August 28 – INTERNATIONAL NOVITIATES
The first international novitiate goes back to 1852, at Lille, where postulants from France and Belgium were received; there was even one Dutchman. Our first Belgian Brothers came from this novitiate: in September 1854, Br. Corneille; in September 1855, Br. Camille and Br. Eleuthere (both from Eastern Flanders).
If we are to overlook some rare candidates from Italy to Mees (Alpes-de-Haute Provence) or from Belgium to Saint-Laurent, the second international novitiate was that of Sault-au-Recollet where the first novices from Canada, then also from the United States, in 1891 and 1892, were mixed with those brought from France.
After the 1903 exodus, the novitiate of Givisiez in Switzerland was entirely French, but that of Saluzzo in Italy received French and Italians, and the mobile novitiate of Spain (Gerone, Malgrat and Canet de Mar), had Spanish, French and even a Thai.
The most international novitiate was, after 1906 and for half a century, that of Peruwelz in Belgium. It was mostly French, with some Belgians and Italians. In 1912, two novices from Thailand arrived there one of them becoming Br. Theophane Venard, the first Thai Brother. In the 1930s, three Indian novices would also arrive there.
The novitiate of Bukit Timah (Singapore) inaugurated on 28 August 1938, received only five Thai postulants at the beginning; they were already under formation at Holy Innocents’. A year later, three others came from India, and others from the same country in 1940. The war stopped this experiment and it was never started again.
But later, the Thais and those from the Province of Malaysia-Singapore would go to India to do their novitiate.
After the closure of Peruwelz, and before the Provinces of Italy and Belgium and then the Brazil sector could have their own novitiates, the Italian, Belgian and Brazilian postulants went to do their novitiate in France, at Boistissandeau.
In Africa, the novitiate of Senegal received for a long time only Senegalese. Then they were mixed with others (Congolese, Zairians, Central Africans, Rwandans and even Madagascans during for two years) either at Brazzaville, where nationalities had easily rubbed shoulders at the novitiate, or at Thies.
The last international novitiates were in Southeast Asia where Thai, Malaysian and Singaporean Brothers had come together many a time.