Founded in Paris, 1836, by Bogdan Jatiski, Peter Semenenko, and Jerome Kajsiewicz, and approved by the Holy See, 1902
Resurrection, CONGREGATION OF THE, founded in Paris, 1836, by Bogdan Jatiski, Peter Semenenko, and Jerome Kajsiewicz, and approved by the Holy See, 1902. Bogdan Jafiski, b. at Ciechanowiec, Poland, 1807, was sent by the Polish Administration to complete his studies at Paris, where he lost the faith and joined the Saint-Simonists. He assisted the Polish exiles who fled to Paris after their insurrection of 1830, and, gradually perceiving the fallacy of Saint-Simonism, he again embraced the Faith. Realizing that the great need of his countrymen was the Catholic Church, he with the poet Mickiewicz labored zealously among the exiles, strengthening the weak and winning back the apostate. Among the latter were Peter Semenenko and Jerome Kajsiewicz, who wished to enter the priesthood. When Jafiski confided to them his plan for a religious community, they joined him, and Semenenko became the chief founder and organizer.
Peter Semenenko, son of a schismatic father who abandoned the faith while at the Russian Court, and of a Protestant mother, was born in Russian Poland, 1814, baptized by a Catholic priest (probably for want of a schismatic) and so strongly desired to receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church that he was secretly instructed by the Fathers of the Mission and when eleven received the Sacrament. For this he was harshly treated by his relatives. He graduated from the gymnasium at Koze, 1829, and entered the University of Vilna. Imperfectly grounded in religion, and left without spiritual guidance, he finally lost his faith and became an avowed infidel. He joined the Polish Insurrection and after the defeat of the insurgents sought refuge in Paris, where in both Polish and French he agitated against every legitimate authority by speech and writing. An order for his arrest was issued, but before its execution Semenenko, through the salutary influence of Jafiski, had renounced his revolutionary principles, and the warrant was withdrawn.
Jerome Kajsiewicz, born at Slowiki, Poland, 1812, entered the gymnasium, 1827, and the University of Cracow, 1829, and soon joined the Polish Insurrection. He had ceased to practice his faith through godless education and perverse companionship. In an engagement with the Russians he was surrounded by the enemy's forces and seriously wounded. Before losing consciousness he promised, if freed from this imminent danger, to consecrate himself to the service of God for life. In a semi-conscious condition he was brought into the Russian camp and thrown on the snow with other prisoners. Rescued by a Polish detachment, he was placed in a hospital and, when he had sufficiently recovered his strength, journeyed to France, where he joined the Carbonari at Besancon. He soon saw the impiety of the secret societies with which he was associated, and withdrew from them. At Paris he met Mickiewicz, Jafiski, and Semenenko, through whose influence he returned to the Church.
Under the direction of Jafiski a religious community was formed by Semenenko, Kajsiewicz, and two other associates at Paris in 1836. Semenenko and Kajsiewicz continued their studies and were prefects of discipline at the College of St. Stanislaus. They subsequently adopted the disciplinary system of that institution. They went to Rome (1837) intending to complete their theological studies at the Propaganda, where Count Zamojaiski had obtained from Gregory XVI several free scholarships for Polish students, but, being Russian exiles without passports and other necessary papers, they were not admitted. Father Suszynski, S.J., collected a small sum of money for them and they lived for a month on twenty cents a day. Admitted as prefects in an orphan asylum, they were enabled to continue their studies for the priesthood and upon the arrival of two other companions (1838) led a community life of extreme poverty, having no personal income. Jafiski, who had continued his apostolic work in Paris, came to Rome in 1840 and being in delicate health, worn out with labors, privations and hardships, died after six months. He had remained a layman.
When ready for Holy orders, Semenenko and Kajsiewicz were accused of being political agents and were denied ordination. Unwilling to join the Diocese of Rome to procure their "titulus ordinationis", as this would preclude the formation of their new Congregation, they were assisted by Count Montalembert, who prevailed on the Archbishop of Paris to confer Holy orders on them but exempt them from service in his diocese.
On Holy Saturday, 1842, Semenenko was unanimously chosen Superior and on Easter Sunday celebrated Mass in the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian, where, at the suggestion of Cardinal Micara, he and his six companions made their vows for five years. The name "Congregation of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ" was suggested by the feast of the day. Their intention was to live according to the rule of some religious order already approved by the Church; but during an audience on December 28, 1847, Pius IX advised them to formulate entirely new constitutions, as he knew of no religious rule suitable to their special aim. These were compiled by Father Semenenko and approved by the Holy See in 1902.
The habit adopted is that of the secular clergy with the addition of a black woolen girdle. No special mortifications are prescribed, save a fast on the vigils of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception Seven Dolors, and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A postulate of six months is followed by a novitiate of one year; at the end of the third year of an alumnate of six years' duration, clerical students are admitted to perpetual vows, while lay brothers take their final vows six years after the novitiate. The members of this congregation may belong to the Latin or the Greek Rite. The motherhouse is at Rome, where reside the superior-general and his council. The superior-general, his council, and the procurator-general are elected by the General Chapter for a term of six years. These officials, the ex-superiors general, and two delegates, chosen by the Fathers of certain districts defined for this purpose, constitute the Chapter. Superiors, appointed by the general and his council for a term of three years and the general may hold office for two consecutive terms; a third term requires a dispensation from the Holy See. Canonically established houses consist of at least six priests; missions where less than six reside are held by the papal indult and are subject to some house. The Congregation devotes itself to work in parishes and missions, held by them under the same conditions as by the secular clergy, and to the education of youth in colleges and seminaries. Both Fathers Semenenko and Kajsiewicz died as superiors general; the former in Paris, 1886; the latter in Rome, 1873.