A brief audio excerpt (9 min) from Fr. Hinnebusch’s Lectures in Dominican History (Part 24), dealing with Fr. Vincent Jandel (1810-1872) and the revitalization of the Dominican Order in the 19th century.
Vincent Jandel, Master General (1850-1872)
From Fr. William Hinnebusch, O.P., The Dominicans, A Short History (online thanks to the friars of the Central Province):
Pius IX offered the Order a third hope when he named Vincent Jandel, one of Lacordaire’s first disciples, vicar general on October 1, 1850.
Five years later Pius appointed him master general. The Order elected him for a second term of twelve years in 1862. He had completed ten of them at the time of his death. When he began to govern, the Order numbered about 4,562 members and had made some progress toward restoration and renewal. Jandel set it on a steep uphill climb that returned it to vigorous life. His energy, positive plans, persistent attention to the contemplative base of Dominican life, and determined implementation of the Constitutions were the qualities that made him a successful leader. For a long time, the Order had needed such a man; Dominicans had been waiting for someone to lead them in the task of rebuilding the Order. Seeing its actual state in 1846, John Henry Newman had asked, “Whether it is not a great idea extinct?” Lacordaire did not think so. Six years before Newman made his dismal judgment, he had looked more deeply and seen the Order’s great potential: “If God granted us the power to set up a religious Order we are sure that after considerable reflection we should discover nothing newer or better adapted to our times and its needs than the rule of St. Dominic. There is nothing old about it save its history, and it would be pointless to rack our brains for the sole satisfaction of dating from yesterday:” Having studied the Dominican ideal and history, he was convinced “that the sap could flow once more through the branches and that the French branch could renew in time the whole trunk.”
When Jandel took the helm, the spiritual life of the Order had dried up and its ministry was almost nonexistent. Within two months, he outlined his program. Returning to Raymond of Capua’s plan, he called on each province to found one priory where the Constitutions could be lived-regular attendance in choir, observance of the fasts and abstinence, woolen clothing, weekly chapter of faults, and full community life. To implement this plan he sent letters to the provinces and made two tours of visitation, going even into England and Ireland. He sent delegates to the United States, Argentina, and Chile. He organized the provinces, redefined boundary lines, and restored provincial rights when enough recovery had been made. In 1853, he joined into one the former provinces of Apulia, Naples, and Calabria; in 1854, the three in Sicily; in 1856, those of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia, calling them the province of the Empire. He re-established the province of Belgium in 1860, of Holland, Chile, and Lyons in 1862, and Toulouse in 1865. He initiated conversations with the Spanish Dominicans and saw their restoration to full unity in 1872, five months before he died. With his encouragement, German Dominicans, trained in France, opened houses in Dusseldorf in 1860, and Berlin seven years later. The Kulturkampf closed these foundations in 1870. The general chapter of 1868 approved a new branch of the Dominican family, the Congregation of St. Dominic for the Education of Youth, founded by Lacordaire in 1852. A congregation of Third-Order priests, it was incorporated into the First Order in 1923 and merged into the provinces of France in 1967.