February 24 – LARGE FAMILIES
Many Brothers were one of a large family like the Grignion family (18 children). Without question, it is in Canada that we find the largest number. Br. Andre Forget, an archivist, who himself has four brothers and five sisters, has done some research work on about 100 families of the Brothers. The result is amazing. Br. Real Coderre’s family holds the record with 20 children. Brother Roger Venne’s family numbered 19 children, while Bros. Joseph Forest’s, Roma Lavoie’s and Jean Martel’s numbered 19. The three brothers Trepanier and the three brothers Jacob who joined the Congregation came from a family of 17 children. The list would be too long if we were to name the following: 16 children (three times), 15 children (thirteen times) 14 children (eight times), 13 children (three times), 12 children (thirteen times), 11 children (thirteen times) 10 children (thirteen times), 9 children (eight times), 8 children (twelve times).
Outside Canada and for lack of accurate statistics we can only sound out here and there. In Kerala (India) let us mention among others the families of Br. John of the Sacred Heart (12 children including a nun), ofBr. John Baptist de la Salle (11 children), and of Br. Montfort of the Cross (nine children).
It is not surprising that many vocations come from such families. The three Trepaniers (Canada), the three Leguerriers (Canada), the three Jacquets (France), who were all Brothers of Saint Gabriel, had respectively five, three and two sisters who were . nuns. Besides, the three Jacquets who were orphans early in life were brought up by an uncle whose two children entered religious life. The two Brochards (France), who belonged to a family of 14 children, had three sisters who were Poor Clares and another who joined another local Congregation. Both Br. Martial and Br. Benoit-Marie had three sisters who became nuns. Br. Maximien (1839-1899) was the son of a schoolteacher who was regarded as a saint in his parish and gave six of his children to God in the religious life. Br. Donatien Neau (1910-1965) was the last of 13 children; one of his brothers was a priest, two of his sisters were nuns, two of his nephews were priests and three of his nieces were nuns. In India, Br. Jacob Ezhanikatt has three brothers who are priests and three sisters who are nuns out of a total of nine children. In Brazil, Br. Luciano is one of eight children and six of them are religious. In Canada two of the 14 brothers and sisters of Br. Rosario Chevalier were religious and two others were nuns.