Exactly 50 years ago, in 1967, Viatorians voted at their General Chapter meeting to give

Members of the General Chapter Meeting from 1967

members the chance to nominate and elect a provincial superior and members of his provincial council — rather than have them appointed by the superior general.

This landmark decision came in the wake of Vatican II and the Viatorian Self-Study, which was a two-year evaluation of the values, ministry, government and spiritual life of Viatorians in the Province of Chicago.

“We are entering into a new phase of our life as religious,” wrote former Superior General Fr. Jean-Réal Pigeon, CSV, in a 1969 letter to Viatorians. “This invitation to religious to participate more fully and directly in the choice of their leaders is a sign of the confidence the church as placed in the judgment and maturity of its adult religious.”

Fr. Edward Anderson, CSV, circa 1969

Fr. Robert Egan preaches on St. Viator Day, 2012, with Fr. Alain Ambeault, Superior General, looking on

The first chance they had to vote on their own leadership came in 1969, when they elected Fr. Edward Anderson, CSV, as provincial. He served five years and then opted to return to Las Vegas, where he served in pastoral ministry.

Ironically, Fr. Anderson’s legacy of leadership now comes full circle, as Fr. Robert M. Egan, CSV, prepares to accept the role of provincial superior.

Back in 1969, Fr. Egan was graduating from Saint Viator High School and he entered the Viatorian novitiate that same year. One year later, he would profess his first vows and begin his life as a religious that would take him to all of the major sites ministered by the Viatorians.

Fr. Robert M. Egan, right, presents Fr. Edward Anderson with his gift at his 50th jubilee celebration

In 1992, Fr. Egan was elected to serve as provincial, a leadership role he held for the next nine years. During those years, in 2000, he had the chance to recognize Fr. Anderson on his 50th jubilee as a priest.

The two posed for a commemorative photo, but now that photo documents an important legacy, of 50 years of Viatorians participating more fully in the church and in the leadership and life of their community.