History of the Marist Brothers in the United States
Due to recent developments and in order to assure the reasonable chronological accuracy of the present history, the following information is herewith included.
BROTHER LEO SYLVIUS, 1962-
The second provincial of the Esopus Province, Brother Leo Sylvius, Alban J. Cote, was born in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1912. He was educated by the Marist Brothers at Hevey Grammar School in that city. Following his graduation in 1925, he entered St. Ann's Juniorate in Poughkeepsie, New York, to begin his training as a prospective Marist Brother. He was received into the Congregation at the Novitiate in Poughkeepsie in 1928 and was given his religious name. One year later he made profession of his first vows.(1.)
Brother Leo began his college work at Marist Training School in Poughkeepsie in 1929 and completed his studies at Fordham University in 1934. Six years later he obtained a Master of Arts in the Romance Languages at the same university.
In his first years of teaching, Brother Leo was assigned to the grade school departments at St. Joseph School in Lowell, Massachusetts (1931-1932), and St. Ann's Academy in New York City (1932-1935). In 1935 Brother Leo started his high school teaching at St. Joseph Juniorate in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. In subsequent years he returned to teach similar subjects at St. Ann's Academy (1937-1941) and St. Joseph School (1941-1942).
Brother Leo's administrative abilities were recognized in 1942 when he was appointed principal of Mount St. Michael Academy in New York City. During the ten years that followed, he initiated a development program through the assistance of a parents' study group. This group later was formed into the present Mt. Men's Club and Mt. Mothers' Club. Through these organizations, socials were inaugurated to provide funds for the construction of the present million dollar gymnasium-classroom building. The time and energy he exerted in studying the construction plans and in altering these gave him the experience which helped him to do similar work in later years.
In 1952 Brother Leo was assigned to ascetical studies at St. Quentin (Second Novitiate), France. Upon his return in February 1953, he was appointed Director of St. Agnes High School in New York City. The following September he was named to the post of Dean of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 1954 when the provincial administration decided to open a school (Marist High School) in Bayonne, New Jersey, Brother Leo was appointed as its founding Director.
During Brother Leo's seven and a half years of tenure at Marist High School, he directed a renovation program and negotiated the purchase of a county-owned institution in that city (1961) for the school. While in Bayonne, Brother Leo was named a provincial consultor (1955). In this capacity he was delegated to investigate the staffing of the present Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Florida (1959); to negotiate the legal transactions relative to the purchase of a camp in Bellport, Long Island (1960); to become a member of the planning committee for the construction of Christ the King High School in the Diocese of Brooklyn (1957-1961); and to supervise the founding of Roselle Catholic High School in Roselle, New Jersey (1959-1960).(2.)
On February 21, 1962 the burdens of the office of Provincial were assigned to Brother Leo. His administration responsibilities include the staffing of four schools committed by the previous administration. These are: Christopher Columbus High School, Miami, Florida; Christ the King High School, New York City; Marist High School, Bayonne, New Jersey; and Roselle Catholic High School, Roselle, New Jersey. Furthermore, Brother Leo must help to staff schools in the Marist Philippine District for the next few years.
The financial problems with which this administration must deal include: providing the Novitiate with an additional building, the further development and transfer of Marist High School in Bayonne, the development of the site in Bellport, Long Island as well as the liquidation of provincial debts caused by the completion of major constructions during the past ten years.
Bro. Linus William, Director of Aquinas High School, Augusta, Georgia.
MARIST COLLEGE, TUCSON, ARIZONA
Marist College, a grammar and junior high school was opened in Tucson, Arizona in 1914 by four Marist Brothers from the Mexican Province. Three of these brothers, viz., Gosbertus, Gregorius, and Louis Casimir, who were fleeing from Manzanillo, Mexico, where due to violent anti-clerical persecutions, the Marist schools were forced to close, arrived in San Francisco via a Chinese boat. Bishop Henry Granjon of Tucson invited these brothers to study English and the American system of education for a few months in Tucson in order to open a school in that city. A few days later Brother Henry Fumeaux from St. Joseph Academy in Brownsville, joined them.
The brothers took up residence at the cathedral parish rectory. There, Father Louis Duval, a French missionary, tendedto the needs of the little Marist community. Father T. Connolly, the Pastor, tutored the brothers in the English language. He also arranged for the brothers to teach in the basement of Holy Family Church in the suburbs of Tucson. While the brothers were learning English the bishop proceeded with the construction of a three story, five classrooms and community residence building near the cathedral.
On November 2, 1914 the brothers started classes for four groups, from the first grade to the ninth grade. For the next eight years there was little change in the faculty or the enrollment. Brother Henry Fumeaux, who became director in 1922, hoped to increase the enrollment but found that the location of the school caused many parents to send their boys to other schools. To better the brothers' proficiency in English he sent them to Public Normal School in Flagstaff, Arizona. Despite efforts to attract new students Brother Henry found the parents would not send their children to the school.
Two years later Brother Eold, Provincial, visited the school and decided that the brothers should be withdrawn from this area and returned to Texas and to Mexico where the persecutions had subsided. That year Bishop Granjon died while visiting his native France. His successor, Most Rev. D. Georke, studied the situation of the brothers. In June 1924 he gave his blessing and farewell to the Marist community.
Footnotes1. Archives, Marist Provincialate, Esopus, New York.
2. Report made during an interview with Brother Leo Sylvius at Marist High School on August 10, 1961.
last updated on June 9, 2004