Spiritan Life and Mission since Vatican II
Author: William Cleary
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The Second Vatican Council (1962–65) called for the renewal of all religious institutes in the Catholic Church. The Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) responded initially under the leadership of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Different interpretations of Vatican II caused divisions culminating in Lefebvre’s departure from the congregation. From this difficult starting-point, the Spiritans sought to redefine themselves in creative fidelity to their founding intention, the spirit of Vatican II, and the “signs of the times.”
Spiritan Life and Mission since Vatican II recounts this journey of renewal in three parts: the Spiritan world before Vatican II and the election of Archbishop Lefebvre as superior general in 1962; the “ad experimentum” period culminating with a new rule of life in 1986; and the implementation of this new rule as interpreted through inter-congregational discourse, particularly the general chapters of 1992, 1998, and 2004.
The development of thinking on the church’s mission and the congregation’s rediscovery of the founding charisms of Claude Poullart des Places and Francis Libermann provide the parameters for this positive interpretation of the Spiritan journey of renewal. Its evolution in the third millennium into a multicultural, international missionary community of some three-thousand members from over sixty countries in service of the Missio Dei bears testimony to this.
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