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Anthony Konings

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Born at Helmond, Diocese of Bois-1e-Duc, Holland, 24 August, 1821; died 30 June, 1884. After a brilliant course in humanities he entered the diocesan seminary, where he soon became conspicuous for his great piety and his eager thirst for learning. Feeling a call to the monastic life, after mature deliberation he entered in 1842 the Redemptorist novitiate at St. Trond, Belgium, and was permitted to make his religious profession on 6 November, 1845. His superiors, recognizing the ability of the young cleric, sent him at once to the house of higher studies to afford him time to prepare for the work of teaching. He was ordained priest at Wittem, on 21 December, 1884. After being engaged for some time as teacher of humanities in the preparatory college of the congregation, he was called to fill the chair of moral theology and later that of canon law. Whilst holding these posts, he was appointed prefect of students, a most important office in the congregation.

For some time he was also master of novices, and accompanied the provincial, Very Rev. F. Dechamps (afterwards Archbishop of Mechlin and cardinal ), to Rome. Later he visited Rome a second time to take part in the general chapter of 1855, which united all the different provinces and decided upon Rome as the residence of the superior general of the order. Father Konings was appointed rector of Amsterdam, and in 1860 of the house of studies at Wittem, which post he continued to occupy until 1865, when he was appointed Provincial of Holland. In 1870 he was sent to the province of Baltimore to take up the work of teaching moral theology and canon law to the young clerics of the Redemptorist house of studies at Ilchester, Maryland. Thenceforth all his zeal and learning, his piety and his experience were employed in training the clerics of the congregation for the arduous work of the ministry. As professor of moral theology he soon felt the need of a suitable textbook, less voluminous than the old manuals and one more adapted to the peculiar conditions existing in North America. Father Konings thereupon undertook the task of writing such a handbook, which he subsequently published in two volumes (Boston, 1874).

This work, based on the moral theology of Gury, was greeted with hearty approval on its appearance, not only on account of the simplicity of its language, but also by reason of the succinct form into which he cast the teachings of the great theologian, St. Alphonsus. He was the first to give a methodical exposition of the views of the saint regarding the vexed question of equiprobabilism. His thorough acquaintance with American law also greatly enhanced the value of his work. A devoted son of the great doctor, he knew how to recognize the merits of other theologians. Later, at the suggestion of the Rt. Rev. T. Mullen, Bishop of Erie, Pa., he published a commentary on episcopal faculties (intended for the United States ), a work which was afterwards revised and enlarged by Rev. Jos. Putzer, C.SS.R. It has since gone through four more editions. In addition to these works he published several smaller books on various theological subjects. He rendered a great service to the cause of the parochial schools by his little work, "De Absolutione Parentibus, etc.", a pamphlet which despite strong opposition, was taken by the Holy Office as the basis of an Instruction to the bishops of the United States. As a matter of fact the very words of Konings were employed in the Instruction sent by the Holy Father and incorporated in the "Acts et Decreta Concilii Plenarii Baltimorensis tertii", p. 279 sq. Since that time this Instruction has been the norm in the difficult matter of absolving parents that send their children to the public schools. The gist of his pamphlet is found in his "Moral Theology".

Konings, on account of his great learning, was consulted by prelates and priests from the entire United States ; he was invited to examine candidates for degrees in theology and canon law, and was summoned as an expert in trials touching ecclesiastical questions, especially in the celebrated trial resulting from the financial difficulties of the late Archbishop of Cincinnati, J.B. Purcell. His last charge was that of prefect of the second novitiate, in which the Redemptorist priests immediately after ordination are trained for the Apostolic work of the missions. Whilst occupying this post, he fell seriously ill, but nothing could daunt his zeal. From his sick-bed he continued his work of instructing and directing with his experience the young priests committed to his care. In the midst of these labours he passed away to his eternal reward. To quote the words of the Freeman's Journal (12 July 1884), "those who studied him found him a profound theologian, and a true exponent of St. AIphonsus. The beacon light of theologians in America has gone down, but his fame will linger in the heart of the Catholic Church in America. As a scholar he was known to the world."

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Konings's writings include the following: "Theologia Moralis", two editions by Konings and two by H. Kuper, C.SS.R.; "Commentarium in Facultates Apostolicas" (New York, 1884); "De Absolutione Parentibus qui prolem scholis publicis seu promiscuis instituendam tradunt neganda necne" (Boston, 1874); "Bulla Jubilæi 1875 cum notis practicis" (New York, 1875); "SS. D. N. Leonis XIII Litteræ Apostolicæ quibus extraordinarium Jubilæum indicitur in usum cleri notis practicis illustratæ" (2 editions, New York, 1881); "General Confession Made Easy" (New York, 1879), and in German "Die Generalbeichte erleichtert"; "Theologia Moralis Fundamentalis seu Tractatus de Actibus Humanis" (New York, 1882); "Verordningen voor de Missien en andere apostolische Werkzaamheden". He left in manuscript : "Introductio in Jus Canonicum"; "Compendium Juris Canonici"; "De Jure Regularium"; and a complete set of cases in moral theology (Latin) for American students, some of which were published over the initial "R" in "The Pastor", edited by the late W.J. Wiseman.

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