John E. Rybolt, C.M., will be honored Dec. 12 when he receives the Vincentian Studies Institute’s Pierre Coste Prize. Rybolt, who was ordained in 1967, is a Vincentian scholar-in-residence at DePaul University. He will receive the honor in part for his recently published seven-volume global history of the Vincentian community that dates back to its beginning in 1625.
The award is named after the distinguished French Vincentian historian Pierre Coste, C.M., who worked during the first part of the 20th century. Coste is considered the father of modern Vincentian studies.
Rybolt, who has a master’s degree in Latin from DePaul, also has degrees in Near Eastern languages and literatures, ministry, theology and sacred scripture, and a doctorate in biblical studies. He has taught in Congregation of the Mission seminaries before initiating the Centre International de Formation, headquartered in Paris, designed for ongoing formation of members of the Congregation and the Vincentian Family. Since 2003, he has been the historian of the Congregation.
“Father Rybolt is a prolific author and traveler. He was selected for the Pierre Coste Prize for his significant contributions in advancing Vincentian studies, which includes the monumental seven-volume international history of the Congregation of the Mission plus an additional summary volume,” noted the Rev. Edward R. Udovic, C.M.
Rybolt’s books, articles and research on the history of St. Vincent de Paul and the Congregation of the Mission have been a part of the major renaissance of Vincentian studies in the second half of the 20th century, according to Udovic, who is secretary of DePaul University where he is a professor of history, senior executive for university mission, and vice president for teaching and learning resources.
“Now we’re beginning to see the scholars who will follow Father Rybolt pick up on his work,” explained Udovic.
The Pierre Cost Prize, established in 2003, is given periodically in recognition of distinguished achievement in Vincentian studies. Previous honorees include Sister Marie Poole, D.C., editor of the acclaimed English translation of Pierre Coste’s multi-volume “Vincent de Paul: Correspondence, Conferences, Documents” (2004); the Rev. Stafford Poole, C.M., a Vincentian historian (2006); Sister Louise Sullivan, D.C., author of several Vincentian works including “Saint Louise de Marillac: Spiritual Writings” (2010); the late Rev. Paul Henzmann, C.M., archivist at the Maison-Mère of the Congregation of the Mission in Paris (2010); and Barbara Diefendorf, a Boston University history professor whose contributions to the religious historiography of 17th century France have added context to the foundation of the Vincentian tradition (2013).
“Coste is the one who brought together all of Vincent’s extant writings and conferences, put them into an authoritative critical edition,” said Udovic. “He wrote what is still considered the foundational modern biography of Vincent. He is the first person who began to clear away the myths, and he contextualized Vincent within his world, so he really set the standard for 20th century Vincentian scholarship.
“There’s a transcendent purpose behind all of this,” Udovic added. “What this award reminds us of is that this history that we’re recovering, has happened through the scholarship of men and women who have dedicated their entire lives to this study, who are highly specialized and need to be since this history isn’t easily recovered, nor is it easily reinterpreted.
“To do this work you have to have the scholarly credentials, so an award like this reminds us that behind these great works of history, these volumes upon volumes and these articles upon articles, that there are men and women behind those works who have really put their entire lives into producing the written word about Vincent and his life,” he said.
Founded in 1979 by the 10 provinces of the Congregation of the Mission and Daughters of Charity in the United States, the Vincentian Studies Institute serves as an international resource for Vincentian scholarship. The institute sponsors traditional research, publications and continuing education by expanding these resources through a variety of online and digitization projects. It is housed in DePaul’s Office of Mission and Values. Additional information is at http://offices.depaul.edu/mission-and-values .