History of the Marist Brothers in the United States
In 1884 Reverend Father E. Gravel, Rector of the Cathedral of St. Hyacinthe, P.Q., Canada, visited the Marist superiors at St. Genis Laval, France, in order to interest them in the teaching apostolate in Canada. The superiors were impressed, but hesitated to open a new mission territory.
A short time later, Bishop Louis Z. Moresu, of the Diocese of St. Hyacinthe, invited the brothers to staff a school in Iberville and another at Sorel in his diocese. Canon St. Georges, Pastor of St. Athanase Parish and President of the Iberville School Commission also made a formal request for brothers for his parish school. Reverend Brother Stratonique, Assistant General for the Notre Dame de 1'Hermitage Province, in France, requested the General Council of the Institute to sponsor the mission territory of Canada. The Council granted his wish on condition that the Notre Dame de l'Hermitage Province supply the personnel and money needed. St. Athanase in Iberville then was selected as the first Marist school in Canada.(1.)
Brother Cesidius, a teacher at the Notre Dame de l'Hermitage scholasticate was chosen as the superior of the first mission band of six brothers.(2.) Leaving Le Havre, France on August 15, 1885, he arrived in New York City nine days later.(3.) The next day, August 25th, Canon St. Geor and two other diocesan officials from St. Hyacinthe, accompanied the brothers to the small town of Iberville.
Until the arrival of the brothers, St. Athanase School had been conducted by three priests and two lay teachers. They had met the school needs of the town of four thousand souls, but pressed by the demands of their calling, the priests were happy to torn the three story school over to the brothers.
The first scholastic year proved to be a very successful one. On September 2nd one hundred and eighty students were grouped into five classes. In November the Bishop visited the school, gave his blessing to teachers and pupils and renewed his promise of cooperation. Because of am increased enrollment, two additional brothers arrived from France in January 1886. The very fine rapport between the brothers and the students, between school authorities and parents, led to plans to expand facilities. This rapport was due mainly to the French background of both teachers and pupils and to the excellent work done at the school. It was not long before contributions from various local sources enabled the brothers to buy four small properties in 1886-1887, d to construct a building which was to serve as residence and Novitiate.(4.)
Such an encouraging development spurred Brother Stratonique to greater efforts in expanding Marist influence in Canada. On July 26, 1886 Bishop Moreau wrote a pastoral letter to encourage young men in hisdiocese to join the Marist Brothers. In appreciation of this Interest, the Assistant General sent thirteen more brothers to Canada. In September 1886,another group of nineteen brothers arrived; of these six were assigned to teach at Academie St. Pierre in Montreal, and four at St. Peter's School in Lewiston, Maine. In the latter, a Canadian born youth, Pierre Gagnon, was the first Marist vocation from the States.
The news of the work of the brothers in these three schools soon spread to the local townships, so that other pastors and school commissioners requested brothers for their respective schools. Brother Cesidius forwarded these requests to the Assistant General. As a result, in 1867 the latter visited this new mission with Brother Theophane, Superior General.
After visiting the Marist communities and the pastors who had requested the services of the brothers, the Superior General agreed to send help to three schools in the Province of Quebec: Ste. Martine, Chateauguay; College Saint Joseph, Roxton Falls; axed St. Ephrem, Upton. Twenty-two additional brothers arrived from France for that purpose.(5.) The Superior General also presided at the first investiture ceremony in the New World. Pierre Gagnon, who had been trained by Brother Cesidius at the Novitiate in lberville was the first and only postulant to be received on that occasion into the Institute. The young man was given the name of Brother Marie Theophane.(6.) One of the most important results of this visitation was the incorporation of the Congregation in the Dominion of Canada.
The Superiors returned to France delighted with what they had seem and strongly optimistic about the future possibilities in this new mission territory. At the time of their visit six schools and a novitiate were being successfully conducted by forty-one brothers.
From France soon came the news that Brother Cesidius had been appointed provincial visitor by the Superior General. As such he was authorized to govern the Canadian mission district, subject however to approval of the Assistant General in all matters of policy and appointments.(7.) As the first superior of the North American mission, he continued to play an important role, that was to last sixty years, in the progress of Marist activity in his adopted country, Canada. This becomes evident in the following pages.
BROTHER CESIDIUS 1885-1903
Brother Cesidius, the founder of the first Marist community in the New World, was born Regis Bruyere in the Vivarais section of France, on August 15, 1815. He entered the Institute of St. Genis Laval in September 1859. Six months later he was invested with the Marist cassock and given the religious name of Brother Cesidius, a name that was to be linked with seventy-five years of dedication to his congregation.
His first assignments sent him to Bourg Argental (1862-1865), and Charlieu (1865-1876). In 1876 Brother Cesidius was reamed director of the village school at Andance. Here he spent seven years$ marked by progress despite the vociferous and frequent attacks of anti-clericals in the locality.(8.) In 1883 he was assigned to the scholasticate community at Notre Dame de l'hermitage (Loire), where he continued his excellent work before leaving for the missions.
He was forty years of age, when in the summer of 188 5 he left France for St. Athanase School in Ibervilleq Canada, and with five other brothers established the first Marist community in this small town. We have seen him as founder of most of the first Marist schools in Canada, as master of novices, and as provincial visitor of the young Canadian mission.
In 1893 Brother Cesidius was delegated to attend the Ninth General Chapter at St. Genis Laval, France. In recognition of his work in North America, the Chapter named him Provincial with more freedom to govern.(9.)
During Brother Cesidius' long administration (1885-1903) thirtyone schools and training houses received Marist staffs. Twenty-five of these were in Canada and six were in the United States. The revenues from these schools arid especially from seven Marist boarding schools enabled him to establish houses of studies.
These houses of studies all originated at lberville. For the past seventy-five years this original foundation has served as the clearinghouse for newly founded provinces. The Iberville Novitiate was opened in 1887. Five years later, Bishop Moreau of St. Hyacinthe, P.Q. wishing to help the brothers relieve the crowded conditions at the Novitiate, offered them a house, Villa Bedini and property to which a four story building was added in 1896. In 1963 a fire destroyed the new building which was rebuilt a year later.
The second house of studies to be established in Iberville was the juniorate in 1890. With the financial assistance of Canon St. George this building was erected to accommodate the increasing number of candidates. It became known as "Loupret". However, a few years later in 1903 it became the residence of the newly arrived brothers from France. The juniors were then transferred to the boarding school at Ruxton Falls, the, in 1904 to St. Hyacinthe. Iberville again welcomed them in 1911. A second juniorate had been opened in the meantime at Levis, near Quebec City in 1899.
An "Ecole Speciale" was also organized at Iberville in 1890, for special studies in English and pedagogy. Most of the brothers were left to study by themselves, until a scholasticate was organized in 1898. In that year the special group of students were transferred to St. Hyacinthe where they remained until the fire in 1903. They also returned to Iberville.(10.)
On the same property a "college" had been built in 1889.(11.) For twenty years this four story building served as a boarding school, until it was cloud in 1910. Taxes were too high to continue a profitable operation.(12.)
Revenues derived from the boarding school and the salaries of the brothers in the parish schools proved to be insufficient to maintain the houses of studies. The training period was therefore curtailed, with the sad result that brothers were insifficiently prepared for teaching. The depressing effects of this situation caused a number of good men to leave the Congregation.
During Brother Cesidius' administration six groups of brothers were sent to schools in the United States. There they found problems similar to those in Canada. Besides the usual personnel and fiscal problems, a language new to most of them added to the hardships of these pioneers. Those brothers who were assigned to Franco-American parish schools in Lewiston., Maine (St. Peter's, 1886); in Manchester, New Hampshire (Ecole Hevey, 1890); in Lowell, Massachusetts (Ft. Joseph's, 1892); in Lawrence, Massachusetts (St. Anne, 1892) found the use of French a help in adjustment. But in every one of these schools English had to be taught, and the teachers faced the problem of mastering the language.
In New York City, three schools were opened during this administration. The brothers arriving there either directly from Europe or via Canada taught in English. Moreover, it was imperative that those who were assigned to this city learn to master the language.
The staff at St. Jean Baptiste School, the first New York school was sent directly from Europe by the Assistant General. This school proved to be a great boon to the brothers. With the help of the Pastor, Father Tetrault, a small boarding school, St. Ann's Academy, was established in 1892. This Academy became a center of the Uiited States Province for almost fifty years.(13.) A third school, St. Vincent de Paul Grammar School, obtained the services of three brothers from St. Arm's Academy in 1898. These three schools were advantageously situated in Franco-American parishes. Brother Zephiriny, the founder, of both St. Jean Baptiste School and of St. Ran's Academy communities hired Mr. John Corcoran to assist the brothers in their study of English. In 1895, the organization of a scholasticate at St. Ann's took care of many brothers who were exiled from France by anti-clerical laws.
As the Marist apostolate expanded under Brother Cesidius, great personnel and fiscal problems developed. To solve the latter a few brothers; were commissioned by the Assistant General to edit textbooks. The success or this venture set a tradition which is still carried one in the Canadian Provinces especially. Three years later another brother was sent to manufacture and sell biphosphate of lime in 1894. This activity brought in a steady income for many years. Eventually, however, this project was abandoned. Very little financial help could be sent by the mother province in France because of the political situation. Large sums of money were needed in France for traveling expenses of hundreds of French brothers, who as exiles, were assigned to do missionary work in South America,, Africa Asia, the Middle East, as well as North America.
In spite of these difficulties, Brother Cesidius saw the hand of God in the persecution of man. This persecution of religious in France turned to the advantage of the North American mission. As mentioned elsewhere the first effective anti-clerical measure to curtail the work of the brothers in France was the Law of Associations otherwise known as the Law of July 1, 1901. In the two years following that date thirty-two brothers left France for Canada. A second law which secularized the Catholic schools of France and dissolved religious congregations in 1903 brought ninety-nine brothers to join their fellow exiles in Canada and in the United States. A similar number arrived between 1904 and 1911. Brother Joseph Azarias in his history of the Canadian Provinces stated:
Another problem which Brother Cesidius had to cope with was the precarious health of many European brothers. They were overburdened with work, involved in the handling at times of forty to one hundred and fifty pupils in one class.(15.) French brothers often found it difficult to adjust to the new climate with its extremes of cold particularly in Canada. Brother Joseph Azarias stated in his history:
Many of these longed for their homeland, France. They had left it as missionaries either by choice or through the pressure of persecution. Their hardships have merited for them the respect due to dedicated men, whose toil laid the foundation for success in new surroundings. Among the pioneers was a French religious, Brother Felix Eugene, who was to be of great assistance to Brother Cesidius. He came from New Caledonia to become a provincial visitor to assist Brother Cesidius from 1901 until 1903. In this capacity he was placed in charge of orientating brothers arriving from France.
The high incidence of ill-health acid disease often led to untimely deaths. Two prominent men in the development of the Institute in North America, Bishop Moreau of St. Hyacinth and Canon St. Georges of St. Athanase, Iberville, died in 1901.(17.) To provide for the deceased, two cemeteries, one in Iberville and one in St. Hyacinthe, had to be provided.
Before the end of his administration, Brother Cesidius introduced several worthwhile Marist customs. One was a thirty-day retreat known a the Ignatian Exercises, for those brothers preparing to make their final vows. Six years later, 1899, the first brothers from North America left Canada to study at the Second Novitiate in Europe.(18.) Since that time eve brother has had the opportunity to travel to Europe for ascetical and other studies.
In 1903 Brother Cesidius and Brother Felix Eugene traveled to St. Genis Laval, France, to attend the Institute's Tenth General Chapter. This significant convocation of superiors at this critical time formulated important directives which affected every member of the Institute. They were delegated by the Holy See to promulgate a new constitution for the Institute and to canonically erect autonomous provinces wherever possible.(19.) In conformity with the wishes of the Holy Sees an indult dated July 7, 1903 confirmed the canonical erection of four new provinces, one of which was the Province of Canada and the United States. Upon their return home, Brother Cesidius handed the burdens of government of the new province to Brother Felix Eugene, his successor. Brother Cesidius was then appointed as first consultor to the Provincial as well as director of the Novitiate -at St. Hyacinthe. In 1907 he succeeded to the directorship of the Juniorate at Levis where he remained until 1911.
In that year the Province of Canada and the United States was divided. Brother Cesidius was called upon to become the Provincial of the Canadian Province, in which capacity he served for three years. In 1914 he was again appointed director of the Juniorate at Levis, and in 1916 to the direction of the Novitiate at St. Hyacinthe. In 1921 at the age of seventy-six, he retired to the Provincial House at Iberville.(20.) There he died in 1933, at the age of ninety, one year before the golden jubilee of the arrival of the first Marist missionaries at Iberville. He was interred there among a group of one hundred and forty-six brothers who had preceded him in death.(21.)
BROTHER FELIX EUGENE, 1903-1905
Although Brother Felix Fugene's term as the first Provincial of the Province of Canada acrd the United States lasted only two years, he inaugurated long range plans which shaped the course of the growth of both the present American arid Canadian Provinces. Seventeen years of experience as director of schools and mission districts made him an able administrator.
He was born Claude Lafond on November 20, 1860, in Pouilly-les Fleurs (Loire), France. In 1874 he entered the Novitiate at Notre Dame de 1'Hermitage. One year later he was given his first assignment at Unieux, France. In 1877 he started seven years of teaching at 3t. Etienne, followe by three years at the Marist boarding school at Valbenoite, France. At the latter school Brother Felix worked with two prominent figures in the development of the future mission of North America, Brothers Stratonique and Zephiriny.
In 1886 Brother Felix answered the call to the missions, and traveled to Noumea, New Caledonia, where he served as director of the community. Ten years later he was in Australia for a year of study, namely the English language. Upon his return to :Jew Caledonia he was appointed Vice Provincial of the New Caledonia district, which had been erected a vice province in 1897. Two years later he returned to Europe for his second novitiate studies. And then a great change took place in Brother Felix's life. Reverend Brother Stratonique, the Assistant General, decided to send him to New York City, where the need was pressing for brothers proficient in the use of English. There he was assigned to St. Vincent de Paul School. The following year, however, it was felt that his experience and talents would serve better on a higher level. He was, therefore appointed as provincial visitor to assist Brother Cesidius, whom he succeeded as Provincial in 1903.(22.)
Brother Felix Eugene had an outstanding council which included Brothers Cesidius, Angelicus, Pierre Chrysologue and Legontien. The major problems these faced were the care of one hundred and eighteen French brothers who arrived during his term of office, the needs of thirty-one novices, the professional advancement of the brothers, the opening of new communities, the purchase of property for future needs and the rebuilding of the Aovitiate of St. Hyacinthe.
In order to help solve these problems, Brother Felix Eugene appointed Brother Joseph Emeric as provincial secretary arid director of studies. The latter with Brother Zephiriny and Brother Louis Etienne, formed a committee to organize and supervise the studies of all the brothers. One of the first decisions was to establish a printing shop Iberville in 1904. They edited a monthly publication, known as the Bulletin Des Etudes. Their ideas and directives thus reached every Marist school in the province. In the American Bulletin of Studies Brother Joseph Robert wrote of their work:
Together with ascetic and pedagogical directions this bulletin offered a monthly program for five courses of study, which would gradually prepare the young brothers to pass the examinations necessary to obtain the official diplomas for teachers.(23.)
To further Marist development in the United States, Brother Felix Eugene thought of purchasing property for an American house of studies. In 1905 he appointed Brother Zephiriny to locate a suitable site in New York State. To this plan Archbishop Farley of New York gave his blessing.(24.) With the help of the Jesuit Fathers at St. Andrew's-on-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, New York, Brother Zephiriny was able to negotiate the purchase of the thirty-five acres on North Road in that city.(25.) Several brothers were then sent there to adapt the buildings for the establishment of a juniorate to be opened the following September, 1906.
Several important schools were started during Brother Felix's short term in office: an academy at Baie St. Paul, situated on the St. Lawrence River; St. Agnes School in New York City and St. Joseph's Schc in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Other accomplishments of his term include the rebuilding of the novitiate at St. Hyacinthe and a ninety-nine year lease on property for the juniorate at Levis, P.Q.(26.)
In November 1905, Brother Felix was replaced by Brother Angelicus. Brother Felix was entrusted with the preparation of facilities for a juniorate at Poughkeepsie. In September 1906 he was assigned as master of juniors there, until the arrival of Brother John Casimir from Europe 190. Before he retired in 1917 from administrative positions, he had been appointed to the directorships of St. Jean Baptiste School in blew York City (1909-1913) and to St. Anne School in Lawrence Massachusetts (1914-1917.) For eleven years he also served as assistant treasurer at St. An Academy in New York City, and as sub-director of St. Joseph School in Lowell, Massachusetts. In 1932 he finally retired to the infirmary at the Hermitage in Poughkeepsie, where he died three years later.(27.)
BROTHER ANGELICUS, 1905-1907
On November 23, 1905 Brother Angelicus was appointed as the second provincial of the Province of Canada and the United States. Like that of his predecessor, his administration covered a two year period (1905-1907). During this short administration he furthered the plans of the preceeding administration, mainly those concerned with the professional development of the brothers, and the expansion of the Province.
Brother Angelicus (Claude H. Berne) was born in Chazelles-sur-Lyon, (Loire) France on March 29, 1859. He entered the Marist Brothers at the Novitiate of Notre Dame de 1'Hermitage and received there the name of Brother Angelicus. For the next eighteen years he was assigned to such schools as: Renaison (1874-1875) Valbenoite (1875-1888), St. Pierre de Boeuf (1888-1892) in France, and then traveled to Dumfries, Scotland to study English.
In 1892 Brother Angelicus was sent to the United States to found the Marist community at St. Anne's School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Eight years later he was assigned to direct St. Athanase School in Iberville, Canada. At the time of the canonical erection of the Province in -1903, he was appointed to the Provincial Council. Two years 1ater he was assigned to the provincialship itself.(28.)
At the very beginning of Brother Angelicus' administration, he reorganized the work of the planning committee on studies by creating a nine man Commission of Studies. Their object was defined by Brother Joseph Robert in his review of the United states Province in 1938:
. . . to prepare uniform programs and monthly tests for various groups, to supervise and correct these and to grant appropriate diplomas corresponding to those of the Province of Quebec. At the end of the five week courses in Beauceville and Iberville, (Canada) examinations were given by members of the Commission in 1906, and splendid results were obtained in the form of one elementary and sixteen Model Diplomas. The candidates passing the tests of the last named group had a right to attend the official examinations for the Academic Diploma, in Quebec or for the Life State Certificate for teachers in New York.(29.)
The various schools in the Province were thus able to have accredited faculty members, who were thereafter stationed in the areas where they obtained accreditation
Brother Angelicus was conscious of the differences in professional needs of the two areas of Quebec and the Kited States. With these differences in mind, he withdrew brothers from two less promising schools in Canada and the United States in order to staff four other schools else-where. St. Michael School in Montreal, and the Poughkeepsie Juniorate became schools assigned to the United States Province in 1911.
Brother Angelicus' administration was suddenly interrupted when the Very Reverend Brother Theophane, Superior General, died on April 18, 1907. A special General Chapter (the eleventh) was convened on October 5, 1907 at Grugliasco, Italy, to elect his successor. Brother Angelicus as-provincial and Brothers Cesidius and Ptolemeus attended this chapter. On October 14th, Reverend Brother Stratonique, Assistant General, axed immediate superior of Brother Angelicus, was elected as fifth superior general of the Institute. To replace him the Chapter elected Brother Angelicus.(30.) This position he held until his death in 1928 at Grugliasco, Italy.
BROTHER ZEPHIRINY, 1907-1909
Brother Zephiriny's administration like those of his two predecessors, covered a two year period (1901-1909) during which he carried out the established policies of expansion and professional advancement.(31.) An early pioneer in New York City, this talented and energetic man highlighted his administration by his interest in that area.
Brother Zephiriny was born Rene' Martin on July 1 , 1861 at Lyons France. He entered the Institute at Notre Dame de 1'Hermitage Novitiate in 1876. Five years later he was assigned to teach at the school at St. Etienne (1881-1888) and at the brothers' Normal School at St. Chamond (1881-1891) in France. In 1891 Brother Zephiriny was chosen to found the first Marist school in New York City. In preparation for this assignment he was sent to London to study English. The following year he was on his way to New York City to establish the community at St. Jean Baptiste School, and to become soon after the founder of St. Ann's Academy.(32.)
In 1904 he left St. Ann's Academy for a new assignment at Iberville, where he directed a school from 1905 until his appointment as provincial two years later. It was at this time that he was commissioned to locate a suitable site for an American house of studies which became known as St. Ann's Hermitage in Poughkeepsie, New York.(33.)
As head of the Marist Brothers in North Americas Brother Zephiriny stressed the importance of expanding in the New York area. In Poughkeepsie, for instance he arranged the purchase of the Beck property, adjacent to the juniorate property, in order to establish an American novitiate. This was in 1908, the year when the first candidates entered what became known as St. min's Hermitage Novitiate. In spite of a serious shortage of manpower, he sent three brothers to St. Peter's Grammar School in Poughkeepsie. His interest in Marist expansion in the United States also led to the acquisition of permanent site for Camp St. Ann's (St. Ann's Academy summer camp) at Isle LaMotte, Vermont on Lake Champlain.
In order to improve the teachers training program Brother Zephiriny divided the Commission of Studies into two groups. Brother Joseph Emeric was appointed director of studies for the New York area and supervisor of schools. For the Canadian area Brother Pierre Gonzales held similar positions. The work dome by both organizers proved invaluable for Brothers seeking accreditation from the various state agencies.(34.)
At the end of Brother Zephiriny's two year administrations he returned to New York States where he edited the "American Catholic Hymnal at the Poughkeepsie novitiate. In 1911 he was assigned to sub-master of this Novitiate. He served in that capacity for some years with the exception of 1913 when the Superior General delegated him to make the canonical visitation of the South African Marist communities. In 1920 he became master of novices a position he held until his health gave way three years later. Until his sudden death on December 299 1927 he lived in semi-retirement at St. Ann's Hermitage.
BROTHER PTOLEMEOUS, 1909-1911
Brother Ptolemeus' provincialship could be divided into two periods. Both came at very important times in the development of the Canadian and American provinces. During his first administration (1909-1911) he formulated the plans for the establishment of two distinct Marist provinces in North America. During the second (1911-1914) he was the first provincial of the newly organized Province of the United States.
Brother Ptolemeus was born Lucien Marthouret at Talencieux (Ardeche), France on November 5, 1864. He entered Notre Dame de 1'Hermitage Novitiate in 1878. On February 2, 1879 he was given the Marist cassock and the religious name of Brother Ptolemeus. His first assignments in France starting in 1879 brought him to Perigenus (1879-1880), St. Romainen-Jaret (1880-1881), Valbenoite (1881, 1889-1903), Mars (1881-1882) and Charlieu (1882-1889).(35.) In 1903 he was sent to study English at the Marist school at Dumfries, Scotland. The following year Brother Ptolemeus crossed the Atlantic, and arrived in New York City. There he was appointed director of St. Ann's academy, where he remained until his appointment as provincial in 1909.
During his first administration the silver jubilee of the arrival of the first Marist Brothers in Canada was celebrated in 1910. It was an occasion of great rejoicing over the accomplishments of the past twenty-five years, and over the promises of the future. However, in looking over the finances of the province Brother Ptolemeus' main concern was financial improvement of the province. Two hundred and forty brothers, novices, and Juniors in the six houses of studies were a heavy drain on a limited budget, which had to cover other ordinary and extraordinary expenditures. These included the purchase of property, interests on loans insurance charges, traveling expenses for brothers coming from Europe and those attending the Second Novitiate in Italy. So the building of a proposed provincial house at Iberville became impossible. As a temporary solution to the problem, the Iberville juniors were transferred to St. Hyacinthe, and the Iberville Juniorate became a provincial house.(36.)
Another feature of Brother Ptolemeus' administration was a pro, gram of consolidation. To implement this program three boarding schools in Canada were closed. The brothers from these three schools became salaried staffs at St. Paul School in New York City; at St. Boniface College St. Boniface, Manitoba, Canada, arid at three other schools in the Quebec area. Money then became available for the building of a chapel at the boarding school at Beauceville, Canada. Lastly he transferred the scholastic from St. Ann's Academy in New York City to a permanent site at St. Ann's Hermitage in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Brother Ptolemeus' efforts to raise the scholastic level prompted him to affiliate the Province to the University of Montreal. To Brother Dacianus he confided the charge of drawing up a program of studies for the training centers in Poughkeepsie. This program in a modified form was followed for many years.
In this history, the end of Brother Ptolemeus' first administration in 1911 serves as the conclusion of the Pioneering Period of the Institute in the United States. What follows is the account of the negotiations for the division of the single Province of Canada and the United States.
On the occasion of the visitation to America of Brother Superior General the Very Reverend Brother Stratonique, acid of his assistant for the North American Province, Reverend Brother Angelicus, in August of 1910, a formal request was made to them by the Provincial Council for the division of the Province. Within six months, the Superior General. and his General Council approved the proposal. After the approbation was received from Rome, he wrote a circular letter announcing the canonical erection in North America of a separate Canadian acid .American province. The circular was dated March 39, 1911. The official document, which reached America on March 17th, designated lberville, P.Q. as the headquarters for the Canadian Province, and Poughkeepsie, New York for the American Province.(37.)
This.separation had been thought necessary for many reasons,, by both local and major superiors. The original Province, covering vast distances from New York to Quebec and Manitoba, proved to be very taxing on the Provincial, who had to make annual visitations to the widely separated thirty-six communities. Region consciousness moreover had developed different mentalities. Different requirements in the two countries gave rise to two different educational programs for the brothers. Although supervisors were appointed to coordinate the two programs, it was felt that it was far from what was needed. The solution proved to be the erection of two distinct provinces, which could provide local management on a more efficient and sympathetic basis.(38.)
Brother Ptolemeus, who had been the Provincial of the North American Province since 1909, was given charge of organizing the American Province. Brother Cesidius was named Provincial of the Canadian Province and was entrusted with two hundred and twenty-nine brothers assigned to twenty-four schools in the Province of Quebec.(39.)
To the American Provincial who had not been blessed with a centralized provinces a dual task was entrusted. From the nucleus of one hundred and forty-eight brothers scattered in twelve American and Canadian schools, he was to organize a United States Province, and in the, process prepare also for the erection of a province in Manitoba Canada.(40.) The undertaking was a difficult one, and as will be shown, the latter project ended in failure. At the time there was only one community assigned to the Manitoba district, whereas there were ten in the New York-New England area. A twelfth school was situated in the city of Montreal.
The United States Province owned only two properties: St. Ann's Hermitage in Poughkeepsie, New York; and St. Ann's Academy in New York City. Fortunately, the three needed houses of studies had been established before the erection of this new province. The major problem in Poughkeepsie was the enlargement of the existing buildings to care for the ever increasing number of recruits. For the time being, the Provincial House community remained in the Juniorate building. All the other foundations in the Province were owned by the respective parishes where the brothers taught.
There were two school systems in the Province. In four schools in New England the use of French was necessary. In New York, and in Canada (Manitoba and Montreal) classes were taught in English. The problem of training brothers for both systems was only partially met, and finally became unnecessary thirty years later when the brothers were withdrawn from the French-speaking grammar schools.
It must be noted that in 1911 the brothers were predominantly French, French-Canadian and Franco-American. One reason for this is the fact that between 1885 and 1911 three hundred and seventy-four European brothers had come to America. Another reason is that most of the three hundred and sixty-nine vocations that had entered the Institute in the original Province came from thirty or more Canadian or Franco-American schools.
Financing the new province was a major problem. In this reorganization period, the Provincial struggled to secure funds necessary to erect a Provincial House and to accommodate the growing number of local vocations entering the houses of studies. It is for these reasons that Brother Ptolemeus negotiated with the pastors and other employers for a substantial increase in the salaries of the brothers in 1910. Although it was an unpleasant request, Brother Ptolemeus obtained the increases.
What follows is a brief history of each Provincial administration during the twenty years of the newly erected United States Province.
last updated on July 14, 2004