History of the Prado
Le Prado: one name, two stories
The practical translation of the spiritual intuition received on Christmas night 1856 by Father Antoine Chevrier has undergone an evolution, on the part of the generations that have succeeded the Founding Father. How can we analyse the historical development of the work of the First Communion, which from the outset was strongly marked by the pastoral urgency of evangelising the poor? How does what we see today as the "educational work of Prado" still conform to the true intuition of its Founder? What does referring to this origin mean today for the Association of the Priests of Prado and their mission to evangelise the poor? To all these questions, we will try to offer some food for thought, so that we can better understand and situate ourselves in relation to the spirit of a grace that Father Chevrier received and that the Association of the Priests of Prado has received.Église confirmed and entrusted to the spiritual family of Prado.
The creation of the "General Community
In 1954, Prado, which brought together priests from various French dioceses, asked the Holy See to recognise it as a Secular Institute of pontifical right. Its Constitutions provided for the existence of a "general community", taking over from the former "corps franc", its members being incardinated into the Institute and therefore dependent first and foremost on the Superior General of Prado, hence the name "general community", the membership of the other members of the Institute being primarily diocesan. The Constitutions of 1954 having been provisionally approved in February 1957, from that date the Superior General of Prado was able to incardinate into the Institute and call to Holy Orders.
Among the members of the former "corps franc", some opted for the status quo; others asked to be incardinated in the diocese where they were; many moved to the General Community.
Now that Prado had the power to incardinate into the Institute and ordain priests like a religious congregation or a missionary society, what use should it make of this power? Given Prado's missionary vocation for the service of the poor and the need for human resources, should it seek to develop the general community? But wouldn't this run counter to the diocesan character that Father Chevrier also wanted, and to which we seemed to want to adhere? Fundamental reflection on these questions would continue in the councils and more widely into the 1960s and beyond. In addition to theoretical questions, there were more practical ones: what criteria should be used to admit people to the General Community? What attitude should be adopted, particularly with regard to what were called "special vocations"?
Father Ancel saw the General Community as a way of responding to the needs of the Church in France and abroad. (dioceses with few priests), or outside France, as well as to the needs of Prado, for example for priestly and pradosian formation. In the negotiations between the Superior General of Prado and the bishops, it was possible to ask a bishop to agree to leave a Prado priest from his diocese at the service of Prado or another diocese for a specific period of time, offering to send a priest from the General Community to that priest's diocese as compensation. These priests were expected to make themselves available to serve the Church within the framework of Prado in various places and dioceses, in the manner of religious.
Practically since 1969, Prado de France has never again taken the decision to move a member of the General Community from one diocese to another. For them, the emphasis was on putting down roots in the Church where they were established. And this was done according to the wishes of those concerned and often happily. This is why members of the General Community who wished to do so were offered the possibility of being incardinated into the diocese where they were established, if the bishop agreed, which was gradually done for a certain number. (...)
From then on, when the Prado leaders had to take apostolic initiatives (for example, when a team of Prado priest-workers was founded in the Paris region in 1971) or find priests for priestly formation and the service of Prado, the only solution was to call on volunteers from Pradosians who were not incardinated into the General Community and to negotiate with their bishops to release them for a time, the only solution was to call on volunteers from Prado who were not incardinated into the General Community and to negotiate with their bishops for them to be released for a time, without there necessarily being any compensation as in the past.
(...) At some point we considered questions such as: Can there be an authentic vocation to the diocesan clergy without being incardinated into a particular diocese? If the general community is maintained, how can we ensure that its members are properly integrated into the clergy of the diocese where they exercise their ministry?
(...) It should be noted that the existence of the General Community at a given moment in the history of Prado was, through the nationality of its members, an essentially French affair.
Today, the incardinated members of the Association of the Priests of Prado number 14, all French, including 1 outside France.
In the Constitutions of the Association of the Priests of Prado currently in force, I do not believe, unlike in the past, that there is any question of a General Community. Article 110 soberly states: " Prado priests are generally incardinated in their own diocese. ". And in article 111: " Exceptionally, some members may be incardinated into the Institute for the service of Prado and its mission. Only the Responsible General can decide on a possible incardination with the consent of the General Council, according to the general principles defined by the General Assembly. If the candidate for incardination belongs to an erected Prado, he will seek the advice of the person in charge of the erected Prado; in other cases, he will consult the person in charge of the local Prado. In the case of seminarians who are candidates for incardination into Prado, account should be taken of canon 266 of the Code, according to which incardination into the Institute is possible only after perpetual commitment. ".
(Extract from a text written by Yves Musset).