The Congregation of the Passion, initials CP, more commonly known to us as The Passionists are a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church founded by St Paul of the Cross in Italy in 1720. The Passionist order was brought to England by the Blessed Dominic Barberi whose vocation was to pray for England and for Christian Unity. The Passionist who was most influential in the history of St. Joseph’s was Father Ignatius Spencer, who preached Ecumenism in this country long before it became an accepted aim for all Christians.
Following St Paul of the Cross’s example, the Passionists wear a long black robe with the sacred heart and cross emblem, and in addition to the usual religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, they take a fourth vow to promote the loving memory of the Passion of Christ. Their aim is to “preach the crucified Christ to all people”. Through prayer and meditation on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, they can empathise with human suffering from a different, redeeming perspective by reaching out to the hidden resources of the soul. By giving up their personal life for the sake of Christ, they are free to give Christian love and understanding to people from all walks of life, and instill in them a new approach to suffering. In a materialistic society such as ours at the end of the 20th century, it is good to know that the Passionists are there, getting closer to God through prayer and meditation on our behalf, testifying to the power of the spirit to change people and events.