|Title||Papers of M. Scholastica Somers, 2nd Superior General I.B.V.M. (Irish Branch)|
|Archive Reference||IE LA/SS|
|Web Link to this Entry||https://iar.ie/archive/papers-scholastica-somers-2nd-superior-general-ibvm-irish-branch|
|Extent Medium||2 Archival Boxes|
Creator(s): M. Scholastica Somers, 2nd Superior General Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary(I.B.V.M.), Irish Branch & Members of I.B.V.M. Irish Branch
Administrative History ↴M. Scholastica Somers (1805 – 1885), 2nd Superior General, was the first elected Superior General, having been elected into office following the death of M. Teresa Ball. Born Catherine Somers on 1 March 1805, the second of four children, of Myles Somers, a ‘gentleman farmer’ of Ballywilliam House, Wexford, in 1813, Catherine, her younger sister Margaret and brother Francis were orphaned. The three remaining siblings formed a very close family unit, and both Margaret and Catherine entered religious life at Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham. Catherine entered Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham on 10 May 1840, taking the name M. Scholastica. Shortly after her final profession, M. Scholastica was appointed a local superior, remaining in this office for seventeen years, where she proved her capabilities as administrator. A close friend and confidant of M. Teresa Ball, she was appointed Mother Vicar of the Institute, by Archbishop Cullen in December 1860, during M. Teresa Ball’s final illness. At the General Chapter on 11 January 1862, M. Scholastica, then aged 57, was elected Superior General. She was later re-elected for two successive terms on 4 January 1868 and again on 3 January 1874, remaining in office for a total of eighteen years. Her three successive terms in office were characterised by her ambition to confirm and sustain the Institute and practices established by M. Teresa Ball. Like M. Teresa Ball, she oversaw the management and administration of all provinces under her jurisdiction. It was not until 1913 that office of Provincial Superior was formally established; therefore from 1821 – 1913 the Superior General oversaw the management and administration of all provinces under her jurisdiction. The Institute continued to develop and expand under M. Scholastica’s leadership. Only one new foreign foundation was undertaken during her term of office. In 1875 M. Gonzaga Barry was chosen to lead a new foundation in Australia. Two key developments during M. Scholastica’s leadership were the formalising of the relationship between the various Irish foundations and the Generalate in Rathfarnham, and the drafting and approval of new constitutions. On 21st September 1861, a papal rescript finally recognised the jurisdiction of the Mother House and Superior General over all foundations who wished for this union. A formally ‘reunion’ of the majority the houses of the Irish branch of the Institute was achieved. The canonical recognition of the wider Institute 1877 provided an impetus for the introduction of new Constitutions, to meet the needs of the expanding Institute governed from Rathfarnham. These new Constitutions were approved for ten years by the Holy See in 1867, and formally approved ‘forever’ on 22 July 1877. M. Scholastica was plagued by ill health from her re-election in January 1868, and by 1880, it was commonly acknowledged that she was unable to continue in office. At the General Chapter of 3 January 1880, M. Xaveria Fallon was elected Third Superior General. M. Scholastica lived in declining health until her death, on 20 March 1885.
Archival History ↴The material in this fonds was created, or received, by M. Scholastica Somers from 1830 – 1881, in her capacity as member of the Institute and some personal correspondence pre-dating her entry to religious life. The papers were preserved in the Institute Archives after her death in 1885.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴Official Transfer
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: M. Scholastica Somers, 2nd Superior General Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary(I.B.V.M.), Irish Branch & Members of I.B.V.M. Irish Branch ↴
Catherine Somers entered Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham on 10 May 1840, taking the name M. Scholastica, and was appointed Mother Vicar from December 1860 until 11 January 1862, when she was elected Superior General. She was later re-elected for two successive terms on 4 January 1868 and again on 3 January 1874, serving a total of eighteen years.
M. Scholastica viewed her role as confirming and securing the work of M. Teresa Ball in establishing and developing the Institute.
M. Scholastica carefully maintained the close connections with each of the foreign houses established by M. Teresa Ball. She was a regular communicant with the provinces, taking a close interest in the progress and development, and like her predecessor frequently wrote to individual members of communities. These letters are found in the series SS/PRO.
As with her predecessor, M. Scholastica was a frequent correspondent with prominent clergy including the Abbot of Mellary, Fr Burke O.P., Fr Furlong, Dr Jones SJ, the Archbishop of Dublin, Paul Cullen and the wider Institute, reflected in the series SS/COR; SS/CUL & SS/YOR.
The administration of the Institute is reflected in the series; SS/SP Superiors promises; SS/DEC decrees and rescripts, and SS/BUS business correspondence.
Honouring her close friend and predecessor, M. Scholastica permitted the publication of the first biography of M. Teresa Ball by Dr William Hutch. Letters from Dr Hutch in SS/HUT indicate that M. Scholastica was not enthused with the final result.
Orphaned at a young age and joining her sister Margaret, M. Benedicta Somers, in religious life, M. Scholastica maintained a lifelong correspondence and close relationship with her brother Francis, reflected in the series SS/FAM.
Appraisal Destruction ↴Permanent Retention
Previous arrangement and cataloguing of the papers had been undertaken in the Institute Archives, but a decision was taken in 2011 to update the catalogues in order to bring them to ISAD(G) 2006 standards. The decision was taken to respect some of the original arrangement in maintaining records of the administration of the Institute under the papers of M. Scholastica as the role of Superior General was still not clearly defined and the administration of the Institute remained a personal matter.
Conditions of Access & Use
|Access Conditions||Generally Open Access; Prior Appointment Only Some access restrictions may apply, and access is at the discretion of the Archivist|
|Conditions Governing Reproduction||Reproduction is dependent on the condition of the original item|
|Extent Medium||2 Archival Boxes|
|Material Language Script||English|
|Characteristics Tech Req||Bound volumes + loose documents. Some items may be difficult to read. Careful handling is required.|
|Finding Aids||Catalogue can be consulted in Loreto Central and Irish Province Archives, Reading Room Archive Web Link →|
There are no Allied Materials
Descriptive Control Area
|Archivist Note||Áine Mc Hugh|
|Rules/Conventions||ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000.|
|Date of Descriptions||40848|