New Community Histories Project for SVD's

Marcia Stein, CARA member and archivist for the Robert M. Meyers Archives for the Chicago Province of the Society of the Divine Word wants to share the following article regarding their new Community Histories Project. CARA sends belated congratulations for the Chicago Province's 25th anniversary in 2010 and best wishes for a successful project!

Community Histories Project
Robert M. Myers Archives
Chicago Province of the Society of the Divine Word

October 15, 1895 a German religious brother arrived in America at Hoboken, New Jersey. Brother Wendelin came to sell German-language magazines published in Holland by the religious congregation to which he belonged, the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). The SVD established themselves in North America about twenty miles north of Chicago, Illinois at a site now called Techny. The site was the location of their first community and first province in this country. From there the Society expanded east, south, west and north establishing communities and seminaries to train missionary priests to serve God at home and abroad.

An anniversary is the typical time to celebrate an organization’s history. In 2000 the Society of the Divine Word published a history for its centennial in Illinois with In the Light of the Word by Ernest Brandewie that told the story of the Society in North America. Over time the SVDs’ provinces expanded to four and then back to three by amalgamating two of them into the Chicago Province in 1985. June 1, 2010, the Chicago Province celebrated its 25th Jubilee.

Since the community is the basic unit of a religious order it represents home base where the priests and brothers received their education and training. It is the face of the Society in the cities and towns where they are located and therefore has an important history of its own. “Is there a history of my community?” is a question asked of the archives. Sometimes the answer is yes, but often it is no. The community histories that exist were either written many years ago or are limited in scope. When the idea of writing community histories to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the province was proposed, guidelines for their content were established and the scope expanded to start at the beginning of each community as well as to include the three closed communities.

The Community History Project was born. It is under the historical guidance of the SVD Coordinator, Fr. Elmer Nadicksbernd, SVD and the project management of the archivist, Marcia Stein. Each community will have an SVD “scribe” who will write the history based on the historical records from the archives, their communities, and the memories of their confreres. We plan to have eighteen community histories written for internal publication by the end of 2011. One is already delivered. We are off and writing!