June 2006 - District Superior's Letter
A few words on the upcoming general chapter: it's nature, purpose, members, time and place. Fr. Somerville celebrates his 50th anniversary of ordination.
Bishop Fellay holds the course
Well, Easter has come and gone and the predicted disasters and sell-out have not occurred. Surprise! Surprise! We are told it is because Bishop Fellay finally saw the light, seeing things the way Traditio sees them. These people are amazing! But seriously, it is rather due to the fact that Bishop Fellay always held the same course and never had any intention of selling out.
A few words on the upcoming General Chapter.
What is the General Chapter? It is the highest and extraordinary instance in any well constituted religious society in the Church. The SSPX, being somewhat modeled on the Holy Ghost Fathers, holds its General Chapter every 12 years, but in cases of necessity the Superior General can convene all the superiors to deal with special business. It alone is authorized to change the Statutes of the Society when the need arises. This will be the third General Chapter in the Society’s history.
The main purpose of the ordinary General Chapter is the election of the Superior General and his assistants. According to the Statutes: “It also has the purpose of examining whether the Society is conscientiously applying the statutes and trying to maintain their spirit.”
Who takes part in the General Chapter? Some are members “ex-officio”, according to their office or duties in the Society. These members are: The outgoing Superior General and his two assistants, the Secretary General and the Bursar General; District Superiors, Seminary Superiors and Superiors of autonomous houses (countries not yet erected as districts). The Society presently has 19 districts and autonomous houses and 6 seminaries. In addition the senior members of the Society are invited up to the number of 40.
In preparation for the Chapter, every member of the Society is invited to make suggestions regarding matters to be discussed at the meeting. Obviously, the Superior General and his council prepare a report on the state of the Society as well as matters for discussion. Special prayers are asked of all the members for the intention of the Chapter.
When it will take place
The Chapter will begin on July 3rd with a few informal days to give a chance to all to meet and get to know each other. The SSPX is big enough now so that there are confreres we have never met. There follows a five day retreat. The meeting proper begins after the retreat with the report of the outgoing Superior General on the state of the SSPX. The next order of business is the election by secret ballot of the Superior General and his assistants. The outgoing Superior can be re-elected. The Superior General must obtain two thirds majority of the votes. The assistants need an absolute majority. All three must be at least 30 years of age, be priest or bishop and be a permanent member of the Society. After the election, the new Superior then assumes the presidency of the meeting which will deal with the different business matters of the Society.
Father Somerville's 50th anniversary as priest
May 25th, the feast of the Ascension, surrounded by family and friends, Father Stephen Somerville celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination, at our chapel in Toronto. Father celebrated a solemn high Mass and gave a sermon on the parallels between the Ascension and the Priesthood. It was very rejoicing to see many persons from our different groups, mostly from Ontario, who came to take part in Father’s joy and thanksgiving.
Many of you have no doubt heard of Fr. Somerville and maybe even heard him in his conferences on his work with ICEL and his return to the Mass of his ordination, his public apologies and recanting of his work in the Novus Ordo. We have witnessed the great courage, conviction and zeal of his return. So these celebrations were also for us an occasion to thank Divine Providence for the great gift of the priesthood and especially for the good example given to us by someone like Father Somerville.
This year is a special year for Canada. Almighty God is blessing us with another Canadian priest, Rev. Mr. Dominic May, from Alberta. Holy Family School will also celebrate as Rev. Mr. Mark Stafki, an American who has spent the last school year working at the school and learning French, will also be ordained to the holy priesthood of our Lord.
Thank you for your continued support. Please keep up your prayers. Be assured of ours.
With my blessing,
Fr. Jean Violette