Congregation of Zirc of the Cistercian Order
According to the constitution (Charta Caritatis) of the Cistercian Order the abbeys have had to be held together, formed into a monastic order, through two institutions. The one was the annual general meeting of the abbots, the General Chapter, the other was the abbot fathers' (those who established monasteries) annual visitation to the "daughter houses". The great distances between countries, and the prevailing political tension had hampered the fulfilment of these tasks already in the 14th century. The General Chapter, and then the Abbot General of the Cistercium appointed first area visitors, later vacariouses. In several provinces the monasteries formed congregations in order to defend their rights and independence. The first Cistercian congregation was formed in 1425 with the abbeys of Castilia. The 14 abbeys of Austria belonged first to one vicarious, then in 1859 in the region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire the Congregatio Austriaca came into being, and the Abbey of Zirc was a part of this.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire fell apart in 1920, and it was time for the Cistercians of Hungary to form their own independent congregation to suit their particular circumstances. In 1923 Pope Pius XI established the Congregation of Zirc of the Cistercian Order, centred at Zirc, the Abbot of Zirc being its head. At that time the following belonged to it: the abbey of Szentgotthárd, under the abbot of Zirc; also the monastic houses of Eger, Székesfehérvár, Pécs, Baja, Buda and Előszállás, and the study house of Budapest. From 1947 to 1977 the American Spring Bank priory (Wisconsin, abbey as from 1963) mostly filled with Hungarian Cistercians; from 1955 the priory of Dallas (abbey as from 1963), founded by the Hungarian Cistercians; finally from 1996 the abbey of the Cistercian sisters, The House of the Blessed Virgin at Kismaros, became a member of the Congregation of Zirc.
Every congregation has its own constitution. After lengthy preparatory work the constitution of the Congregation of Zirc was first approved by the Holy See in 1941.
In Hungary on 7th September 1950 the government prohibited the functioning of almost all the monastic orders, including that of the Cistercians. In 1989 when the monastic orders were permitted to operate again, the Congregation of Zirc needed a new constitution because of the changed circumstances, as there were two abbeys by then (Zirc and Dallas), and from 1996 a third abbey, that of Kismaros, which belonged to the Congregation. In 1991 and again in 2000 the Holy See approved the new constitution of the Congregation of Zirc. The president of the Congregation, its Abbot President, was the abbot of Zirc at any time, members of its general meetings, chapters were the governing abbots and the chosen delegates of the abbeys.
The Abbots President of the congregation were: Remig Békefi 1923-1924, Adolf Werner 1924-1939, Vendel Endrédy 1939-1981, Károly Kerekes 1987-1996, Polikárp Zakar 1996-2010, Sixtus Dékány 2011-2017 and Bernát Bérczi from 2018-.