Compassion Magazine

The Passionists: 150 years in America, continued

New ventures: 1920-45
Gerald Laba, C.P. - introduction to article

Beginning around 1920, important developments began to take place with regard to retreats for the laity, new mission endeavors, and the printed word.

The Lay Retreat Movement: From the beginning, American foundations continued the Founder's tradition of providing opportunities for other religious, clergy, and laity to make the 'spiritual exercises.' Sierra MadreRetreats were made at West Hoboken prior to 1869, and records at Pittsburgh show that more than five hundred laymen and clergy had made retreats between 1860 and 1920. Thus, a tradition had long been established prior to the first 'closed' retreat at Brighton, Massachusetts, in 1911.

Both American provinces, recognizing the importance of retreats for the laity, built new facilities for this purpose. The first separate retreat house for laymen was dedicated in Pittsburgh on November 21, 1920. In the east, this apostolate also developed at West Springfield, Massachusetts, and Jamaica, New York. In Holy Cross Province, vision and perseverance guided the movement from a first retreat in July 1926 to the dedication of the first monastery-retreat center at Sierra Madre on May 1, 1932. Fr. Eugene Creegan, who had sustained the Passionist vision for Sierra Madre from the beginning, directed the first program at this new facility.

Sr Doreen O'Grady, Frs Joseph Leo Flynn, Cosmas Shaughnessy and Campion Clifford

Passionist retreat directors Sister Doreen O'Grady (c. 1983), Fathers Joseph Leo Flynn, Cosmas Shaughnessy and Campion Clifford helped to create a strong network of Passionist retreat centers in America.

Today Passionist men and women minister in retreats at more than 18 locations.

Fr John Joseph Endler, C.P.
Fr John Joseph Endler, C.P. preaching the Novena
of St Ann at Scranton, Pennsylvania, c. 1929

Novenas in the 1920s

Novenas became popular forms of devotion and were conducted in honor of the Passionist saints at many of the monastery churches. At Scranton the weekly devotion in honor of St. Ann culminated in the celebration of the solemn novena each summer, attended by thousands of the faithful.

German Foundation

Schwarzenfeld Monastery
The Schwarzenfeld Monastery, c. 1934

At the initiative of Fathers Victor Koch and Valentine Lehnerd in 1922, the congregation was introduced into Germany and Austria.

Both American provinces contributed personnel to this mission which had forty-three religious at the outbreak of World War II. Among the contributing pioneers were Leonard Barthelemy, Fidelis Benedik, and Br. Valentine Rausch.


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