August 10 – BEGINNINGS IN SPAIN
BEGINNINGS IN SPAIN
The choice of Gerona in Catalonia as the first foundation in Spain was preceded by a period of trial and error. Br. Apollinaire, General Assistant, had first searched in the Basque country, then in Navarre, a place of refuge for the Brothers of the Province of the Centre chased from their schools in 1903. No success. A Capuchin from Toulouse, who had lived in Gerona, recommended this town to him and offered to accompany him. They found a house there in the Beatas street. The first to occupy it on 10 August 1903 was Br. Hermogene, followed on 23 August by two Brothers coming from Saint-Eloy-les-Mines (France). ·
Arrivals succeeded one another regularly from the centre of France, then from the novitiate of Givisiez. The Brothers immediately started learning Spanish and some even started teaching in two schools of the Marists in the town. The parish priest of Castello de Ampurias, come to Gerone to look for religious for his school, discovered the Brothers of St Gabriel. They accepted the school in Castello in 1904. Their fame soon snowballed. They were in demand all over: in 1904 at Torroella de Montgrf on the coast; in 1905 at Bafiolas near Gerona; in 1905 at San Sadurnf de Noya, west of Barcelona where they were called by Mr Codomiu, a producer of Spanish champagne; in 1906 at Vails in the Province of Tarragona. All these were primary schools, with secondary and commercial sections at Valls.
At the same time Spanish candidates to religious life started coming in. The house in Gerona being too small to receive them, a former Carmel house was found at Malgrat on the coast in 1906. Soon that too would become too small for its 30 novices. In 1909 they shifted to the former novitiate of the Fathers of the Sacred Heart of Issoudun at Canet de Mar. This new maritime house was large and could accommodate at the same time, besides the novitiate, the juniorate and the Provincial House. But in 1915, the Fathers wanted to take back the house. So this paradise was lost. Fortunately another replaced it at Caldetas (See 5 September).
In 1915, Spain could send Brothers to Venezuela. After the war, which had brought about a pause in the admissions to the novitiate, other missionaries left for Thailand and other schools were opened in the Barcelona region: at Arenys de Mar (1920), at Viladecans (1925) and at San Adrian de Besos (1929). When in 1935 the Province of Spain was created, it had on the Spanish soil 80 Brothers (only 7 French still among them) and about 20 overseas (See the map on 31 May).