From July 20 to 25, 2017, the Center for Continuing Formation at St. Mary’s Seminary & University hosted a meeting of the international leadership of the Society of the Priests of Saint Sulpice. Twenty Sulpicians from around the world attended the meeting, including the three Provincial Councils of France, Canada, and the United States, and the General Council, each of which has five members.
(One member from Canada could not attend.) In addition, Father Bernard PITAUD, P.S.S., former Provincial of the French Province, presented a lecture on important principles from Sulpician founder Father Jean-Jacques OLIER. Two other presentations, by Anthony POGORELC, P.S.S. and Hy NGUYEN, P.S.S., respectively, touched on sociological characteristics of the “millennials” and multiculturalism in the Church.
The purpose of the meeting was to confront critical issues facing the Society, such as changing demographics, recruitment and retention of new members, and future governance structures. The group used an “appreciative discernment” process, which began by analyzing the many positive aspects of the Sulpician ministry of initial and ongoing formation of priests, and the formation of formators.
The meeting, hosted by Father John C. KEMPER, P.S.S., U.S. Provincial, was the first one held in Baltimore since 1991, the Province’s bicentennial. The present session coincided with the Province’s 225th anniversary and the 375th anniversary of the Society’s founding in 1642 by Father Olier, when he became pastor of the Church of Saint Sulpice in Paris.
Highlights of the meeting included a day-long excursion in Baltimore to showcase some important historic sites. These included a concelebrated Eucharist at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Charlestown Retirement Community, a luncheon with retired Sulpicians at the nearby newly renovated Villa Olier, guided visits to St. Mary’s Spiritual Center & Historic Site on Paca Street and the Basilica of the Assumption, a brief visit to Fort McHenry, and a festive dinner in Little Italy.
On July 24, Archbishop William E. LORI of Baltimore presided at a Eucharist with all the participants, offering insights into his appreciation of the French School of Spirituality.
The meeting was a great success, providing important reflections for the General Council to begin planning the next General Assembly (2020), when elected delegates from around the world will meet in Paris to address the Society’s future and elect new leadership.
Below are some photos from the event