Emblem of the Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri
|Abbreviation||C.O., Cong. Orat.|
|Type||Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right (for Men)|
|Headquarters||Via di Parione 33, 00186 Roma, Italy|
|542 members (430 priests) (2016)|
The Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri is a pontifical society of apostolic life of Catholic priests and lay-brothers who live together in a community bound together by no formal vows but only with the bond of charity. They are commonly referred to as Oratorians(Oratorian Fathers).
This "Congregation of the Oratory" should not be confused with the French Oratory, a distinct congregation, the Society of the Oratory of Jesus (Société de l'Oratoire de Jésus), founded by Pierre de Bérulle in 1611 in Paris.
Founded in Rome in 1575 by St. Philip Neri, today it has spread around the world, with over 70 Oratories and some 500 priests. The post-nominal initials commonly used to identify members of the society are "C.O." (Congregatio Oratorii). The abbreviation "Cong. Orat." is also used.
Unlike a religious institute (the members of which take vows and are answerable to a central authority) or a monastery (the monks of which are likewise bound by vows in a community that may itself be autonomous and answerable directly to the Pope), the Oratorians are made up of members who commit themselves to membership in a particular, independent, self-governing local community (an Oratory, usually named for the place in which it is located: e.g., Birmingham Oratory, Oxford Oratory, Brooklyn Oratory) without actually taking vows, an unusual and innovative arrangement created by St. Philip. Normally an oratory must have a minimum of four members, two being ordained, in order to be founded. If a group of men seeks to establish an oratory, they may apply to do so, going through the proper diocesan channels; during the process of formation a member (or members) of a well-established oratory resides in the community to facilitate every aspect of the proposed foundation.
The Congregation of the Oratory was founded by St. Philip Neri (1515–1595) in the city of Rome. The first Oratory received papal recognition in 1575. The new community was to be a congregation of secular priests living under obedience but bound by no vows.Speaking of Neri, whom he called, "the saint of joy", Pope John Paul II said, "As is well known, the saint used to put his teaching into short and wise maxims: 'Be good, if you can'... .He did not choose the life of solitude; but, in exercising his ministry among the common people, he also wished to be "salt" for all those who met him. Like Jesus, he was equally able to enter into the human misery present in the noble palaces and in the alleys of Renaissance Rome."
The core of St. Philip's spirituality focused on an unpretentious return to the lifestyle of the first Disciples of Christ. The object of the institute is threefold: prayer, preaching, and the sacraments.
Up to 1800 the Oratory continued to spread through Italy, Sicily, Spain, Portugal, Poland, and other European countries; in South America, Brazil, India, and Ceylon. Under Napoleon I the Oratory was in various places despoiled and suppressed, but the congregation recovered and, after a second suppression in 1869, again revived.A few houses were founded in Munich and Vienna.
There are eighty six Congregations of the Oratory throughout the world. Each Community is autonomous, but there is a Confederation which facilitates contact with the Holy See.As such, the Congregation of the Oratory functions more like a monastic federation than like a religious institute.
Three documents govern the Oratory. The first is the "General Statutes" of the Congregation, which are guidelines to be followed throughout the world; these may be changed or modified when representatives from each Oratory gather every six years in a meeting called a "Congresso Generale". The second is the "Particular Statutes", which outline how an individual Oratory is to be conducted; these must be approved by Rome. The third document is the "Constitutions", which establish general norms, and outline the relationship between the Congregation and the Holy See. As the Oratory is a confederation, there is no central authority such as is found within the Dominicans, Franciscans, or Jesuits. The definitive foundation of an Oratorian Congregation is actually done by the Roman Pontiff directly, which makes a Congregation what is called a "Pontifical Right" foundation.
The Confederation elects one of its own to represent the interests of the Congregations to the Holy See; this is done through the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. This person, known as Procurator General, resides in Rome at the Procura General.
Frederick William Faber described the Oratorian charism as "a spirituality of everyday life". The Oratory founded by St Philip Neri is a society of priests and brothers who live together under a Rule without taking religious vows. Hence, Oratorians are free to resign their membership in the Congregation without canonical impediment or ecclesiastical dispensation. An Oratorian resides in an Oratory community of his choosing and is permanently stable, i.e., he is not subject to transfer to other Oratories or communities.Oratorians have what is called 'stability,' which means they are committed as members of the community of a particular Oratory, though a member may move if there is a serious enough reason.
As there is no vow of poverty, Oratorians may keep their possessions, and those who can afford to do so are expected to contribute to the support of the house. It is possible for an ordained secular priest to join the Community if he feels called to a more recollected life in community than is possible in a diocesan presbytery, however the Constitutions do not permit anyone who has been a solemnly professed religious to join the Congregation. Neither is it customary to admit anyone over the age of forty five.
Unlike the members of some religious institutes, Oratorians are not bound by a rule to pray in common, though this is something that Oratorians consider important, and they commit themselves to praying together at least twice each day, and having one communal meal which is usually dinner. Oratorians normally have a set time each day for praying together in silent meditation; this ends classically with the recitation of a litany.
Although some oratories may have a dominant mission (e.g. the London Oratory, which maintains a school), in general the members of the Oratory spend the day involved in various ministries: teaching, parish work, spiritual direction, campus ministry, hospital chaplaincies, administration or maintaining the fabric of the community house. Some oratories are specifically connected with parishes and thus its members serve as clergy of the parish.
As secular clergy, Oratorians wear a dress similar to that of diocesan priests. However, the black cassock is worn with a distinctive Oratorian clerical collar: a white cloth that folds over the collar all around the neck, with a number of folds inward, indicating the particular oratory from which the priest originates. The cassock is bound by a fascia. The habit is given at formal reception into the community which comes after a few months of living together to see if the candidate fits in well. Members often, but do not necessarily, wear the cassock whilst engaged in their respective ministries. When not wearing the cassock, members of the Oratory would wear the normal street clothes of a cleric, such as a clerical shirt, but with the Oratorian collar. In some countries such as Spain, Oratorians do not wear the distinctive Oratorian cassock and collar, making them indistinguishable from other secular priests.
As of 2014, the website of the oratory's "headquarters" in Rome lists the following as some of the numerous congregations throughout the world:
There are oratories in: Vienna, Austria; Dijon, Hyères, and Nancy, France; Acireale, Biella, Bologna, Brescia, Florence, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Verona, Prato and Vicenza, Italy; Germany (Aachen, Aufhausen, Dresden, Frankfurt am Main, Hannover, Heidelberg, Leipzig, Celle and Munich); Lithuania (Vilnius); Netherlands (Maastricht); Poland (Gostyń, Studzianna, Tarnów, Radom, Bytow, Tomaszów Mazowiecki and Poznań); Portugal (Convento e Palácio de Nossa Senhora das Necessidades), Lisboa);Spain (Barcelona, Seville, Porreras, Albacete, Vic, Alcalá de Henares, Getafe, Tudela, Soller and Palma) and Switzerland (Zurich). There are also Oratories in formation in Bratislava, Slovakia and Mikulov in the Czech Republic.
Saint John Henry Newman founded the first Oratory in the English-speaking world when he established the Birmingham Oratory in the city of Birmingham on 2 February 1848.This was initially located at Old Oscott, which Newman renamed Maryvale (after the Oratory church in Rome, Santa Maria in Vallicella). After a couple of moves this community eventually settled in Edgbaston. Attached to the Birmingham Oratory was the Oratory School now at Woodcote, Berkshire, near Reading.
In 1849 a second congregation was founded in King William Street, Strand, London (the London Oratory), with Frederick William Faber as superior; in 1854 it was transferred to Brompton. Its church, the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was consecrated on 16 April 1884 and is the second largest Roman Catholic church in London.
A House also exists in Oxford (the Oxford Oratory).
As of October 2013, the church of St Wilfrid, York, was turned over to the Oxford Oratorians on the retirement of the incumbent parish priestand is now canonically established, known as the York Oratory.
In Manchester (St Chad's) there is a community canonically established on the Feast of All Saints, 2019.
There are also Houses in Formation in Cardiff, as of April 2016,and Bournemouth, as of May 2017.
In Argentina: (Mercedes); Brazil: (São Paulo); Chile: (Villa Alemana); Colombia: (Bogotá, Ipiales and Pasto); Costa Rica: (San José); Mexico: (Guanajuato, Mexico City, Orizaba, Puebla, San Miguel de Allende, Tlalnepantla, Reynosa, Tamaulipas, La Paz, Leon, San Pablo Tepetlapa y Mérida.
As of 2012 there was an Oratory in Formation in Port Antonio, Jamaica (Archdiocese of Kingston). This community of priests had been constituted many years ago and upon completing the necessary requirements in the Archdiocese of Kingston in 2014 the community was erected as a Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, the first in the history of the English speaking Caribbean.
In Canada, the Oratorians have a house in Toronto, although the original foundation was in Montreal in 1975.
The first Oratory in the United States was founded in Rock Hill, South Carolina, in 1934.The ministry of the Rock Hill Oratorians has long included campus ministry at Winthrop University and prison visitation at the Moss detention center in York County.
The Pittsburgh Oratory was founded in 1961 by Cardinal John Wright, then-Bishop of Pittsburgh, in order to have Oratorian Fathers serving as Chaplains at Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, and the University of Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Oratory's ministry has since expanded to adult ministry, confession ministry, and a ministry of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. The Pittsburgh Oratory maintains an 87-acre retreat house in the nearby Laurel Highlands, called "Rednal."The Pittsburgh Oratorians also administer the National Institute for Newman Studies, which promotes study of the life and thought of Cardinal Newman, through a research library and financial support to visiting scholars interested in Newman.
The principal ministry of the Brooklyn Oratory, established in 1988,are the parishes of Saint Boniface, which it has cared for since 1990, and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brooklyn Heights which came under its pastoral care in 2016. In this year also, the Brooklyn Oratory began a pastoral outreach to students in the various secular colleges and universities in Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights. The New Brunswick Congregation was formally established by Pope John Paul II, on 8 September 1998. The members of the Congregation serve in Catholic campus ministry at Rutgers University, at St. Peter the Apostle Parish and at St. Joseph Parish, New Brunswick, New Jersey. They are located in Raritan, New Jersey.
On 26 May 1994 Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of the Archdiocese of Chicago decreed the formation of a diocesan right Oratory of St. Philip Neri which follow the Constitutions and General Statutes of the Congregration of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Its members continue in pastoral ministries.
The New York Oratory was founded on 28 June 2007, in Sparkill, New York.On the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 15 August 2007, the Procurator General P. Edoardo Cerrato consigned the Decree of the Foundation of New York Oratory to its members, during the celebration of the Eucharist, presided by Cardinal Egan, in the presence of Archbishop Alojz Tkac, Metropolitan of Kosice Slovakia, participating honorable guests, parishioners of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish Tappan, NY, visitors from other parishes and friends.
On 1 August 2014, a Community in Formation of the Oratory was established at Star of the Sea Church in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, California.As of 30 August 2015, the project was abandoned.
In Washington, D.C., the Community of St. Philip Neri was established as a community-in-formation in July 2013 by canonical decree of the Archbishop of Washington, Donald Cardinal Wuerl. [ citation needed ]Washington's Oratorians are responsible for the administration of the parish of St. Thomas Apostle in Woodley Park. They oversee a chapter of the Little Oratory of St. Philip Neri, a group of Catholic laymen.
In the diocese of Kalamazoo, MI, Most Rev. Paul Bradley approved the establishment of a community in formation of the Oratory at St. Mary parish, Kalamazoo in September 2015. Here the liturgical apostolate of the parish follows the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite. Provisional plans have begun for the establishment of a classical school in the Oratorian tradition.
In Red Bank, New Jersey, the Red Bank Oratory-in-Formation of St. Philip Neri was formally established by canonical decree of the Most Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M. on 29 May 2016. The Red Bank Oratory-in-Formation was entrusted with the care of St. Anthony of Padua Church and has established a Secular Oratory and a Youth Oratory.
In 2017, Pope Francis issued a decree establishing the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The Oratory is based at Old St. Mary's Church in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati.
A number of Oratories have associated with the congregation, a community of lay people called the Secular Oratory.
The first Oratory in South Africa was founded in Oudtshoorn in 1997. The Port Elizabeth Oratory celebrated its inaugural Mass on 15 August 2008.In Bloemfontein, an Oratorian Community-in-formation has been resident since January 2015.
In 2011, work towards establishing the first Australian Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri was conceived. The community-in-formation was welcomed to Brisbane by Archbishop Mark Coleridge, and is supported by the Fathers of the London, Oxford and Toronto Oratories.The Brisbane Oratory in Formation is based at Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley, in the Annerley Ekibin parish.
Philip Romolo Neri, known as the Second Apostle of Rome, after Saint Peter, was an Italian priest noted for founding a society of secular clergy called the Congregation of the Oratory.
Frederick William Faber C.O. was a noted English hymn writer and theologian, who converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism in 1845. He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood subsequently in 1847. His best-known work is Faith of Our Fathers.
John Nepomucene Neumann was a Catholic priest from Bohemia. He immigrated to the United States in 1836, where he was ordained and later joined the Redemptorist order and became the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia (1852–1860). He is the first United States bishop to be canonized. While Bishop of Philadelphia, Neumann founded the first Catholic diocesan school system in the United States. He is a Roman Catholic saint, canonized in 1977.
Camillus de Lellis, M.I., was a Roman Catholic priest from Italy who founded the Camillians, a religious order dedicated to the care of the sick. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in the year 1742, and canonized by him four years later in 1746. De Lellis is the patron saint of the sick, hospitals, nurses and physicians. His assistance is also invoked against gambling.
The Servite Order is one of the five original Catholic mendicant orders. Its objectives are the sanctification of its members, preaching the Gospel, and the propagation of devotion to the Mother of God, with special reference to her sorrows. The members of the Order use O.S.M. as their post-nominal letters. The male members are known as Servite Friars or Servants of Mary.
St Philip Neri Church Liverpool is home to the Roman Catholic chaplaincy to the universities in Liverpool. It features a Byzantine inspired design by PS Gilby and was built between 1914 and 1920. There are exterior friezes depicting the Last Supper and of Our Lady and the Child Jesus inscribed with the two titles given to Our Lady at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, i.e. 'Deipara' and 'Theotokos' over the door onto Catherine Street. There is also a large stone inscribed in Latin set in the wall bearing the name of Thomas (Whiteside), Archbishop of Liverpool 8 Oct 1916 which dates from the time the church was constructed. The parish grew from the school named 'The Institute' which opened in 1853 in nearby Hope Street. It was visited by the founder of the English Oratorians (Cardinal) John Henry Newman of The Oratory of St Philip Neri in Edgbaston, Birmingham. The parish and later the church were named after Saint Philip Neri in honour of Newman since Philip Neri had founded the original Oratory church in Rome. Parish registers of the church dating as far back as 1864 can be inspected at the Liverpool Record Office.
The Birmingham Oratory is an English Catholic religious community of the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, located in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham. The community was founded in 1849 by St. John Henry Newman, Cong.Orat., the first house of that congregation in England.
The London Oratory is a Catholic community of priests living under the rule of life established by its founder, Philip Neri (1515-1595). It is housed in an Oratory House, next to the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Brompton Road, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW7.
A society of apostolic life is a group of men or women within the Catholic Church who have come together for a specific purpose and live fraternally. There are a number of apostolic societies, such as the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who make vows or other bonds defined in their constitutions to undertake to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. However, unlike members of an institute of consecrated life, members of apostolic societies do not make religious vows—that is, "public vows."
The Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle, better known as the Paulist Fathers, is a Roman Catholic society of apostolic life for men founded in New York City in 1858 by Servant of God Isaac Thomas Hecker in collaboration with George Deshon, Augustine Hewit, and Francis A. Baker. Members of the society are called Paulists, and identify themselves as such by the use of the initials C.S.P. after their names, for the Congregation of St. Paul. The Society's mission is to evangelize—preach the gospel or give information with the intention of converting people to Catholicism—the people of North America in a manner suited to the continent's culture.
The Oxford Oratory Church of St Aloysius Gonzaga is the Catholic parish church for the centre of Oxford, England. It is located at 25 Woodstock Road, next to Somerville College. The church is served by the Congregation of the Oratory.
The Congregation of Jesus and Mary, commonly referred to as the Eudists, is a Society of Apostolic Life in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance is a mendicant order rooted in the Third Order of St. Francis which was founded in 1447.
In the canon law of the Catholic Church, an oratory is a place which is set aside by permission of an ordinary for divine worship, for the convenience of some community or group of the faithful who assemble there, but to which other members of the faithful may have access with the consent of the competent superior. The word "oratory" comes from the Latin verb orare, to pray.
The Congregation of the Oratory of Jesus and Mary Immaculate, best known as the French Oratory, is a Catholic Society of apostolic life of Catholic priests founded in 1611 in Paris, France, by Pierre de Bérulle (1575–1629), later a cardinal of the Catholic Church. They are known as Bérullians or Oratorians. The French Oratory had a determinant influence on the French school of spirituality throughout the 17th century. It is separate and distinct from the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, which served as its inspiration.
A religious brother is a member of a Christian religious institute or religious order who commits himself to following Christ in consecrated life of the Church, usually by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He is a layman, in the sense of not being ordained as a deacon or priest, and usually lives in a religious community and works in a ministry appropriate to his capabilities. A brother might practice any secular occupation. The term "brother" is used as he is expected to be as a brother to others. Brothers are members of a variety of religious communities, which may be contemplative, monastic, or apostolic in character. Some religious institutes are composed only of brothers; others are so-called "mixed" communities that are made up of brothers and clerics.
Blessed Sebastian Valfrè, C.O. was a Catholic priest and a member of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri. He is called the Apostle of Turin for his long years of service to the people of that city, where he served as the provost of the local Oratory for many years.
St Anne's Church is a Roman Catholic Parish church on Alcester Street in Digbeth, part of the city centre of Birmingham. It was founded by Saint John Henry Newman in 1849. It was moved to a new building in 1884 designed by London architects Albert Vicars and John O'Neill, who also designed St Hugh's Church in Lincoln, and helped design St Peter's Cathedral in Belfast.
The Port Elizabeth Oratory is a Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri in Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Congregation serves the Catholic parish of St Bernadette in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Elizabeth and also runs the St Philip Neri Propaedeutic Seminary or "Collegium".
The Toronto Oratory is a Catholic community of priests living under the rule of life established by its founder, Philip Neri (1515-1595). It is housed next to the Holy Family Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.