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It is just 50 years since the close of Vatican II when we stood on the pristine peaks of a new beginning, surveying the broad vistas of possibility for genuine renewal in Religious Life and in the Church as a whole. In the next ten years the little dark cloud that appeared on the horizon with the death of Good Pope John became the thick black clouds of the “restoration.” The gathering darkness of the “reform of the reform” in which we found ourselves was further deepened by the explosion of the abuse scandals and the huge exodus of Religious, especially the younger ones, from our Congregations. Within two decades the bright hopes of the Council seemed more like a golden dream from which we had awakened in the cold reality of pre-conciliar ultra-montanism that took most us into the recent Conclave with little hope that “anything good could come out of Rome.” Once again, as with the election of John XXIII, the Holy Spirit confounded the best laid plans of some and the deepest despair of others.

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