Kevin Di Camillo writes regularly for The National Catholic Register and is a Lecturer in English Literature at Niagara University. His latest book is Now Chiefly Poetical, and with Rev. Lawrence Boadt he edited John Paul II in the Holy Land: In His Own Words. His work has been anthologized in Wild Dreams: The Best of Italian-Americana, and he was awarded the Foley Poetry Prize from America Magazine. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he regularly attends Yale University’s School of Management Publishing Course.
A few weeks ago we came up with a fun and hopefully educational quiz on Catholic post-nominals — that is, those sometimes inscrutable suffixes used by members of Religious Orders, Congregations, Societies and groups.
Here’s a new batch that, like the first, follow these rules:
- All the religious groups are still in existence,
- Most of the societies are for men, though some have female parallels,
- None were founded after 1900.
Ready? Without further delay:
- O. de. M.
- S.A.C.: The Pallotine Fathers, officially known as “The Society for the Catholic Apostolate,” was founded by St. Vincent Pallotti, in Rome in 1835. Has a surprisingly high membership of 1,600 priests and nearly 3,000 brothers, and they administer one of the world’s largest churches in the Ivory Coast, as well as a tiny but well-attended Shrine of the Infant Jesus in Niagara Falls.
- Er.Cam.: The Camaldolese monks, an offshoot of the Benedictines via St. Romuald, who saw more eremetical life in the Rule of Saint Benedict. Originally started in 11th-century Italy, they have one monastery in the United States in Big Sur, California. An alternate is “O.S.B. Cam.” (but I thought this variant would be too easy).
- C.S.B.: The Basilian fathers, officially the Congregation of Saint Basil. Confusingly, they do not trace themselves back to St. Basil the Great in fourth-century Cappadocia (nor do they follow the ancient Rule of St. Basil) but to France in 1822. Primarily teachers at heart, they staff St. Thomas University in Houston and high schools around the globe.
- S.S.: No not Heinrich Himmler’s black-clad secret death squad, but the Society of Saint-Sulpice, a group of priests whose main goal is the formation of other priests. Another group that was founded in France, in this case in 1641.
- O.S.C.: The Crosier brothers and fathers. A very old religious order that dates back to 13th-century France. With about 400 members worldwide, they still have one of the most distinctive habits in all of Christendom!
- Sch.P.: “The Order of the Poor Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools,” better known as the “Piarists,” founded by St. Joseph Calasanctius in 1617, the main thrust of their order being the free education of the poor.
- O.Ss.T.: The Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Captives, better known as the Trinitarians, founded by St. John of Matha in 1198 near Paris. As their name implies, a big part of their apostolate was concerned with freeing Christians who had been taken captive. Among their sainted brethren: St. Michael-of-the-Saints, the co-patron (with St. Peregrine) of those suffering from cancer. Still active with about 600 members.
- S.S.S.: The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament was founded by St. Peter Julian Eymard, who was concerned that there was up until that point (mid-19th century) no one order dedicated to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. St. Peter Julian was originally a Marist, but obtained leave to found this new Congregation, as well as one for women religious, too.
- C.R.M.: The Adorno Fathers, or Clerks Regular Minor—“Clerks (or “clerics”) Regular” simply refers to a group of priests who follow a “Rule”—were founded by St. Francis Caracciolo and Venerable Augustine Adorno (hence their name) in Italy in 1592. Very active in the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as New Jersey and South Carolina.) You can read more about St. Francis Caracciolo here: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/dicamillo/3-other-great-saints-named-francis.
- S.S.E.: The Society of St. Edmund, or Edmundites, founded in France in the mid-19th century, is one of the smallest orders or societies in terms of members, but it still manages the beautiful St. Michael’s College in rural Vermont.
- C.O.: Not “Carbon Monoxide” or “Corporation” but “The Congregation of the Oratory” founded by the celebrated and lovable Saint of Rome, Philip Neri, who did so much to revive the diocesan clergy of the 16th-century Eternal City. “Oratorians” are not bound by vows in the same way that monks (who take a vow of stability to a place), or canons (who take a vow to an order that follows a Rule), but have at least four members who agree to meet and pray together. They take no formal vows but are bound by “charity alone.” This innovation—of priests coming together informally to pray as one—is a tribute to St. Philip’s love of his fellow secular priests and Jesus in the Eucharist.
- O.S.F.S.: The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the renowned Bishop of Geneva, and dear friend of St. Jane Frances de Chantal (you can read more about them here.) A saint who was so influential that St. John Bosco would name his order—the Salesians—after this great bishop and reformer. Technically an “oblate” does not require formal final solemn vows, but those members of the order who become priests do take on the evangelical counsels.
- O. de. M.: “The Royal, Celestial and Military Order of Our Lady of Mercy and the Redemption of the Captives” are better known as the Mercedarians, founded by St. Peter Nolasco in Barcelona, Spain in 1218. They are unique in that they take a fourth vow (in addition to poverty, chastity and obedience) of dying, if necessary, for another who is in danger of losing their faith. Like the Franciscans and Dominicans they are a mendicant order (that is, a poor order that relied on alms for their existence). Next to their founder, perhaps their most famous member is St. Raymond Nonnatus, the patron saint of expectant mothers.
- V.G.: Next to the bishop and his assistant bishops, the biggest name in the diocese, namely “The Vicar General” or, as he is more usually styled “Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia.” Usually goes by “The Very Reverend” or “The Right Reverend.”