(Paris) The General Chapter of the Community of Saint Martin (Communauté Saint-Martin) confirmed Abbé Paul Préaux for a new term of six years as Moderator General (Superior General). The General Chapter met on 4-5th April.
A primary goal of the new term of office is the type of Rome established propaedeuticum to check the seminarians for their suitability.In addition, the needs of the bishops should be more taken into account in the formation of priests to expand in the "medium term on the Community's international character," as it says in a statement on the priestly community.
Four bishops, 94 priests, 104 deacons and seminarians
The Community of Saint Martin was founded in 1976 by Father Jean-François Guérin (1929-2005). Guérin was a priest of the Archdiocese of Tours in France, but also an Oblate of the Benedictine Monastery of Fontgombault. This explains the charism in which he founded his priestly community. They celebrated in the new rite, but in Latin with Gregorian chant and ad Deum , without people's altar. The community thus represents a special form among the new Rite communities. This special care for the liturgy includes prayer in the community choir. Although it is a community of secular priests, the spirituality is strongly influenced by the Benedictine.
The first ecclesial recognition was made in 1979 by the then Archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Giuseppe Siri. The General House was relocated to France in 1993. 2000 saw the papal approval. The community is under the Congregation for Clergy. The Community emphasis is in France where it is represented in fifteen dioceses. Additional offices are in Italy and in Cuba.
The community today has 94 priests and more than 100 seminarians. Four members of the community of priests were consecrated as bishops, including the incumbent Bishop of Bayonne, Msgr. Marc Aillet, the reigning Bishop of Pamiers, Msgr. Jean-Marc Eychenne, and titular bishop Msgr. Nicolas Thevenin, currently Apostolic Nuncio to Guatemala.
Interest in Weingarten Abbey
In 2009 the community wanted to colonize Weingarten Abbey which had been abandoned by Benedictines. The monastery with a blood reliquary is on a Saint Martin Mountain. One reason why the French priests' community expressed interest. The relevant negotiations with the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart have since not canceled, but have not given any results. "There are doubts" in the diocese about the "suitability" of the community, was what Bishop Gebhard Fürst said in 2012. This had to do with the French character of the community. Moreover, the "conservative" character of the community and its liturgical particularity is suspected as the reason for the sluggish talks.
Meanwhile, the empty cells of the monks have been used since August 2015 to house refugees. Weingarten monastery has, for the time being, the status of a Bedarfsorientierte Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung (BEA) [Need-based Reception Center].
Because of their proximity to Benedictine spirituality, the Community of Saint Martin works for the acquisition and revitalization of abandoned Benedictine monasteries. Since 2014, the seminary and the general house is located in the former Benedictine abbey of Évron. Founded in the 7th century, it was a victim at the end of the 18th century of the French Revolution. In 1803, when the storms had weakened, the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity took over the former Abbey and gathered again after their dispersal by the Jacobin regiment, which was not possible during the revolution. In 2012 the sisters sold the former abbey to the priestly community.
Abbé Paul Préaux is the third General Moderator of the Community.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Community Sankt Martin (Screenshot)