August 29 – IN THE UNITED STATES
IN THE UNITED STATES
In October 1835, Mgr Flaget, a Saint-Sulpice priest and bishop of Bardstown in Kentucky (United States) was passing through Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre. He told Fr. Deshayes about his wish to see the Sisters of Wisdom take charge of a school for the deaf and dumb he was planning to start. A niece of the prelate, Eulalie Flaget, volunteered for this school and received instruction at La Chartreuse. In January 1840, Mgr Flaget returned to this topic, and this time asked for four Brothers for a school for the hearing, two for the deaf and dumb and a priest for the confession of the deaf and to direct the Brothers. Fr. Deshayes replied that he was going to choose the Brothers so that they could at the same time learn English and the teaching of the deaf. Then, there was nothing: the correspondence between Mgr Flaget and the one whom he called his “very dear and venerable friend” stopped there, and with it the long awaited project. This is much regretted. An implantation in the United States, in an English-speaking country, would have been a big boon for the fledgling Institute.
A second chance was available fifty years later. In 1890, two years after the arrival of the Brothers in Canada, Br. Hubert, Superior General, and Br. Louis Bertrand, responsable of Canada, accepted the proposition of the parish priest of St Johnsbury in the State of Vermont, to take charge of a Catholic school in a Protestant milieu and mostly frequented by Canadians. Both thought that eventually the postulants of this bilingual village would already know English which was useful to live and teach in Canada. It was only due to financial reasons that the venture was dropped in 1928: in the United States, absolutely no public subsidy is granted to Catholic schools, and Catholics who could contribute had also to finance the Protestant schools, and it was too heavy a burden for them.
Thirty years later, in 1958, a third attempt was made at Des Plaines near Chicago in the Maryville Institution that received children with family difficulties. It was through the sister ofBr. Alexandre Leclerc (1902-1999), a religious Sister who worked in Maryville that Br. Romain Landry, Provincial of Canada, knew about the Institution and sent Brothers there as teachers. During the school year 1962-1963, they were ten including six as students at the university. He dreamed that Des Plaines could be the starting point for an American Province. But the cdsis of the 1960s dashed this hope. For lack of personnel, in 1969 the Brothers left Maryville… and the United States.
Other Brothers have lived and still live in the United States, but only as students: formerly there were Canadians at Poughkeepsie for higher studies in English; today Indians and Thais for theological or technical studies.
Eleven Brothers have been born in the United States, most of them in the eastern States (Vermont, New-Hampshire, etc.). All of them had their formation in Canada and lived in the Province of Canada- except one who was born in San Francisco in 1878 and died at Mane (France), in 1899: his family which had emigrated to California, returned to France when he was 5 years old.