brother to those to whom he is sent
and thus bring them Christ the Saviour. This is the goal of missionary spirituality: "To the weak I became weak… I have become all
things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9:2223)” (John Paul II: “Redemptoris Missio”, no. 88).
Gambia 22.06.1924: The first Gambian priest, Fr. J. Mendy,
is ordained at (Bathurst) Banjul by Mgr. Le Hunsec,
Vicar Apostolic of Senegambia.
Mauritania 1959: Arrival of the first sisters in Mauritania, the
Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. With the proclamation of an Islamic Republic in 1960, mission work
becomes more difficult; the first pastoral meeting is
called to review the situation.
Makurdi 1959: The Prefecture of Otukpo is raised to a Diocese with Bishop James Hagan in charge. He resides
in Otukpo.
Sierra Leone 1961: As Sierra Leone gains Independence
from the United Kingdom, Catholics are 1% of the
population. Joseph Ganda is ordained a priest in Bo the first Sierra Leonean to become a secular priest.
“It is important that Muslims and Christians continue to explore
philosophical and theological questions together, in order to come to
a more objective and comprehensive knowledge of each other’s religious beliefs. Better mutual understanding will surely lead, at the
practical level, to a new way of presenting our two religions not in
opposition, as has happened too often in the past, but in partnership
for the good of the human family” (Jean Paul II, at the Mosque of
Omeyyades at Damascus, 06.05.2001),
23.06.1863: Père Schwindenhammer, the Superior
General, buys the property of Chevilly from Baron
Schikler to replace Notre-Dame du Gard. During its
long history, it has been many things: e.g. scholasticate, noviciate for clerics and brothers, retirement
home, the site for all our General Chapters up until
Itaici, etc. etc.
Trinidad 1963: Trinidad becomes a Vice-Province.
Guadeloupe 1963: Mgr. Gay organises an itinerant mission
throughout the island that lasts for six months and involves 40 missionaries.
Nigeria 23.06.1984: At the West African Superiors’ meeting
at Dakar, the three circumscriptions in Nigeria (the
Province, Makurdi and Kwara-Benue) resolve to cooperate more closely with each other.
“Abandonment is the perfection of patience. When one has reached
this state, the person rests in God, gives himself up completely and
no longer wants to act of himself. He allows himself to be totally directed by God, according to his wishes. It is a state of continuous
availability” (Jean Gay: Libermann –quoting Le Vavasseur, p. 112).
Belgium 1963: Building starts on the “Kongolo Memorial” at
Gentinnes. It will be inaugurated five years later in the
presence of the King and Queen of Belgium. On the
walls are commemorated the names of the 217 missionaries – catholic, protestant, religious and lay –
who were killed during the political upheavals in Congo Zaire.
Tanzania 1964: The Prefecture of Same is separated from
the Diocese of Moshi and confided to the Dutch Spiritans. The first Prefect if Mgr. Henry Winkelmolen.
Brazil 24.06.1964: Whilhelm Hansen becomes principal superior in the District of Brazil South and Heinrich Rüth
superior in Alto Jurua. Both are from the German
Tanzania 24.06.1976: Paul Chuwa is the first member of the
East African Foundation to be ordained a priest: it
takes place at Usa River in Arusha Diocese.
“The supreme test is the giving of one's life, to the point of accepting
death in order to bear witness to one's faith in Jesus Christ.
Throughout Christian history, martyrs, that is, "witnesses”, have always been numerous and indispensable to the spread of the Gospel.
In our own age, there are many: bishops, priests, men and women
religious, lay people - often unknown heroes who give their lives to
bear witness to the faith. They are par excellence the heralds and
witnesses of the faith” (John Paul II: “Redemptoris Missio”, no. 45).
USA 1964: The Province of the United States is split into two,
USA-East and USA-West, with the Mississippi river as
their boundary, except that all of Louisiana belongs to
Nigeria 1965: A Spiritan scholasticate is opened at Isienu in
the Diocese of Enugu.
Congo Kinshasa 1966: Père Albert Onyembo (Spiritan) is
appointed bishop of Kindu. A Procure is opened at
Lubumbashi to supply the missions of North-Katanga.
Belgium 25.06.1977: Ordination of Père G. Connerotte.
Since then, there have been no more ordinations for
the Province.
“Some Provinces are becoming increasingly weak and lack the personnel to continue their commitments. They need the help of the
Congregation. They could get this from the other older Provinces in
their Region and likewise from the support of new Provinces and
Foundations. In this way, even these older Provinces are becoming
international” (General Chapter, Maynooth 7.2.2).
C.S.Sp. 26.06.1918:Introduction of the cause of Père Jacques
Tanzania 1965: At the urging of five Tanzanian Spiritans, the
District chapter of Kilimanjaro adopts the project of
creating an East Africa Foundation, the first stage
leading to our present Province of East Africa.
1965: Nigerian Spiritans, Frs. Denis Ononuju and
Francis Okonkwo, are appointed to work in Sierra Leone - the first Nigerian Spiritans to do missionary work
outside the country.
Switzerland 26.06.1968: The Vice-Province of Switzerland
becomes an independent Province on its own. The
first Provincial is Père Fernand Bussard.
“The older Provinces are realising that Spiritan mission is also in
their own back yard, so, for example, they are taking on commitments in the service of immigrants, refugees and young people. They
take part in action for the support and defence of the poor. These
undertakings can show people what Spiritan mission is all about and
attract vocations (professed and lay associates) more easily than stories about our work in far off lands” (General Chapter, Maynooth
Portugal 27.06.1980: The death at Torre d’Aguilha of Moisés
Alves de Pinho, Archbishop emeritus of Luanda. As
Provincial, he had done much to restore the Province
before he was appointed Bishop of Angola and the
Congo in 1932.
Canada 27.06.1980: An international noviciate is set up at
Puerto Rico 27.06.1987: Luis Aponte, Archbishop of San
Juan, presides at the mass when the first Group of
the Foundation is being sent out to the mission in
Central African Foundation 27.06.1989: The first general
assembly of the FAC as an autonomous circumscription. It no longer depends on the superiors of the
founding districts
“Our mission is always that of the Congregation, recognised as such
through a process of discernment and accepted in obedience in accord with the Rule of Life... Whatever may be the work we are engaged in as priests or as brothers, we aim to bear witness to a kingdom of justice and peace by living together in community in genuine
charity, in mutual forbearance, pardoning, sharing, ever hospitable
and free from prejudice” (SRL : 22 & 24).
Reunion 28.06.1817: L’Abbé Guilloteau, the new Apostolic
Administrator of the island, arrives at St. Denis. He is
the first Spiritan priest for Reunion, sent by M. Bertout, the superior of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.
Congo Brazzaville 1965: The Marxist government nationalises all private schools but permission is given to
open the Seminary of St. John at Brazzaville.
TransCanada 1967: The Province sends missionaries to
Brazil and to the native peoples of Alberta.
Trinidad 1967: The Spiritan mission to Paraguay is entrusted
to the Province of Trinidad.
“For the good of your proposed work for the black people, I think it
is almost indispensable that it be undertaken by a religious congregation. If it were something isolated from everything else, there
would be no cohesion, individualism would soon threaten it and
there would be a lack of stability. If the good Lord is pointing you in
the direction of our Congregation, our spirit is totally apostolic and
everything in our constitutions aims at producing missionaries who
base themselves uniquely on the spirit of Jesus Christ and on nothing
else” (Libermann to Le Vavasseur, commenting on his plans.
08.03.1839. NDI, p.639-640).
C.S.Sp. 29.06.1908: As a result of the Constitution “Sapiens
Consilio” of Pius X, the Congregation will depend
henceforth on the Congregation for Religious for its
religious life and on the Propaganda Fide for everything concerning its mission.
Canada 29.06.1917: The first successes in the baccalauréat.
The Archbishop of Ottawa gives the tonsure to five
Nigeria 29.06.1924: Bishop Shanahan founds the first Seminary in Southern Nigeria in the town of Igbarian. In
1951 this Seminary took the name of the Bigard Memorial Seminary after Jeanne Bigard and her mother,
Stephanie, who together founded the society of St.
Peter the Apostle. This Seminary will be run by Spiritans until 1970.
Angola 29.06.1977: The Angolan Province is created.
“Eighteen years ago I first came in contact with you. I had been in
Africa for eighteen years before that, and now, at the close of my life
I am returning. When I was working there as a young missionary, I
thought Nigeria could not get on without me. God brought me home,
and showed me that it could. I thought then that Killeshandra could
not get on without me, but again, God showed me that it could”
(Bishop Joseph Shanahan, 01.10.1938; his farewell message to the
Holy Rosary Sisters. Letters I p.142).
Trinidad 30.06.1966: On this day, Fr. Leonard Graf, aged 83,
teaches his last day’s class at St. Mary’s College, Port
of Spain. During his 60 years of teaching, he has
missed only two days due to sickness.
Makurdi 1968: Fr. Donal Murray of the English Province takes
over as Bishop of Makurdi. There are now 48 Spiritans working in the diocese.
Central African Foundation 1968: The General Chapter encourages the recruitment of Spiritan vocations in the
dioceses of francophone Africa.
Switzerland 30.06.1987: The College at Bouveret is finally
closed. It now becomes a centre for vocations and
missionary awareness.
“Before his conversion, M. des Places found it impossible to live on
the allowance he was given; after his conversion, he found it was
enough not just for his own needs but for the needs of many more.
When charity and mortification go hand in hand, it makes people
ingenious in finding enough for themselves and the needs of the poor.
Poullart hoped that one day, having given everything away, he would
be forced to live on the handouts of others” (Pierre Thomas: Memoire sur la Vie de Poullart des Places).
Guyane 01.07.1777: Letters patent issued, giving the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit pastoral responsibility for Guyane.
Gabon 01.07.1849: The frigate “Pénélope” seizes the slaveship “Eliza” with 46 slaves on board from Congo and
Loango. They are put ashore in Gabon, close to the
French Fort d’Aumale: as a result, the place is given
the name of “Libreville”.
USA 01.07.1888: Fr. Patrick McDermott becomes pastor of
St. Benedict the Moor in Pittsburgh, the first parish for
African-Americans entrusted to the Congregation and
the forerunner of many others.
Portugal 01.07.1909: Death of P. Joseph Eigenmann, the
great builder of the Province of Portugal. Nearly all
the work of building the Province prior to the revolution of 1910 was due to him.
“Nothing is too good for the orphans! These children, who have been
deprived of all the joys of family life, must find a new family at Auteuil, a certain comfort that they did not have at home, so as to give
them an appreciation and respect for the things that are given to
them for their personal use” (Daniel Brottier: from the Roman document, “Copia Public”, p. 256).
Reunion 02.07.1843: Pères Collin and Blanpin arrive at
Saint-Denis, sent by François Libermann at the request of Mgr. Poncelet. They are both appointed to
work with the black people.
Guinée Conakry 02.07.1919: Mgr. Lerouge founds the Congregation of “The Little Sisters of Our Lady of
Guinée”. The first postulant takes the habit. On the
same date, but in 1931, he opens the Senior Seminary of Dixinn.
Gabon 02.07.1961: Mgr. Ndong, the first bishop from Gabon,
is ordained by Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre, the Apostolic
Delegate, at Libreville.
Tanzania 02.07.1967: Fr. Adrian Mkoba, born and educated
in the diocese, is consecrated bishop in the cathedral
of Morogoro.
Madagascar 02.07.1978: L’Abbé Armand Razafindratandra is
consecrated bishop of Majunga in the cathedral
“Our Lord came to save everybody; he sacrificed himself for all
from the worst to the best, so his whole attitude as a priest is one of
reconciliation and salvation for the whole of the human race. Consequently, those who share in the fullness of the priesthood of their
Master must also spread their compassion throughout the whole
world, and rejoice when this same Master sends people to save
abandoned souls: it would be wrong to be so miserly as to only give
these people in need what is of no use elsewhere” (Libermann to
Féret, 15.12.1839. L.S. II, p. 317).
Deux Guinées 03.07.1848: Père Jean Rémi Bessieux is appointed Vicar Apostolic of the Deux Guinées. Libermann insists that Père Kobès should be named as his
C.S.Sp. 03.07.1848: M. Monnet, the Superior General of the
Congregation of the Holy Spirit, is proposed to Rome
as Vicar Apostolic of Madagascar.
C.S.Sp. 03.07.1980: At Chevilly, 73 capitulants and 14 observers assemble for the 15th General Chapter. Père
Frans Timmermans is re-elected for a second mandate as Superior General. Discussions are grouped
under four headings: Mission today; Justice and
Peace; Community Life; New Foundations.
Central African Foundation 03.07.1994: Death of Père Paul
Ondia, the first Spiritan from the Congo.
“Our evangelising work for justice is inspired by the charity of
Christ which is poured into our hearts by his Spirit who is given to
us. It is that same Spirit who enables us to recognise God as our Father (Gal 4:6). The good news of Jesus and the consequent brotherhood of man is the basis of all Christian work for justice, whose fruit
is peace” (General Chapter, 1980. No. 76).
Congo July, 1887: Foundation of the mission of Brazzaville
by Pères Prosper Augouard, Georges Schmitt and
Frère Savinien Weckmann. Five years later, work is
begun on the cathedral.
Rome July, 1927: Following the condemnation of the ideas of
Action Française by Pius XI, Père Henri Le Floch is
withdrawn as Rector of the French Seminary in response to a personal request by the Pope.
Brazil SW July, 1967: By July 1967, the group has become a
District and Fr John Jordan has succeeded in getting
nine contiguous parishes in the dioceses of Marília,
Presidente Prudente and Lins. These parishes are
seen as feeders for the new seminary opened in Adamantina for aspirants to our Congregation.
C.S.Sp. 04.07.1967: The remains of François Libermann are
transferred from the grounds of Chevilly to the chapel
of rue Lhomond.
“Growing numbers of young people are choosing our Institute.
Aware of this new phenomenon, the Congregation extended the
scope of its welcome to offer young people of different continents
every opportunity to feel at home and grow in the Spiritan family in
harmony with their own background and culture. These new groups
were given the name “Foundations”; ‘For new wine, new wineskins’” (General Chapter, 1980. No. 108).
C.S.Sp. 05.07.1848: M. Monnet, the Superior General of the
Spiritans, proposes a union between his Congregation and that of the Holy Heart of Mary to Cardinal
Fransoni, the Prefect of the Propaganda Fide.
Portugal July 1941: P. Faustino Moreira dos Santos is ordained bishop in the church of St. Dominic in Viana
do Castelo.
Algeria 05.07.1962: Independence of Algeria. Confreres who
are retired or parish priests in the region of Oran
leave for France. The agricultural school at
Misserghin continues as a private school recognised
by the State. It marks the start of a new type of missionary presence in the country, in the spirit of Vatican II.
Alto Jurua July, 1966: P. Henrique Rüth is appointed Prelate
“nullius” and Bishop of Leptiminus.
“Rather than sacrifice justice and goodness, I have accepted to be
persecuted. It is those who persecute who are miserable; to suffer for
justice, to be punished for the sake of good, this is a blessing. The
only sure happiness is in gentle goodness. If we are not to be the
lackeys of tyrants, if we are to be faithful to brotherhood and justice
amongst men, we have to have the courage to be right and to support
those who are right. This is why ‘the kingdom of God is subject to
violence and it is the violent who carry it off’” (P. Joaquim Alves
Correia, Vida Mais Alta).
Germany 06.07.1873: During the Kulturkampf, the Spiritans
are expelled from Germany because they are equated
with the Jesuits.
06.07.1964: Independence of Nyassaland: henceforth, it is known as Malawi.
Nigeria 06.07.1967: Civil war breaks out in Nigeria and lasts
for the next 20 months. Spiritans play honourable
roles on both sides, working with international relief
organisations and caring for refugees, the sick,
wounded and imprisoned.
06.07.1994: Ordinations of first Spiritans from Kogi
State in Nigeria: Emmanuel Ikubolaje from Kabba in
the diocese of Lokoja and Daniel Abah from Imane in
the diocese of Idah.
“Together with the Synod Fathers, I urge a serious commitment to
foster conditions of greater social justice and good government on
the African continent, in order to prepare the ground for peace. ‘If
you want peace, work for justice’. It is much better, and also much
easier, to present wars than to try to stop them after they have broken out…The Church in Africa, especially through some of its leaders, has been in the front line of the search for negotiated solutions
to armed conflicts in many parts of the continent. This mission of
pacification must continue, encouraged by the Lord’s promise in the
beatitudes: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called sons
of God’” (John Paul II: Ecclesia in Africa, 117-118).
Australia 07.07.1846: Père Thévaux writes to Bishop Brady:
"We are extremely poor, my Lord, with only scanty
provisions and but nine shillings in our purse. Furthermore, we cannot rely on the products of the soil
for a long time yet."
Holy Heart of Mary 07.07.1848 : François Libermann, the
superior of the Missionaries of the Holy Heart of Mary,
writes to Cardinal Fransoni at the Propaganda proposing a union of his Congregation with that of the
Spiritans and the appointment of M. Monnet as Vicar
Apostolic of Madagascar.
USA 07.07.1882 : The college at Pittsburgh obtains a charter
enabling it to confer degrees.
Portugal 07.07.1888 : The first confering of the habit at the
noviciate of Sintra.
« Financial problems were in no way behind my decision to enter
into negotiations (regarding fusion with the Spiritans): we are certainly not rich, but things are not too bad since we have accepted
twelve new students for the beginning of this year. What motivated
me in the dealings with the Congreation of the Holy Spirit was the
thought of the immense good that would come from it » (Libermann
to Gamon. N.D.X : p. 323).
East Africa 08.07.1863: The Superior General signs a contract with Bishop Maupoint of Reunion in which the
Congregation accepts “the mission of Zanzibar in its
Portugal 08.07.1886: The communities of Braga and Porto
become the Vice-Province of Portugal; the first superior is Père Eigenmann.
Gabon 08.07.1947: The Apostolic Vicariat of Gabon now becomes the Apostolic Vicariat of Libreville. On July 7th,
Père Jean-Jerome Adam is appointed the Vicar and is
ordained at Colmar on December 9th.
08.07.1991: An international meeting of Spiritan
formators is held at Enugu, Nigeria. Objectives of the
meeting are: the adaptation of formation to contemporary ideas of mission and the integration of the basic
elements of our Spiritan vocation; living our unity and
diversity in mutual support and sharing.
“We find the source of our formation in the call received from the
Lord to follow him, to imitate him and to let ourselves be transformed by him (SRL 101). This call gives meaning and unity to the
different elements of formation: it directs them towards the choice we
have made to place Jesus the Christ, who died and rose again, ever
more at the centre of our lives. These elements thus help us to grow
as disciples and servants of the Gospel. The movement finds its concrete expression and fulfilment when we give ourselves to the religious apostolate by our definitive consecration, following the paschal logic of our baptism. Formation is the work of God, who moulds
us like the potter” (Guide for Spiritan Formation, 1966: no. 7).
Deux Guinées 09.07.1858: First talking of the habit in the
Congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Heart of
Mary, founded by Mgr. Kobès. It is the oldest African
congregation of religious on the continent.
Germany 09.07.1894: The law excluding the Jesuits no longer applies to the Spiritans in Germany.
Nigeria 09.07.1934: The Vicariat of Southern Nigeria is divided into three parts: the Vicariat Apostolic of OnitshaOweri, the Prefecture of the Benue and the Prefecture
of Calabar. Fr. Winterle is named Prefect Apostolic of
the Benue with his seat in Makurdi.
Trinidad July, 1970: A crucial Provincial Chapter is held at St
Mary's College which liberalises religious life and
leads to an apostolate directed more to the underprivileged.
“We may never overlook the truth which Libermann so strongly inculcated upon his sons and which the Council has recalled, that ‘the
missionary must be a man of prayer’, centring his life on the Eucharistic sacrifice, seeking to attune his life to what takes place on the
altar. This will not be possible if he does not ‘penetrate ever more
deeply through prayer into the mystery of Christ’. Yet, for the practical organisation of our apostolic life, our model will not be taken
from monks but from the first apostles and evangelists, from the Lord
himself in the community which he formed with his disciples” (General Chapter, 1968-1969: no. 26).
C.S.Sp. 10.07.1850: Less than two years after the “fusion”,
the Propaganda grants to the Congregation, at the
request of Père Libermann, the practice of religious
poverty which had been exercised in the Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary.
Ireland 10.07.1970: The first Irish Provincial Chapter takes
place at Blackrock during the first two weeks of the
Netherlands July, 1972: Closure of junior seminary at Weert.
The senior scholasticate also closes at Gemert, because of the small number of students; those remaining attend the faculties of Heerlen, Nijmegen and Amsterdam.
Martinique July, 1972: A local bishop takes over the running
of the diocese; henceforth, the diocesan clergy have
prime responsibility for the pastoral care of the diocese.
“Members of the Congregation will devote themselves in a special
way to the practise of holy poverty, perfect detachment from the
goods of the earth and a total indifference to posts of honour, promotion and the ease of life that riches can bring. Being given entirely to
Jesus Christ to continue his apostolate under his direction, especially
towards the poorest and most abandoned, they would be missing the
whole spirit behind their religious vocation if they continued to have
a love or regard for the riches and honours of this world and a desire to enjoy the external signs that go with them” (Libermann:
Règlements of 1849, Art 501. N.D.X, p.497-498).
Madagascar 11.07.1941: Père Jean Wolff, at the age of 36,
is appointed Vicar Apostolic of Majunga (Mahajanga).
Ethiopia July, 1974: Permission is given by the government
to work in Borana land. The group decides to start in
Dadim, which is north of Yavello town, and to work in
education as requested by the people but without neglecting evangelisation.
TransCanada July, 1984: From July 10-30, there is a large
gathering of Spiritan students from North America and
the Caribbean.
C.S.Sp. July, 1986: From July 1 until August 2, the 16th General Chapter takes place at Chevilly in France. There
are 80 capitulants in all and they elect Père Pierre
Haas as the 21st Superior General of the Congregation. The Chapter finishes and officially approves the
new Rule of Life.
“After an attentive study of the document… the Congregation for
Religious and Secular Institutes recognises that this Rule of Life
commits Spiritans to respond to the needs of evangelisation in their
time, in living fidelity to the charisms of their founders, Claude
Poullart des Places and François Libermann. The preaching of the
Good News, the practice of the evangelical counsels and life in fraternal and praying community are the three essential elements that
give their apostolic life both its basis and unity. They participate in
the Church’s mission, according to their proper vocation, by evangelising the poor, going more especially to those who have not yet
heard the Gospel message and to those whose needs are greatest”
(Official approval of the Rule by Rome: 07.07.1987. SRL p. 11).
Netherlands 12.07.1946: The Prefecture Apostolic of Tefé in
Amazonia (Brazil) is confided to the Dutch Province.
Mgr. Jouke de Lange is named the first Prefect. Fourteen young Dutch Spiritans, priests and brothers, are
sent to join him.
Kogi 12.07.1997: Celebration at Okura of the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Spiritans in Nigeria. A souvenir
booklet is produced entitled “50 Years of Canadian
Spiritan presence in Nigeria: 1947-1997”.
Spain July, 1997: The Province launches the publication of a
“Spiritan Anthology” of our founders. P. Joaquin Ramos Seixas is put in charge of the project. The aim is
to give Spanish-speakers access to the life and teaching of Poullart des Places and Libermann.
C.S.Sp. 12.07.1998: Beginning of the 18th General Chapter of
the Congregation at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth,
Ireland, with 72 capitulants. Père Pierre Schouver is
re-elected as Superior General. Three of the six General Councillors elected come from the African continent.
“Our founders were quoted many times and the Chapter gave its
approval to a programme for making us more aware of our tradition.
This was in answer to an increased desire, felt throughout the Congregation as we approach our anniversaries, to rediscover our original inspiration. Under each of the four main headings of the Chapter programme, we detected signs of vitality in what Spiritans are
experiencing today, as if they were promises which invite us to have
trust, to give ourselves completely to today’s mission, to be converted” (Pierre Schouver: Introduction to the Chapter documents of
Nigeria 13.07.1919: Joseph Delaney from Ireland, who initially came to Nigeria as an associate Spiritan in 1910, is
the first person to be ordained priest in Nigeria. Mgr.
Shanahan obtains an indult from Rome for him to be
ordained without the normal six years of Senior Seminary training. He eventually dies at Aguleri in 1957 at
the age of 86.
France 13.07.1924: The Superior General, Mgr. Alexandre Le
Roy, lays the foundation stone of the chapel dedicated to St. Theresa at Auteuil.
Libermann 13.07.1980: The unveiling of the monument to
François Libermann, erected on the site of his family
home at Saverne.
Central African Foundation July, 1981: The first members
of the FAC are ordained: Benoît Diemé, Abel Eyegue
Mba and Paul Mekouawa.
“At the time when Thérèse of the Child Jesus decided to take over
the running of the house for orphans at Auteuil, the situation was
pretty desperate. All the hard work of dear old Abbé Roussel and his
devoted successors was in great danger of being destroyed by the
difficulties of the post-war period and nobody knew what to do. Then
Thérèse appeared on the scene, along with a legion of her fervent
admirers; things then improved to such a degree that you would have
to be suffering from total spiritual blindness not to see the miracle
behind it all” (Daniel Brottier, 01.01.1936. L14,
Rome 14.07.1859: By the Bull “In Sublimi”, Pope Pius IX, at
the request of the bishops of France, gives canonical
approval to the French Seminary in Rome and confides it “in perpetuity” to the Congregation of the Holy
14.07.1907: Ordination of the first African-American
member of the Congregation, Fr. Joseph A. Burgess.
C.S.Sp. 14.09.1966: The Superior General and his Council
leave the rue des Pyrénées in Paris. On September
9th, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the
Generalate is set up in Rome on Monte Mario at Clivo
di Cinna, 195.
Puerto Rico July, 1994: The international noviciate for Spanish-speaking students is established in Dorado with 7
novices from Haiti, Mexico, Paraguay and Puerto Rico. Fr Victor Cabezas from Spain is the Master and Fr
Iván Sarrano, from P.R. is his assistant.
« The Superior General confirms his fellow members in their Spiritan calling, in keeping with the spirit of the founders and the living
tradition of the Institute. He makes the unity among all Spiritans a
reality. He assures the unity of all within the Church. He strives for
the common good and the vitality of the Congregation. In a spirit of
communion with the Holy See, he gives it an account, in the way and
at the times fixed, of the state of the Institute and of its life » (SRL
193 & 194).
C.S.Sp. 15.07.1851: Death of Mère Anne-Marie Javouhey,
founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, missionary in Guyane and Senegal, where she was responsible for the formation of the first three local
priests. The respect and mutual friendship that existed between her and François Libermann, as well as
the considerable help they gave each other, gives her
a special place in the history of the Spiritan family.
East Africa 15.07.1868: Pères Horner and Baur establish the
mission of Bagamoyo.
Martinique 15.07.1974: The Spiritans withdraw from the College/Seminary which they have directed for more than
100 years and in which some confreres, famous for
their work with languages, flora and fauna, were involved, including Père Antoine Duss (1840-1923),
Père Jean-Baptiste Delewarde (1900-1983) and Père
Robert Pichon (1913-1980).
Ghana July, 1996: Five Ghanaian Spiritans are ordained at
Corpus Christi Parish, New Tafo, as the climax of the
celebration of the Silver Jubilee of Spiritan presence
in Ghana.
“I really admire the way Providence works. Imagine him choosing
us country bumpkins for such a wonderful mission! It’s his work so
he will give us the grace to succeed. We must be humble and modest,
always united to God, doing nothing without him. He should always
be in our thoughts. Let us count on him because he will never abandon us” (Anne-Marie Javouhey to Sister Claire of Madagascar).
C.S.Sp. 16.07.1826: Canonical election of Jacques Bertout as
the 6th Superior General. It is he who restores the
Congregation and the Seminary of the Holy Spirit after the French Revolution. He is considered to have
been Superior General since the death of M. Duflos in
Libermann 16.07.1831: François Libermann has a vision of
Jesus at St. Sulpice on the Feast of the Priesthood of
Christ; he interprets it as meaning that he himself is
excluded from the priesthood. This is the only such
happening that is revealed by Libermann.
Holy Heart of Mary 16.07.1845: Bishop Brady of Perth in
Australia spends four days at La Neuville in France
and asks Libermann for missionaries.
Netherlands 16.07.1931: The erection of the Dutch Province,
the 10th in the Congregation. Fr. Bernard Hilhorst is
the first Provincial.
Central African Republic 16.05.1954: Bangassou is confided to the Dutch Province and becomes an Apostolic Prefecture, led by Mgr. M. Bodewes.
“The divine Master, in a distinct and perceptible vision, showed himself to him (Libermann) under the appearance of the supreme pontiff.
He saw him, his hands full of lights and graces and as if lining up
round him his co-disciples of the seminary, sweeping through the
ranks, giving each one a part of his generous gifts, leaving out only
him alone, while at the same time seeming to offer him his brothers,
as if putting at his disposal the treasure offered to all” (Vie du
Vén.Serviteur de Dieu, F.M.P. Libermann, by Cardinal Pitra, 5th edition, p.90).
Portugal 17.07.1932: Episcopal ordination of P. Moisés Alves
de Pinho, at Viana do Castelo, by Mgr. Le Hunsec,
Superior General of the Congregation. He is accompanied on this trip by Père Daniel Brottier, a member
of his council.
Nigeria 1936: Consecration of the new cathedral at Makurdi,
built by Brother Baldomir (German Province). He and
other brothers from Germany, trained many Nigerians
to work with them as builders, carpenters etc. They
also built a printing press at Makurdi and the cathedral at Onitsha.
South Africa 1936: Clocolan (1936), Lindley (1947), Reitz
(1953), and Mariadal are all opened as mission stations.
Zambia 1980: Two Nigerians confreres arrive in Zambia to
work in the diocese of Solwezi. Two more are appointed the following year but not as part of the Zambia international group.
“It is essential that the new evangelisation be centred on a transforming encounter with the living person of Christ. The first proclamation ought to bring about this overwhelming and exhilarating experience of Jesus Christ who calls each one to follow him in an adventure of faith. This task is made all the easier because the African believes in God the Creator from his traditional life and religion and
thus is also open to the full and definitive revelation of God in Jesus
Christ”. (John Paul II: Ecclesia in Africa, n° 57)
Mauritius 18.07.1916: The Pope confides the diocese of Port
Louis to the Spiritans and appoints Fr. John Murphy
(Irish Province) as bishop. Prior to this, he was Provincial of both the Irish and American Provinces.
Congo 18.07.1954: Mgr. Michel Bernard, Vicar Apostolic of
Conakry, is appointed Vicar of Brazzaville. He will live
through many important events: the presidency of
L’Abbé Fulbert Youlu (1958); independence (1960);
the start of the Marxist regime (1963). On his replacement by Mgr. Mbemba, he becomes the first
bishop of Nouakchott in Mauritania where he serves
for the next nine years.
C.S.Sp. 18.07.1982: Opening of the first meeting of Spiritan
formators at Saverne in France.
Indian Ocean Foundation 18.07.1991: The noviciate is
transferred from Saint-Giles-les-Hauts in Reunion to
Rose Hill and La Salette in Mauritius. It finally returns
to Reunion in 2001.
“A formator should be able to draw on his own experience of religious apostolic life and on-going formation and pass on what he
himself has discovered and received…The action of the formator
must be at the service of the action of God and the free will of the
individual whom God desires to form. Thanks to what his own experience has taught him, a formator should understand that in all areas
– spiritual, intellectual, communal and professional – formation does
not depend primarily on a discipline imposed by authority; such a
discipline is incapable by itself of producing a total commitment and
giving a lasting shape to a character. The principle duty is to welcome a call and a mission which come from outside themselves and
which nobody can presume to take on without such an external call”
(Guide for Spiritan Formation, no. 10).
Deux Guinées 19.07.1835: Ordination to the priesthood of
Père Jean-Benoît Truffet. In 1846 he is ordained bishop at Our Lady of Victories in Paris, the first Vicar Apostolic of the new Congregation of the Holy Heart of
Mary. He returns to Dakar but dies six months later.
Senegambia 19.07.1887: Père Picarda is appointed Vicar
Apostolic of Senegambia. He arrives on November 14th
and starts the pilgrimage of Our Lady of Deliverance at
Popagine on December 29th, later to become the national pilgrimage.
Portugal 19.07.1907: The Congregation hands over Collège
Fisher in the Azores to the Salesians. It had been
founded in 1892 at the request of the Fisher family.
Itaici 1992: The General Chapter decides to extend our missionary activity into the Far East.
“Although you must be prepared for anything, to undertake and to
sacrifice anything for the glory of God, take care not to expose yourselves to unnecessary dangers. Remember that if you are too eager to
sacrifice your body, you will be doing harm to a lot of people. On the
other hand, don’t be fearful; put your trust in God. When something
is decided by the council, each of you must be ready to put himself in
the hands of the superior, whatever the danger. Jesus, who exposes
you to these dangers, will look after you if he wants to use you for
even greater things” (Libermann: January, 1844, to the community
of Cap des Palmes. N.D. VI, p. 3).
Ireland 20.07.1864: Spiritans undertake the direction of the
Scots College, Rockwell, Co Tipperary. It had been
founded for the education of priests for Scotland. Fr
P. Huvétys is appointed the first Superior. The Spiritans subsequently purchase Rockwell College for the
sum of £ 7,000 and it then becomes a secondary college and junior seminary. The school becomes coeducational in 1988.
Makurdi 1948: The Province of Kabba is detached from the
Prefecture of Otukpo with Mgr. Delisle as Prefect Apostolic. Mgr. James Hagan is named as Prefect Apostolic of Otukpo.
Cameroon 1948 : In 1948 and 1949, many fathers and brothers arrive as a result of the end of the second world
war. The Dutch Province sends personnel for the new
Vicariat of Doumé. Fourteen new missions are
opened in two years.
Angola 20.07.1977 : Foundation of the Provincial house for
the Province of Angola. P. Bernardo Bongo is the
« This emptying of self (Jn 12:24.32), this kenosis necessary for exaltation, which is the way of Christ and of each of his disciples (Ph. 2;69) sheds light on the encounter of cultures with Christ and his Gospel.
Every culture needs to be transformed by the Gospel values in the light
of the Paschal Mystery. It is by looking at the mystery of the Incarnation and of the Redemption that the values and counter-values are to
be discerned. Just as the Word of God became like us in everything but
sin, so too the inculturation of the Good News takes all authentic human values, purifying them and restoring to them their full meaning”
(John Paul II: Ecclesia in Africa, n° 61).
Gabon 21.07.1899: Mgr. Adam ordains the first priest from
Gabon at Saint Pierre de Libreville, André Raponda
Walker. On July 30th, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of the Immaculate
Conception of Castres, he celebrated his first Mass.
France 21.07.1976: The Prefecture of Val-de-Marne buys half
of the grounds of our house at Chevilly to create a recreation park for the public. A new cemetery is created
at the edge of the remaining property. The proceeds of
the sale enable the Province to improve the accommodation for retired confreres at Chevilly.
Pakistan 1976: Pentecost: Decision of the General council to
open a mission in Pakistan for tribal ministry with an
international team involving the Irish, English and
French provinces, based on a request from the Pakistani bishops and the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Cameroon 1977: The first Spiritan noviciate at Essos. The
novice master is Père des Déserts.
“I recently wrote to the Bishops of Asia: "Although the Church gladly
acknowledges whatever is true and holy in the religious traditions of
Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam as a reflection of that truth which enlightens all men, this does not lessen her duty and resolve to proclaim
without fail Jesus Christ, who is 'the way, and the truth and the life' ...
The fact that the followers of other religions can receive God's grace
and be saved by Christ apart from the ordinary means which he has
established does not thereby cancel the call to faith and baptism which
God wills for all people". (John Paul II: Redemptoris Missio, n°55).
Australia 22.07.1847: The missionaries of the Holy Heart of
Mary leave Perth and Australia on the Eudora, but are
driven back three times by storms. Fr Thièrse is too
sick to embark and has to be left behind for the next
ship. Brother Vincent and Fr Thévaux finally sail on
August 26, and arrive in Mauritius on 9 October,
C.S.Sp. 22.07.1906 : Opening of the 7th General Chapter (22
July-9 August) with 49 capitulants. Mgr. Alexandre Le
Roy is re-elected as Superior General. The new Rules
and Constitutions are approved, as well as a General
Directory for the missions. The mandate of the Superior General is fixed at 12 years.
Congo Kinshasa 22.07.1964 : The Mulélistes rebels attack
Kindu, killing many people. A Marist brother is killed
and the Superior injured. At Kongolo, the only ones
remaining are l’Abbé Nday (the future bishop), two
Congolese brothers and 10 Congolese sisters.
Senegal 1965 : The French Province buys a house in Dakar
(S.P.E.M.) for the pastoral « stage » of young priests
coming from Chevilly. The experiment only lasts for
three years, after which the house is bought by the
District to serve as its headquarters.
«How often he was observed doing what seemed most humiliating in
the eyes of those who knew him best when it was a matter of providing for the needs of the students he had brought together. He was
frequently seen in the streets of Paris in the company of some of
those poor students, most of whom were poorly clad. He seemed to
converse with them as equals. And when they were loaded with a few
pieces of furniture and utensils that were destined for the community,
he aided them when necessary, never fearing the sarcasm his charity
might provoke » (Memoire of Pierre Thomas in Claude Poullart des
23.07.1885: Père Joseph Lutz, after four years in
present day Sierra Leone and Guinée, led the first
group of Spiritans to Nigeria. They start a mission at
Onitsha and in 1893 he becomes Prefect Apostolic of
the Southern Nigeria Mission.
Portugal 1943: A centre for spiritual guidance for students is
opened at Coimbra. The first director if P. Clemente
Pereira da Silva.
Trinidad 1945: Opening of Fatima College, as the other
school, St Mary's College, is overcrowded with more
than 1,000 students.
1951: German Spiritans take on responsibility for a
mission territory in the south of Brazil.
Makurdi 1995: The diocese of Jalingo is carved out of the
southern half of Yola diocese and the new bishop is
Fr. Ignatius Kaigama. There are 6 Spiritans in the diocese, working in the parishes of Wukari, Chanchanji
and Mutum Biyu.
“Wherever we set ourselves up, we will establish schools. We will
teach all those who come to us, but above all, we will have a certain
number of young children who will stay in the house; these will be
instructed in religion and other sciences” (Libermann: Memoire sur
les Missions des Noirs, 1846).
East Africa 24.07.1862: The Spiritans take on responsibility
for East Africa and Zanzibar.
USA 24.07.1897: Official opening of a clerical noviciate at
Cornwells Heights, near Philadelphia, with about ten
novices. The house also serves as a senior seminary
and from 1905 as a junior seminary. It is now a preparatory school.
24.07.1938: Opening of the 10th General Chapter
(24-31 July) with 68 capitulants and 4 observers. Mgr.
Le Hunsec is re-elected Superior General. The Chapter accepts modifications to the Constitutions and approves the General Customary of the Congregation.
C.S.Sp. 24.07.1950: Opening of the 11th General Chapter (July 24-5 August) with 82 capitulants. Fr. Francis Griffin
of the Irish Province is elected the 17th Superior General of the Congregation.
C.S.Sp. 24.07.1962: Opening of the 12th General Chapter of
the Congregation at Chevilly (July 24-August 13) with
75 capitulants. Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre is elected the
18th. Superior General of the Congregation.
“Not only did the Synod speak of inculturation, but it also made use of
it, taking the Church as God’s family as its guiding idea for the evangelisation in Africa. The Synod Fathers acknowledged it as an expression of the Church’s nature particularly appropriate for Africa, for the
image emphasises care for others, solidarity, warmth in human relationships, acceptance, dialogue and trust. The new evangelisation will
thus aim at building up the Church as family, avoiding all ethnocentrism and excessive particularism, trying instead to encourage reconciliation, true communion, solidarity and sharing (John Paul II: Ecclesia in Africa, n° 63).
Angola 25.07.1873: The General Council sets up the mission
of St. James of Lândana.
Madagascar 25.07.1914: Bishop François-Xavier Corbet dies
at Diego-Suarez. He is greatly revered and Christians
claim miracles through his intercession. Père Auguste
Fortineau arrives on the same day and is appointed
Vicar Apostolic of North Madagascar.
C.S.Sp. 25.07.1926: The 9th General Chapter of the Congregation (25-31 July) with 60 capitulants. Mgr. Le Roy
resigns as Superior General for health reasons on July 2nd, having led the Congregation for the last 30
years. On July 26th, Mgr. Louis Le Hunsec is elected
the 16th Superior General. In approving the election,
the Holy See asks that, in future, the Congregation
should not elect one of its bishops as Superior General.
Puerto Rico 25.07.1962: The country becomes independent
with a special association with the United States.
“Prayer is essential for the life of the soul just as the air we breath
and the light of the sun are essential for the body. Contemplative union is not as necessary as practical action. A more perfect contemplative union with a less perfect practical union is of lesser value
than the opposite. Obviously contemplative union would be more important for contemplative orders and practical action more characteristic for missionaries. This practical action consists in sacrificing
ourselves for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, without experiencing habitual interior consolations” (Libermann: last conference given at Notre Dame du Gard, April 1851. N.D. XIII, p.697699).
Deux Guinées 26.07.1844: Père Bessieux leaves Cap des
Palmes, meets up with Frère Grégoire at Grand Bassam, and they both proceed to Gabon, arriving on
September 28th.
Deux Guinées 26.07.1845: The second group of missionaries from Libermann’s foundation arrives at Gorée:
Pères Briot and Aragon and Frère Pierre Mersy. As
they are not members of the Congregation of the Holy
Spirit, they run into plenty of difficulties in carrying out
their ministry.
France 26.07.1865: The house at Notre Dame du Gard having been sold to religious sisters, the body of François
Libermann is transferred from there to the grounds of
26.07.1980: The 15th General Chapter opens at
Chevilly. Fr. Frans Timmermans is elected Superior
General for a second mandate at the age of 45.
“I am resolved and ardently desire to seek henceforth all happiness
and consolation only in the works that I will undertake and in the
sufferings I will experience for your glory and the salvation of souls.
For love of you and for the salvation of these same souls, I will accept all the sacrifices and suffering that will come my way. In this
cause, I want to risk and even lose all those things that are most
cherished and esteemed by people on this earth. But I beg you, my
loveable and adorable Jesus, to support, strengthen and encourage
me in my weakness; be always with me and give me the grace of an
apostle (Libermann: Règle Provisoire no. 586: the Act of Consecration).
Portugal 27.07.1870: For various reasons, including the loss
of the mission of Angola, it is decided to abandon the
seminary at Santarém which had only been started
two years and nine months previously. The priests
and some of the seminarians move to Gibraltar where
they continue with their missionary work.
Switzerland 27.07.1904: The Congregation buys the Villa
des Charmettes at 9, rue du Botzet in Fribourg. Mgr.
Le Roy organises a course there in science for young
priests and a formation programme for brothers.
Australia 1971: Frs. John Daly, Michael Clifford and Tim
O'Driscoll are asked to visit different dioceses in Australia. Finally, they opt for the Archdiocese of Brisbane. Four members of the Irish province subsequently arrive in the country.
France 27.07.1983: Père Joseph Lécuyer dies at Chevilly at
the age of 70. He was Superior General from 1968 to
1974, leading the Congregation into the reforms of the
Second Vatican Council.
“Make sure that you never belittle the magnificent idea that is your
vocation by your thoughts, desires, words or actions. On the other
hand, you are all sons of Adam and therefore you all have natural
faults and a bad side to your character. So before dreaming about
reaching the 7th castle of St. Theresa of Avila, work at making yourselves people that others can live with. Because in the world of socalled saints, there are some who are vain, annoying and useless,
who are very regular religious but totally idle as missionaries, always very busy but impossible to get on with” (Mgr. Le Roy, 1887:
Talk given to scholastics).
Makurdi 1922: Frs. Marcel Grandin and Vincent Davey visit
Catholics in the camps set up for the workers along
the route of the new railway from Enugu to Makurdi.
Among the important camps that are to become
Catholic missions in the future are Igumale, Utonkon,
Otobi, Otukpo, Taraku, Moi-Igbo and, eventually, Makurdi which is reached in 1924
Cameroon 1947: Frs. Joseph and Johannes Kirsten (brothers
of the German Province) are released from their internment in Jamaica where they had been sent from
Nigeria at the start of the war. Because they are from
the Saar, they are considered to be French by the authorities and are allowed to work in Cameroon. They
are the first two German confreres to set out for the
missions after the war.
Congo 1948: Five new missions are opened in the Congo
this year: Ouenzé, Zanaga, Dolisie, Sibiti and Divenié.
Portugal 28.07.1975: The death of Dr. Nuno Simões who is
instrumental in the building of the seminary at Torre
d’Aguila. He also gives the Province a house at Pedras Salgadas.
“We may rightly say that with this «internationality» we shall make
ourselves a much clearer sign of what Mission is all about: bringing
together, reconciling in Christ, breaking down walls. If in our missionary teams, we can reconcile what is so often in conflict and opposition at the level of relations between nations - men of many different nations, from all parts of the world, East, West, North, and
South - what a sign we could be of the Kingdom of God!” (Letter of
Frans Timmermans, Superior General: April 1976)
USA 29.07.1932: The Holy See names an American citizen,
Fr. Joseph Byrne, as Vicar Apostolic of Kilimanjaro in
East Africa, a Vicariat it entrusts to the U.S. Province.
Sierra Leone 1952: Bishop Ambrose Kelly is the first Spiritan
Bishop to die in Sierra Leone; he is buried in Freetown.
Nigeria 1952: Fr. John Jordan founds the Holy Ghost Juniorate at Ihiala, the main source of vocations for the
future Province.
1954: The Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary
come to the Prefecture of Makurdi and help to run the
combined hospital in Otukpo town.
“Claude Poullart des Places felt that God wanted to use him for
staffing his sanctuary with teachers and guides. He also understood
that in order to succeed, he could do nothing better than continue
aiding poor students to live and to enable them to pursue their studies. He did not limit himself to such temporal aid: he conceived a
plan to bring them together in a room where he could occasionally
go to give them instruction and watch them as much as his programme in the College allowed. He confided this plan to his confessor and obtained permission for it” (Charles Besnard: Life of Grignon
de Montfort).
Congo Kinshasa 30.07.1907: The Spiritans return to the
Congo. The first group consists of Père Callewaert
(Belgium), Père Villetaz (Switzerland) and Pères
Brangers and Viel (France). They start the mission at
Cabo Verde 30.07.1955: P. Augusto Nogueira is appointed
Apostolic Administrator on the death of Bishop
Faustino. He starts the diocesan seminary.
South Africa 30.07.1983: Dedication of the new chapel at
Glen Ash.
Puerto Rico 30.07.1995: Profession of the first Spiritans to
emerge from the Spanish-speaking noviciate of Puerto Rico.
“Without a spiritual director, you would not have made much progress; you would simply have vegetated. The Lord has been very
good to you in providing an experienced director, so you must try to
make the most of it. You should now develop a desire and a firm resolution to die to the world and all it contains and to live henceforth
for and in God alone. If you cultivate this outlook and persevere in it,
with the help of a good director your spiritual life will be on the right
tracks” (Libermann to Mangot, 01.01.1836. LSI, p.246-248).
Mauritius 31.07.1851: Bishop Collier writes to Libermann that
he is no longer planning to confide the Seychelles
mission to him because the British government does
not want French missionaries in the islands.
Senegambia 31.07.1864: Bishop Kobès ordains Guillaume
Jouga, the first Senegalese priest to be trained entirely in the country.
Madagascar 31.07.1954: The Spiritan Sisters leave Mahajanga. They had arrived there in May, 1927.
United Kingdom 31.07.1976: The junior seminary at Castlehead closes. During its 70 years of existence, it produced 150 future missionaries.
“Tomorrow (November 3, 1924), our first sisters will leave France
for Africa to bring the Good News to our dear black brothers and
sisters. Dear Jesus, this work was started for their sake, so please
bless these sisters. It is a great suffering for me that I cannot go with
them, but you are all that matters to me. I still experience now as
much suffering, renunciation and self-immolation as happened at the
start of the work. My God, I give thanks again for all your blessings.
You used me to bring about the foundation of the Missionary Sisters
of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Heart of Mary, but I praise your
power and realise that you alone are the author of all things” (Sister
Eugénie Kaps, founder of the Spiritan Sisters).
Trinidad 01.08.1863: Foundation of St Mary's College, by
Frs. Victor Guilloux and Albert Sundhauser, due
largely to the efforts of Mgr. George Talbot, domestic
Prelate to Pope Pius IX. The courses are first given in
French, but in 1870, English replaces French as the
teaching language at the College.
Guinée 01.08.1899 : The southern part of Senegambia becomes a separate territory under the name of « Rivières du Sud ». There is a plan to build a new capital
in the island of Tumbo. From 1891, the territory is
known as French Guinée. On February 8th, 1890,
Père Raimbault arrives at Conakry to start a mission.
From the beginning, evangelisation and development
go hand in hand.
C.S.Sp. 01.08.1901 : The Council of State of the French Republic takes cognisance of a memorandum, dated
March 30th, 1901, presented on behalf of the Association of the Holy Spirit (recently suppressed) which appears to prove that this Association is in fact an authorised Congregation. The Council therefore decrees, in view of the evidence submitted, that the Association of the Holy Spirit is now considered to be a
legally authorised religious Congregation.
Mexico 01.08.1984 : The start of Spiritan formation in Mexico
at El Pujal in a house built for that purpose. Nine
years later, on August 8th, 1993, Victor Martinez is the
first to make his profession.
« We who come from different cultures, continents and nations and
who have different outlooks are brought together by the Spirit of
Pentecost into one larger community, the Congregation. Cultural
diversity is welcomed as a positive factor. Our unity bears witness to
reconciliation in Christ » (SRL 37).
Holy Heart of Mary 02.08.1842: Père Eugène Tisserant, cofounder of the Congregation of the Holy Heart of
Mary, goes to La Neuville for a brief noviciate under
Père Libermann before setting out for Martinique, en
route for Haiti.
France August, 1927: Père Henri Nique (1883-1939) is appointed Provincial of France. During his 11 years in
office, he strives to increase the number of missionaries in the Province.
Senegal August, 1970: Père Clément Cailleau becomes the
first Prefect Apostolic of Tambacounda. Eastern Senegal is again confided to the Spiritans until it is made
into a diocese in 1989.
Nigeria August, 1971: Fr. Francis Okonkwo, the first Nigerian novice master, reopens the noviciate at Awo
Omama at the end of the civil war with 35 novices.
“The purpose of the noviciate is to allow the candidate to the Spiritan religious life to deepen his vocation. It guides him towards that
moment when he chooses freely and with full responsibility either to
consecrate his life to the apostolate in the Spiritan family or to follow
a different path in the Christian life (GSF 7). Temporary vows are
not to be taken by undecided candidates and used as a trial period.
The noviciate is to be done in a milieu that is as close as possible to
the culture of each candidate, so that one complete year is in fact
devoted to the specific programme of the noviciate” (Guide for Spiritan Formation, 59-60).
Portugal 03.08.1955: P. Augusto Dias da Silva bequeaths a
house to the Congregation in Avenida da Boavista in
Porto. It becomes a centre for missionary awareness.
Ethiopia August, 1972: Frs. Kelly, Jackson and Nass travel
to Ethiopia and establish themselves in Addis Ababa.
C.S.Sp. August, 1974: The 14th General Chapter (August 1stSeptember 12th) opens at Chevilly with 77 capitulants.
Fr. Frans Timmermans of the Dutch Province is elected the 20th Superior General on September 6th. The
Chapter publishes Guidelines for Animation.
Spain August, 1977: International meeting of young Spiritans
in the Spanish noviciate at Aranda from August 1st to
15th. There were 140 young confreres present from 30
different nationalities.
“We have taken the following conviction as basic in all our animation: a) It is false to say that from now on anything and everything is
mission - that everything can come under the objectives of the Congregation - that the «poor» to whom we have been sent can mean
any and every class of people. b) We have always maintained that
our priority is Mission «abroad», transcultural, in the service of the
Third World Churches which need us most - the first proclamation of
the Word. c) We have always maintained that a Spiritan cannot come
back to his home Province to do just «anything at all». (Fr. Timmermans: Report to the 15th General Chapter, 1980).
France 04.08.1684: The birth of Louis Bouic at Guillac in the
diocese of St. Malo. He is the second successor of
Claude Poullart des Places at the age of 26 after the
brief mandate of Jacques Garnier. He is superior from
1710 until 1763. During his mandate, the Congregation receives official recognition.
Cabo Verde 04.08.1963: P. Paolino Livramento Evora, the
first Spiritan from Cape Verde, celebrates his first
Mass on the islands.
Puerto Rico August, 1976: The formation program starts in
the Regina Cleri Seminary of Ponce Diocese with 5
students and Fr J. Sakovich as director. One year later, the District decides to rent a formation house for
10 students.
Canada August, 1977: The start of the international noviciate
at Norwalk, serving the two Provinces in both Canada
and the United States. In 1980, the noviciate moves
to Farnham, Quebec.
“The Superior must work for the good of the Congregation. His
principal duty if to support the whole house by his fidelity to prayer
and union with God, and to instruct his subordinates more by example than by words. He will avoid taking any special privileges of food
or clothing for himself. He will take care not to harm the confreres
by treating some of them with a greater familiarity or tolerance.
Once a week, he will assemble all the confreres to enquire about the
students. He alone can give permission to leave the house or to eat
outside” (Louis Bouic: Rule of 1834, no. 58).
Gabon 05.08.1864: Bishop Bessieux blesses the church of
Sainte Marie. The school has 120 children divided into two categories: students (80) and apprentices. The
school run by the sisters has 70 children.
Mauritius 05.08.1955: Five Mauritian priests are ordained at
Mary Queen of Peace by Mgr. de Langavant, the
bishop of Reunion. Bishop Liston of Port Louis was
sick at the time.
Canada: August, 1977: The first Spiritan Associates in the
Province make their commitment: Maria and Conrad
Puerto Rico August, 1978: A new seminary is opened in Bayamón, and the students begin their formation with
the Dominican Fathers. The first two Puerto Rican
novices start their noviciate in Dorado, with Fr Patrick
Sheils of the English Province as novice master.
“We do not come empty-handed; we bring valuable experience, talents and skills to the Congregation. As lay people, we can work with
you to forge new or deeper patterns of collaboration by supporting
or taking responsibility for specific Spiritan works, by initiating new
areas of ministry and by bringing Spiritan spirituality to some areas
of secular life which we can access more easily than our professed
confreres” (Maynooth: 1.19. Gary Warner).
Portugal 06.08.1894: At the request of the Countess of Camarido, the Congregation takes on the work of spiritual
assistant in a refuge for the poor that she had founded. A new Spiritan community is formed.
06.08.1949: Père Le Cam arrives at Wacapou to
start the evangelisation of the Maroni.
Cameroon 06.08.1954: A national Marian congress takes
place at Yaoundé. Throughout this year a statue of
Our Lady travels to each mission in the Diocese.
Philippines 06.08.1996: The Superior General, Pierre Schouver, begins his first visit to the Philippines.
“When I speak of prayer, I am not thinking of the multiplication of
formulas, however beautiful they might be, or a string of devotional
practices. Real prayer, the prayer to which Our Lord has guaranteed
his attention, consists rather in an attitude of soul, in a heart that
relates sincerely to God as a child. If we have an ever stronger feeling of our divine adoption, our prayer will become the atmosphere
through which our soul breaths” (Archbishop Moisés Alvés de
Pinho, Pensamentos. 1956).
Guinée Conakry 07.08.1979: The Archbishop of Conakry,
Mgr. Raymond-Marie Tchidimbo, is released from
prison after nine years detention.
Indian Ocean Foundation August, 1980: A meeting of
young Mauritians and Malagaches in Reunion island.
TransCanada August, 1981: Neil McNeil Residence becomes the centre of the House of Spiritan Formation
program (Laval House). Beginning of a seven-year
resurgence in vocations.
Netherlands August, 1983: A new missionary awareness
team is set up in Eindhoven.
" The preacher of the Gospel will be a person who, even at the price of
personal renunciation and suffering, always seeks the truth that he
must transmit to others. He never betrays or hides truth out of a desire
to please men, in order to astonish or to shock, nor for the sake of originality or a desire to make an impression. He does not refuse truth. He
does not obscure revealed truth by being too idle to search for it or for
the sake of his own comfort or out of fear. He does not neglect to study
it. He serves it generously, without making it serve him" (Paul VI:
Evangelii Nuntiandi, n°78)
Gabon 08.08.1844: Bishop Barron arrives in Gabon to decide
on the location of the new mission. Exactly five years
later, the first Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of
Castres arrive: in 1852, they open a school and take
on responsibility for the military and civil hospitals.
Poland 08.08.1928: The foundation of the Archconfraternity
of the Holy Spirit. The town of Bydgoszcz becomes
the centre of devotion to the Holy Spirit for the whole
of Poland. Père Stanislas Kolipinski starts the magazine "Postaniec Ducha Swietego" (The Messenger of
the Holy Spirit), the first edition appearing in 1930.
Switzerland 08.08.1966: Opening of the new Collège des
Missions at Bouveret. Père Gabriel Giroud (19141980) is the superior of the house.
Puerto Rico 08.08.1981: The first three members of the
Foundation of Puerto Rico make their temporary
vows: José A. Alamo, Santos Alamo (brothers) and
Tomás Galarza. The House of Theology is opened in
Bagamoyo, P.R. with Fr. J. Grossmann as director.
"The Spirit of the risen Lord, working in the Church and in the
world, gives life and direction to our entire apostolic life. This apostolic life ‘contains in itself the perfection of the life of Our Lord on
which it is modelled’ (Glose 7). The Spirit pours the Father's love
into our hearts (cf. Romans 5.5). It is this love which produces apostolic zeal in us, shown by a powerful desire to see the same love established in the hearts of all people" (SRL: 8, 9).
Ireland August, 1890: At the request of Archbishop William
Walsh of Dublin, the General Council grants permission to start a day-school in south Dublin. Fr Botrel,
the Irish Provincial, chooses Larkhill House in
Rathmines, taking formal possession on 1 August. Fr.
Thomas Fogarty is appointed superior of the new St
Mary's College.
Sierra Leone 1903: Fr John O'Gorman is appointed to succeed Mgr. James Browne and is consecrated as the
first Bishop of Sierra Leone. He serves in the country
for twenty-eight years. He establishes resident foundations at Gerihun (1904), Blama and Serabu (1905),
Pujehun (1912), Waterloo and St Edward's buildings
in Freetown.
Germany August, 1914: Beginning of the First World War
during which 54 confreres are killed. The Province also loses the houses of Alsace and the missions in
East Africa.
France 09.08.1987: The body of Frère Elie Simonin, who died
"in the odour of sacnctity", is transferred from Cellule
to Saint-Sorlin in Jura where he had lived the life of a
"Brothers are received to serve God in the Congregation of the Holy
Spirit and the Holy Heart of Mary in order to help the missionaries
in their apostolic work and by freeing them to devote themselves fully
to carrying out their sacred functions; under the direction of their
superiors, they will work for the good of the local people. At all times
they will give an example of piety, modesty and all the other virtues.
They will guard against the harm that can be done by impatience and
getting too excited, by laziness and all the other faults that are seen
so clearly by others” (Rule for Brothers of the Congregation:
01.03.1851. N.D.XI, p. 487-515).
Libermann 10.08.1841: François Libermann is ordained deacon in Strasbourg for the diocese of Mauritius. A few
days later, he goes to Paris where he meets up with
his co-founders, Le Vavasseur and Tisserant. Together they decide on the date for the first Mass of the
new foundation and Libermann then proceeds to Amiens to prepare for his ordination to the priesthood.
Guyane 10.08.1848: Proclamation of the abolition of slavery
at Cayenne.
Switzerland 10.08.1957: Death of Père Joseph Villetaz, born
in Vallais in 1877. After some time as a missionary in
Congo-Kinshasa, he returns to Switzerland to start
the Ecole des Missions which is now at Bouveret. He
is regarded as the founder of the Swiss Province.
Angola 10.08.1976: Père Adelio Ribeiro from Portugal was
kidnapped by Unita from the mission of Bela Vista in
the diocese of Huambo and subsequently assassinated.
"Please unite my sacrifice to your own which you offered on Calvary
and which you continue to offer each day on our altars. Give me a
share in that strength and love which filled you on the day of your
sacrifice, so that united to you and infused by your spirit and holiness, my own sacrifice will be acceptable to your Father in heaven.
Grant that throughout my life I may faithfully carry out what you
have inspired me to promise today" (Formula for Vows: Réglements
of 1849, no. 259).
Angola 11.08.1870: The General Council decides to withdraw
all Spiritans from Angola, leaving it to the Propaganda
Fide to decide whether this should be a definitive or
temporary decision. In the event, the withdrawal will
last for four years and four months.
Tefé 11.08.1950: The jurisdiction of Tefé becomes a Prelatura Nullius, under the direction of Mgr. Joaquim de
Indian Ocean Foundation 11.08.1983: The first professions
of the new Foundation: 3 from Mauritius and 2 from
C.S.Sp. 11.08.1987: The death of Père Bernard Noël (70),
General Archivist of the Congregation for 30 years.
August, 1989: The WAF noviciate, until now at
Bwiam in the Gambia, is transferred to Ejisu in Ghana.
"Perhaps we are still not sufficiently aware of the duty we owe to the
Church and Society to protect and preserve the unique archives that
we have in our possession…In the last forty years, we as a Congregation have lived through and influenced events of great significance
in the history of the Church and of the countries in which we serve.
For example, the taking up of the missionary challenge by the countries of the southern hemisphere will surely be seen in the future as a
crucial event in the missionary history of the Church. Our contribution to this movement is not inconsiderable: our Foundations and
new Provinces are at the forefront of the new missionary movements
in Africa and South America. Will there be a record of all this, or
will we plead that we were too busy with the Lord's work to take
steps to ensure that future generations would hear about it?" (From
the introduction to Guide for Spiritan Archivists, 1998).
12.08.1762: The death of Pierre Maillard, a Holy
Ghost missionary who worked with the Micmac Indians for more than 30 years. He is the founder of the
Church in Halifax. He signs himself, "Priest, Vicar
General of Quebec, Missionary to the Indians".
Ireland 12.08.1939: Blessing of the new scholasticate and
church in Kimmage Manor, opened by the Superior
General, Mgr. Le Hunsec.
United Kingdom 12.08.1945: At the end of the Second World
War, Upton Hall in Nottinghamshire becomes the
permanent scholasticate with 20 students. .
TransCanada 12.08.1965: Spiritans move west to Edmonton.
"I would request of you now a special favour that you will surely obtain for me from Our Lady - that I may keep on ever with my face
towards heaven, bearing patiently the little cross the loving hands of
our dear sweet Saviour has placed on my weak shoulders; light as it
is, he lovingly carries it all the time with me. How good God is!" (Joseph Shanahan, 01.01.1942, Before the Golden Bowl is broken, p.41)
Martinique 13.08.1907: The Orphanage of Saint-Louis is
founded by the Conference of St. Vincent de Paul and
confided to the Spiritans. It will grow and become the
important 'Foyer de l’Esperence' which has been attached to Auteuil since 1948.
Portugal 13.08.1985: The death in Lisbon of Padre Antonio
Brasio. An historian and researcher of rare talent, he
consecrates most of his life to the study of Portuguese missions, becoming one of the greatest authorities on the subject.
Ethiopia 08.1990: Ethiopian Orthodox nuns Emmahoyoch
Meheret, Welette-Ghiyorghis and Welette-Aregay, are
driven by Emmanuel Fritsch to Sawla (Gamo-Gofa) in
order to establish a monastery near our mission.
C.S.Sp. August, 1996: Start of the first visit to Vietnam by Fr.
Pierre Schouver, the Superior General.
"A vast field lies open to dialogue, which can assume many forms
and expressions: from exchanges between experts in religious traditions or official representatives of those traditions to co-operation
for integral development and the safeguarding of religious values;
and from a sharing of their respective spiritual experiences to the socalled "dialogue of life," through which believers of different religions bear witness before each other in daily life to their own human
and spiritual values, and help each other to live according to those
values in order to build a more just and fraternal society" (John
Paul II: “Redemptoris Missio”, no. 57)
Australia 14.08.1888: After much delay, the Superior General
takes the decision to take on the new college of Ballarat. Bishop Moore finally recruits 12 priests under the
leadership of Fr Reffé.
Trinidad 1969: The circumscription takes on many new parishes in the island in view of the return of Trinidadian
confreres from Nigeria after the civil war.
Makurdi 14.08.1974: Innocent Ejeh, the first Idoma priest in
the Diocese of Makurdi, is ordained at Otukpo.
Ireland August, 2000: Blessing and opening of St. Joseph's
Retirement House at Rockwell.
“My dear brother, there are two ways of working for the salvation of
souls - one active and another passive. The active way consists in
teaching and carrying out the other functions of the sacred ministry:
the passive way is simply to suffer for them if that is the plan of God.
Now I can assure you that the second method is infinitely more useful
than the first. Look at the Immaculate Heart of Mary: see how much
she was asked to endure for the salvation of the world - and this was
the only apostolate of Mary. Jesus himself suffered and died for the
salvation of the world. So accept your sufferings with peace and
love” (Libermann to P.Logier, 16.05.1851. ND XIII, p.138-
Haiti 15.08.1843: Sent by François Libermann, Père Eugene
Tisserant arrives in Haiti for his first period there.
Holy Heart of Mary 15.08.1846: “Memorandum on the mission to the Black People in general and on that of
Guinee in particular, presented to the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda by l’Abbé Libermann,
Superior of the Missionaries of the Holy Heart of
Madagascar 15.08.1943: Ernest Ramiaramanisa is ordained
priest by Mgr. Wolff in the church of Mahabibo, the
first Madagascan priest from the Vicariat Apostolic of
of Mahajanga.
Cameroon 15.08.1960: Père Jean Courtcuisse leaves his
house in the village of Botko before six in the morning
to go to the chapel. Along with the village head and
another man, he gunned down by a group of terrorists. He was a zealous missionary who was trying to
maintain the presence of the Church in the Babimbi
Congo 15.08.1963: Christian Trade Unionists, in alliance with
the Communists, defeat l’Abbé Fulbert Youlu.
Haiti 15.08.1969: Under the anti-Communist laws, the Government expels five Haitian Spiritans from their country: Antoine Adrien, Jean-Paul Claude, Max
Dominique, Paddy Pou and Ernst Verdieu. The
Collège Saint Martial is taken from the community.
15.08.1980: Opening of the first Noviciate of the
West African Foundation at Bwiam. Four novices
make profession on the 15 August 1981.
Ethiopia 15.08.1997: The two Spiritan groups celebrate their
Silver Jubilee together in Addis Ababa.
East Africa 16.08.1631: Martyrs of Mombasa: 300 die rather
than renounce their Christian faith. Half are African,
half Portuguese. At the same time, several hundred
chose slavery rather than apostasy.
16.08.1828: The first arrival of Mère Javouhey in
Guyane. She returns in 1836 and gathers a group of
500 slaves together to prepare them for their liberation. She finally leaves the country on 18.05.1843.
16.08.1875: Start of the third General Chapter at
Chevilly (August 16-September 3) with 33 capitulants.
The main business is the examination and approval of
the new Constitutions prepared by the Superior General, Ignace Schwindenhammer.
Spain 16.08.1972: A native Spaniard, Waldo García Romero,
is appointed Provincial; with his young Council, a new
impetus is given to vocations recruitment.
Indian Ocean Foundation 16.08.1982: Opening of the first
noviciate of the Foundation at St. Gilles-les-Hauts in
Reunion and of the Foyer Laval at Mandroseza in
Madagascar for the second cycle students.
"The glory and splendour or the present period of Africa’s
evangelisation are illustrated in a truly admirable way by the Saints
whom modern Africa has given to the Church. Pope Paul VI
eloquently expressed this when he canonised the Ugandan Martyrs
in Saint Peter’s Basilica on World Mission Day, 1964: “These
African Martyrs add a new page to that list of victorious men and
women that we call the martyrology, in which we find the most
magnificent as well as the most tragic stories” (John Paul II:
“Ecclesia in Africa”, n°33)
Portugal 17.08.1891: On the feast of the Immaculate Heart of
Mary, the Archbishop of Braga approves the statutes
of the Association of Prayer and Good Works for the
Conversion of the Black Race. The aim of this association is to promote missionary vocations.
U.S.A. 17.08.1906: Opening of a noviciate at Norwalk, CT; a
senior seminary follows in 1910. They will serve the
Congregation until the 1970s, although the noviciate
is transferred to Ridgefield in 1922.
Haiti 17.08.1965: The Spiritan District of Haiti is established
once more.
Mexico 17.08.1996: Consecration to the apostolate of Victor
Martinez Martinez and Juventino Hernandez Flores at
“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you
through your holy grace with all my heart, all my soul and all my
strength. I beg you to grant me faith, humility, chastity and the grace
of not doing, saying, thinking, seeing, hearing or desiring anything
except what you want me to do and say. Grant me those graces, my
God, together with your most holy blessing. May my heart and mind
be filled with you alone. May I always walk in your presence and
pray ceaselessly as I should. May Jesus be eternally my Saviour.
May you be in me and I in you. I place my mind and my heart in your
hands through the most Holy Virgin” (Memoire of Pierre Thomas:
Prayer of Poullart des Places).
C.S.Sp. 18.08.1792: The revolutionary government in Paris
suppresses the Congregation and Seminary of the
Holy Spirit, which had been officially recognised in
1734. The students are scattered, the Priests of the
Holy Spirit return to their dioceses of origin and the
house (the present Rue Lhomond) is confiscated. The
work of Poullart des Places is apparently destroyed.
Ireland 18.08.1896: In a new initiative for the Irish Province,
organised by the Superior General, Mgr Le Roy, Fr.
Laurence Healy becomes the first Irish Superior of
Blackrock, and Fr Jules Botrel is appointed Provincial.
Rome 18.08.1949: A new Spiritan community is opened in
the Corso d'Italia. It will serve as an international
scholasticate and as the seat for the Procurator to the
Holy See.
Haiti: 18.08.1969: The Superior General, Joseph Lécuyer, visits Haiti to assess the situation of the Spiritans in view
of the antagonistic attitude of the government towards
the Congregation.
C.S.Sp. 18.08.1992: Opening of the 17th General Chapter at
Itaici, Brazil (18 August – 18 September) with 77 capitulants. Père Pierre Schouver of the French Province is elected the 22nd Superior General.
"After the enthusiasm of early days, difficulties are never far behind.
The Spiritan comes up against opposition, perhaps criticism; he soon
realises his limitations. Perhaps he looks around for excuses: an unsuitable formation? bad organisation? Maybe. But remember how
upset the first disciples were when they found that the cross persisted
even after the resurrection of their master. Difficulties are a sign of
reality; it is only in dreams that there are no problems. They challenge us to obtain a deeper conversion, a more genuine communication" (Pierre Schouver, Superior General: Christmas Letter, 1997).
C.S.Sp. 19.08.1792: The Seminaire du Saint-Esprit in the rue
des Postes (rue Lhomond) is pillaged by the revolutionaries.
Portugal 19.08.1904: P. José Maria Antunes, the superior of
the mission of Huila, is appointed Provincial of Portugal in succession to P. Joseph Eigenmann, the
founder of the Province.
Portugal 19.08.1919: P. Moisés Alves de Pinho is appointed
Provincial of the Portuguese Province by Mgr. Le
Canada 19.08.1920: Departure of the first group of Canadians for the noviciate at Grignon in France: Edouard
Bériault, Charles Chalifoux, Pierre Patenaude and
Jean-Marie Arbic. They all make their profession in
the autumn of 1921.
"Incomparable love of God, of Jesus, what must I do to love you as
you love me? I can do nothing but remain in my nothingness in the
face of your wonderful love, because you are too great for me even to
think about doing something for you. I just want to ask that you
would do with me and in me whatever you want. Come, Lord Jesus,
and live within your useless servant" (Libermann: Commentary on
St. John's Gospel. Jn 1:14).
Holy Heart of Mary 20.08.1848: François Libermann arrives
at the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit. He has already
consulted two bishops (Mgr. Mioland of Amiens and
Mgr. Parisis of Langres) about the proposed union of
the two Congregations. He talks again to L'Abbé
Desgenettes, parish priest of Our Lady of Victories,
and the Sulpicians. All are in favour of the plan.
Guadeloupe 1968: Mgr. Jean Gay retires. Mgr. Gérard de
Milleville, who had served in Guinée and Brazil,
becomes Apostolic Administrator of the diocese. The
Foyer Paul VI is set up as a pre-seminary and a
centre for vocations for the diocese.
Zambia 1984: The Spiritans take over Fumbo Parish (Monze
Diocese) which has been without a priest for ten
Portugal 20.08.1991: The death of P. José Felício who did
great work for missionary awareness in the country,
particularly through LIAM, of which he was director for
many years.
"The Superior's Council in a community will be made up of his two
assistants; he will consult them as much as possible regarding the
community and its works so that he can benefit from their insights
and act more surely. He will frequently call them together when they
are present; if they are absent, he will ask their advice by post"
(Règlements 1849, no. 182).
Reunion 21.08.1824: Nicolas Warnet, the future 8th Superior
General of the Spiritans, is sent to work in SaintDenis; amongst the children in the catechism class,
he notices young Frédéric Le Vavasseur whom he
prepares for first communion. The mutual friendship
and esteem between these two men will help to facilitate the unification of the two Congregations.
South Africa 21.08.1924: Arrival of the first group of Spiritans
in Kroonstad.
France 21.08.1961: The death of Père Adolphe Cabon, the
archivist of the Congregation. Between 1929 and
1956, he published the collection of "Notes et Documents relatifs à la Vie et à l'Oeuvre du Vénérable
François Marie-Paul Libermann" - 13 volumes and 3
supplements, an essential source for our knowledge
of Père Libermann.
Guinée Bissau 1969: The Spiritans in Dakar, Senegal, start a
centre for the Mandjaque people who have come to
the city. This eventually results in the founding of stations at Bajob (1979) and Caio (1988) in Mandjaque
country in Guinée Bissau. Later, the Spiritans will take
on a parish in the outskirts of the capital, Bissau.
"If we are aware of our history today, it is largely thanks to our predecessors who took care to record and preserve what was happening
– the great events as well as the small. Each community kept a daily
journal, missionaries wrote up trek books, letters were carefully filed
away, personal documents of deceased confreres were kept as well
as photographs recording the development of missions. They felt it
was their duty to record these things for future generations" (I/D no.
54, May 1997).
Mauritania 22.08.1873: Following on the appointment of Mgr.
Duret as Vicar Apostolic of Senegambia, the Apostolic
Prefecture of Saint-Louis is absorbed by the new Vicariat. This arrangement will remain until 1955.
Ireland 22.08.1959: The Mission House in Kimmage Manor
begun in 1957, comprising 70 rooms and living facilities, is blessed and opened by the Provincial on the
Feast of the Immaculate Heart. This House will serve
both as a retirement home and a community house
for missionaries on leave.
TransCanada 22.08.1963: The first Anglophone Canadians
to join the District of Ontario make their profession in
Ridgfield (Connecticut).
Brazil 22.08.1968: The second general assembly of the LatinAmerican bishops opens at Medellin in Colombia. The
subject is: "The Church in the present transformation
of Latin America in the light of Vatican II".Pope Paul
VI gives the oppening address; he refers to the development as ”a new name for peace".
"Our history and the thrust of our mission is mainly rooted in the
spirit and charism of our elder confreres who gave their lives on our
African soil. Some of the confreres who lie buried at Bagamoyo died
very young. Their courage and enthusiasm give us new life and
courage to measure up to our difficult apostolate both in formation
and mission. It is by looking back to what our elders accomplished
that we can build our own Spiritan identity" (Itaici no. 27: Birth of
the East African Province).
Switzerland 23.08.1857: Père Jean-Baptiste Dupraz (18331870), the first Swiss Spiritan, makes his religious
profession. He is buried at Sainte-Marie de Libreville
in Gabon.
Malawi July, 1970: An appeal for help from the Archbishop to
the Irish Provincial Chapter is favourably received.
November, 1970: Fr. James Akor, the first Tiv
priest, is ordained by Bishop Donal Murray.
23.08.1996: The Superior General, Père Pierre
Schouver, begins his first visit to Taiwan.
"'The Samaritan woman left her bucket at the well and went back to
the village'. We can see here how powerful are the words of grace
that come from the mouth of Our Lord. This woman, who had understood very little of what Jesus had said to her, is transformed from a
sinner into an apostle. Henceforth she has the same zeal as Saint
Andrew and St. Philip. She runs to announce the Gospel to the people of her village. She is so full of what has happened that she leaves
her bucket behind at the well. She is no longer thirsty; Jesus has given her living water which will lead her to eternal life. She has drunk
of that water which ensures that she will never be thirsty again"
(Libermann: Commentary on St. John, 4:28).
C.S.Sp. 24.08.1848: An agreement for unification is reached
by those in charge of the two Congregations. The following signatures appear on the document: For the
Congregation of the Holy Spirit: Frs. Monnet, Warnet,
Gaultier, Hardy and Vidal; For the Missionaries of the
Holy Heart of Mary: Frs. Libermann, Briot, Boulanger,
and François and Ignace Schwindenhammer. On the
proposal of Fr. Monet, François Libermann is chosen
as Superior General by acclamation.
Portugal 24.08.1888: The death of P. Charles Duparquet at
Loango in the Congo. With his vision and capacity for
dialogue, he played a decisive part in the foundation
of the Portuguese Province and the sending of Spiritan missionaries to Angola.
Ethiopia 24.08.1972: Frs. Edward Kelly and William Jackson
set out to open a mission of first evangelisation at
Dadim among the Borana people; it is a joint undertaking with the Dutch Province.
United Kingdom 24.08.1992: The Spiritan house at Carfin in
Scotland becomes the home for First Cycle formation.
"It is wrong to think that we must first of all embrace what is assured
of success before we take on anything less certain. If St. Paul had
reasoned along those lines, he would never have achieved so much
for the glory of God. We also must be generous and not be fearful for
the fate of our little Congregation. Obviously, we must not be imprudent and we must avoid unnecessary risks; but neither can we insist
on guaranteed success before embarking on a new project. If we are
not totally committed to the service of Jesus in his Church, and ready
to sacrifice everything, then there is not much point in us coming together" (Libermann to the community in Bourbon, 25.02.1844. N.D.
VI, p. 76).
Congo 25.08.1883: Starting from Landana, Père Carrie sets
up the mission of Loango, near Pointe Noire. He
sends Père Augourd to start the mission of St. Joseph
at Linzolo.
25.08.1913: The first Chapter of the Province of
France. It lasts for one day. The subsequent "Chapters", which consist of a Conference at the end of the
annual retreat, are known as "administrative and disciplinary Chapters". The first Chapter as we know it
today will take place in 1970.
Canada 25.08.1938: Start of the clerical noviciate at Collège
Saint-Alexandre. The following year will see the opening of a philosophicum and, in 1940, a theologate.
Guadeloupe 1945: On the death of Mgr. Genoud, Mgr. Gay
takes over as bishop for the next 23 years. He starts
the weekly publication 'Clartés' and opens five new
parishes: Massabielle (1948), Grands Fonds (1950),
Cadet La Boucan (1951), Prise d'Eau (1953) and Raizet (1959).
"When you come up against big obstacles in your pastoral ministry,
don't get worried or discouraged; at times like that, it is the devil
who tries to blind and upset us so that we will fall away and lose
ourselves. When that happens, put yourself in the hands of God in
front of your crucifix or at the foot of the altar. Pray to him and call
on the Blessed Virgin to help you" (Jacques Laval).
Ireland 26.08.1866: The first two Irish Spiritans are ordained
to the priesthood: Fr Thomas Bracken is appointed to
Sierra Leone and Fr William Power to Chandernagor
in India.
Portugal 26.08.1872: The General Council sets up the community of Braga to replace that of Santarém-Gibraltar.
It is dedicated to St. Geraldo, the patron of Braga.
C.S.Sp. 26.08.1882: Opening of the 5th General Chapter at
Chevilly which will last for two days. The 32 capitulants (20 present and 12 by letter) elect Ambrose
Emonet as the 14th Superior General.
France 26.08.1914: Père Daniel Brottier volunteers as a military chaplain at the outbreak of the First World War
and is appointed to the 26th Infantry Division. His
courage and devotion during the next four years gain
him the respect and admiration of all.
South Africa 26.08.1985: P. Joseph Zeph, aged 50, is
stabbed to death by robbers in the mission of Sheridan. He arrived in the Diocese of Bethlehem in 1963
and was Vicar General from 1979-1982.
"May the good Lord spare those who have survived so far and bring
these terrible days to an end…The weather is awful and the African
soldiers are suffering greatly for the last few weeks. I am still managing to survive. If only this horrible war would come to an end! …
We pray that God will hear us and stop this slaughter that is without
precedent in human history…I feel desperately tired but I should
manage to hold out to the end…The dreadful war, which has cost so
many lives and so many tears, has finally finished. And I am still
alive, having diced with death so often over the last 4 years" (From
the letters of Daniel Brottier, military chaplain from 1914-1918).
C.S.Sp. 27.07.1881: Opening of the 4th General Chapter at
Chevilly (August 27-30). The 32 capitulants elect
Frédéric Levavasseur as Superior General, despite
his 70 years and ill health.
27.08.1969: The Superior General, Joseph Lécuyer,
meets the District Council to give an account of his
discussions with the Ministry of Cults and the Haitian
Trinidad 1970: The declining number of vocations leads to
the closing of the scholasticate at Arima and the
opening of a smaller house of formation at Arouca.
Guadeloupe 1970: Mgr. Siméon Oualli, who comes from
Saint-François, is ordained bishop of Guadeloupe.
"The aim of on-going formation is to help us to continually update
our response to God's on-going call, in faithfulness to our tradition
and in openness to the signs of the times. This response implies a
continuing conversion and renewal. It touches both our individual
and community life. It helps us to make the total gift of ourselves for
the sake of the Kingdom” (Guide for Spiritan Formation, no. 86).
Poland 28.08.1924: This is regarded as the first day in the life
of the junior seminary at Bydgoszcz. The noviciate is
set up at Debowa Laka.
Belgium 1945: The noviciate at Hotgné is closed and sold.
The novices will go henceforth to Cellule in France.
Sierra Leone 1971: Bishop Ganda ordains Michael Fillie, a
Spiritan from the Mende tribe. He studied in Nigeria
and Dublin. With the end of the civil war in Nigeria,
more than twenty Spiritan missionaries from that
country come to work in Sierra Leone.
Brazil SW 1971: The first District Chapter is held in the seminary at Adamentina, with 33 capitulants. Fr. Sammy
Moore represents the General Council and Fr. Aiden
Lehane the Irish Provincial Council.
(The need for on-going formation): "We believe that our Christian
and apostolic vocation brings with it a continuing opportunity of an
overall personal growth and the possibility of attaining a greater
quality and fullness of life and relationships. Through the daily
events of our lives, we are exposed to lessons that can enlighten us
and help us to grow, so we need opportunities for reflection and recollection in order to remain alert and to draw the benefit from these
lessons" (Guide for Spiritan Formation, no. 88).
Brazil 29.08.1825: Independence of Brazil.
Nigeria 29.08.1886: The first adult baptisms take place at
C.S.Sp. 29.08.1892: A non-elective General Chapter is held
from August 29th to September 2nd with 45 capitulants.
Trinidad 1972: A layman, Mr. Clive Pantin, is appointed Principal of Fatima College.
(The need for on-going formation): "Today, the world is constantly
changing and some of these changes are on a world scale and of unparalleled extent – and we ourselves are being transformed. By taking time to examine these changes attentively, we will be more in
contact with the reality of our existence and the exact nature of
God's on-going call to us, more open to these unexpected developments in our vocation and ready for the renewal of our apostolic
zeal" (Guide for Spiritan Formation, no. 88).
France 30.08.1863: Death of Nicolas Warnet, the 8th Superior
General of the Spiritans before the "fusion". He was
faithful to the spirit of Poullart des Places and had a
great esteem for François Libermann.
1946-1966: around 40 new missions are founded
throughout the country.
Congo 1947: Foundation of the senior seminary dedicated to
François Libermann.
Congo 1982: Start of the Spiritan scholasticate Poullart des
Places at Brazzaville-Kinsoundi.
"Holy Mary, my mother and my queen, humbly kneeling at your feet I
beg for your help. Help me, your servant, to dedicate myself to your
Spouse, the Holy Spirit, in whose honour, despite my weakness, I
want to commit myself today. My good Mother, please listen to me.
All powerful Holy Spirit, listen to my Mother and, through her intercession, enlighten my mind and set my heart on fire with your love,
so that in this house which is consecrated to you I may always do
what is pleasing to you and will lead to your glory, my sanctification
and the edification of my brothers" (Prayer of the Seminaire du
Saint-Esprit as reported by Nicolas Warnet).
Martinique 31.08.1858: The General Council accepts the direction of the seminary/college at Saint Pierre. By
1862, there will be 300 students. In 1867, a separate
junior seminary is built beside the college.
Portugal 31.08.1867: The General Council decides to start a
seminary for the Congo and overseas possessions at
Santarém in Portugal, dedicated to the Holy Spirit and
depending directly on the Mother House.
Ireland 31.08.1871: The first of many junior students from
Germany and Alsace arrive in Ireland to complete
their classical education. Amongst them is the future
Vicar Apostolic of Zanzibar, Emile Allgeyer.
C.S.Sp. 31.08.1919: The start of the 8th General Chapter (August 31st – September 11th) with 49 delegates. Mgr.
Le Roy is re-elected for a 3rd mandate. This Chapter
had been postponed for one year because of the First
World War.
(The need for on-going formation) :"Our contact with the people to
whom we minister stimulates us to improve the quality of the service
that we give by developing our skills and professional conscience.
This encourages us to update our basic formation, to deepen our capacities for understanding and action and to be ready, where there is
a need, to specialise in a particular area" (Guide for Spiritan Formation, no. 88).
Gabon 01.09.1845: Libermann writes to Bessieux: "Now that
we have been given better news about the healthiness of the climate in Gabon, we have decided to
send you more men as soon as possible".
Holy Heart of Mary 01.09.1846: Having arrived at Marseille
on September 1st, Père Libermann visits several major seminaries in the west of France and returns to La
Neuville on September 28th. The Society buys the
Trappist monastery of Notre Dame du Garde.
USA September, 1880: After two years, there are already
150 students in the upper school and the group of
brothers expelled from Germany begins to build a
large house in the "Golden Triangle" where the two
rivers meet in the centre of Pittsburgh.
Makurdi September, 1902: Mgr. Leo Lejeune, the Prefect
Apostolic of the Lower Niger, celebrates the first Mass
at Ibi on the river Benue in what was to become the
District of Makurdi. He was on an exploratory visit up
the rivers Niger and Benue. He subsequently decided
to open the new mission at Dekina in Bassa country.
"There is a large building about 60 metres long, a beautiful church
consecrated to St. Peter about 40 metres long, stables and several
other buildings in the courtyard, a brewery, bakery and washhouse
etc. There is about 10 acres of land. They were not able to find a
buyer for 18 months, which is why we got it at such a cheap price –
36,000 francs. There is everything that is needed for a community: a
kitchen garden sufficient for the two communities; fruit trees and
enough grass for 5 cows during summer and perhaps for a part of
the winter" (Libermann, writing to the community at Dakar about
the new house at Notre Dame du Gard, 28.12.1846. NDVIII, p.388399).
Portugal 02.09.1865: The General Council decides to accept
the mission of the Congo if the Propaganda Fide
Netherlands 02.09.1904: The first Spiritan establishment in
Holland – the Junior Seminary at Weert. It is in the old
"de Roos" restaurant. The founder is Père Sébire and
the first superior is Père Emile Callewaert.
Haiti 02.09.1969: The General Council decides to withdraw
all Spiritans from Haiti. The parishes are handed back
to the diocesan authorities.
Gabon 02.09.1977: Fère Michel Pierre is shot at Dibwangui
by a former worker of the mission who felt that his interests with the Social Security had not been adequately pursued.
"Lord Jesus, it is for your glory, for love of you and in honour of
your Blessed Mother that I make these vows today for the whole of
my life. I ask you to unite my sacrifice with your own on Calvary,
which you continue to offer each day on our altars. Fill me with the
strength and love of the same Spirit with whom you were filled on the
day of your supreme sacrifice, so that being united with you, my sacrifice may be more acceptable to our Father in heaven. May I always
perfectly carry out those things that your goodness has allowed me
to promise on this day" (Rule for the Brothers, 01.03.1851. NDXI, p.
United Kingdom 03.09.1939: Outbreak of World War II. Cut
off from France, the English Province has to establish
its own senior scholasticate and noviciate. A property
at Grange-over-Sands is rented in 1941 to house the
novices who had fled from France. Eight philosophy
students live in a cottage on the Castlehead property
and fifteen theology students share the main building
with the junior seminarians.
Haiti 03.09.1969: The government annuls the decision of July
1920 which had given the lands and buildings of
Saint-Martial to the Congregation.
Ireland 3.09.1991: The international Spiritan noviciate opens
at Cypress Downs, Templeogue, with 3 novices from
Ireland and France.
Madagascar 03.09.1995: In the presence of their founder,
Cardinal Armand Razafindratandra, the diocesan sisters of Diego-Suarez celebrate the 40th anniversary of
their foundation.
"My health is still bad – a lack of energy, an ever-increasing state of
nervousness. My big worry is that shortly I will no longer be able to
celebrate Mass because of the danger of accidents - yet the Mass is
the only consolation I have left. But even if this should come to pass,
may the holy will of God be done! Each day it becomes more difficult
for me to carry out the ministry: it is now reduced to a few confessions and catechism twice a week" (Jacques Laval to the Superior
General, 03.11.1860).
Congo Kinshasa Sept. 1866: The first exploration of the
Boma region by Père Poussot. There are further explorations by Père Duparquet and Frère Hilaire in
1874 and 1876.
Congo 04.09.1887: Mgr. Carrie creates the mission of Brazzaville and confides it to Père Augouard.
Portugal Sept. 1919: Père Moisés Alves de Pinho, who has
recently been called home from Angola to restore the
Province of Portugal, promises the Sacred Heart of
Jesus that if he succeeds in this work, he will set up a
special devotion in all the Spiritan houses of the Province. .
Madagascar Sept. 1925: Building is started on the Junior
Seminary of Mahajanga.
"I stick to the parlour where I do the job of door-keeper. This gives
me the chance to give some help to those who come and go, which is
also a sort of ministry that is not without fruit. The rest of the time I
use for meditating on the Scriptures, reading the lives of saints and
saying the Office. This is how the days, the weeks, the months go by –
a bit too slowly for my liking. Time drags for a soldier who is disarmed and can no longer do anything for the glory of his master and
the salvation of his brothers. Heu mihi!" (Jacques Laval to the Superior General, 03.11.1860).
05.09.1860: Blackrock College is launched as the
"French College" of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The college chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Victories, is blessed on 20 March 1868 by Cardinal Paul
Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin.
United Kingdom Sept. 1937: The parish of New Barnet in
north London is confided to the Spiritans. The first
parish priest is Fr. Henry Parkinson.
Poland Sept. 1939: At the outbreak of the Second World
War, the Vice-Province is made up of 22 brothers in
Poland, France and on the missions, 18 senior scholastics in France and Switzerland, 6 novices in France
and Switzerland, 10 postulant brothers at Puszczykowko in Poland and 70 junior seminarians at Bydgoszcz.
Haiti 05.09.1969: The Legislative Assembly forbids the Spiritans to continue their ministry at Saint-Martial. They
are ordered by the Government to leave the premises
by 13.30 hrs. The finance must be sent to the Minister. All the teachers are sacked under suspicion of being communists.
"I don't know what these modest beginning will bring, but each day I
am becoming more and more attached to this work in Ireland…So as
to avoid wasting time and being lazy, I have adopted a practice that I
find works very well: every morning, I make a resolution not to waste
a single moment of my time or to do anything else apart from what I
believe to be the will of God" (From the notes and correspondence of
Père Leman, the founder of Blackrock College and of the Province of
Libermann Sept. 1827: François Libermann, 10 months after
his conversion, is admitted to the seminary of SaintSulpice. He had received the tonsure at the cathedral
of Notre Dame in Paris on June 9th.
Rome 06.09.1854: Père Lannurien dies of cholera. He had
been the secretary of Libermann. The notes he made
during his noviciate are an important source for the
comments of Libermann made on the Règle Provisoire. He is looked upon as the founder of the French
Seminary in Rome, where he is buried in the chapel.
East Africa 06.09.1910: The Apostolic Vicariat of Kilimanjaro
is set up and P. Alois Munsch is named bishop.
Ireland 06.09.1983: The death of Fr. Francis Griffin at Rockwell at the age of 90. After serving many years on the
General Council, he was elected the 17th Superior
General (1950-1962), the first non-Frenchman to hold
that post.
"Unless a person is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God".
O Jesus, what a tremendous love you have for poor people like us!. I
am ignorant and full of imperfections and faults, just like Nicodemus.
Please receive me and teach me also, in your overpowering goodness" (Libermann: Commentary on St. John, 3:3).
Ireland 07.09.1921: The Legion of Mary is founded in Dublin
by Mr Frank Duff and Mr Michael Toher, both
Blackrock alumni. In 1948, Frank Duff is made an associate member of the Congregation. His cause for
beatification has been introduced. One of the outstanding members of the Legion of Mary is Edel
Quinn who worked with Irish Spiritans in Kenya and
whose cause has also been also introduced..
Cameroon 07.09.1923: A junior seminary is opened at Mvolyé
with 10 students (4 of whom are eventually ordained).
Later, the seminary moves to Nlong and then Akono.
Portugal 07.09.1934: The clerical noviciate opens at Quinta
de Baixo, Fraião, with 17 novices.
Spain 07.09.1964: The Spiritan noviciate begins in Spain at
Tortoreos with 10 novices (9 clerics and 1 brother).
During its 8 years in that place, 20 out of 26 novices
make profession. When it moves to Aranda, 21 out of
30 make profession. The noviciate at Aranda closes
in 1985.
"In every facet of our lives, but particularly in our prayer, Mary is
our model of willing obedience and faithfulness. We offer her veneration and prayer so that we may, as she did, welcome within us the
Holy Spirit who dwelt in her Immaculate Heart and that he may be
for us the abundant source of our apostolic spirit" (SRL 89).
Switzerland 08.09.1888: Père Gebhard Eigenmann (18411910), born at Rorschach in German-speaking Switzerland, becomes the first Provincial of Portugal.
TransCanada 08.09.1958: Neil McNeil High School is founded in Toronto.
Portugal 08.09.1962: Inauguration of the seminary at Silva.
C.S.Sp. 8.09.1987: The Superior General, Père Pierre Haas,
sends the new Rule of Life to all the members of the
Central African Foundation 08.09.1992: Profession at
Mbalmayo in Cameroon of the first Spiritan brother
from Gabon, Célestin Makokou.
"In all things, put your trust only in the Lord. And if some day it
happens, as with everybody, that you do something stupid, and even
fall several times, don't get discouraged; pull yourself together at
once and get on with your work without getting upset. Only proud
and unbalanced people allow themselves to be disturbed by their
faults, because they will not face up to their own fragility. Never forget that your safest refuge is always the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who
is there at all times to receive us in our sufferings and misery"
(Jacques Laval: quoted in his process of beatification).
Mauritius 09.09.1864: The death of Père Jacques Laval, the
apostle of Mauritius.
Angola 09.09.1865: Propaganda Fide confides the Prefecture
of the Congo (Angola) to the Spiritans; it was first set
up in 1640 and run by the Capuchins. On 09.09.1873,
P. Hippolyte Carrie and Brother Fortunat Engel disembark at Landana. P. Charles Duparquet, the VicePrefect, lands at Loango and proceeds overland with
the baggage.
09.09.1956: Profession of the first Spanish brother,
Javier Jesús Blanco Martínez.
09.09.1968: The first session of the 13th General
Chapter (Sept 9-Nov 15) opens in Rome with 109 capitulants. The Superior General, Mgr. Marcel
Lefebvre, resigns and leaves the Chapter on September 11th. Père Joseph Lécuyer is elected the 19th Superior General on October 29th. The following year, a
second session is necessary at Chevilly to complete
the work of the Chapter (July-September).
Congo Kinshasa 09.09.1995: The Foyer Laval for 1st Cycle
students is opened at Mont Ngafula, Kinshasa.
USA West 09.09.1995: The first Vietnamese Spiritan makes
his profession at Houston, Texas.
"May Jesus and his Mother console you, my dear sister; they are our
only consolation on earth and in heaven. I am anxious to finish with
the miseries of this life and I don't think the end is far off. My love
and respect to your husband and all the family. We will meet again,
dear sister, in the joy of eternal life" (Jacques Laval to his sister,
Mme Cadot, 05.09.1864. He died 4 days later).
United Kingdom 10.09.1792: Père Jacques Bertout becomes
the first known Spiritan to work in mainland Britain. He
flees to England at the French Revolution and works
somewhere in Yorkshire for the next 10 years. He returns to France in 1802 and his dying uncle, Père
Duflos (the 5th Superior General), asks him to revive
the Congregation and Seminary.
Cameroon Sept. 1920: Père Malessard is appointed Apostolic Administrator. He reorganises the Vicariat, reopens the missions that the German Palatine Fathers
had been forced to abandon and establishes new
ones. He dies suddenly on 11.03.22.
Nigeria Sept. 1929: Archbishop Arthur Hinsley, later Cardinal
Archbishop of Westminster, comes to Nigeria as Apostolic visitor. Regarding Bishop Shanahan's Vicariat
he writes, 'This is the most flourishing mission in British - if not in the whole of - West Africa.'
Netherlands Sept. 1945: Re-opening of the junior seminary
at Weert, the senior scholasticate at Gemert and, a little later, the houses at Baarle Nassau and Gennep for
the brothers. Around 116 Priests and Brothers are
ready to depart for the missions: 30 go to Angola, 25
to Bagamoyo and Kilimanjaro, 14 to Cameroon, 4 to
Gabon, 5 to Loango, 6 to Brazzaville, 6 to Bangui, 5
to Senegal, 10 to Tefé and 6 to Martinique and Guadeloupe.
" The outstanding trait of Bishop Shanahan in regard to friendship
and love is his constant refusal to separate theological and human
love… He never feared ‘particular friendships’. He saw everything
in the light of God, so friendship was for him ‘divinised human love’
(Tony Geoghegan, 31.07.1978, Spiritan Papers n°18. p.14).
Netherlands 11.09.1906: A junior seminary opens at Weert
with 38 students. This is the first Spiritan house in the
Cameroon Sept. 1939: The first Sister Servants of Mary take
their vows at Douala. Many confreres are called up at
the start of the war, but they are gradually freed from
military duties.
Guinée Conakry Sept. 1961: After the suppression of the
Catholic Action movements in 1959, the private
schools are nationalised in September, 1961. As a result of his vigorous protests, Mgr. de Milleville, the
Spiritan Archbishop of Conakry, is expelled from the
Ireland Sept. 1999: The opening of SPIRARSI in north Dublin
(Spiritan Initiative for Refugees and Asylum Seekers).
"Today, Justice and Peace ministry is taking on various forms. Education: both formal and informal, defending the rights of people,
helping people to organise themselves for the defence of their rights,
training people in the idea and the practice of justice and peace. Development work: in rural and urban areas, trade schools, farmers'
organisations etc. Refugees: serving refugees, immigrants, prisoners,
AIDS victims, drug addicts, young people without training or work in
the cities, rural populations in remote areas" (John Skinnader:
Maynooth, 1.5).
12.09.1763: Arrival of the first Spiritan at Gorée,
Jean-Baptiste Demanet.
Netherlands Sept. 1967: Baarle Nassau is closed because
there are no more candidates to be brothers. The noviciate is transferred to Gemert. The junior seminary
at Weert produces novices for the last time.
Gabon Sept. 1968: The first children evacuated from the war
in Nigeria arrive in Gabon. They are the first of many
to be received during the course of the war.
1987: The parish of Pemba in Monze diocese is
opened by the Spiritans.
"The fundamental missionary attitude is one of dialogue, respecting
the freedom of other believers and the mystery of God who is already
at work within them. We must be open to a mutual enrichment in the
mystery of the presence and action of God in our lives. We must not
hesitate to witness to our own convictions regarding the central role
of Christ in the plan of God" (Michael Amaladoss S.J., PlanèteMission, Lourdes 1994).
C.S.Sp. 13.09.1816: M. Bertout, the 6th Superior General (not
yet canonically elected) re-buys the property in rue
Lhomond that had been confiscated at the revolution
23 years previously.
Mauritius 13.09.1841: Arrival of Jacques Laval at Port-Louis.
From the start, he worked totally for the black people.
Holy Heart of Mary 13.09.1843: The first missionaries of the
Society (7 priests and 3 "brothers") leave Bordeaux
for Guinée. They arrive at Cap des Palmes (Liberia)
on November 30th.
13.09.1900: Opening of the junior seminary at
"The influence of Jacques Laval also spread to the other Christians,
whether practising or not, who made up the society of the time.
Gradually, the circle of conversions grew bigger. He must have
touched and baptised more than 60,000 people. In this way a movement of unity gradually developed around his person. Just as waves
on the water increase and spread out in circles, so Père Laval affected the Hindu immigrants arriving in the island, even welcoming
some of them into the Church. Today, more than 100 years after his
death, he still influences nearly every segment of Mauritian society"
(Cardinal Margéot: Homily for the beatification).
Australia 14.09.1845: A group of 27 missionaries leaves for
Australia with Bishop Brady of Perth. Libermann appoints 3 priests and 2 brothers to join him: Pères Victor Thévaux (25), Maurice Bouchet (24) and Francis
Thiersé (28), and two brothers, Théodore Odon (20)
and Vincent Eusbe (21),
Sierra Leone 14.09.1903: Fr. John O'Gorman is appointed
Vicar Apostolic of Sierra Leone after the death of Fr.
James Browne in April and is consecrated in October
in the USA. He is the first Irish-born Spiritan to become a bishop.
Cape Verde 14.09.1946: The Spiritan District is set up. The
first superior is P. Francisco Alves do Rego.
C.S.Sp. 14.09.1966: On this day, the Feast of the Exaltation
of the Holy Cross, the new Generalate is set up on
Monte Mario in Rome.
Rome 14.09.1995: The post-Synodal Exhortation, 'Ecclesia in
Africa' by John Paul II is published on this day.
"Try then, dear brothers, to be always available before God. Live
peacefully and with great confidence in the goodness of God; he will
surpass all that we could imagine if we are dedicated and sacrifice
ourselves in his great love and holiness, if we see only him and trust
ourselves entirely to him" (Libermann: advice to the 'Bandes de Piété, NDI, p.668).
Senegambia 15.09.1851: Death of Père M. Arlabosse at
Saint-Louis. Since December, 1843, "he is the 12th
missionary that it has pleased God to take away from
us on the Coast of Africa" (Libermann).
Portugal 15.09.1891: The General Council accepts the proposal of the Fisher family to found a college at Ponta
Delgada in the Azores.
United Kingdom Sept. 1969: The Spiritans, together with 6
other missionary orders (White Fathers, Mill Hill,
Comboni, S.M.A., Consolata and Divine Word) set up
the Missionary Institute in north London for the joint
training of their students. Fr Wilfred Gandy of the English Province is appointed President.
Papua New Guinea 15.09.1999: Initial formation is started in
1988 but it closes down three years later because of
lack of formation personnel. One postulant continues
and makes his profession on 15th September,1999, in
"To serve means to forget about yourself and, for the love of God, to
sacrifice yourself for the happiness of others. It means to have no
rights - only duties. It means to have no interest in your own good
but to think, desire and act only for others" (Brottier: quoted in the
process of beatification).
Canada 16.09.1924: Departure of the first Canadian Spiritan
to work in the missions: Père Charles Chalifoux is appointed to the Cameroon. The second, Père Hector
Chartrand, leaves for Martinique in August, 1925.
Alto Jurua 16.09.1935: P. Henrique Ritter is appointed Prelate Nullius of Alto-Juruá, a mission area recently confided to the German Province.
Nigeria 16.09.1969: Bishop Godfrey Okoye C.S.Sp. founds
the Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Love on
the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel during the Nigerian Civil war. The first profession of 16 sisters
takes place on 4 November, 1973.
Ireland 16.09.1991: The Inter-Congregational Missionary Institute is set up at Kimmage Manor, Dublin.
"We will develop collaboration between Spiritan institutes and institutes in which we participate, especially in the areas of training, justice and peace and missionary awareness. The role of the General
Administration will be important in extending this type of cooperation. We will continue to put particular emphasis on the sharing of formators, not only within the Congregation, but also with
other religious orders and local Churches" (Maynooth 5: 12&13).
TransCanada Sept. 1975: Opening of Libermann High
School, Toronto. Mission outreach to Kenya (Fr P.
Boran). First parish in British Columbia at Coquitlam
(Fr D. McGoldrick).
Spain 17.09.1976: A new apostolic team, made up of Frs.
Aniceto Montero and José Aguilar and Associates
Marta Mallafré and Isabel Pérez, leave Barcelona to
start a new missionary project in Arusha diocese,
Pakistan Sept. 1976: Exploratory visit to Pakistan by Frs.
John Daly and René You on behalf of the General
Council. They go to various places in the six dioceses
and meet bishops and church personnel.
Central African Foundation Sept. 1977: The birth of the
Foundation as 3 candidates enter the noviciate at
Essos (Yaoundé). Three of them will be subsequently
ordained. The next noviciate is two years later at
Linzolo: it includes 2 confreres from Equatorial
"In the context of the wider changes of our times, the Foundations
themselves share in the birth of a new missionary era in the Church.
From different continents there is more and more evidence to reveal
the work of the Spirit in the development of the Church and its Mission, as He prepares new ways of evangelisation for a changing
world" (General Chapter, 1980. no. 116).
Libermann 18.09.1841: François Libermann is ordained priest
by Mgr. Miolland in his private chapel at Amiens. On
the same day, Frédéric Le Vavasseur is ordained in
Algeria 18.09.1975: Nationalisation of the Spiritan agricultural
school at Misserghin; all the confreres leave the country, apart from one who remains as chaplain to the
Trinitarian Sisters. The Provincial Council in France
promises the Bishop of Oran that they will soon be
replaced by a new group of Spiritans.
Central African Foundation Sept. 1980: The 3rd noviciate
opens in Akono (Cameroon) and the following year, it
finds a permanent home in Mbalmayo. Père Charrier
is novice master until 1988. The number of novices
steadily increases.
Madagascar Sept. 1982: The first Spiritan formation house
opens in Madagascar – Foyer Laval at Tananarive.
"I must tell you about the great mercy and goodness that Our Lord
has shown towards me, his undeserving servant who is not even worthy to speak his name: this morning, I was ordained a priest. Only
God knows exactly what I received this morning because neither man
nor angel can begin to understand it. I ask you all to pray that my
becoming a priest will be for his greater glory, for the salvation of
souls and for the building up of the Church. Ask the Lord that he will
sacrifice me for his glory, because this must be my only concern from
now on" (Libermann to his brother, Samson: 18.09.1841. NDII,
Canada 19.09.1772: The Ordination of Joseph-Mathurin
Bourg, a product of the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit in
Paris, by Mgr. Briand at Montreal. He is sent to Arcadia as Vicar for the whole territory.
19.09.1840: The first Senegalese priests are ordained in Paris by Mgr. Cuely, the Bishop of Carcassone: les Abbés Moussa, Fridoil and Boilat. Their early formation is directed by Mère Javouhey in Senegal;
the final two years are spent at the Seminaire du
Saint-Esprit in Paris.
Netherlands 19.09.1916: The Spiritans move into the castle
of Gemert as the previous Jesuit owners return to
U.S.A. 19.09.1939: Fr. George Collins becomes the first USborn Provincial of the province.
Spain 19.09.1970: The first session of the Provincial Chapter
begins in the senior scholasticate of San Cugat del
Valles in Barcelona. The second session in June
1971 draws up the Directory of the Province.
"We have to keep our minds and hearts united to God when we are
trying to help penitents. It sometimes happens, especially with young
priests, that they are so preoccupied with theological principles that
their only concern is to get a clear idea of each sin confessed so that
their principles can be applied. This is not a good approach; it clutters up the spirit, dries up the heart and prevents the free action of
the spirit of God. A much better method is for the confessor to concentrate on what is happening in the soul of this particular penitent:
look for the sources of the faults and the circumstances, look at the
dispositions of this person and try to discern what God wants to do
in their soul" (Libermann: Conferences to the St. John Group of
Priests, 1849. NDXI, p. 540-544).
Libermann 20.09.1837: Libermann arrives at Rennes as assistant director of the Eudiste noviciate; he takes part
in the opening retreat.
Netherlands 20.09.1966: Inauguration of the Theological Institute of Eindhoven (TIE) in which the Spiritan scholastics of Gemert take part.
Algeria 20.09.1978: Beginning of the re-implantation of Spiritans with the return of Raymond Gonnet to Oran. At
first he teaches in an orphanage and then is involved
in the foundation of an association for the mentally
handicapped. Other Spiritans follow him in a variety of
pastoral and social activities.
Ethiopia Sept. 1982: Because of difficulties raised in Rome
by the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops concerning inculturation and collaboration with the Orthodox Church,
the Superior General, Frans Timmermans, visits the
country for the first time and wins the support of Cardinal Willebrands' (Secretariat for Christian Unity) for
the Gamo-Gofa "experiment".
" The power of evangelisation will find itself considerably diminished if
those who proclaim the Gospel are divided among themselves in all
sorts of ways. Is this not perhaps one of the great sicknesses of evangelisation today? Indeed, if the Gospel that we proclaim is seen to be rent
by doctrinal disputes, ideological polarisation or mutual condemnations among Christians, at the mercy of the latter's differing views on
Christ and the Church and even because of their different concepts of
society and human institutions, how can those to whom we address our
preaching fail to be disturbed, disoriented, even scandalised? (Evangelii Nuntiandi, n°77)
21.09.1709: Louis Bouic is ordained priest by the
Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal de Noailles, 11 days before the death of Claude Poullart des Places. A few
months later, he will become his 2nd successor.
Libermann 21.09.1841: Three days after his ordination,
François Libermann celebrates Mass for the first time
at the convent of the sisters of Louvencourt (near La
United Kingdom 21.09.1904: On this day, as a result of the
anti-clerical legislation of the French Government, it is
decided to set up a noviciate in England for the Irish
candidates who had been studying in France. Prior
Park thus becomes the first Spiritan house in Britain.
Netherlands 21.09.1911: Opening of the first noviciate of the
Dutch-Belgian Province at Louvain. There are 9 novices from Holland and 5 from Belgium. The novice
master is Père Charles Luttenbacher.
France 21.09.1923: Opening of the house of philosophy at
the Abbaye Blanche, Mortain.
"Out of love for his flock, this Good Shepherd transmits his life and
pastoral concern to those who act in his name and by his power and
his Spirit. The result is that Jesus, through his priests, does the same
things that he does himself. So the priest who acts only through and
in the Spirit which has been given to him, gains a supernatural
knowledge of the state of souls: he can call them by name, help them
to follow the plans that God has for them and the attraction that Our
Lord exerts on their souls. He can help them to progress more in a
month than they could do in years on their own" (Libermann: Commentary of St. John, 10.3).
Deux Guinées 22.09.1846: Mgr. Truffet is appointed the first
Vicar Apostolic of the Deux Guinées (and the first
bishop of Libermann’s new society). He is ordained at
Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris on January 25th,
1847 and arrives at Gorée on May 5th.
Congo 22.09.1883: Père Prosper Augouard starts the first
mission in the interior of Congo at Linzolo, 25 kms.
from Brazzaville.
Algeria Sept. 1980: Foundation of the community at Sidi-BelAbbès by Père Claude Brehm. The Spiritans serve
the small Christian community as well as doing various other works: teaching, classes in Arabic and
French, running a library, working in close collaboration with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
Central African Foundation Sept. 1982: Opening of the
Spiritan scholasticate of Poullart des Places at Brazzaville-Kinsoundi by Père René Tabard. The students
follow the courses at the Emile Biavenda Senior Seminary (the former Seminaire Libermann). Four years
later, a philosophy house opens in Libreville (having
spent the previous year in Bangui).
“All the seminarians will adore the Holy Spirit in a special way because they have been consecrated to Him. They will also have a devotion to the Blessed Virgin, under whose protection they have been
offered to the Holy Spirit. Their principal feasts will be those of Pentecost and the Immaculate Conception. On the first, they will ask the
Holy Spirit for the fire of divine love and on the second, they will ask
the Virgin for the gift of angelic purity – two virtues which must form
the basis of all their piety” Poullart des Places: General and Special
Rules for the Community of the Holy Spirit).
Netherlands 23.09.1943: The area of Doumé in the east of
Cameroon is confided to the Dutch Province; it becomes a new district, separated from Yaoundé. The
first superior is Fr. Jacques Teerenstra, later to become the first Vicar Apostolic of Doumé in 1949.
Netherlands 23.09.1957: A seminary for late vocations opens
at Hettem.
23.09.1969: At the request of the Superior General,
Père Joseph Lécuyer, all 20 Spiritans leave the country.
Central African Foundation 23.09.1978: The first 3 novices
make profession at Yaoundé
Poland Sept. 1983: The noviciate is moved from Bydgoszcz
to Chelmszczonka.
“In order to contribute effectively to promoting justice, we make every effort to analyse situations, to lay bare the relationship of individual cases to structural causes”(SRL 14.1). “Because we are members of one single missionary family, we take upon ourselves, in solidarity, responsibility for the Congregation’s projects and priorities”(SRL 21). “Our mission is always that of the Congregation,
recognised as such through a process of discernment and accepted in
obedience and in accord with the Rule of Life” (SRL 22).
East Africa 24.09.1872: Fr Antoine Horner is nominated
Vice-Prefect of Zanguebar, residing in Zanzibar.
24.09.1945: After the liberation of Bydgoszcz, the
Spiritan house is rebuilt. The Province manages to
reoccupy three houses. There are 7 priests, 6 brothers, 5 scholastics and 3 novice brothers.
Pakistan Sept. 1979: Arrival of Jim O'Connell, who studies
Punjabi in Rahim Yar Khan and later on in Murree.
Edward Flynn and John Kitchen are in Rahim Yar
Khan; both are involved in the Marwari apostolate as
well as in the parish. The following year, the group
takes over Holy Cross parish in Rahim Yar Khan, the
Dominicans having decided to pull out. The Spiritans
are thus reluctantly more and more involved in the
Punjabi apostolate.
Indian Ocean Foundation Sept. 1987: The students of the
second noviciate proceed to Fribourg in Switzerland
to study theology.
“All decisions must be made according to principles but, at the same
time, the principles have to be modified, explained and adapted to
the actual situation in so far as it effects people and circumstances.
Anybody who is incapable of flexibility according to the circumstances, when this is seen to be prudent, will never be able to direct a
work or even be considered as a perfect priest, even if he is able to
work miracles” (Libermann to M. Gaudaire, 05.07.1840. NDI, p.
Guyane 25.09.1727: Arrival of the first Sisters of St Paul de
Chartres to run the hospital.
Holy Heart of Mary 25.09.1841: Père Libermann, assisted by
Frédéric Le Vavasseur, Eugène Tisserant and l’Abbé
Desgenettes, celebrates the first Mass of the new Society at Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris.
Nigeria Sept. 1987: A Spiritan postulancy is opened at Akabo
in Oweri diocese. The Spiritan International School of
Theology (SIST) starts at Attakwu, Enugu diocese, for
Spiritan students of Anglophone West Africa.
Gambia Sept. 1988: Arrival of the first two WAF missionaries
appointed to The Gambia: Frs. John Kwofie and Matthew Amoako-Attah.
“It is certain that our little work for the black people owes its existence and the progress it has made in the short time since its foundation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. All the confreres who began
and followed up this work with me are convinced of this and our
hearts are full of gratitude to the glorious Queen of Heaven”
(Libermann to Desgenettes, 09.02.1844. NDVII, p. 37-48).
C.S.Sp. 26.09.1809: Excommunicated by Pope Pius VII, the
Emperor Napoleon revokes the decree of 1805 reestablishing the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit.
C.S.Sp. 26.09.1848: The Propaganda Fide accepts the “fusion” of the Societies of the Holy Spirit and the Holy
Heart of Mary in a way that Libermann had not foreseen: the Holy Heart of Mary is incorporated totally into the Holy Spirit Society and the former ceases to exist.
Nigeria 26.09.1905: Fr Joseph Shanahan is appointed successor to Fr Léon Lejeune as Prefect Apostolic of the
Lower Niger. Lejeune had died of cancer at Chevilly
three weeks previously at the age of 45.
Portugal 26.09.1967: Death in Luanda of P. Clemente Pereira da Silva, former Provincial of Portugal (1932-1943)
and 2nd Assistant on the General Council of Fr. Francis Griffin. He did much to build up the works of the
“I can add, regarding the fusion of the Congregation with that of the
Holy Spirit, that Père Libermann was well aware that he was going
against the opinion of most of the members of his Congregation, that
he would be blamed by the clergy in general, and that by this act he
took on a great responsibility that would bring him a lot of suffering.
But he was totally convinced, after serious reflection before God and
much fervent prayer, that this union was part of the plan of God for
the good of both Congregations, for the French colonies and for our
missions in Africa” (Père Delaplace. ND Supplement, p. 140-141).
Holy Heart of Mary 27.09.1841: Opening of the noviciate at
La Neuville, Amiens (France) with MM. Libermann, Le
Vavasseur and Collin.
Guadeloupe & Martinique 27.09.1850: The Apostolic Prefectures of Basse-Terre and Martinique become dioceses by decision of Pope Pius IX.
USA 27.09.1878: Frs. John Quinn and Michael Dunne arrive
in Pittsburgh to teach in the newly opened High
School. They are followed by Fr William Power, who
is appointed the first rector. He is succeeded in that
office by Fr. John T. Murphy in 1886 and by Fr Martin
Hehir in 1899. In 1911, Fr Hehir succeeds in having
Duquesne recognised as a University.
Pakistan Sept. 1990: Arrival of David Donellan, who studies
Urdu before joining the community at Sukkur.
“Formal and informal education are not something on the margins
of our apostolate but an integral part of our mission of evangelisation. This conviction is based on two considerations: on the one
hand, this social ministry to the poor brings them freedom and promotes the dignity that is theirs as children of God; on the other, the
contact it gives with the world of young people provides an opportunity for passing on the Good News, above all through the witness
of the life of the educator. We will make a point of making young
people aware of the problems of poverty and unjust structures in
their society and the world at larg.” (Maynooth 2.13).
Deux Guinées 28.09.1842: Creation of the Apostolic Vicariat
of the Deux Guinées. Pope Gregory XVI names Fr.
Edward Barron as the first Vicar.
Gabon 28.09.1844: The “Zèbre” arrives in Gabon with Père
Bessieux and Frère Gregoire on board. The postulant,
Jean Fabé, is sick and does not disembark; he returns with the same ship to France. The following
morning, Père Bessieux celebrates the first Mass in
Gabon; it marks the beginning of the foundation of
Sainte Marie de Gabon.
Indian Ocean Foundation Sept. 1990: Opening of the first
cycle formation house in Reunion. In future, the Foyer
Brottier at Diégo (Madagascar) will be used as a postulancy.
Zambia Sept. 1995: The first group of postulants is received
at Pemba Parish; the Postulancy is situated 2kms
from Pemba.
“The Congregation of the Missionaries of the Holy Heart of Mary is
a group of priests who, sent in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ,
are totally dedicated to announcing his Gospel and establishing his
reign amongst the poorest and most abandoned in the Church of
God. Therefore, they see themselves as apostles send by Jesus; they
must have the tenets of the Gospel engraved in their hearts and proclaim them wherever they go; they must make known God’s mysteries and his plans to those who have never heard them” (Libermann:
Règle Provisoire 1,2).
Guyane 29.09.1798: Arrival of the ship La Bayonnaise”, carrying 120 priests who had refused to take the oath
imposed by the revolutionaries on priests in France.
They were condemned for life to the island prison just
off the coast of Guyane.
Portugal 29.09.1867: The Patriarch of Lisbon, Bishop Manuel
Bento Rodrigues, approves the foundation of the
seminary for the Congo at Santarém.
Ethiopia Sept. 1996: The team builds and opens a primary
school in Darito (Sidamo). This is one of the areas
where we go for the preaching of the Gospel.
Pakistan Sept. 1996: Visitation by Père Pierre Schouver, Superior General. Marc Tyrant returns after Urdu studies. A Marwan school is opened in Chack 23 (Rahin
Yar Khan). A theological group is started for lay people (Mukatab-e-Anaween) in Sukkur.
The sheep outside the house of Israel – the Gentiles who believed in
one God, who observed the natural law, like Jacob, Naaman, Jethro
and others – did not belong to the flock established by God in Israel.
But in the new sheepfold, the Good Shepherd will bring all these
sheep together to make just one flock and they will all live in the
same fold. And at that time, the essential and unique character of the
sheep will be in their souls, a character formed by the Holy Spirit, a
character which will unite the whole flock and make them docile and
flexible under the same shepherd” (Libermann: Commentary on St.
John. 10:16).
Belgium 30.09.1845: François Libermann travels to Belgium,
with the support of the Vatican, to try to set up a
house of formation for missionary vocations. In fact, it
did not come about until several years later.
Mauritius 30.09.1847: Père Thévaux arrives in Mauritius after
the failure of the Australian mission. He is the first
confrere of Libermann’s society to join Jacques Laval
on the island. Père Thiersé arrives from Australia in
September, 1848, and in 1850, the Spiritans take
charge of the evangelisation of the island mission of
Ireland 30.09.1974: The Adult Education Centre is opened in
Kimmage Manor. This project will evolve into the present "Development Studies Centre" under Fr. Dick
Indian Ocean Foundation Sept. 1995 : The 6th noviciate
opens at Rose-Hill, Mauritius. The FOI has now been
sending missionaries to Papua New Guinea and Pakistan for some years. Confreres are also sent to study in the USA, Canada, London, Fribourg and East
“As soon as you receive this letter, go to Bishop Brady and make
arrangements to leave Australia as soon as possible. Go directly to
Bourbon or Mauritius. If the Bishop does not pay your passage, you
just boldly get on a ship, guaranteeing to pay on arrival in Mauritius
or Bourbon…. Should you have any further difficulties regarding
your departure, do not consult me.. the distance is too great… you
could perish before you have an answer; seek advice and act according to God’s pleasure” (Libermann to Thévaux, 02.05.1847,ND 11,
p.138-140, quoted by Thomas O’Malley c.s.sp. in “Tales Without
Reason”, p.83)
C.S.Sp. 01.10.1701: Having finished his long retreat, Claude
Poullart des Places enters Louis le Grand College in
Paris, most of which is the scholasticate of the Jesuits. Exactly 8 years later, 01.10.1701, Claude is carried to the third house of the Community of the Holy
Spirit in rue Neuve Sainte-Geneviève (today rue
Tournefort, close to rue Lhomond). He dies there the
following day.
Ireland 01.10.1822: Fr. Henry Power, a former student and
professor of the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit in Paris, is
co-opted as a director of the Congregation and in that
capacity is among the five directors who secure pontifical status for the Congregation on 11 January,
Gabon 01.10.1849 : Mgr. Bessieux arrives in Gabon as the
first bishop. Just 3 years later, a letter from Pope Pius
IX will establish the Holy Heart of Mary as the principal Patron of the Vicariat of the Deux Guinées.
Angola 01.10.1869 : The Spiritans leave Ambriz definitively
and establish themselves in Luanda.
«While M. des Places devoted himself entirely to the cares demanded
by his nascent community and exhausted himself by austere mortifications, he suffered an attack of pleurisy that was accompanied by a
violent fever and a painful tenesmus which for four days caused him
atrocious sufferings. But not one word of complaint and still less of
impatience escaped his lips. One knew only that his sufferings were
intensified because his acts of resignation were more frequent. His
very exhaustion seemed to give him new strength to repeat over and
over again with the holy King David : »Quam dilecta tabernacula
tua, Domine virtutum, concupiscit anima mea in atria Domini » [Ps
83.1] » (Charles Besnard : Life of Grignon de Montfort).
The death of Claude-François
Poullart des Places. He has appointed M.
Jacques Garnier as his successor. The following day,
he is buried in the common grave for poor clergy at
St. Etienne du Mont. At this point, there are 72 students in the Seminaire du Saint Esprit.
C.S.Sp. 02.10.1853: The first general assembly in the form of
a Chapter at Notre Dame du Gard (or more strictly,
the second, since Père Schwindenhammer was officially elected Superior General on 10.02.1853). There
are 28 members of the Chapter. The Règlements of
1849 are approved, as well as a plan for a new edition
of the Rules which will incorporate the practice of religious life, community living, a distinctive habit and
various other matters relating to internal organisation.
Congo 02.10.1881: Re-opening of the catholic mission of St.
Antoine de Soyo (Mpinda), by Pères Carrie, Augouard
and Faxel. In 1886, it is transferred to Nemlao.
France 01.10.1906: Founding of the Province of France, following the directives of the General Chapter of 1906.
[Frédéric Le Vavasseur had been named Provincial of
France in 1856, but there was no separate provincial
administration.] Père Marc Voegtli is Provincial.
“As soon as it was known in Paris that he was seriously ill, a great
number of persons distinguished by their piety and their rank came
to see him: the Directors of St. Sulpice Seminary, of St. Nicolas de
Chardonnet and of St. François de Sales. He received the last sacraments in due time and after receiving them, he quietly expired
around five o’clock in the evening of October 2nd, 1709, at the age of
30 years and seven months. Such was the holy and famous Père des
Places, founder of the Holy Ghost Seminary in Paris” (Charles
Besnard: Life of Grignon de Montfort).
Gabon 03.10.1842: Erection of the Vicariat Apostolic of the
Deux Guinées. It consists of all the territory between
Senegal and the Orange river, apart from the area
under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Angola and
Congo. Bishop Barron is the first Vicar Apostolic.
Ireland October 1898: It is decided to set up a Senior Scholasticate for the Irish Province at St Joseph's, Rockwell. Among the eleven theological students is one
Joseph Shanahan. The experiment lasts only 2 years
and then the clerical students return to France until
Kimmage Manor is purchased in 1911.
USA October 1900: Br. Philippus Lafferty becomes the first
U.S.-born Spiritan to sail for Africa. Stationed in Sierra
Leone, he dies four years later.
United Kingdom October 1912: St Joseph's Parish, Peasley
Cross, St Helens, is taken on by the Irish Province;
because of its proximity to the port of Liverpool, it will
also serve as a base for Spiritans leaving for the missions. The parish is closed in 1995. Although pastoral
responsibility has long since passed to the English
Province, two confreres from the Irish Province are
running the parish at the time of its closure.
“In 1776, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit was asked to guarantee 20 missionaries and a Prefect Apostolic in French Guiana. At the
revolution of 1792, the Congregation suffered the same fate as all the
other religious establishments in France: its seminary was suppressed, its priests scattered and its house sold by the State. As soon
as peace was restored by the Concordat of 1801, M. Bertout, alone
and without a house, recommenced the work of M. PoulartDesplaces with great difficulty” (Libermann: Notice on the Congregation of the Holy Spirit and the Immaculate Heart of Mary and its
works. 15.08.1850).
Netherlands 04.10.1926: The Belgian/Dutch Province buys
an old office at Gennep belonging to the railway,
known affectionately as “The Barracks”! It is used for
the philosophers and, subsequently, for the novices.
October, 1932: Seven Spiritans are appointed to
The Gambia. Due to illness or death, they serve the
mission for an average of only ten months.
Congo October, 1947: The regional senior seminary is transferred from Libreville to Brazzaville.
Portugal/Spain 04.10.1956: On the day when the students
are returning to the junior seminary at Paredas da
Nava, P. José Maria Felgueiras is seriously injured
while rescuing a student in danger of falling under a
train. He dies of his injuries on November 26th.
“The Synod Fathers affirmed that ‘today more than ever there is a
need to form future priests in the true cultural values of their country, in a sense of honesty, responsibility and integrity. They shall be
formed in such a manner that they will have the qualities of the representatives of Christ, of true servants and animators of Christian
community… solidly spiritual, ready to serve, dedicated to evangelisation, capable of administering the goods of the Church efficiently
and openly, and of living a simple life as befits their milieu”. (John
Paul II: Ecclesia in Africa, n° 95)
France 05.10.1929: Cardinal Verdier of Paris consecrates the
Chapel dedicated to St. Thérèse at Auteuil, begun by
Daniel Brottier shortly after taking over the work. It is
the first church to be dedicated to the saint, 2 years
after her canonisation.
Gabon October, 1948: Opening of Collège Bessieux at Libreville, thanks to the initiative of Mgr. Adam and his
Vicar General, Père Louis Ledit. Five years later, the
Seminary of St. John moves into a new building and
the Brothers of St. Gabriel open a Teachers Training
College at Lambaréné. In 1968, they take charge of
Collège Bessieux.
Madagascar October, 1954: The seminary of St. Paul reopens at Amborovy with 24 students. It is joined to the
Teachers’ college run by the Brothers of St. Gabriel.
Mexico October, 1972: The Spiritan group takes on two new
parishes: Tancanhuitz and Coxcatlan (Nahuati people).
“Thérèse is not a new friend: she has always been our friend (since
the foundation by Abbé Roussel). We want her to be our friend for
ever and make our house, which she loved so much when she was
alive, a sanctuary where she will make it rain with roses and spend
her heaven doing good” (Daniel Brottier in “France Illustrée”, 19
January, 1924).
Spain October, 1963: P. Buenaventura Mur is the first Spanish Spiritan to leave for the missions: Cachingues in
Angola. In October 1969, a centre for late vocations is
opened in the community of Barcelona with 5 aspirants who are doing their secondary studies.
Rome October, 1965: The Spiritan international scholasticate
moves from 1, Corso d’Italia to 22, via Macchiavelli.
Poland October, 1976: Opening of the senior scholasticate
at Bydgoszcz.
United Kingdom 06.10.1995: The parish of the Sacred
Heart, St Aubin, on the island of Jersey, is confided to
the Spiritans. Fr James Carling is the first parish
“There is a growing interest in our history within the Congregation.
Undoubtedly, it is the development of mission and the orientations of
Vatican II that have led us to look for sources which could inspire a
new creativity in our missionary life. Particularly important amongst
these sources are our origins and our Spiritan tradition which some
of our historians have brought into focus in recent years. (During the
Spiritan Year) we will look back on all that the Spirit has accomplished in the Congregation throughout its history, not forgetting the
darker side, which is not of the Spirit’s doing but which serves to
keep us vigilant” (Maynooth 8).
Ireland 07.10.1924: The Holy Rosary Missionary Sisters with
their Mother House at Killeshandra, Ireland, are
founded by Bishop Shanahan. Nigeria is their first
mission field but they are now working in 7 African
countries and in Brazil.
Poland 07.10.1934: Fr. Adam Zuromski is the first Spiritan of
the Province to be ordained.
France October 1979: Opening of the Foyer Jacques Laval
at Valence to receive Spiritan vocations coming from
St. Joseph’s College, Allex. Later, the house will be a
centre for vocations to the diocese.
Indian Ocean Foundation Oct. 1983: The first 5 professed
students from the FOI arrive in London to study theology at the Missionary Institute.
“How well I know that very special sense of nothingness in the
presence of what looms up as an impossible, insuperable,
unutterable weakness…when hope seems to vanish and with it the
God of peace and love and strength, those sad years of gloom when
God seems so far away and this world the loneliest of the lonely
places. The chalice of the Lord I will accept” (Joseph Shanahan,
01.01.1942: Before the Golden Bowl is broken, p.41)
Pakistan October, 1983: Edward Flynn and John Jackson
move to Sukkur to take over the parish from the Franciscans. The following year a religious convention
("maila") is organised at Sukkur in honour of Our Lady, which will continue to be held each year.
Central African Foundation October, 1984: The Foyer for
the First Cycle opens in Bangui with P. Frans Wijnen
as director. The District give the house of SaintCharles to the FAC and Bishop Ndayen gives a house
nearby. The following year, the international scholasticate opens for the first cycle at Libreville.
East African Province October, 1988: A decision by the
General Council changes the status of the East African Foundation to a Province with effect from February 2, 1989. Fr Daniel Macha is appointed the first
Provincial of the new Province.
Australia 08.10.1995: Fr Paul Leyden, the First Australian
Spiritan, is ordained at his home parish, Our Lady's,
Ringwood, by Archbishop Frank Little of Melbourne.
Paul is appointed to work with the Spiritans in Kenya.
“Now for some news where you may not agree with me. We have
accepted a huge mission in New Holland (Australia) to people who
are not black but bronze…I am sure that in a few years our mission
to the black people will go well, but we will need some time for the
initial difficulties to be overcome. Meanwhile, we need something
solid, a big mission – otherwise, we risk being infected by the spirit
of the clergy in France…There are two million aborigines in the mission of New Holland who apparently are well disposed to receive the
faith…I must admit that I hesitated for a long time before taking this
decision, but I believe it is the will of God and will be a more prudent
way to proceed” (Libermann to the community of Gorée,18.08.1845.
NDVII, p.274-275).
Canada 09.10.1892: Arrival of the first 4 Sister Servants of
the Holy Heart of Mary, founded by Père Delaplace,
the secretary of Libermann.
Ireland 09.10.1902: Fr Joseph Shanahan sets out from Ireland for Southern Nigeria where he is made Prefect
Apostolic in 1905 and Vicar Apostolic in 1920. He is
ordained Bishop in Maynooth College on 6 June,
Pakistan October, 1996: Work begins on the new house at
Guinée Conakry October, 1996: The Spiritans (Armel Duteil
and Christopher Nze) return to the Mission of Mongo,
which has been without a priest since 1967. In the area, there are more than 200,000 refugees from
neighbouring countries.
“One of the most bitter fruits of wars and economic hardships is the
sad phenomenon of refugees and displaced persons. The ideal solution is the re-establishment of a just peace, reconciliation and economic development… In the meantime, since the Continent continues
to suffer from the massive displacement of refugees, I make a pressing appeal that these people be given material help and offered pastoral support wherever they may be, whether in Africa or in other
Continents”. (John Paul II: Ecclesia in Africa, n°119)
Senegal 10.10.1843: Arrival at Gorée of the 10 first missionaries (including 3 lay people) sent to Bp. Barron by
Père Libermann. The superior of the group is Père
Rome 10.10.1853: The French Seminary opens in Rome with
12 students in the former Irish College in the Via degli
Ibernesi, close to Trajan’s pillar. The chapel is
blessed by Mgr. Kobès on November 11th.
Portugal 10.10.1868: P. Joseph Gebbard Eigenmann from
Switzerland is appointed director of the Congo Seminary in Portugal, replacing Père Charles Duparquet.
Joseph Eigenmann will subsequently be the first Provincial of the Portuguese Province.
Canada 10.10.1913: The Superior General, Mgr. Le Roy, arrives with a group of Sisters of the Sacred Heart of
Mormaison who will look after the domestic side of
Collège St. Alexandre. On October 29th, the CollègeSeminary of St. Alexandre is officially opened; the
purpose is to train priests for the Archdiocese of Ottawa and the rest of Canada.
“It is because of this great need (the number of Catholic immigrants
coming to Canada) that we finally opened the Collège St. Alexandre
last year. There are 120 students, aged between 12 and 20, who are
very well disposed and make an excellent impression through their
piety, their good spirit and their intelligence. Let us respond generously to this providential progress. With time, the grace of God and
our own efforts, this could become one of the best works of the Congregation, for it corresponds to the primary end of our Society”
(Mgr. Le Roy, December 1913. B.G. XXVII, p. 378).
11.10.1921: Fr. Sigismund Rydlewski, of the U.S.A.
Province, is authorised to lay the foundation of a province in Poland and opens a junior seminary at Bydgoczsz.
Portugal 11.10.1937: Opening of the seminary at Silva, left to
the Province by the owner, D. Maria Antónia de Sousa e Silva Alcoforado. It begins as a junior seminary,
with the hope that it will become a clerical noviciate
when the time is right.
11.10.1962: The beginning of the Second Vatican
Council and the subsequent renewal programmes.
There are 49 Spiritan Bishops attending, including the
Superior General, Marcel Lefebvre.
TransCanada 11.10.1985: The First English-speaking Canadian Spiritan students are sent to Papua New Guinea
- Paul McAuley, followed by Neal Shank in January
“May the Holy Spirit living in us make us ever more aware of our
allegiance to the Church, which is still totally submissive to the
breath and fire of Pentecost, an image and sign of the light and enthusiasm that filled the hearts of the Apostle, in union with the Holy
Heart of Mary…This Pentecost continues in our day and will become
even more apparent on the occasion of the Council. We should be the
first to welcome this new grace, this new impulse which will fill our
souls with light and generosity” (Marcel Lefebvre, Superior General:
Letter to the Congregation, 11.10.1962).
Canada 12.10.1954: The start of the involvement of the Province in the psychiatric hospital of Saint-Jean-de-Dieu
on the occasion of the Marian year, 1954.
Spain 12.10.1955: Opening of the junior seminary at Paredas
de Nava (Palencia) with 12 students. It is the first
Spiritan seminary in Spain and is dedicated to Our
Lady of Victories.
Nigeria 12.10.1983: The General Council changes the Province of Eastern Nigeria into the Province of Nigeria.
Papua New Guinea October, 1999: Due to shortage of personnel, the last Spiritan leaves Kerema diocese.
“The practice of the interior life is characterised by the gentle and
loving presence of God. The depths of our soul are always looking
towards God in a loving, simple and humble way when it comes to
external works. We try to act only by the order and interior impulse
of God. We look to him for everything and bring everything back to
him, we see God in all creatures, and all creatures in God. In relating to others, everything is full of love, zeal, peace and humility.
(Libermann: Petit Traité, E.S. p.271).
Germany 13.10.1863: The German Province was created on
this day.
Portugal 13.10.1926: Promulgation of the Organic Statutes of
the Catholic Mission by João Belo, which gave a privileged place to Catholic missions and which led to a
new phase of intensive missionary activity in the following decades.
Mexico October, 1979 : The Spiritan group gradually
becomes international with the arrival of confreres
from France, Canada, Poland and Trinidad. It is decided to use Spanish in the monthly meetings.
Nigeria 13.10.1980: The first Nigerian Spiritans to go on mission to Zambia (Felix Onuora and Kevin Njoku) left
with Bishop Potani of Solwesi diocese who had been
visiting Nigeria.
« Our Lord sends the missionaries of the Holy Heart of Mary to the
poorest people; in fact, they can only undertake missions amongst
the most neglected and abandoned. They will never forget that it is to
these poor people that they have comitted themselves; they should
regard themselves as their servants, having no other thoughts, desires or works apart from their salvation. They must live in close
union with Jesus as their superior, their father,their master and their
chief. They will stand before him like good disciples, listening and
awaiting his orders» (Libermann : Règle Provisoire, nos 4,5,7.
NDII, p.235-236).
Guyane 14.10.1857: Père Victor Renault dies of leprosy at
the leprosium of Acarouani.
Congo 14.10.1890: The Apostolic Vicariat of French Congo is
divided into the Vicariats of Lower Congo (Mgr. Carrie) and Upper Congo (Mgr. Augouard).
Canada 14.10.1946: Canada becomes a Province.
Ireland 14.10.1971: Fr Paddy Smyth becomes the first Spiritan parish priest of the parish of Walkinstown Upper in
Dublin. It becomes the Holy Spirit Parish of Greenhills. Two other parishes in the Dublin Archdiocese
are confided to the Spiritans: Bawnoge in 1989 and
Kimmage Manor in 1990.
“Their life must be a life of faith, united to Jesus; they will look to
him as the source, the principal and the soul of all things. While being aware that the holiness of their master is beyond comprehension,
they will do their utmost to mirror it in themselves so that men and
women will be obliged to recognise the one who has sent them. They
need to be so full of his spirit of holiness and act so much under the
influence of God’s grace that their words and actions will fill those
who meet them with this same grace” (Libermann: Règle Provisoire:
nos. 8-10. NDII, p.235-236).
15.10.1846: The final choice for the 3 missionaries of the Holy
Heart of Mary is Lake Mollyalup, near Mount Barker,
about forty miles from Albany. About the middle of
October they begin clearing the site and shaping timber for the house. Fr Thièrse again falls seriously ill.
The house is blessed on Christmas Day ,1846.
Mauritius 15.10.1947: The diocese of Port-Louis celebrates
its centenary.
15.10.1950: Beatification of Mère Javouhey, the
foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny. She
and François Libermann worked together for the
same ideal: the salvation of abandoned souls in Africa
and the West Indies.
C.S.Sp. October, 1989: The cause of Poullart des Places is
introduced by Cardinal Lustiger, the Archbishop of
Extract from a letter of Mère Javouhey to her sister and first assistant, Sister Rosalie. She refers to the Archbishop of Paris who was
acting in a somewhat heavy-handed manner towards her Congregation: “The Bishop, like me, is in the hands of God as regards his
work. You can see how the obstacle that he has raised has contributed to the growth and perfecting of our undertaking. Without them,
would we now be on such a solid basis? I say once again, it is the
work of God and the role of men is secondary…Let us remain entirely in the hands of God who knows very well how to make his work
prosper” (Paris, 24.01.1851. Letter 1092).
Papua New Guinea 1972: An offer by the bishop of Mount
Hagen to take responsibility for a section of the diocese is not accepted due to the lack of personnel, but
four parishes are assigned to the Spiritans.
Haiti 1972: Spiritans work with immigrant Haitians in Brooklyn, New York, and in the Bahamas.
Malawi 1973: From 1973 to 1983, Spiritans from the Province
of TransCanada join the Calgary diocese in a mission
outreach to Malawi, Central Africa. At one point, five
Spiritans and two diocesan priests are teamed together.
Mexico October, 1989: A house dedicated to John Bosco is
acquired at Altamira, 20 kms. from Tampico. Since
1993, it is the house of formation. A parish is taken on
in Tampico.
“When the Holy Spirit works in us, our soul is on fire and it is as
though it is carried and united to God without any worries, without
feeling anxious, irritated or upset and without any self-love entering
in; on the contrary, we humble ourselves, not just before God, but in
our own interior and before all creatures” (Libermann to Douay,
31.12.1841. NDIII, p.88-89).
C.S.Sp. 17.10.1895: Père Ambroise Emonet, the 14th Superior General, resigns for reasons of health. Elected in
1883, his mandate is open-ended. He dies at Chevilly
in 1898 after much suffering.
TransCanada 17.10.1954: Some Spiritans from the Irish Province arrive in Montreal en route for Woodstock, Ontario. The Irish Province has been asked to found an anglophone Canadian Province. The community of
Woodstock opens the following day, October 18th.
Ethiopia 1973: The three Spiritans appointed to Gamo Gofa
start their Amharic language course and finish the
same year. Frs. Bob Butt from US East (first appointment) and Iede de Lange of the Dutch Province are
appointed to Sidamo.
Cameroon 1973 : The District asks Père Nicolas Gobina to
start recruiting aspirants for the Congregation.
« When the Holy Spirit acts within us,all our interior life becomes
love. Henceforth, nobody - be they good or bad, whether they share
our ideas or not – can disturb the rest we enjoy in the Lord or make
us unhappy, whether they are right or not. I am telling you this so
that you will distinguish between what comes from the Holy Spirit
within you and what comes from your natural activity, which is so
harmful to the life of Jesus in your soul » (Libermann to Douay,
31.12.1841. NDIII, p. 88-89).
Guinée Conakry 18.10.1897: The Apostolic Prefecture of
French Guinée is created, with Père Auguste Lorber
as the Prefect. The interior will be evangelised, beginning from the town of Conakry.
Portugal 18.10.1901: Approval of the ‘Statutes of the Association of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit’.
Switzerland 18.10.1936: The Ecole des Missions is opened
at Bouveret. It is also the residence of the ViceProvincial of Switzerland.
Nigeria 1974: A meeting takes place of all African Spiritans.
“When the Holy Spirit acts within us, he does so in a uniform way;
his action is strong, loving, unified and produces no agitation. We
are moved ever closer to a union with Our Lord. In short, there is no
disorder in the Spirit’s action, which has all the attraction of divine
grace” (Libermann to Douay, 31.12.1841. NDIII, p.88-89).
Ireland 19.10.1862: Brother Francis Carey is professed at
Langonnet in France on 28 September and is immediately appointed to Chandernagor in India. He is the
first Irish Spiritan to be sent to the missions. He sets
out with Fr Barthet from Marseille on October 19,
19.10.1937 : Opening of a new house at WlókiChelmszczonka. The growth of the boarding school is
such that this larger property in the countryside is
Gabon 19.10.1986 : The Spiritan seminary « Daniel Brottier »
opens beside the Collège Bessieux at Libreville.
Amazonas 19.10.1995 : Opening of the first Chapter of the
District of Amazonas.
« The members of the Congregation are consecrated in a special way
to the Holy Spirit: he is the author and brings to completion all sanctity, and is the inspiration behind our apostolate. They are also consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, filled to overflowing with
the Holy Spirit, with the fullness of sanctity and the apostolate ; she
participates perfectly in the life and sacrifice of her Son, Jesus, for
the redemption of the world. This is the special and distinctive twofold devotion of the Congregation » (Libermann : Règlements, 1849,
no. 546).
C.S.Sp. 20.10.1848 : Père Libermann travels to Rome with M.
Loewenbruck to finalise, with the Propaganda Fide,
the details of the union between the two congregations.
Germany 20.10.1904 : The first two confreres from the new
Province of Germany are ordained at Chevilly in
Switzerland 20.10.1919 : P. Joao da Cruz, of the Province of
Portugal, opens the house at Montana in the Vallais.
It will serve as a sanatorium for the Congregation for
many years to come.
20.10.1920 : The Superior General, Mgr. Le Roy,
meets Eugénie Caps at rue Lhomond with a view to
founding the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters
of the Holy Spirit.
« It seemed in the designs of God that it [the Holy Heart of Mary]
should accomplish its union with the Congregation of the Holy
Ghost, in order to perfect the different parts of the work in which the
two societies were engaged, and to make them into one complete
whole. All the difficulties disappeared which, up to then, were preventing this fusion and towards the end of 1848, the incorporation of
all the members of the Society of the Holy Heart of Mary into the Society of the Holy Spirit was accomplished”. (Fr. Libermann: Notice
sur la Congrégation du Saint-Esprit et de l'Immaculé Cœur de Marie et sur ses œuvres,1850)
Belgium 1971: The Provincialate is now at Leuven. The closure of houses means that confreres returning from
Africa have to look for a chaplaincy or work in a parish
outside community.
Brazil SW 1971: Seven Spiritans who could not return to Nigeria after the civil war are re-assigned to Brazil. Requests have come in from more than 20 dioceses all
over Brazil and even from the National Conference of
Bishops. Four new commitments are taken on: Vila
Rica, Nova Iguaçu, Araçatuba and Jardim Colonial.
Australia 1971: Our community support, as in Pine Rivers
(1974) and Dorrington (1971) has been very much
appreciated in Our Lady's, Ringwood. Our main purpose as missionaries has been to establish a presence and eventually a province for this Pacific Region.
East African Foundation 1973: The Districts of Kenya, Kilimanjaro and Bagamoyo have been co-operating for
some time with a view to setting up the East African
Foundation. The first noviciate starts in 1973 and the
first professions are the following year.
“The first proclamation of the Gospel is addressed especially to those
who have never heard the Good News of Jesus, or to children. But as a
result of the frequent situations of de-christianisation in our day, it also
proves equally necessary for innumerable people who have been baptised but who live quite outside Christian life, for simple people who
have a certain faith but an imperfect knowledge of the foundations of
that faith, for intellectuals who feel to need to know Jesus Christ in a
light different from the instruction they received as children, and for
many others” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, n°52).
Switzerland 22.10.1891: The Congregation takes over the direction of the Institute of St. Nicholas in the canton of
Fribourg, a penitentiary for young Swiss boys; it lasted
until November, 1895. Several such establishments
were being run by Spiritans in France at the time.
France 22.10.1899: Daniel Brottier is ordained for the diocese
of Blois. Three years later, with the permission of his
bishop, he leaves his work as teacher at Pontlevoy and
enters the Spiritan noviciate at Orly-Grignon on September 26th, 1902. He is 26 years old.
TransCanada 1974 The start of the Lay Association in Ontario. The first (VICS) Spiritan Mission Institute begins in
Ethiopia 1977: The area becomes insecure due to the Somali
invasion from the East. The people move and the
school is closed. Finally, the team has to leave for Arba Minch, entrusting the compound to the care of the
Borana guards.
“As long as we can say to the good Lord, ‘I’ve taken in these poor
children for love of you, so help me to bring them up’, you can be
sure that Providence will not fail us. But if we only accept as many
as we think we can afford, we will be in for some disagreeable surprises!” (Daniel Brottier, 10.09.1978).
23.10.1947: Foundation of the Senior Seminary,
François Libermann (Frs. Emile Laurent, Lucien Deiss, Philippe David and Brother Nicolas Gelebart).
Poland 23.10.1975: The Vice-Province of Poland becomes a
Indian Ocean Foundation 1978: 3 Malagaches and 2 Mauritians ask to become Spiritans. As a result, the superiors of the three Districts (Madagascar, Mauritius and
Reunion) meet several times with a view to starting an
‘Inter-island Foundation’.
South Africa 1979: Glen Ash, a farm near Bethlehem, is
bought as a base for training future Spiritans.
“The new Provinces and Foundations are one of the most important
signs of life, hope and vitality for the Congregation today. The future
of the Congregation is linked to their growth and development and
the mission of the Congregation tomorrow will depend largely on
their apostolic initiative. It is estimated that by the year 2004, members from the Foundations and young Provinces will form close to
50% of the active membership of the Congregation” (General Chapter, Itaici, no. 37).
Trinidad 24.10.1863: Br. Theodor Fritch (Blackrock 18601863) and Mr Michael Cummins, a prefect, set out for
the newly opened St Mary's College, Trinidad, which
for many years was destined to absorb the largest
contingent of personnel from Ireland.
East Africa 24.10.1902: A contract is drawn up between
Bishop Allgeyer and the Sultan of Zanzibar regarding
the care of lepers in the area: the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny look after the medical side, Brothers
Kilian Rettich and Cyril Blume do the building and the
Sultan pays the bills. Père Jean Ball and Frère
Blanchard show great dedication during an outbreak
of smallpox amongst the workers in the port of Mombassa.
Zambia 24.10.1964: Northern Rhodesia gains independence:
it is henceforth known as Zambia.
Papua New Guinea 1980: New Spiritans arrive from TransCanada to the North Coast of PNG in the diocese of
Aitape. This Group works very hard but old age and
the lack of vocations was responsible for their final exit from PNG in 1999.
“Having discerned the action of God in a person’s soul, the spiritual
director has no other role than to guide that person to follow faithfully the grace that is given. He will strengthen him in this state and
help him to get rid of all the faults and other obstacles which could
prevent the grace from developing and leading him to sanctity. A director must guard against wanting to lead the person being directed.
This is God’s work; the role of the director is to provide the person
with the means not to oppose the work of God. A director must never
try to influence a soul with his own personal tastes and attractions”
(Libermann to Féret, 15.12.1839. L.S.II, p.311).
Nigeria 25.10.1970: The Congregation of the Sons of Mary,
Mother of Mercy is founded by Bishop Anthony
Nwedo c.s.sp., of Umuahia diocese.
Cameroon 25.10.1973: The ‘Foyer Spiritain’, founded at
Essos two years previously, gets its charter. At first,
the African Spiritans were not very well received by
the seculars, but gradually, the situation got much
better. After the General Chapter of 1968, each Spiritan District set up its own structures for encouraging
vocations and giving initial formation.
Central African Republic 1975: Père Louis Godart founds
the ‘Foyer de Charité’ of Bangui.
C.S.Sp. 25.10.1996: The General Council decides to launch a
double initiative in Asia, the Diocese of Illigna in the
Philippines and the Diocese of Hsinchu in Taiwan.
“To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life! All our
desire is for you, Lord; we only want to think about you, and our joy
and happiness is in the grace-filled words that you speak and that fill
us with love and gentleness. So why, Lord, do you ask us if we also
want to leave you? Not only will we not leave you but we will try to
become ever more attached to you, because nobody else has this
message of life which brings us such happiness and life itself”
(Libermann: Commentary on St. John, 6:69).
Gambia 26.10.1958: Bishop Moloney is enthroned as the first
Bishop of the new Diocese of Bathurst in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. The same day,
but 53 years before, Fr. John Meehan from the Irish
Province, arrives in Gambia where he works until his
death in 1954.
United Kingdom 1973: The only Spiritan house in Scotland
is transferred from Uddingston to Carfin; it will continue with vocations work and youth apostolate. The first
superior is Scottish Spiritan, Fr. Frank O'Donnell.
Sierra Leone 1974: A Senior Seminary is set up in Gbarnga,
Liberia, for the training of future priests from Sierra
Leone, the Gambia and Liberia. Spiritans are associated with the seminary. Later, during the Liberian Civil
War in 1990, it is transferred to the town of Makeni in
Sierra Leone.
Malawi 1975: At this point, there are eight Spiritans working
in four parishes.
“In recounting the story of the vocation of Andrew and John, the
evangelist shows the way that Our Lord follows to call people to
himself and to his perfect divine love. All who have experienced the
joy of belonging to Jesus will be able to identify their own journey in
these three verses, or the story of the kindness and love that he has
shown them. In them, we can see the gentleness and simplicity of the
Lamb of God with great clarity” (Libermann: Commentary on St.
John, 1:38).
Ireland 27.10.1912: The Irish "Mission Band", transferred to
the USA, begins its first mission in Harlem on 27 October, 1912. Mother Catharine Drexel (later beatified)
offers the Province $ 6,000 a year for twenty years,
provided they will send one professed novice each
year to be educated for the priesthood in the USA, in
order to serve the American mission to the blacks.
Twenty Irish Spiritans were subsequently appointed to
this work.
France 27.10.1959: Opening of the university house of studies at Strasbourg.
Madagascar 27.10.1962: The President of the Republic, Philibert Tsiranana, opens Collège St. Gabriel and bestows a national decoration on Frère Guillaume Perrocheau, the Director of the school,
Australia 1974: Fr Tom Crean is asked by Archbishop Rush
to open a new parish at Pine Rivers.
“As a general rule, the voice of God comes to us within. When our
superiors speak to us externally (which is unavoidable) it corresponds perfectly to this interior voice and produces a certain accord
which puts us at our ease and gives great assurance” (Libermann to
M. Lemercier. NDIV, p.248).
C.S.Sp. 28.10.1788: M. Duflos succeeds M. Becquet as the
5th Superior General. He tried, unsuccessfully, to ensure that the Congregation would remain officially
recognised in France in the wake of the revolution.
C.S.Sp. 28.10.1839: One the feast of Saints Simon and Jude,
François Libermann receives “a little bit of light”,
which pushes him to get involved in the “Work for the
Black People”. It marks the beginning of his missionary vocation.
C.S.Sp. 28.10.1859: A decree of Père Schwindenhammer,
the Superior General, separates the missions of Gabon and Senegambia. Gabon becomes a ViceProvince, depending directly on the Mother House.
Ireland 28.10.1859: Père Jules Leman and three other confreres arrive in Ireland.
Belgium 28.10.1900: The Congregation is given a huge
house and garden at Lier by M. Wégimont, a rich
business man, to be used as a Junior Seminary.
Trinidad 28.10.1925: Alfred Monteil, ordained in Paris, is the
first Trinidadian to become a Spiritan priest.
Spain 28.10.1951: Feast of Christ the King. The first work in
Spain begins in Madrid. The community starts in a
rented apartment in the Calle Joaquin García Morato.
“On October 28th, François Libermann was confirmed in his desire
(for a missionary vocation) by a clear vision, as he told me himself.
That day, which he would always regard as one of the happiest in his
life because of the grace Mary gave him of knowing his role in the
Church, was the feast of the apostles Simon and Jude” (Memoire of
Tisserant, affirmed by Libermann, 1845. NDI, p.659-665).
Portugal 29.10.1868: The new director of the Congo Seminary arrives, P. Joseph Eigenmann.
Portugal 29.10.1952: The theologate moves from Viana do
Castelo to Torre d’Aguilha. The first official act is the
enthroning of the Blessed Sacrament.
C.S.Sp. 29.10.1968: Père Joseph Lécuyer, aged 56, is
elected the 20th Superior General at the General
Chapter at Chevilly.
Spain 29.10.1972: Inauguration of the new formation community at Aranda. Different stages will be there, including the noviciate.
“The dominant tendency (of the first session of the Chapter) was to
give priority to life over law: in the light of the concrete reality of
our missionary life, some regulations, which were a source of tension, were dispensed with to the benefit of the men themselves and a
clearer expression of their commitment to God. But we did not eliminate that necessary discipline which is an indispensable element of
all social life and a guarantee against wasted energy. On the other
hand, the clarification provided by a new definition of our specific
end should lead to a renewed missionary effort in the service of the
Church” (Joseph Lécuyer, Superior General: Convocation to the 2nd
session of the Chapter, 11.01.1969).
Rome 30.10.1856: The French seminary leaves the former
Irish College which has become too small for its
needs. About 30 students move into the building on
the via Santa Chiara, where the seminary remains to
this day.
30.10.1971: The first group of Spiritans arrives in
Ghana: Frs. Savino Agnoli, Augustine P. Murphy and
Tom Sweeney.
Ireland 1983: The noviciate, shortly to become international,
is set up at Cypress Downs, Dublin, in the former
Provincialate. The latter moves to a new house in
Temple Park, Rathgar.
Poland 30.10.1999: A religious house is opened at 40, rue
Glinki, Bydgoszcz.
“We have, indeed, a very significant number of confreres making
Justice and Peace commitments… Perhaps one of our failings in the
past has been that we did not recognise this salt and yeast of our
ministry and that of so many confreres…If this tells us anything, it
surely is that we should recognise and own so much which is being
done by Spiritans; we need to encourage and support them; we need
to own so many positive experiences of Spiritans in this area. We
need to see Justice and Peace as not being the work of experts, of
those with special training, of those on special assignments” (John
Kilcrann: Spiritan Justice and Peace Newsletter, March 2001).
Makurdi 31.10.1930: The first German Spiritans reach Makurdi by train. They immediately start first evangelisation in the country of the Tivs, Idomas and Igalas.
Very soon, they will begin to translate school and
prayer books into the local languages.
Cape Verde 31.10.1964: P. José Maria de Sousa arrives in
the country and is appointed superior. During his administration, land is bought for the Spiritan residence
at Praia.
Gabon 1979: An organisation for encouraging vocations is
set up for the whole country. The team moves around
Gabon and establishes camps at Sindara during the
long school holidays.
Rome 31.10.1999: Père Jean-Jacques Boeglin moves into a
flat at Palmarola which will be the residence for the
Spiritan team running the parish of Santa Brigida. The
other members of the team, Peter Kilasara and Maciej
Sierzputowski, will join him on November 2nd.
“How is it possible to announce the Good News to people who are
imprisoned in deplorable conditions, who are sick and half-starved?
Most people would find this a bit irrational. I am sometimes tempted
to abandon it altogether, but I continue to go there in the name of
Christ with all my weaknesses; it seems good to shake the hand of
these prisoners, especially those who are sick and who have the terrible feeling of being abandoned by everybody” (Bruno Diatta, a
Spiritan novice. Quoted from “Spiritains en Afrique de l’Ouest”,
February 2001).
Rome 01.11.1842: Fr. Edward Barron is ordained bishop in
Rome by Cardinal Fransoni. The new bishop, looking
for missionaries for his immense Vicariate, will be put
in touch with Père Libermann and will meet him at La
Holy Heart of Mary 01.11.1864: Five years after its foundation, the Congregation has 9 novices (including 6
priests) with Libermann at La Neuville; at Notre Dame
du Gard, with Pères Schwindenhammer, Clair and
Lannurien, there are 28 theologians and philosophers,
8 brothers and 3 lay people. So altogether, there are
37 in formation.
01.11.1951: The Senior Seminary (Libermann) is
transferred from Popenguine to Sebikhotane; the students are from various diocese in Senegal and a few
from Guinée Conakry.
Algeria 01.11.1991: A new Spiritan foundation is started at
Mascara by Père Raymond Gonnet. It will look after
the small Christian community, create “platforms” for
meetings, classes for women and an agricultural library, all in collaboration with a community of Sisters
of Our Lady of the Apostles.
“I dare to approach your immaculate and merciful Heart, full of
confidence that you will listen to me and grant the favours that I ask.
With this trust, I consecrate myself, all the missionaries and all the
countless peoples of the West Coast of Africa, now and forever, to
your Immaculate Heart. Wherever I go, I will tell people of your virtues and your glory” (Consecration of Bishop Barron to Mary,
03.09.1843. Quoted in Spiritan Life no 1, p.61).
West African Foundation 02.11.1980: From the beginning,
the Foundation is both English and French-speaking.
At the noviciate in Bwiam in the Gambia, in 1980,
there are 6 novices from Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.
Later, Senegal reverts to the Central African Foundation, so the WAF Superiors decide to make the Foundation anglophone at their meeting in 1982.
Sierra Leone 1980: Archbishop Brosnahan retires at the age
of seventy-five after fifty years in Nigeria and Sierra
Leone. Bishop Ganda of the Diocese of Kenema is
transferred to the Archdiocese of Freetown to replace
Belgium 1980: A house is bought at Blanden for the mission
procure. Another house is purchased at VeltemBeisem for the Provincialate, and the Spiritans leave
Spain 1984: P. Victor Cabezas comes from the mission of
Saurimo to take part in the provincial assembly. He is
appointed Provincial of Spain by the General Council
and serves his province in that capacity for 3 successive mandates.
“Our Congregation is international and our apostolic activity usually puts us in contact with a culture different to our own. Necessarily
then, our formation prepares us both for living in a community and
in a situation that is intercultural. It is therefore advisable that the
Spiritan live for a period of his initial formation in community with
confreres of a culture different to his own. During the period of initial formation, students shall learn one of the foreign languages used
for communicating within the Congregation” (SRL 141).
C.S.Sp. 03.11.1775: The Congregation of the Holy Spirit, having been put in pastoral charge of Guyane, sends 4
priests from its seminary.
C.S.Sp. 03.11.1848: Propaganda Fide confirms the election
of Père Libermann as the 11th Superior General of the
Congregation; the canonical title of the combined
Congregations will be The Congregation of the Holy
Spirit under the invocation of the Immaculate Heart of
C.S.Sp. 03.11.1849: Père Libermann sends a memorandum
to Cardinal Fransoni, Prefect of the Propaganda, on
the state of religion in the French colonies. He is critical of the clergy, denounces the abuse of power on
the part of the Government and asks for the creation
of dioceses.
Portugal 03.11.1867: In the evening, the first Spiritan community in Portugal is opened on rua de S. Lazaro. The
ceremony consists of a novena to the Heart of Mary.
Spain 03.11.1953: P. José Maria Felgueiras arrives in Madrid
from Nova Lisboa (Angola) to take over responsibility
for the works of the Congregation in Spain.
“We will honour Saints Peter, Paul and John as our patrons and
protectors. We will have a special devotion to John who received so
much grace from the Holy Spirit in the heart of Jesus, and who was
given as a special child to the Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
He will teach us likewise to seek this gift of love and apostolic fervour and to be devoted and loving children of the Immaculate Heart
of Mary. Pentecost Sunday and the feast of the Immaculate Heart of
Mary will be the principal feasts of the Congregation” (Libermann:
Réglements, 1849, nos.548-549).
04.11.1828: Blessing of the Cathedral at SaintLouis. The Prefect Apostolic is L’Abbé Girardon.
East Africa November 1870: Spiritans open a noviciate for
local sisters at Bagamoyo, to be run by the Daughters
of Mary from Reunion.
France 04.11.1903: A letter from Emile Combes, the Minister
of the Interior and of Religion, informs Mgr. Le Roy,
the Superior General, that the authorisation of 12
Spiritan houses in France has been refused. Le Roy
writes to the confreres; “By this letter, 12 of our houses have been close simultaneously. This means that
300 priests and brothers, of whom 100 are old or sick,
and 1,500 children and young people are suddenly
without a home”.
Makurdi November, 1930: Bishop Charles Heerey of Onitsha
introduces the German Spiritans to the Catholics in
Makurdi town and celebrates Mass to officially inaugurate their work.
“If God has not been pleased to give me the inestimable grace of saving others through suffering with his beloved Son, if he has not willed
to make me a victim of sacrifice for destitute souls, nevertheless he has
given me the grace of directing in his way those servants he has chosen
for this purpose, and whom he wishes to sanctify in this manner for
work among abandoned souls” (Libermann: Instructions for Missionnaries, Introduction. E.S. p.480-495)
C.S.Sp. 05.11.1848: M. Monnet, the 10th Superior General, is
consecrated bishop in the chapel of the Seminaire du
Saint-Esprit (rue Lhomond).
East Africa 05.11.1877: Spiritan pioneers, Antoine Horner,
Edouard Baur, and Oscar Schwedding, plant a cross
at Mhonda in the Nguru Mountains and hence establish a Christian village in inland Tanzania for the first
United Kingdom November, 1925: Fr Harry Parkinson is the
first English Spiritan to leave for West Africa. In the
next 20 years, he will be followed to Sierra Leone by
20 more confreres from his province.
Guinée Conakry November, 1925: Mgr. Lerouge launches
the first Christian review in Guinée, La Voix de Notre
“I am thoroughly convinced that God has destined all of us for purposes of special mercy and sanctity. This makes me most anxious to
give you these few instructions and to inspire you to that holiness
which our special calling demands and to which Jesus in his goodness wishes us to advance without delay, as well as to share with
you whatever light I may have received” (Libermann, Instructions for
Missionnaries, to be found in Directoire Spirituel p.7)
Libermann 06.11.1826: Jacob Libermann arrives in Paris and
meets M. Drach and his brothers who have become
Christians. M. Drach finds him a little room at the top
of Collège Stanislas; it is there, alone with a few
books, that he tries to find the way he should proceed.
Netherlands November, 1953: A few Brothers and Fathers
move into a new house at Berg en Dal. It will be used
as a community for those studying at the university.
Pakistan November, 1978: Tensions between Punjabi Christians and Marwari come to a head in Bheel Nagar (a
suburb of Rahim Yar Kan) over a plot of land owned
by a Marwari and taken over by a Christian;11 Christians are jailed after a fight.
TransCanada 06.11.1980: TransCanada Province begins
work in Papua New Guinea (Frs. Kelly and Corrigan).
“The profound solitude of that room where the only light was a small
opening in the roof, the thought of being far from my family, my
friends and my country – all this plunged me into a deep sadness. My
heart was crushed by the most terrible melancholy” (Libermann: the
story of his conversion. ND1, p.65-70).
USA 07.11.1872: Corporate involvement of the Congregation
in the form of a vice-province begins when Fr. George
Ott (of the German province) and two others sail for
the USA to establish a community in Kentucky. When
this fails, they move to Ohio.
Ireland 07.11.1933: A property at Kilshane, Tipperary, is purchased in August and opens as a Novitiate for both
clerics and brothers. It is able to accommodate 60
residents, novices and staff. Of the 1,771 entrants as
clerical novices over 50 years, 1,256 are professed.
Rome November, 1981: Pope John Paul II visits the French
Seminary. During the 150 years since its foundation,
the seminary has had 14 rectors, all of whom were
South African Foundation November, 1987: The Laval
house of studies opens with Fr. John Moriarty as its
first Director.
“When a person is led by a God of strength and light, he cannot be
mistaken. The Holy Spirit is strength and light: it is he who enables
us to distinguish between true and false, good and evil…Each day,
we should say, ‘Dear God, send me your Spirit to teach me what I
am and what you are’” (St. Jean-Marie Vianney, Curé d’Ars, a contemporary of Libermann. Paroles, 1860).
Cameroon 1976: Père Athanase Bala is appointed coadjutor
bishop to Mgr. Loucheur (who retires to Deuk the following year).
Pakistan November, 1981: Visit of Joseph Gross, first General Assistant. Spiritans will take on Sukkur parish
(Sindh, Hyderabad diocese) in 1983 and a third team
will be prepared for another mission. Half the Spiritans will be involved full-time in Marwari work, The objective of a 12 member group by 1986 is accepted.
Belgium 08.11.1988: The first meeting of the European coordinators for Justice and Peace.
Pakistan November, 1994: Visitation by Fr. Bernard Kelly,
first Assistant.
Pakistan November, 1995: Jim O'Connell is elected Group
Leader, after Frank Naughton (86-92) and Eamon
McCann. It is decided to return Sukkur parish to the
diocese in May,1996; for a variety of reasons, the
Marwari apostolate has never been developed in that
“Without the Holy Spirit, we are like a stone you find on the road.
Take a wet sponge in one hand and a little stone in the other;
squeeze both of them; nothing will come out of the stone, but the
sponge will produce lots of water. The sponge is the soul filled with
the Holy Spirit; the stone is the hard, cold heart where the Spirit
does not live” (St. Jean-Marie Vianney, curé d’Ars, a contemporary
of Libermann. Paroles, 1860).
09.11.1648: Birth at Vern-sur-Seiche (Diocese of
Rennes) of Pierre Caris. For 45 years, he was the
bursar of the Community founded by Poullart des
Places. He was known throughout Paris as ‘the poor
priest’. After his death in 1757, his tomb became an
place of veneration.
Tefé 09.11.1980: Dom Mario Clemente Neto is installed as
auxiliary bishop.
Europe 09.11.1981: Opening of the first meeting of European
Central African Province 09.11.1999: The first meeting of
the Gabon region of PAC. It has 46 members. The
meeting takes place at the Foyer de Charité with 39
Spiritans present and they elect Jean-Marie Ombe
Essomba as the superior of the region.
“The Procurator (bursar of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit) will
consider these words as addressed to him personally: ‘Seek first the
Kingdom of God and its justice and the rest will be given to you’. He
will do his best to moderate expenses so that the Congregation will
not fall into debt. He will visit benefactors at times which are convenient to them; when he needs help, he will be discrete and reserved
so that, when necessary, he and his confreres will always be welcome. As far as possible, he will try to provide everything that is
necessary for his brothers and he will not delay when the superior
asks him to do something” (The Rule of 1734, nos. 83,84,85,91).
Central African Republic 10.11.1946: At the request of Mgr.
Grandin, l’Abbé Barthélémy Boganda puts himself
forward for the legislative elections and is returned
with a large majority. He takes his seat in the Parliament in Paris and in 1958 he becomes the founder of
the Central African Republic.
Spain 10.11.1966: P. Alavo Teixeira leaves Madrid to return
definitively to Portugal. As Provincial of Portugal, parish priest in Madrid and novice master at Tortoreos,
he dedicates himself to the consolidation of the Spiritan presence in Spain.
Papua New Guinea 1980: The Spiritan missionaries move
over to Kerema diocese in the Gulf Province where
the need is greatest. Mother Teresa, who visits her
sisters working in Kerema diocese, describes the Gulf
area of PNG as the most difficult and demanding mission in the world.
Puerto Rico 10.11.1994: During the District and Foundation
Chapter, the first member of the foundation is elected
as superior - Fr Osvaldo Pérez González.
“You ask me if the clergy should take part in the elections. I believe
they should, they owe it to God, to the Church and to France, and tomorrow morning, I am going to have myself put on the voting lists
along with all those of us who are eligible… I know that elections are
not an ecclesiastical work but we must realise that things have
changed. The problem with the clergy in recent years is that they have
remained stuck in the ideas of the past. But the world has changed and
we lag behind! It is essential, while retaining the spirit of the Gospel, to
do good and combat evil in the world as it is today” (Libermann to M.
Gamon, 20.03.1848 - ND X pp 145-151)
Europe 11.11.1918: The Armistice is signed at the end of the
First World War. Amongst the millions killed, there
were 120 Spiritans, including 54 from the German
11.11.1923: Founding of the seminary/college in
Dakar. On the same day, the foundation stone is laid
of the memorial cathedral. of Dakar.
Alto-Jurua 11.11.1979: Ludwig Herbst of the German Province is ordained coadjutor of the Prelature “nullius” of
Central African Republic 1982: Père Roland Bugnon opens
the senior seminary of St. Mark at Bangui-Bimbo.
“In an atmosphere of war, faith, hope and fraternity constitute the
secret that explains the great capacity for suffering and the overcoming of difficulties which one finds in people who have shared times of
tragedy. These attitudes among the people have evangelised, stimulated and inspired many of the evangelisers. These are lessons in detachment and an invitation to simplicity of lifestyle. They are concrete expressions of divine providence and the action of the Holy
Spirit is evident in gestures of pardon and attitudes of love towards
the less well off” (Gabriel Mbilingi: Maynooth 1:9).
Holy Heart of Mary 12.11.1842: Eugène Tisserant leaves for
Martinique while waiting for permission to enter Haiti.
After two brief periods in Haiti, the second in 1845
lasting 18 days, he has to give up the idea.
East Africa 12.11.1862: The Holy See establishes the Prefecture of Zanguebar under the jurisdiction of Bishop
Maupoint of Reunion. The Bishop then asks the Spiritans to staff it.
South Africa 1978: The District of Bethlehem becomes the
District of South Africa.
Makurdi 1981: Four Spiritans are transferred from Makurdi
diocese to the diocese of Yola: Frs. McAteer, Casey,
Connolly and Marsh. They work in the south of the diocese to where there has been a large migration of
Tiv people from Benue State.
“Being on the spot you see the dangers and difficulties; with your good
will and your sincere desire to be God's servants and true apostles, you
cannot fail to advance…Try, dear confreres, to take advantage of God's
moment. He will clarify things for you and his divine grace will help
you. Learn to be true community men, truly apostolic, knowing with
divine wisdom how to contribute, each in his own way, to bringing the
great work God entrusts to you to a successful conclusion” (Libermann, to the Communities of Dakar & Gabon, 19.11.1847. NDIX, 324332)
Germany 1982: The German Province starts work in Croatia.
Congo Kinshasa 1982: The first two Spiritans from Zaire
make their profession in the East African Foundation.
Cameroon 1983: The Diocese of Doumé is divided and Mgr.
Van Heygen is made Bishop of Bertoua.
Kenya 1983: The first Kenyan Spiritan is ordained – Lucas
“Thanks be to you, my God, for having preserved me up to this in
your holy Apostolic Congregation. Thanks for having been so good
as to send me to Africa. May your holy name be blessed and praised
for all eternity. May my heart never wander from you. May I never
neglect spending every atom of my energy, mental and physical, in
saving those souls you love so much – because they are so unhappy.
Ah! Deus meus et omnia, when the outline of the everlasting hills
appears on the horizon of eternity, may it be my happy lot at last to
see you and love you for all eternity. Then at this seeing you, “facies
ad faciem”, I will join with the angels’ choir singing with joyful
heart” (Joseph Shanahan: Spiritual Diary, Onitsha, 5th October
1903, quoted in letter I, p.255).
Portugal 14.11.1889: The Government officially recognises
the work of the brothers at Sintra, creating a colonial
school of agriculture, which will also train catechists,
primary and technical school teachers to work as
helpers in the missions.
Germany 14.11.1900: Foundation of the junior seminary of
St. Florent at Saverne from Knechsteden.
Malawi 1984: Fr. Murphy is appointed chaplain to QEC Hospital and Fr. Devine chaplain to the English-speaking
community at Blantyre. Fr. Thornton has been responsible for the English-speaking community at Limbe Cathedral since 1974.
Haiti 1985: The diocesan authorities in Brooklyn, USA, draw
up new conditions governing ministry to the Haitian
refugees. The changes pose serious questions for
Spiritans as regards the future of their work, but the
Superior General, Frans Timmermans, urges them to
continue with their commitment.
“The brothers will not be satisfied with simply helping the souls of
these poor people towards eternal life; they will also make every effort to make their lives on this earth more comfortable, by sharing
their knowledge, by helping them to work by all possible means and
to achieve their wellbeing. All this will be done in so far as the rule
and obedience will allow” (The Rule of Brothers, 1851, no 15.
NDXI, p.487-515).
Libermann 15.11.1826: On approximately this date, Jacob
Libermann, after beseeching the God of his fathers in
the solitude of his room at St. Stanislas, receives an
illumination which will change his whole life: God reveals to him that Jesus is the Messiah. He has heard
the prayers of this poor distraught man; henceforth,
Jacob will live only for Jesus.
Libermann 15.11.1840: François Libermann, while waiting for
a reply regarding his ordination to the priesthood,
makes a pilgrimage to Loretto and Assisi. Returning
to Rome, he is told that Mgr. Raess, the new coadjutor bishop of Strasbourg, is prepared to ordain him.
Martinique 15.11.1863: The Spiritans take over the running
of the school of Sainte-Marie at Fort-de-France, the
forerunner of the Collège de Saint-Pierre.
Germany 15.11.1884: The Berlin Conference. The western
powers meet together in Berlin until February 26th,
under the presidency of the German Chancellor, Otto
von Bismarck. The treaty divides central Africa
amongst European powers, proclaims the rivers Congo and Niger to be international waterways and restates the abolition of the slave trade.
“It was then that, remembering the God of my fathers, I knelt down
and implored him to enlighten me on the true religion. I prayed that
if the beliefs of Christians were true, that he would let me know; that
if they were false, that he would steer me away from them at once.
The Lord, who is close to those who invoke him with all their hearts,
listened to my prayer. Immediately things became clear; I saw the
truth and faith penetrated my heart and my mind.…From that moment, I wanted nothing as much as to be plunged into the sacred
pool” (Libermann on his conversion. NDI, p.65-66).
East Africa 16.11.1887: The Holy See divides the Prefecture
of Zanguebar: Southern Zanguebar is entrusted to the
Benedictines, the Spiritans retain the northern section.
St. Pierre & Miquelon 16.11.1970: The islands become an
Apostolic Vicariat. On the same day, Père François
Maurer is appointed the first bishop.
C.S.Sp. 16.11.1974: The General Council releases the definitive text of the 1974 General Chapter: “Guidelines for
C.S.Sp. 16.11.1994: The General Council creates the South
Central African Foundation (S.C.A.F.).
“Due to the mass media and modern means of travel, people of different countries have been brought together more and more. In these
circumstances, the Holy Spirit seems to be asking us to respond positively to the special missionary needs of our times by becoming men
of world-wide vision and by making the international character of
our Institute stronger…The Generalate will continue to co-operate
with Provinces and Districts in the setting up of international teams”
(Guidelines for Animation, nos. 25, 29).
Holy Heart of Mary 17.11.1846: Benoît Truffet is appointed
Vicar Apostolic of the Guinées, the first bishop of the
new Congregation. He arrives at Gorée on May 5th,
1847, and dies on November 23rd at the age of 35,
worn out by his austerity.
Cape Verde 17.11.1941: D. Faustino Moreira dos Santos, the
new bishop of Cape Verde, sets out with the first
Spiritan missionaries sent to the archipelago: Frs. José Neiva Araújo, Lúcio dos Anjos (both from the Congo) and Lindolfo Quintas.
Pakistan 1986: Marwari village schools are opened. Many
villages are visited with the FMM sisters for health
education programmes and the distribution of medicine for common ailments. Co-operative programmes
are also started.
Australia 1986: A former presbytery in Chadstone, Victoria, is
bought to serve as a community house. Libermann
House becomes a place of formation for aspirants.
The first Australian Spiritan is ordained - Fr Paul
Leyden - a former parishioner of Our Lady's, Ringwood.
“At the beginning of January, 1847, Rome gave the Congregation
Mgr. Truffet as its first Vicar Apostolic; before the end of the year,
the society had lost this holy bishop. His death was the result of the
austere lifestyle that his zeal inspired him to adopt. Finally, the sacrifice of their lives by 7 fervent missionaries and a great number of
pious souls won the blessings of God on the work for the Black People. In 1848, the Holy See gave the Congregation two bishops for the
two Guinées and Senegambia. They have now had the joy of organising this mission” (Libermann: Notice on the Congregation of the Holy Spirit and the Immaculate Heart of Mary and on its works. 1850).
USA 18.11.1911: Fr. Joseph Schmodry becomes the pioneer
of Spiritan missionaries to African-Americans in the
Deep South at Alexandria, Louisiana; many others in
the southern States are to follow.
Senegal 18.11.1955: The Apostolic Prefecture of Saint-Louis
regains its autonomy under Mgr. Landreau on January 28th, 1955. The boundaries are re-drawn, but it retains jurisdiction over Mauritania. Gorée is attached
again to Dakar.
Haiti 1986: The Diocese of Brooklyn ceases to be responsible
for the Spiritans who have been working with Haitian
refugees. They meet together to plan their return to
Haiti. They draw up a common plan, giving priority to
the poor. They will not take over the College of SaintMartial again.
Guadeloupe 1986: Small Christian communities become a
priority in the pastoral plan.
“In spiritual direction, it is a basic principle to avoid leading people
to one’s own ideas and ways of acting. Any attachment to this sort of
thing can have disastrous consequences. God has a different plan for
each person; he communicates and distributes his graces in different
ways to different people. However much we try, we could never
change others; our attempts would be to their detriment. Moreover,
we must beware of being convinced that we are always right; we
should be wary of ourselves, lest we fall into a state of internal rigidity which can be very harmful”(Libermann to Luquet, 04.08.1840.
NDII, p.124).
Australia 19.11.1889: Twelve Spiritans from Ireland land at
Melbourne, and travel to Ballarat, Victoria, with Bishop James Moore, to staff a school called Holy Ghost
College. After 3 years, the Fathers hand over the
school to the Irish Christian Brothers. It is now, St Patrick's College, Ballarat.
France 19.11.1923: Pères Daniel Brottier and Yves Pichon
arrive at the Oeuvre d’Auteuil, 40, rue La Fontaine, to
take charge of it at the request of the bishop.
Poland 19.11.1949: The following confreres are arrested at
Bydgoszcz: Pères S. Forys, S. Janiuk, A. Falenczyk
and W. Brzozowski. A few days later, Père Zaremba
is also detained.
Spain 19.11.1961: Frs. Olavo Teixeira and José Maria Couto
Pereira open the community at Tortoreos (Pontevedra). The house will be used as a scholasticate. They
are also asked to take over running the parish of Las
«As with the four preceeding directors of Auteuil, you will find in me
a great readiness and desire to be useful to you, to help you through
life at a time when things are not easy, especially for those who have
the responsibility for a family. You can always come and tell me
about your difficulties; I promise to listen closely and to help you to
find a solution to your problems. Don"t hesitate to disturb me when
you need advice, support, or an initiative to help you to overcome
your problem » (Daniel Brottier, talking to the staff on his arrival at
Auteuil, 19.11.1923).
Madagascar 20.11.1898 : Having left Marseilles on November
10th, Mgr. François-Xavier Corbet (the first Vicar
Apostolic of North Madagascar) and Père Georges
Leportier arrive at Mahajanga on December 13th. The
latter, aged 32, becomes Vicar General and superior
of the community of François-Xavier at Mahajanga.
Nosy Bé, Mayotte and the Comores islands are all
part of the Vicariat.
Congo Kinshasa 1987 : A postulancy for Spiritan aspirants is
opened at Lubumbashi. Confreres also take on responsibility for a parish in the suburbs.
Indian Ocean Foundation 1988 : The first three missionaries
of the FOI leave for Papua New Guinea. Père Bernard Reniers is appointed superior of the foundation.
Haiti 1988 : Père Antoine Adrien escapes another attempt on
his life. The community recovers a piece of land in the
Saint-Martin district to build a residence with 14
rooms for aspirants to the Congregation.
“Union with God can be found in two ways: in practical union in
reference to our everyday acts and habits, and in the contemplative
union of mental prayer. Practical union… is a state in which we have
renounced all natural activities and reactions, so that the grace of
the Holy Spirit is able to vivify and govern all our activities. Once
nature has ceased entirely to rule our life and has been supplanted
by the supernatural life of grace, we enter into an habitual state of
union with God” (Libermann: Instructions to Missionaries, Ch.. IX)
Ireland 21.11.1863: Brother Florentin Mathews is appointed
to The Gambia: he is the first Irish Spiritan to serve in
Senegambia 21.11.1866: Feast of the Presentation: At
Ngazobil, Marie-Joseph Dorsay takes the habit and
enters the Congregation of the Holy Spirit with two
other scholastics. He dies in 1869.
Senegambia 21.11.1900: The death of Père Jean Lacombe,
the first Spiritan from Senegambia, “worn out after a
long and fruitful apostolic career”. The formation
house at Dakar is named after him.
Alto-Jurua 21.11.1931: Foundation of the Prelature of AltoJurua by Spiritans from Germany.
TransCanada 21.11.1996: Opening of the new Laval House
in Toronto, a residence combined with Provincial offices.
“In our communities, each and all are looked upon as confreres received from the Lord. Each individual, young, old, in sickness and in
health, has gifts from which all draw benefit. The fullness of living
together in our communities is found in partaking of one faith, listening to the Word of God and sharing in the Eucharist” (SRL: 34,35).
C.S.Sp. 22.11.1848: Alexandre Monnet, appointed Vicar Apostolic of Madagascar by the Propaganda Fide, resigns as Superior General of the Spiritans in favour of
François Libermann. He announces that he wishes to
remain a member of the Congregation.
Germany 1983: The house of studies for the Province opens
at Hangelar.
Germany 1985: The Province opens a house in Stuttgart.
Haiti 1987: After the Superior General, Pierre Haas, and Père
Antoine Adrien have an inconclusive meeting with
Archbishop Ligondé of Port-au-Prince, the Spiritans
decide to take on the parish of Pont-Sondé in the diocese of Gonaïves, while still retaining a foothold in
Germany 1988: The Vicar General of Moshi, Father Arbogast
Segundo, pays a visit to Knechtsteden just before the
celebration of the centenary of his diocese (1990): “As
the grandson, he wants to thank his grandfather!”.
“As Our Lord talked to this sinful woman, he was touching her heart
with his grace and gradually bringing her enlightenment…She understood nothing of what he was saying; she just suspected that there
was something supernatural in it…We see here a soul that is attentive to the words of Our Lord, who wants to forget nothing of the circumstances in which these words are spoken. She does not understand very well, but we can see that a little light is beginning to penetrate and her heart is touched; her defences are beginning to crumble. She talks to him with respect and affection” (Libermann: Commentary on St. John, 4:11).
Rome 23.11.1845: The instruction ‘Neminem Profecto’ is issued by the Propaganda Fide. It is a fundamental text
for the theology of mission and is the inspiration behind Libermann’s "Memorandum on Missions to Black
People in general and to those of Guinée in particular”
Senegal 23.11.1847: The death of Mgr. Truffet at Dakar at
the age of 35; he had only been there for 6 months.
C.S.Sp. 23.11.1848: Four members of the Congregation of
the Holy Spirit and seven from the Holy Heart of Mary
elect François Libermann as the 11th Superior General of the Congregation by 10 votes out of 11.
East Africa 23.11.1883: The Prefecture of Zanzibar becomes
a Vicariat under Bishop Jean-Marie de Courmont.
“It is relatively easy to undertake a mission and to try to be successful with the grace of God. But to draw all one’s resources together
to increase, spread and strengthen this success, to create a work that
is solid and stable, to protect it from the wiles of the enemies who
seek to destroy it, to foresee obstacles and to take steps to avoid or
overcome them, to build this apostolic work of Jesus Christ on an
unshakeable foundation – these are all difficult things and the responsibility for them rests on us who are in charge of this important
work” (Libermann: Presentation of the “Memorandum on Missions”, 15.08.1846. NDVIII, p.219-220).
Gabon 24.11.1910: Ordination of the 2nd priest from Gabon,
L’Abbé Pierre Ngwa Asse of the Apostolic Vicariat of
Portugal 24.11.1922: Inauguration of the seminary of Viana
do Castelo in a former Convent of Ursuline Sisters,
with 8 philosophers and 2 theologians. The first Director is P. Pinho who continues in the work until he is
made bishop.
Congo 1989: Foundation of the Cloister of St. Pacôme by
Père Christian de la Bretesche: Les Frères paysans
de la Thébaïde.
Sierra Leone 1990: A bitter civil war breaks out in Liberia
which gradually spreads into Sierra Leone. Hundreds
of thousands become refugees and thousands more
are killed or tortured. All religious sisters have to be
withdrawn from the country. Some twenty parishes in
the south and east of the country are forced to close.
In 1994, Fr Felim McAllister, a fifty-four year old Spiritan missionary, is murdered.
“If we see the rights to life and essential needs of the poor being
trampled on, we must speak out and condemn the perpetrators – even
if the world of the rich and powerful condemns us as revolutionaries
or people possessed, as they did with Jesus. If we really want to be
disciples of Christ, with the all-conquering strength of his Spirit, we
cannot run away from our responsibility for this apostolate for Right
and Truth. It is not by hypocrisy and equivocation that we will win
men for the Spirit and the Kingdom of God, even though this might
please some people” (P. Joaquim Alves Correia c.s.sp.: “Vida mais
USA 25.11.1943: Fr. James Hyland c.s.sp. (1886-1953), an
Irishman of the “Mission Band”, publishes his novel
“The Dove Flies South”, graphically exposing what it
means to be black in a white society, seen through
the eyes of a white supremacist who temporarily turns
black and experiences in person the injustices he
himself has always practised. The book is a bestseller that stimulates America's awakening conscience.
C.S.Sp. 25.11.1984: Daniel Brottier is beatified by Pope John
Paul II.
East African Province 03.01.1990: The first Chapter of the
Province begins. Fr. Augustine Shao becomes the
first elected Provincial.
Congo Kinshasa 1990: Start of the Foundation of Zaïre. After the postulancy, the candidates will continue their
formation with the FAC.
“Nothing can be too good for the orphans. These children, deprived
of the joys of family life, should find a new family, by way of compensation, in the Oeuvre d’Auteuil. They need a certain well-being, that
they have never experienced before, in order to give them a taste and
respect for things given for their personal use” (Daniel Brottier:
Roman document, “Copia Publica”, p.256).
Portugal 26.11.1895: Start of a clerical noviciate at Quinta de
Baixo, Sintra.
South Africa 26.11.1923: The German Spiritans are given an
autonomous mission area at Kroonstadt, Orange Free
Poland 26.11.1949: Fr. Mientki is arrested at Puszczykówko.
Brazil SW 1991: Fr John Kilcrann goes to Bethel Park, Pittsburgh, USA, to represent Brazil at an international
Justice and Peace meeting. Two years previously, he
had launched an inter-circumscription J & P network
for Brazil.
“We may safely say that by this internationality, we shall make ourselves a much clearer sign of what Mission is all about: bringing together, reconciling in Christ, breaking down walls. If in our missionary teams, we - men of many different nations, from all parts of the
world - could reconcile what is so often in conflict and in opposition
in relations between nations, what a sign we could be of the Kingdom of God!” (Frans Timmermans, Superior General: Letter of
April, 1976)
27.11.1903: Daniel Brottier arrives at Saint-Louis.
He starts several new pastoral initiatives – work with
young people, a youth band, conferences and cinema. He also starts the first francophone African
newspaper in 1906, entitled “L’Echo de Saint-Louis”.
TransCanada 1991: Brottier House, a place of welcome for
refugees, is opened in Toronto.
Cape Verde 1991: The Golden Jubilee of the Spiritan presence in the islands. The present District house is
opened at Praia. There is a junior seminary in the
house at Praia, from which the students go to classes
at the local secondary school. It is also the centre for
vocations work.
Belgium 1991: The Provincialate is transferred to Gentinnes
and the bursar’s office to Nijlen.
“The Synod Fathers affirmed that today, more than ever before,
there is a need to form future priests in the true cultural values of
their country, in a sense of honesty, responsibility and integrity. They
shall be formed in such a manner that they will have the qualities of
the representatives of Christ, of true servants and animators of
Christian community… solidly spiritual, ready to serve, dedicated to
evangelisation, capable of administering the goods of the Church
efficiently and openly, and of living a simple life as befits their milieu” (John Paul II: Ecclesia in Africa, no.95)
Congo 28.11.1958: In opposition to the wishes of the Archbishop of Brazzaville, Mgr. Bernard, L’Abbé Fulbert
Youlou becomes the President of the Republic.
Haiti 1990: Père Jean-Yves Urfié gathers together a group of
Haitian journalists and starts the first weekly newspaper in Creole.
Australia 1992: The Spiritans seek a presence in New South
Wales and Bishop Bede Heather of Parramatta Diocese offers them the parish of St Monica. They also
take on St Cecilia's parish, Port Hedland, in Western
Germany 1992: The beginning of the European project at
Rostock in the former East Germany.
“Every communication must comply with certain essential requirements, and these are sincerity, honesty and truthfulness. Good intentions and a clear conscience do not thereby make a communication
sound and reliable. A communication must state the truth. It must
accurately reflect the situation with all its implications. The moral
worth and validity of any communication does not lie solely in its
theme or intellectual content; the way in which it is presented, the
way in which it is spoken and treated, and even the audience for
which it is designed – all these factors must be taken into account”
(Pontifical Council for the Instruments of Social Communication:
Communio et Progressio, January, 1971. no.17).
East Africa 29.11.1913: Fr. Edward Baur dies at Zanzibar at
the age of 78, after 50 years of missionary life in East
Africa. He started 11 new missions in Bagamoyo and
Portugal 29.11.1989: The death of Bishop Agostinho Lopes
de Moura. He is the founder of LIAM, one of the great
organs of missionary awareness in Portugal. When
he finishes his term as Provincial, he is appointed
Bishop of Portalegre and Castelo Branco in 1952.
Central African Foundation 1993: The first death in the
Foundation – Grégoire Mantek. At the Chapter of the
Foundation at Brazzaville, Père Benoît Dieme is
elected superior.
Congo Kinshasa 1994: A philosophicum is opened for students of the foundation at Kinshasa. Another community close by looks after the parish of Livulu, dedicated
to l’Elimo Santo (the Holy Spirit): it also serves as a
guest house for confreres passing through.
“Jesus, give me this water to satisfy my soul; without it, I am likely to
give in to passions and seek sustenance from earthly goods. My passions are very much alive and they cry out to be satisfied. I have a
continuous thirst and without the water of your divine grace, I throw
myself on the good things of this earth and seek my pleasures there.
Lord, give me this living water so that my passions will be truly satisfied and that I will have no need to look elsewhere for fulfilment”
(Libermann: Commentary on St. John, 4:15).
Holy Heart of Mary 30.11.1843: Libermann’s missionaries,
having misunderstood his instructions, proceed to
Cap des Palmes, where they are welcomed by John
Kelly and Denis Pindar. They fall sick one after another and within a month, on December 30th, Léopold
de Régnier is the first to die.
C.S.Sp. 30.11.1848: Five years after the disastrous death of
the first missionaries, Père Kobès is ordained bishop
by Mgr. Raess at Strasbourg; he will be coadjutor to
Mgr Bessieux of the Two Guinées. The West African
mission is finally off to a good start.
Cape Verde 30.11.1941: A group of Spiritans arrives at the
island of S. Nicolau: José Neiva Araujo, Lucio Casimiro dos Anjos, Lindorfo Joachim Quintas, and Mgr.
Faustino Moreira dos Santos, bishop of Cape Verde.
30.11.1985: A new Provincialate, located at 3-3
Nsugbe, near Onitsha, is officially opened. The Superior General, Fr. Frans. Timmermans is present as
well as some invited bishops.
Pakistan 1988: Opening of new Marwari villages schools at
Mogi and Darobagwar (Rahim Yar Khan).
“If we could start all over again, I would do it a thousand times
more. I would not change my place for all the goods in the world.
Please, notify my relatives. Whether we live or die, we belong to the
Lord and to Mary” (Léopold de Régnier in his last letter to Libermann. NDV, p.263).
Libermann 01.12.1839: François Libermann leaves Rennes,
despite the protestations of the superior of the
Eudistes, M. Louis de la Morinière, and decides to
travel to Rome with Maxime de La Brunière; they will
present the plan of the Work for the Black People to
the Propaganda.
C.S.Sp. 01.12.1849: The death of Mgr. Monnet at Mayotte,
the retired 10th Superior General of the Congregation
of the Holy Spirit and now Vicar Apostolic of Madagascar. His remains are taken to Reunion (Rivière
des Pluies) on December 3, 1856.
Martinique 01.12.1854: The Mother House agrees to look
after the pilgrimage of Our Lady of Deliverance at
Morne-Rouge in Martinique. The community will also
be involved in other Marian works throughout the diocese: parish missions, retreats, preaching.
East Africa 01.12.1876: Bagamoyo journal states that by this
date, a total of 340 freed slaves have been baptised
and 53 Christian marriages have been blessed, but 7
sisters and 5 brothers have died during the previous 5
“God has built his work on his all-powerful will and his divine mercy. He gives it life through his grace and love, a foundation that I
have no doubt will remain forever as an inspiration to which you will
frequently return. But it is no less true that he has chosen you as the
foundation stones of the building, and if the these basic stones are
not well laid, all the others will be in danger of collapse” (Libermann to the Community of Dakar, 19.11.1847. NDIX, p.325).
Brazil 02.12.1885: Seven Spiritans (all French) arrive at Belém on board the British steamboat “Paraense”.
Belgium December, 1903: In the wake of the Combes laws
in France, the schools at Cellule and Merville are
transferred to Gentinnes in Belgium, the property of a
generous benefactor, M. Wégimont. Gentinnes will
remain attached to the Province of France until 1919.
Poland December, 1925: The junior seminary moves to a
new site in Bydgoszcz. From there, the future priests
go to Fribourg in Switzerland and Chevilly in France.
The development of the junior seminary is interrupted
by the Second World War.
Sierra Leone 02.12.1984: The Apostolic Administrator of the
diocese of Kenema, John O’Riordan, is ordained
Bishop. A great period of development follows. For
the Spiritans, this time is marked by the beginning of
the West African Foundation, which draws its members from Ghana, Northern Nigeria, Sierra Leone and
the Gambia.
“An apostle of Jesus Christ can never be put off by obstacles. Accept
them patiently but always persevere with projects that are clearly
conducive to the glory of God and the salvation of souls. You can
give way temporarily to these obstacles if there is no way round
them: just wait confidently for God’s moment, keep faith and the time
will come” (Libermann to the community at Cap des Palmes, January 1844. NDVI, p.3).
Rome 03.12.1839: The bull of Pope Gregory XVI, “In Supremo Apostolatus”, condemns slavery and the slave
Ireland 03.12.1859: James Browne is the first Spiritan aspirant from Ireland.
Nigeria 03.12.1891: Chief Idigo I of Aguleri and six of his
children are baptised. His example has a great effect
on the spread of the Gospel message in Aguleri, one
of the early missions founded after Onitsha.
Brazil SE 03.12.1994: At the Mass of thanksgiving in the cathedral of Nova Igaçu to mark the departure of Bishop
Adriano Hipólito, the Spiritans are presented with a
document thanking them for their work in the Districts
of Brazil south west and south.
“Don’t jump to conclusions and don’t judge according to what you
are used to in Europe. Forget about Europe, its customs, its ways of
thinking; you have to make yourselves blacks with the blacks so as to
form them in their own way and not according to the European model. For their perfection and sanctification, relate to them as slaves do
to the customs and habits of their masters, so that gradually you will
make them a people of God. This is what St. Paul refers to as making
ourselves all things to all men so as to win them for Jesus Christ”
(Libermann to the community of Dakar, November 1847. NDIX,
Rome December, 1881: Consecration of the chapel of the
French Seminary, dedicated to St. Clare and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners. Some
statistics: in 1904, there are 150 students; 95 are mobilised during the 1914-1918 war (33 are killed in addition to 20 past students); in 1919, there are more
than 160 students.
Portugal 04.12.1894: Opening of a Spiritan scholasticate in a
former convent of the Hermits of St. Augustine. It will
cater for both junior and senior seminarians.
Guinée Conakry December, 1907: Père Lacan opens the
mission of Kindia, a small railway town 130 km from
Conakry. From Kindia, other missions will be opened
along the track: Mamou, Dabola, Bissikrima, Kouroussa and Kankan.
United Kingdom December, 1936: The first edition of the
British Spiritan magazine, “Africa Calling”, is published. "We have entitled our magazine ‘Africa Calling’
because we wish Africa to speak for itself".
“Tolerance is not a new virtue that is suspect and infected with liberalism; it is one of the fundamental virtues of Christianity. It is essentially made up of loving patience. In an ideal world, we would all
be living in the truth in total agreement: but the reality is that there
are errors and differences of opinion (even religious) between people
of good faith and intellectual honesty. We must respect and love men
and women despite these disagreements, respect them as people who
are doing their duty – and not look on them as those who are conforming to the evils of their time” (P. Joaquim Alves Pereira: “A
Largueza do Reino de Deus”).
France 05.12.1822: The Congregation retakes possession of
the seminary in the rue des Postes (rue Lhomond)
which had been confiscated by the revolutionaries in
Congo 05.12.1983: The Diocese of Pointe-Noire is divided
into the Diocese of Pointe-Noire (Kouilou region) and
the Diocese of Nkayi (Niari, Bouenza and Lekoumou
regions). Mgr. Ernest Kombo is appointed Bishop of
Nigeria 05.12.1985: Start of the centenary celebrations of the
Church in Eastern Nigeria. Pioneer Spiritans arrived
at Onitsha on December 6th, 1885: Fathers Joseph
Lutz & Jacob Horne, Brothers Jean Gotto & Hermas
Spain December, 1954: The first edition of the review MIES
(Missionaries of the Holy Spirit), which becomes
“Pentecostes Missionero” in 1963 and later on still,
“Pueblos del Tercer Mondo”. P. Teixeira Mayo begins
the publication with an edition devoted to Libermann
(2,000 copies).
“Strange to say I thought our Lord Himself nearer to me in Nigeria.
The continued miracle of the visible effects of his Divine Grace in
ourselves and in all those poor children of Christ in Nigeria made
his Divine Presence more like what it was when He was a Missioner
in Judea” (Joseph Shanahan to Sister Columba, 20.02.1933. II,
Canada December, 1933: Opening of a noviciate for brothers
at Collège Saint-Alexandre. At Chevilly there are 10
scholastics and, the following year at Orly, there are 5
Portugal December, 1962: The first edition of the review,
“Encontro, Seleções Missionárias”.
Makurdi December, 1973: Medical Missionary Sisters from
the United States take charge of the newly constructed St Mary's Hospital, Okwoga, Benue Plateau State.
Madagascar 06.12.1993: Erection of the new diocese of PortBergé, made up of 3 missions from the diocese of
Mahajanga: Port-Bergé, Mandritsara and Mampikony.
It has a population of 400,000.
“Conflict, racialism and the cult of the individual are all too prevalent in the world of today. By coming together from so many different
places and cultures, we are saying to our brothers and sisters that
the unity of the human race is not just an impossible dream. In this
way, our community life is an integral part of our mission and a
powerful witness to the message of the Gospel” (Maynooth 4:16).
Holy Heart of Mary 07.12.1845: Death of Eugène Tisserant,
co-founder of the Congregation of the Holy Heart of
Mary, drowned in the wreck of the Papin off the coast
of Morocco.
Mauritius 07.12.1847: The diocese of Port-Louis is erected
by Pope Pius IX.
Rome 07.12.1965: Pope Paul VI signs the Conciliar Decree
of Vatican II on the missionary activity of the Church.
On the same day, in St. Peter’s basilica, Paul VI and
Patriarch Athenagoras lift the mutual excommunications imposed by Constantinople and Rome in 1054.
Rome 07.12.1975: The Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi is published by Pope Paul VI.
Makurdi 07.12.1977: The first Igede priest is ordained, Fr.
Nicholas Oboh. He died in October, 1994.
“Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be « the
universal sacrament of salvation », the Church, in obedience to the
command of her founder (Mt 16 :15) and because it is demanded by
her own universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all people. The
apostles, on whom the Church was founded, following the footsteps
of Christ, preached the word of truth and begot Churches. It is the
duty of their successors to carry on this work” (Second Vatican
Council, “Ad Gentes”, no.1).
Martinique 08.12.1853: Arrival of 4 Spiritans. The Bishop,
Mgr. Le Herpeur, confides the running of the Senior
Seminary to the Congregation. It will be closed by
Mgr. Fava in 1873 because of financial difficulties.
Ireland 08.12.1861: A decision is taken to open a Noviciate
for brothers at Blackrock; transferred to Rockwell in
1867. Br Vincent de Paul McNally is the first to be received as a postulant in 1860.
08.12.1930: Bishop Joseph Shanahan ordains the
first Igbo priest, Fr. John Cross Anyogu who is the
senior of the eleven children born to Jacob and Anna
Anyogu. He had studied at the junior seminary of
Castlehead in England. In 1942, he will be appointed
Bishop of Enugu.
Cameroon 08.12.1935: Ordination of the first Cameroonian
priests: 4 at Mvolye and 4 at Edea.
08.12.1958: The Benedictines open a Priory at
Spain 08.12.1967: Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre, the Superior General, opens the Spanish senior scholasticate at San
Cugat del Vallés (Barcelona).
“This Congregation is consecrated to the Holy Spirit under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin. Therefore,
the feasts of Pentecost and the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated in a special way, so that all the members may be fired with
God’s love and obtain a perfect purity of body and soul” (Rule of
1734, repeating the Règlements of Poullart des Places).
Brazil Province 09.12.1955: The General Council confides
the Federal States of Sao Paulo, Panama, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul to the German Province
with a view to founding a new Province there.
Tanzania 09.12.1961: Tanganyika becomes independent. In
1964 it joins with Zanzibar and takes the new name of
Cameroon December, 1976: A meeting of all African Spiritans at Yaoundé.
Philippines/Taiwan December, 1997: The 8 members of
these two new groups meet in Rome and go to Assisi
for a few days reflection with Fr. Bernard Kelly, the 1st
“In every facet of our lives, but particularly in our prayer, Mary is
our model of willing obedience and faithfulness. We offer her veneration and prayer so that we may, as she did, welcome within us the
Holy Spirit who dwelt in her Immaculate Heart and that he may be
for us also the abundant source of our apostolic spirit” (SRL 89).
Guyane 10.12.1868: Père Olivier Hervé is the first Spiritan to
be appointed Prefect Apostolic of Guyane. The future
Superior General, Père Ambroise Emonet, will succeed him 4 years later.
Portugal 10.12.1887: A formation house for brothers is started
at Sintra. The first director is Fr. Christopher Rooney
from Ireland.
Guinée Conakry December, 1985: After the death of Sékou
Touré and the military coup, the Spiritans return to
Guinée at the request of Mgr. Sarah, Archbishop of
Conakry. In 1993, Pierre Haas, the former Superior
General, starts a much-needed centre for on-going
formation at Dalaba.
Spain December, 1997: The European Provincials meet in
Madrid. The Provincial of Spain, P. Julio Cesar Vidal,
is president of the conference for this year and Père
Jean-Pierre Gaillard becomes the first full-time secretary for the European region.
“Self-love, self-centredness and pride in one’s achievements are enemies which can only be overcome by despising them. The more you
take notice of these movements, the more they will dominate you.
They are enemies that will only die when you do; you have to put up
with them in peace and humility” (Libermann to Collin, 29.01.1845.
NDVII, p.37).
France 11.12.1944: The death of Père Emile Muller, Superior
of the Mother House, in the concentration camp of
Gabon 11.12.1958: The creation of the diocese of Mouila. Libreville becomes an Archdiocese.
11.12.1968: The death of Mgr. André Raponda at
Sainte Marie. Born in 1871 at Libreville, he is the first
Gabonese priest to be ordained in 1899.
Gamu-Gofa December, 1983: On the formal invitation of the
Ethiopian Orthodox Archbishop, Abuna Zacharias, Fr.
Brian O'Toole C.S.Sp. (Catholic) and Marigeta
Tewedaj (Orthodox) begin the mission of first evangelisation among the Hamer people at Dimeka.
Spain December, 1997: Financial problems with the “Adroga”
programme have resulted in a serious debt for the
Province, so that it has not been able to carry out the
commitments of the contract. The Provincial Council
revise the contract and decide to retain the project as
part of its mission.
“In accomplishing this act of reconciliation, the Roman Catholic
Church and the Orthodox Church see it as the expression of a sincere
desire for reconciliation and an invitation to pursue the dialogue in a
spirit of mutual trust, esteem and charity, which will lead them, with the
help of God, to live once again for the greater good of souls and the
coming of the Kingdom of God, in the full communion of faith, of
brotherly concord and of sacramental life which existed between them
throughout the first millennium of the life of the Church” (Common
Declaration of Paul VI & Athenagoras, 07.12.1965)
Guadeloupe 1993: Opening of the diocesan Synod in the cathedral of Basse-Terre which will last for two years.
The closure is in the velodrome of Gourde Liane at
Haiti 1994: With the arrival of the government of Aristide in
1994, the decree of President Duvalier of 1969, giving
the College of Saint-Martial to the Archdiocese of
Port-au-Prince, is revoked.
Australia 1995: There are two Spiritan priests in the Diocese
of Geraldton, in Western Australia. Confreres are now
located in four of the seven States of Australia.
Philippines/Taiwan 12.12.1997: the first member of the new
team, Seán O’Leary, arrives in Taiwan. On the same
day, the Philippines group arrives in Manilla: Brain
McLaughlin, Haroldo Alves, Martin Okafor-Ilozue and
Daniel Sormani.
“It is part of the spirit of priesthood to sacrifice oneself with the victim. Jesus has to be the victim offered by all, and the same Jesus
must also be the sacrificing priest in you and through you. Man must
disappear and the Son of God take his place. Jesus, who lives in this
way in your soul, must make you feel his divine life of sacrifice which
is inherent in his priesthood” (Libermann to I. Schwindenhammer,
04.08.1842. NDIII, p.247).
Guinée Conakry 13.12.1902: A caravan, led by Frs. Leclerc
and Devante, leaves Conakry on foot for Kissi, more
than 600 km away. They arrive 29 days later. The first
mission to be founded is Brouadou. Père Devante
dies within 3 weeks.
Trinidad 1995: Consecration of Fr. Malcolm Galt as Bishop of
Bridgetown, Barbados.
Haiti 1995: By decision of the District Council, the Spiritans
take over Collège Saint-Martial again after an absence of 26 years.
Ethiopia 1995: A young man, Diida Wario, expresses the
wish to become a Spiritan; he is the first Boran to
show this kind of interest. He will start his studies in
Njiro, Tanzania, in the Spiritan house of philosophy in
August 1997.
“Here in Australia we are literally at the "ends of the earth", but in
the spirit of François Libermann, we have faith in what the Lord is
asking of us here, and intend, God willing, to continue. We are confident that the Lord will provide as we do his work here in the ‘Land
of the Holy Spirit’ - as Australia was called by the first Portuguese
explorers who came across this continent centuries ago” (Spiritan
Confreres in Australia).
Puerto Rico 14.12.1985: The first member of the foundation
is ordained priest, Fr. José Alamo.
Poland 14.12.1994: Creation of the Sanctuary dedicated to
Daniel Brottier at Chojnice.
Papua New Guinea 1995: The Province of Nigeria becomes
a partner in the PNG mission due to the acute shortage of personnel. At present, five Spiritans from the
province are working in the country.
Central African Foundation 1996: As the Foundation prepares to become a Province, it is made up of 41
priests, 4 brothers, 44 scholastics, 20 novices and 39
students in first cycle. 24 priests and brothers are
working ad extra in 11 different provinces and districts.
“It is interesting to observe the approach of these first Spiritan missionaries towards the people. They welcomed the people, listened to
them with respect, walked with them and, on occasions, ate with
them. They organised a catechetical programme adapted to the social mentality, they enlisted catechists and gave special attention to
their formation. The Spiritan charism was well exemplified by these
early Spiritans; they highlighted the presence of the Congregation of
the Holy Spirit among the Huastecan and Nahuatl people…Those of
us who are privileged to be their successors salute them with admiration” (Spiritans in Mexico: 1971-1996).
Libermann 15.12.1840: Libermann finishes his pilgrimage to
Loretto and Assisi. It is a real pilgrimage, made between mid-November and mid-December, almost entirely on foot. It is also a retreat of abandonment to the
will of God, to prepare himself for whatever mission
awaits him.
Deux Guinées 15.12.1841: Edward Barron, John Kelly and
Denis Pindar set out from the U.S. for Liberia.
Cape Verde 15.12.1941: Pères Lucio and Lindorfo arrive on
the island of Santiago to take over the parishes of St
Nicolau Tolentino and Salvador do Mundo.
Mauritania 15.12.1968: Blessing of the cathedral in the capital, Nouakchott. Each year, the pastoral agents come
together to expand their study of the country, of Islam
and of the nature of the Church’s presence in this
“Our preaching of the Gospel has different styles, determined by the
times and places in which we are living. We announce the Gospel to
people and groups who have not yet heard it. We foster the growth of
young Christian communities born from the preaching of the Gospel.
In certain circumstances, it is not possible for us to preach the Gospel by word. In such cases. our motivation is the conviction that the
Holy Spirit is already present and that our presence is witness and
service in the name of the Gospel for the Kingdom” (SRL 15).
Portugal 16.12.1928: The death in Paris of P. José Maria Antunes. Born in Santarém in 1856, he was one of the
first students of the Congo seminary at Santarém. He
founded the mission of Huila and was one of the great
architects of the Spiritan presence in Angola.
Ireland 16.12.1970: St Michael's College, Dublin, founded in
1944 as a primary school for Blackrock College, now
becomes an independent community, operated as a
full second-level educational facility.
Switzerland 1996: The Villa des Charmettes in Fribourg becomes the Provincial residence.
Haiti 1997: The first ever Spiritan noviciate in Haiti opens in
“Your prayer should be a simple, humble and peaceful repose, full of
confidence in the presence of Jesus – that’s all! There is no need for
a lot of reflections or acts of love. Nothing should be forced; when
you are with Jesus, be like a child with its father – nothing more than
that is needed. Look on yourself as something that belongs to him,
that is there in his presence for him to do what he wants with it. All
this should be without effort and without many words, either internal
or external” (Libermann to Collin: 29.01.1845. NDVII, p.37-39).
Poullart 17.12.1707: Claude Poullart des Places is ordained
priest by Mgr. de Thiard de Bissy, the Bishop of
Meaux and the successor of Bossuet. He is a great
benefactor of the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit.
C.S.Sp. 17.12.1747: The death of Jean-Baptiste Faulconnier,
the first student of Poullart des Places.
Congo 17.12.1892: Ordination of the first two priests to come
from the seminaries of Landana and Loango: Louis de
Gourlet and Charles Maonde.
Cape Verde 17.12.1942: Cardinal Maglione, the Vatican Secretary of State, confides the missions of the island of
Santiago in Cape Verde to the Congregation of the
Holy Spirit.
“From 1840, when I sent the first version of the Rules for our little
Society to Rome, I felt it was essential to work for the creation of a
native clergy. Without any precise ideas as to how we should go
about it, I included a chapter on this subject, so that if I died before
beginning such a work, my confreres would not abandon the
idea…Even before reading your work (concerning the need for a native clergy in Pondichery, India), I knew that the Holy See was keen
on the formation of a local clergy in the missions, but I did not how
enthusiastically the Pope and the Sacred Congregation had followed
up the idea” (Libermann to Luquet, NDAnnex, p.62).
Poullart 18.12.1706: Claude Poullart des Places receives the
Holy Heart of Mary 18.12.1842: L’Abbé Desgenettes, the
parish priest of Notre Dames des Victoires in Paris,
informs Bishop Barron about François Libermann and
the newly-formed Society of the Missionaries of the
Holy Heart of Mary.
Senegal 18.12.1845: Land is bought for the mission of Dakar
(on the site of the present town hall). As it is on the
mainland and not on the island of Gorée, it is outside
the jurisdiction of the Priests of the Holy Spirit.
TransCanada 2000: After 22 years as the District of Ontario
and 24 years as the Province of TransCanada, the
Spiritans of the circumscription are thankful for the
past and look to the future with hope.
“A ship has sails and a rudder. The wind blows into the sails and
makes the vessel advance in the desired direction…But this would be
too vague and would sometimes blow the ship off the intended
course. Your soul is the ship, your heart is the sail and the Holy Spirit is the wind; he breaths on the will and the soul moves forward towards the end that God has in mind. Your spirit is the rudder; its
role is to ensure that, under the strength of the movement imparted to
your heart, you do not wander off the straight line that was planned
by God” (Libermann to Blanpin, 01.01.1845. NDVII, p.148).
Makurdi 19.12.1971: 7 Tiv priests are ordained by Bishop
Donal Murray, among whom is the one who will eventually succeed him as bishop of Makurdi, Fr. Athanasius Atule Usuh.
09.12.1974: Mgr. Pierre Sagna is appointed the
second bishop of Saint-Louis. He succeeds Mgr.
Prosper Dodds.
Haiti 01.12.1986: The last Spiritans leave Brooklyn to return
to Haiti.
Ireland 1998: A Memorial chapel to all deceased Irish Spiritans is erected in Kimmage parish Church.
“It is difficult to appreciate how important this tolerance is. There is
no way in which people will always agree. If we don’t have this tolerance, we prevent good things from happening, we will always be
involved in squabbles, deprive ourselves of the peace of mind that we
need so much, discourage others and often discourage ourselves. If,
on the other hand, we allow each person to see things in their own
way and according to their own character and mentality, then great
good will come from it. Several will make mistakes and act imprudently, but with time, they will learn from experience and each will
perfect his own style of being” (Libermann to Lossedat, 13.04.1846.
NDVIII, p.109-115).
Senegambia 20.12.1857: Père Jean Lacombe makes his
profession at rue Lhomond, Paris. Born of a Fulani
mother at Gorée, he had been ordained priest by Mgr.
Kobès in 1852. He becomes the first Spiritan from
Madagascar 20.12.1898: Arrival of Mgr. François-Xavier
Corbet and Père Georges Leportier, his Vicar General.
Portugal 20.12.1952: , P. Agostinho de Moura, the Provincial
of Portugal, is appointed bishop of Portalegre and
Castelo Branco.
Pakistan 20.12.1977: Arrival of the first Spiritans in Pakistan:
John Kitchen, John O'Brien and Eddie Flynn.
“It is a very important principle for action (and for many other
things) to be on one’s guard against a sort of ‘ideal’ perfection. It is
good that we know how to proceed in order to be successful; we have
to learn the best way of going about things. But it is even more important to know how to modify things, how to be flexible and accommodating in relation to people, things and the circumstances in
which we find ourselves” (Libermann to Lossedat, 13.04.1846.
NDVIII, 109-115).
21.12.1840: Eugène Tisserant, co-founder of the
Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary, is ordained
East Africa 21.12.1901: The Vicariat of Central Zanzibar becomes the Vicariat of Bagamoyo.
United Kingdom 21.12.1918: Hugh McGarry becomes the
first former student of Castlehead junior seminary to
be ordained priest (in Fribourg).
Congo 21.12.1950: The Vicariat Apostolic of Fort-Rousset is
created, with Mgr. Verhille as the first Vicar.
Mauritania 21.12.1973: Mgr. Robert de Chevigny is appointed the second bishop of the diocese and is ordained
at Chevilly on 23.02.1974. He retires in 1995 and is
replaced by a Missionary of Africa, Mgr. Martin
“Your most important preaching is done through the example of a
holy life which will attract the grace of God to these poor people.
The people of Africa neither need nor will be converted by the efforts
of clever and capable missionaries; it is the sanctity and the sacrifice
of their pastors which will save them …Be holy and encourage all
your confreres to be holy; the salvation of these poor people, for
whom you are sacrificing and offering yourselves, depends on that.
All your sufferings and self-giving will remain sterile if they are not
sanctified by the total gift of your life” (Libermann to Lairé,
08.05.1851. NDXIII, p.142-145).
France 22.12.1838: Jacques Laval is ordained priest by Mgr.
de Quélen, Archbishop of Paris. He will be parish
priest of Pinterville in the diocese of Evreux for two
and a half years before setting out for Mauritius.
Mexico 1996: The silver jubilee of the Spiritan presence in
Mexico. The three first pioneers are remembered in
the celebrations, along with American lay associates
who for 13 years worked in the Huastec mission:
Robert and Dorothy Sutherland and Henry and Josephine Baker.
Australia 1997: As 1892 marked the departure of the Spiritans from Victoria, 1977 marks their return to pastoral
activity in Melbourne. Confreres have visited Ballarat
and have been warmly welcomed by the brothers who
now run the school, remembering with appreciation
the contribution made by our Congregation in the early days.
Makurdi 1999: The total number of Spiritans working in the
District of Makurdi, which now comprises the four dioceses of Otukpo, Makurdi, Jalingo and Yola, stands at
17 priests and one brother:
“Even though they throw themselves into their work with great dedication, the missionary, the superior and the one in charge of the mission become completely absorbed in the area for which they are responsible and forget that they belong to a team which must work together; they too easily break those ties by which God has bound them
together. The result is that there are as many isolated men as there
are missionaries and community life is sacrificed to their zeal and
dedication…A dislocated body is quite incapable of functioning”.
(Libermann to Collin, 21.09.1851. NDXIII, p.293-297).
Guinée Conakry 23.12.1970: Mgr. Tchidimbo c.s.sp., the
Archbishop of Conakry, is arrested for “plotting” and
imprisoned at Boiro: he will not be released until August, 1979. In December 1979, Mgr. Sarah becomes
the first secular Archbishop of Conakry.
Central African Republic 1979: At the death of Mgr. Joseph
Cucherousset, his coadjutor, Mgr. Ndayen, becomes
Archbishop of Bangui.
Congo 1988: Creation of the diocese of Kinkala, with Mgr.
Anatole Milandou as bishop.
Papua New Guinea 1988: The Indian Ocean Foundation
(IOF) makes PNG one of its priority missions, sending
its first members in 1988. In 1995, the Nigerian Province also becomes a partner in the mission.
“They will be the advocates, the supporters and the defenders of the
weak and the little ones against those who oppress them. It is in circumstances like these that the great love and power of Jesus will
grow in their souls. But everything they do must be characterised by
a gentleness and prudence that Jesus will give them if they are faithful” (Règle Provisoire, no.89).
Libermann 24.12.1826. On this Sunday, Jacob Libermann is
baptised in the chapel of the Seminary of the Missions
(an annex of St. Stanislas) by l’Abbé Augé, the director of Stanislas. He takes the names François, Marie,
Paul. He makes his first communion on the same day
and decides at once to become a priest.
USA 24.12.1847: The Propaganda Fide authorises the sending of Spiritan missionaries to the U.S.A.
Portugal 24.12.1919: Decree of Rodrigues Caspar, in the
preparation of which the Spiritan, P. José Maria Antunes, collaborates. It acknowledges the value of missionary activity.
Gambia 24.12.1957: Bathurst becomes a diocese with Bishop Moloney at its head.
“I am still amazed at the wonderful change that happened in me as
the baptismal water flowed over my forehead. All my doubts and
fears suddenly fell away. The clerical dress which, like most Jews, I
used to find so repugnant no longer had the same effect; I now liked
it more than I feared it. But above all, I felt an invincible strength
and courage for the practise of the Christian law, and a gentle love
for everything connected with my new religion…I seemed to be in the
middle of a great globe of fire. I no longer lived the life of nature; I
no longer saw or heard anything of what was going on around me.
Things were happening within me that are impossible to describe.
This lasted for a considerable part of the ceremony” (Libermann
talking of his baptism. ND I, p.90).
C.S.Sp. 25.12.1704: The beginning of the retreat that Poullart
des Places makes with the Jesuits at rue Turnefort
(Réflexions sur le passé). A year later, he moves with
his community into the present-day rue Rollin, near
the Place de la Contrescarpe.
C.S.Sp. 25.12.1832: M. Amable Fourdinier is elected the 7th
Superior of the Spiritans and the Seminaire du SaintEsprit. On November 22nd, 1839, he is asked by the
government to train priests with a view to the emancipation of slaves in the French colonies. He receives 3
young Senegalese, sent by Mère Javouhey, to finish
their studies for ordination: Fridoil, Boilat and Moussa.
They will be ordained in Paris in September, 1840.
Canada 25.12.1911: The founding of the junior seminary of
Saint-Alexandre de la Gatineau. The next day, Père
Joseph Burgsthaler arrives with a group of European
junior seminarians. This is the realisation of a plan of
Mgr. Le Roy to found a mission seminary in Canada.
Kenya 25.12.1943: Bishop Joseph Shanahan dies in Nairobi
at the age of 72.
Pakistan 25.12.1977: Arrival of the first 3 Spiritans in Rahim
Yar Khan (RYK), a parish created in 1958.
“May the divine Child preserve in your soul his life of love and selfgiving. He alone is our all; let us be lost and absorbed in him. He is
hidden in the depths of our souls, as he was in the poor house of Nazareth, when he returned from Egypt. Let us keep our souls in poverty and
emptiness, so that this Child will live in us and be hidden in the intimacy of our hearts. Yes! the divine Child must be hidden in us; hidden, not
only to the eyes of others but to our own eyes as well” (Libermann, to
Carron, Rennes, 03.02.1838, L.S.I p.409-412)
Libermann 26.12.1851: Gravely ill, François Libermann takes
to his bed for the last time.
France 26.12.1857: A property is bought at Cellule, Puy-deDôme, France; an imperial decree authorises the
opening of a junior seminary for the colonies. It would
serve as the scholasticate of the province during the
second world war. It becomes the noviciate of the
French Province after the war, welcoming novices
from Great Britain, Belgium, Switzerland, Haiti and
many African countries.
Spain 26.12.1979: The death of P. José de Araújo; when he
finishes his time as Provincial in Portugal, he returns
to Spain where he has done so much for the establishing of the Province.
Malawi 1996: A house for postulants is opened in Malawi with
two candidates. Malawi has become part of SCAF.
The first cycle will be in Balaka.
“They will have a special care and love for the poorest people and
those whom the world considers the most unfortunate. They will treat
them with great kindness and concern. They will obtain as much help
and relief for them as possible, without being too concerned as to
whether they merit it or not. They will visit and talk with them frequently in their poor dwellings and will lose no opportunity to share
the eternal truths with them and to improve their lot…They will give
them all the spiritual help that is within their power” (“Règle Provisoire”, no.86).
United Kingdom 27.12.1907: On 24 December, Castlehead
in Grange-over-Sands becomes the first Spiritan
property owned by the Congregation in Britain. On 27
December, the community at Prior Park arrives to
take up residence in this new home.
United Kingdom 27.12.1919: Mgr. Le Roy and the General
Council decide to create the Vice-Province of England
as from 1 January 1920. Mgr. Le Roy writes to the
Irish Provincial, "As for the future Province of England, administrative separation seems to me to be essential and from 1 January, Ireland will have gained a
daughter". On 3 November 1921, Fr. John Rimmer,
Vice-Provincial and Superior of St. Mary's College,
Castlehead, is recognised by the British Government
as the official representative of the Congregation in
Ireland 27.12.1940: John Charles McQuaid is ordained Archbishop of Dublin. He thus becomes the first and only
Irish Spiritan to serve as a bishop in Ireland.
Central African Foundation 27.12.1997: An enlarged council meets at Libreville to discuss the transition of the
circumscription to provincial status.
“Our works in Europe will concentrate on the poorest classes in
France who are in need of help, such as sailors, soldiers, workers in
general (still the most neglected), prisoners, beggars, those working
in the galleys…Such work is not opposed to the aim or the spirit expressed in the Rule. It is true that in the beginning we did not envisage this sort of thing because it was impossible; God was leading us
to the work for the Black People, but at the same time, we felt the
need to broaden out a little more, so that the Rule talks of the poor
and abandoned in general” (Libermann to Le Vavasseur,
14.10.1847. NDIX, p.288-289).
Netherlands 28.12.1928: The Castle of Gemert is definitively
bought by the Spiritans.
December, 1988: The Post-Synodal Exhortation by
Pope John Paul II on the vocation and mission of lay
people in the Church and the World is published.
Kogi, Nigeria 1994: Official opening and blessing of the new
Spiritan house at Okura by Bishop Obot of Idah Diocese, accompanied by the Superior General, Pierre
Schouver, and his assistant, Godfrey Odigbo.
Kogi, Nigeria 1998: Work starts on a Spiritan postulancy at
“The uncomfortable feeling we can have when we are with people
who think and judge differently to ourselves, who despise us and
have no time for us, can easily make us stiff and timid, with the result
that we are gloomy, evasive and awkward when we are with them.
This can give a very bad impression and put people off our religion.
We must love everybody, whatever they feel about us or our religion.
They must be given complete freedom to think and act as they want.
No man on this earth is capable of forcing the will, the conscience or
the intellect of others. God doesn’t want to do it, so why should we?
(Libermann to Le Berre, 09.08.1847. NDIX, p.248-249).
Rome 29.12.1926: The Condemnation of “Action Française”
by Pius XI results in a request for the resignation of
Père Le Floc’h, the rector of the French seminary in
Nigeria 29.12.1947: Arrival of the first Canadian confreres for
the Prefecture Apostolic of the Benue. For several
years they work alongside confreres from the English
Province, Finally, the territory confided to them becomes the autonomous District of Kabba in 1962.
Nigeria 29.12.1961: The foundation of the Congregation of
the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy by Bishop Anthony Nwedo C.S.Sp., of Umuahia Diocese.
Ethiopia 29.12.1974: Fr Owen Lambert walks to Eli in the
heart of the Gamo-Gofa mountains to join in the yearly pilgrimage to the Archangel Gabriel. The 50.000
people gathered there force him into the thinking
which eventually becomes the orientation of the whole
group: How can our mission here have relevance if it
does not take this Christian tradition into account?
“If we had have been able to start a mission in Haiti, we would have
destroyed the ridiculous prejudices which have fed the ambitions and
interests of a handful of men to the detriment of millions of souls
created in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of Jesus
Christ. I am convinced that our success would have been complete
and we would have been able to show the detractors of the black
race that not having a white skin does not mean they are any less the
children of God than themselves, that they have the same nobility of
soul and are just as capable of accepting faith and morality. In short,
colour does not in any way denote inferiority. (Libermann to M.
Percin, 02.11.1846. NDVIII, p.333-341).
Holy Heart of Mary 30.12.1842: The first visit of the Vicar
Apostolic of the Deux Guinées, Bishop Barron, to La
Neuville. Libermann promises him 7 missionaries.
Holy Heart of Mary 30.12.1843: Exactly one year after the
visit of Bishop Barron to Libermann, Père Léopold de
Régnier is the first of the missionaries to die at Cap
des Palmes.
Haiti 30.12.1843: Eugène Tisserant is received by General
Hérard, the head of the provisional government of
Haiti. He is given freedom to exercise his ministry, to
invite more of his confreres and to open a seminarycollege. The General asks him to inform the Holy see
that he is ready to renew discussions with Rome. The
agreement comes to nothing.
Angola 30.12.1995: P. Benedito Roberto is appointed Bishop
of Sumbe, the first Angolan bishop of the Congregation.
“In your missionary work, you need courage, peace, interior humility and trust in God alone; this must be complemented by a Christian
mistrust of your own strength and ideas. You will need great
strength, not so much to fight against external opposition (which will
certainly not be lacking) but rather to struggle against yourself
amidst the sufferings, contradictions and obstacles that will come
your way so that you will not let them upset you too much. You must
learn to put up with these things with the serenity of a man of God”
(Libermann to Bessieux, 30.08.1850. NDXII, p.349-350).
Rome 31.12.1846: Propaganda Fide accepts the resignation
of Bishop Edward Barron. Père François Libermann
becomes the temporary Prefect Apostolic of the Deux
Guinées until such time as one of his confreres will be
designated as successor.
Gabon 31.12.1850: Sister Constance, of the Sisters of the
Immaculate Conception of Castres (pioneers of the
mission of Gabon), is drowned off the Santa Clara
headland while returning from Libreville.
France 31.12.1856: The Congregation acquires the Abbey of
Langonnet. For many years, it will serve as a formation house for French, Irish and German students
before becoming a retirement home for Spiritans.
Madagascar 31.12.1976: Riots between Bestsirebaka and
people of the Comores result in the death 1,400
Comorians at Mahajanga. The government of the
Comores repatriates 14,500 of its nationals by plane
and boat.
“Making people feel there is a great distance between them and us,
in conduct, dress, ways of acting and speaking, is a very bad system
and contrary to the spirit of the Gospels. But such a system is even
worse when applied to the black people because it degrades them in
their own minds and shatters their characters. We should adopt the
mind of Jesus and his saints, a pure love that is tender, compassionate and supernatural. With such a gentle, kind and well-meaning
love, the Sisters will win the hearts of the people” (Libermann to the
Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Castres, 19.11.1847).
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