Want to become a saint ?

The Jubilee Year has been blessed by the beatification of the 19 martyrs of Algeria, among whom our four confreres who died in Tizi-Ouzou in December 1994. On the other hand, our Superior General launched a consultation of all communities on the pertinence of starting a process of canonisation of our founder, Charles Cardinal Lavigerie. 

With those events in mind, the Roman Committee of the Jubilee invited Father Thomas Klosterkamp OMI to talk to us about the process of instructing the cause of a saint. Father Thomas knows well the subject since he has been, for the last six years, the general postulator of the causes of saints for the OMI’s. 

You can listen to his conference in English. Below the player, you will find the plan of Father Thomas’ talk. To download the mp3 file, please select the square situated right of the player and, on the next page, download the file. You can also download the PDF of the talk’s plan at the bottom of this post. 

1. Biography

Charles Martial Allemand Lavigerie

Born October 31, 1825 in Huire, Bayonne, France

    • Family background
    • Education
    • Theological studies: St. Sulpice, Paris / France

Ecclesiastical career:

1849 ordination to priesthood

1854 professor at Sorbonne in Paris

    • Trips to Lebanon and Syria

1861 Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and, in October French auditor at Rota Romana

1863 bishop of Nancy

Africa: church – politics – social life

1868 Archbishop of Algiers, Algeria

    • He had come to serve the population of Algeria not the colonists
    • Missionary approach
    • Human approach (famine, anti-slavery propaganda…).
    • Foundation of basilica Our Lady of Africa in Algiers (1872)

Foundations and their development

1868 White Fathers

1869 White Sisters

    • 1874 taking over the Sahara and Sudan mission
    • Missionaries sent to Tunis, Tripoli, East Africa and the Congo
    • 1878 seminary in Jerusalem

Ecclesiastical merits

    • 1870 at Vatican 1, he supported papal infallibility
    • 1882 cardinal
    • 1884 titular archbishop Carthage and “primate of Africa”

Died November 26, 1892 (aged 67) Algiers, Algeria

2. Diocesan Inquiry

2.1 First step: preliminaries

Diocesan postulator starts inquiry on life and sanctity of candidate, and pastoral relevance of cause.

2.1.1. Petitioner of cause (e.g. White Fathers / Sisters / Archdiocese of Algiers) appoints a diocesan postulator, with consent of local bishop (Archdiocese of Algiers)

2.1.2. Postulator approaches competent bishop to open hearings of witnesses or documentation (historical cause)

2.1.3. Report by postulator on reputation for sanctity and pastoral relevance of the proposed cause.

2.1.4. Postulator also presents a biography, list of published writings, and witnesses.

2.2. Second step: establishing the cause

A study of the life and writings of the servant of God. Consultation with bishops, the faithful, experts and Holy See.

2.2.1. Bishop decides officially to investigate and instruct the cause.

2.2.2. Bishop consults local bishops concerning appropriateness of cause.

2.2.3. Bishop calls on the faithful to make submissions on the cause.

2.2.4. Published writings of the servant of God are examined by a theological commission.

2.2.5. Unpublished, and related, writings examined by historical commission.

2.2.6. Bishop consults with Holy See concerning possible obstacles to the cause (nihil obstat).

2.3. Third step: formal inquiry on virtues

Formal canonical inquiry collects evidence, and examines witnesses. (opening of diocesan inquiry)

2.3.1. Bishop sets up inquiry, appoints a delegate, promotor of justice, notary.

2.3.2. Promoter of justice draws up list of questions for examination of witnesses or experts.

2.3.3. Listed witnesses, experts, and others ex officio (theologians / historians), examined under oath.

2.3.4. If necessary and opportune, witnesses or experts from other dioceses examined.

2.3.5. Bishop makes a declaration on the question of cult of the servant of God.

2.3.6. Authenticated copies of all records / documents are collected and sent under seal to the Holy See in Rome, Congregation for the Causes of Saints = C.C.S. (→ C.C.S. fee: 3.000,00 €)

2.3.7. Originals of all records / documents sealed and retained in diocesan archives.

2.3.8. Title given : servant of God.

3. Roman Inquiry

3.1. First stage: Validity of the cause

3.1.1. Roman postulator with permanent residence in Rome has to be named.

3.1.2. Canonical examination of the validity of the diocesan inquiry.

3.2. Second stage: Examination

3.2.1. Roman Postulator prepares with a Relator a documentation, called Postio (→ C.C.S. fees: 4.000,00 € at the beginning and 2.000,00 € at the end)

3.2.2. Examination of Positio and by theologians, historians, cardinals and bishops. (→ C.C.S. fee: 8.000,00 €)

3.2.3. Approval by the pope with a decree on heroicity of Virtues: Title of venerable.

3.3. Third stage: Approval of a miracle in the diocese.

(For beatification on heroic virtues, a first miracle is required!): Collection of evidence, and examination of witnesses.

3.3.1. Diocesan or Roman postulator presents preliminary report.

3.3.2. Bishop seeks initial reactions.

3.3.3. Diocesan inquiry examines all witnesses, including medical experts.

3.3.4. Person cured, if still alive, is examined to determine permanency of cure.

3.3.5. Copies of all proceedings sent to Holy See (→ C.C.S. fee: 4.000,00 €).

3.3.6. Originals kept in diocesan archives.

3.4. Fourth stage: Approval of a miracle at the Holy See

3.4.1. Roman Postulator prepares With a Relator a Postio

3.4.2. Study on the miracle approved by medical experts (→ C.C.S. fee: 7.000,00 €) and theologians (→ C.C.S. fee: 7.000,00 €), cardinals and bishops.

3.4.3. The pope authorizes ceremony of beatification. Ceremony of beatification follows in local church. Title of blessed. (= total fee of C.C.S. up to beatification: 33.000,00 €)

Excurse: Beatification is an administrative act by which the church allows a candidate for sainthood to be venerated liturgically in places closely associated with his or her life and ministry (local churches, countries, religious groups…). Canonization is a formal papal declaration that allows public remembrance of the saint at liturgies throughout the universal church.

3.5. Fifth stage: Approval of a miracle in the diocese.

(For canonization on heroic virtues, a second miracle is required!) Collection of evidence, and examination of witnesses.

3.5.1. Diocesan or Roman Postulator presents preliminary report.

3.5.2. Bishop seeks initial reactions.

3.5.3. Diocesan inquiry examines all witnesses, including medical experts.

3.5.4. Person cured, if still alive, is examined to determine permanency of cure.

3.5.5. Copies of all proceedings sent to Holy See (→ C.C.S. fee: 4.000,00 €).

3.5.6. Originals kept in diocesan archives.

3.6. Sixth stage: Approval of a miracle at the Holy See

3.6.1. Roman Postulator prepares with a Relator a Postio (documentation)

3.6.2. Study on the miracle approved by medical experts (→ C.C.S. fee: 7.000,00 €) and theologians (→ C.C.S. fee: 7.000,00 €), cardinals and bishops.

3.6.3. The pope authorizes ceremony of canonization. Ceremony of canonization follows in Rome. Title of saint (= total fee of C.C.S. up to canonization: 14.000,00 € / 33.000,00 € + 14.000,00 € = 47.000,00 €)

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See here for documentation.

Discovering Mother Marie-Salome

Some of you have asked for the written text of this very interesting conference. In the meantime, I have adopted and edited the conference title used in the written version. I also received the Power-Point presentation that I have inserted after the sound file below. For the moment I only have the French versions of those two documents, but the English text of the conference should follow soon.

Gisela Schreyer, archivist of the MSOLA, tells us about the history, little known to the White Fathers, of Mother Marie Salome, considered to be the co-founder of the White Sisters with Cardinal Lavigerie.

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See here for documentation.

Dr. John Borelli on Nostra Aetate

Dr. John Borelli is special assistant for Catholic identity and dialogue to President John J. DeGioia of Georgetown University. Borelli has been at Georgetown University since 2004, where he teaches, manages conferences and events, coordinates dialogue and mission for the Jesuit Conference, facilitates workshops, and promotes university relations with offices and institutes of the Holy See.

Dr. J. Borelli accepted to talk to us, in the framework of our Roman conferences, about Nostra Aetate, one of his areas of expertise.
And if you want to know more about Dr. Borelli, follow this link.

Lavigerie, his vision, his personality… new insights

Father Frank Nolan has reviewed the Society’s archives and comes with new insights about Cardinal Lavigerie, his vision, his personality.

Two of the participants at this Conference, which is part of a cycle of Roman Conferences in view of the Jubilee Celebrations, have given these testimonies at the end of the conference :

“Students need this vision! I have been giving the talks in the Novitiate about Lavigerie but this is a very good corrective to some of the stuff I was giving, putting the stress on the strong hand of Lavigerie, which of course is there, but you are showing that it is not the full picture.” (D. Sullivan, M.Afr.)

“I just want to thank you for this vision. I think it is confirmed by the relationship Lavigerie had with our Mother Salome because it is true that he considered his will to be the will of God and as much as she entered into this vision, at the same time, though pretty shy, Mother Salome could challenge Lavigerie… who took it well and listened to her.” (G. Schreyer, msola)

Here after, the conference of Frank Nolan (in English) and then the two photos he is speaking about at the beginning of the conference.

Testimony of Sr Vicky Chiharhula

Vicky Chiharhula, msola, shares with us her experience as a pastoral agent for migrants in Sicily. Below, you will find the audio recording of his sharing (in french), as well as an article published by Bernard Ugeux on his blog (in french).

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Les « sœurs du monde » :
une équipe internationale de consacrées sur le terrain

Le pape François a demandé l’an dernier aux religieux de s’engager dans l’accueil des migrants. Les missionnaires d’Afrique en ont accueillis dans leur Maison Généralice à Rome. Les jésuites ont un important centre d’accueil au Vatican. A la demande de l’Union des Supérieurs Majeures, des congrégations féminines comme les Sœur Missionnaires de Notre-Dame d’Afrique (Sœurs Blanches) ont décidé de participer à une équipe inter-congrégationnelle et internationale en vue d’accueillir les migrants qui débarquant en Sicile. Ces migrants arrivent aussi de l’Afrique et, pour eux, être accueillis par une religieuse africaine qui peut mieux comprendre leur drame est un précieux soulagement.

Vicky Chiharhula SMNDA, Conglaise, partage les premiers pas de cette équipe.
Mission auprès des migrants en Sicile.
Nous sommes arrivées en Sicile le 14/12/2015, de cinq Congrégations de nationalités différentes : Argentine, Erythrée, Inde, Pologne et République Démocratique du Congo. Nous étions très bien accueillies de tous dans le diocèse d’Agrigento et au-delà. Dès le début, le cardinal Francesco Montenegro, archevêque d’Agrigento a voulu une communauté qui, par sa vie, puisse témoigner que c’est possible de vivre heureuses tout en étant différentes. « Le plus important n’est pas ce que vous ferez, mais le témoignage d’une vie commune heureuse » disait-il. En vivant unies malgré nos différences (cultures, charismes/spiritualités, races, langues), nous cherchons à bâtir des ponts entre la population sicilienne qui nous accueille et les migrants qui viennent des diverses cultures, races, religions, langues et nations. Plusieurs personnes nous appellent « les sœurs du monde »
Nous sommes encore à nos premiers pas dans l’effort de la connaissance mutuelle en communauté ainsi que celui de la connaissance de la culture sicilienne qui nous est totalement inconnue et différente des nôtres. Nous vivons dans notre chair ce que signifie « être migrant », comme le vivent ceux qui sont venus des différents coins du monde. L’unique et grande différence est que nous, nous l’avons librement choisi pour le Christ et sa mission.    
Notre vie communautaire est en quelque sorte une mission en soi. Nous souhaitons bâtir une communauté qui reflète la beauté de la fraternité universelle dans la différence. Cela n’est va pas de soi…
Tous ceux qui viennent nous voient ou qui entendent parler de notre expérience disent que c’est un signe de l’Esprit pour l’avenir de la vie religieuse. Nous sentons un appel pressent d’obéir à l’Esprit de Dieu et de le laisser accomplir en nous l’œuvre du Père. Nous cherchons encore la meilleure manière de nous engager concrètement, pour bâtir des ponts solides entre nous et avec tant d’autres.
Pendant que nous découvrons le milieu et sa réalité, nous faisons de petites choses : présence au port à l’arrivée des migrants, formation pour l’écoute et stage dans les centres d’écoute du diocèse, visites des migrants hospitalisés et sur la rue, etc..
Même si dans notre groupe il y a plusieurs langues, l’Italien reste un grand défi. Nous devons bien le connaître pour pouvoir faciliter la communication entre les uns et les autres. Il nous faut fournir beaucoup d’effort à cet effet.
Nous sommes très reconnaissantes envers toutes les personnes qui nous soutiennent de diverses manières. Puisse le Seigneur nous accorder la grâce de mettre en commun la richesse de nos cultures et de nos charismes, pour être un signe visible de son règne d’amour, d’unité et de miséricorde sur cette terre sicilienne !

Bernard Ugeux sur son Blog :

La Vie – Lettres d’Afrique – Un regard bienveillant et exigeant sur une Afrique qui souffre et se déploie

Lavigerie through the prism of three White Fathers

Here is the recording of a lecture given (in French) at the Generalate by Mr. Rémi Caucanas, Doctor in Contemporary History and specialist on Christian-Muslim relations in the Mediterranean. Though not as such an event for the 150th Jubilee Celebration, it does contribute to prepare us to celebrate. His lecture was introduced by Diégo Sarriò M.Afr., of whom he became the friend and collaborator. A large number of confreres of the house were present as well as thirteen White Sisters of Rome. Here is the transcript of the presentation of Mr. Rémi Caucanas by Father Diégo.
Continue reading “Lavigerie through the prism of three White Fathers”

The charism of our Society

After his mandate as First Assistant, Jos Van Boxel did a sabbatical during which he researched on the charism of our Society according to our founder the Cardinal Charles lavigerie, of course, … but more interesting how it does apply today. We were priviledged at the General House to have a short presentation by Jos on his reasearch. Sorry for those who do not understand English.


Interview of Fr. André Simonart

From February 13th to 18th, the Provincials, together with the Delegates from the EPO and SOA Sections, met with the General Council for their yearly meeting of planning and allocating personnel in the Society. Here is the interview of Father André Simonart, Provincial of Europe, at the end of the meeting. (in French ~20 min.)