"Superior General" is the official title given to the leader of the Congregation of the Mission, a Community of Priests and Brothers (Society of Apostolic Life) in the Roman Catholic Church. In English speaking countries, members of the Congregation of the Mission are known variously as "Vincentian Priests and Brothers", "Vincentian Fathers and Brothers", "Vincentians", or even "the Vins". Each Superior General is regarded as the successor of St Vincent de Paul, the founder and first Superior General of the Congregation. The Congregation of the Mission is organized into provinces, each with a Provincial Superior referred to as the "Provincial" or the "Visitor".
The Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission is also the Superior General of the Daughters of Charity.
Role, Responsbilities and Duration of Office
The role and responsibilities of the Superior General are set out in the Constitutions of the Congregation of the Mission (Part Three, Chapter 1 Central Administration). The Superior General is elected by the members of a General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission for a six year term and can be re-elected for a second six year term. He ceases to hold office with the acceptance of office by his successor, or by his resignation accepted by a General Assembly or the Holy See.
Vincent de Paul was the Founder and first Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission. The Foundation Day of the Congregation is regarded as being January 25, 1617, when Vincent preached his sermon on general confession at Folleville in northern France. In 1625, the contract with Madame de Gondi (see Gondi Family) for the giving of rural missions by Vincent and his group of missioners was signed. In 1626, approval for the work of Vincent's mission band was given by the Archbishop of Paris, Jean François de Gondi. The approval of the King, Louis XIII, was obtained in the following year. Papal approval for the Congregation of the Mission was given by Urban VIII in the Bull "Salvatoris Nostri" in 1632. It was also in 1632 that the Congregation moved into Saint Lazare. From 1632, Vincent was officially recognised as Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission. The term "Superior General" (in Latin "Praepositus Generalis") may have been used before that time, e.g., copies/drafts in 1628 of the application to Urban VIII for approval of the Congregation, or in other instances. During his life, Vincent did not relish using the term in reference to himself.
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List of Superiors General
1. St Vincent de Paul (1625 - 1660)
2. Fr René Alméras (1660 - 1672)
3. Fr Edmond Jolly (1673 - 1697)
4. Fr Nicolas Pierron (1697 - 1703)
5. Fr François Watel (1703 - 1710)
6. Fr Jean Bonnet (1711 - 1735)
7. Fr Jean Couty (1736 - 1746)
8. Fr Louis de Bras (1747 - 1761)
9. Fr Antoine Jacquier (1762 - 1787)
10. Fr Jean Félix Cayla de la Garde (1788 -1800)
11. Fr Pierre-Joseph Dewailly (1827 - 1828)
12. Fr Dominique Salhorgne (1829 - 1836)
13. Fr Jean-Baptiste-Rigobert Nozo (1835 - 1842)
14. Fr Jean-Baptiste Étienne (1843 - 1874)
15. Fr Eugene Boré (1874 - 1878)
16. Fr Antoine Fiat (1878 - 1914)
17. Fr Emile Villette (1914 - 1916)
18. Fr François Verdier (1919 - 1933)
19. Fr Charles Souvay (1933 - 1939)
20. Fr William Slattery (1947 - 1968)
21. Fr James Richardson (1968 - 1980)
22. Fr Richard McCullen (198 - 1992)
23. Fr Robert P. Maloney (1992 - 2004)
24. Fr G. Gregory Gay ( 2004 - )
Gallery of Superiors General
A Gallery of the Superiors General of the Congregation of the Mission can be found at Gallery of Superiors General