Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!
Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
Tomorrow we will celebrate the Feast of St. Philip Neri, the founder of the Congregation of the Oratory. Born in 1515, St. Philip found himself growing up in a Europe ripped apart by religious difference and upheaval on account of the Protestant Reformation. St. Philip, however, remained jovial and upbeat, becoming known as the saint of joy. On account of his tireless work in the city of Rome – in catechizing, promoting the practice of virtue, offering the Sacrament of Penance, and offering the fullness of the Roman Rite – he is attributed with saving the Faith in Rome. For this, he is, alongside Sts. Peter & Paul, the third Apostle of Rome.
St. Philip never intended to found a religious order or congregation of priests. He very much became a reluctant founder. Because of his holiness and personality, young men found their way to him, seeking his company and his friendship. They besought him to found a congregation based on the principles that he was establishing, and based upon the life that he lived. This organically developed into what we now know as the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri.
Throughout the world, there are no more than 90 houses, and in the United States are only 9. The Cincinnati Oratory is the newest congregation in the world, having been founded by the Holy Father on March 19, 2017. Because each Oratory is established by the Holy Father himself, each house is freely independent and subject only to the Holy Father in our daily life and governance. Each house is actively governed by the General Congregation, those priests who have resided in the house for at least six years. From them is elected a Provost, who is the superior of the house and sees to the day-to-day governance and right ordering of the house. While subject to the local bishop in regards to our parish work, since it is his duty to see to the sanctification of the people living within his diocese, the bishop does not have authority over the priests of the Oratory like he would his priests. Though, of course, we all certainly cooperate with the local bishop, because of our common vested interest in this area.
An example of this would be that the bishop can not take one of the priests of the Oratory and give him an assignment without the consent of the Provost, who would have already consulted with the General Congregation and received their decision.
Because of this, and rightly so, we are entirely responsible for the education and housing of our seminarian. These are your future priests who will serve in our two parishes, Old St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart. Each seminarian costs about $30,000 per year. We do not benefit from the Archdiocesan collections for the seminarian, so we ask for your generosity in today’s second collection. We take this collection up twice a year, in May around the Feast of St. Philip Neri and again in October, around the Feast of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman. Thank you for your generosity and have a blessed week ahead!