February 26 – LA PEYROUSE
La Peyrouse is a large estate with an area of some 300 acres, nearly half of which is covered with woods; it lies in the open country not far from the city of Perigueux. Near the entrance stands a chapel topped with cupolas. Mme Tocque, the owner, had built it in 1886 to make it the last resting-place of her dead husband and of her only son who had died at 15. In 1898 she added to it a large building which housed in turn orphans, senior seminarists from the diocese of Perigueux, children camping during the holidays; in 1931 some Brothers of Saint Gabriel from the Central French Province moved there. The Province turned La Peyrouse into a formation centre for its novices and juniors; in 1949 it became a retirement home for about 20 elderly Brothers who first came from the Province, then from other Provinces. A cemetery was soon added, containing 35 graves. Of the four rest homes owned by the Brothers in France (the others are La Hilliere, Boistissandeau, and Loctudy) the one at LaPeyrouse is the most remote and the quietest, and most of the residents appreciate its peaceful surroundings. In December 1999, an unusually strong tempest caused havoc at La Peyrouse, felling some 10,000 of the trees.
In 1981 the 50th anniversary of the house was celebrated under the presidence of the Bishop of Perigueux. Another event took place at the same time: the blessing of a home for deaf-blind people. In 1972, led by Bros. Adrien Auray and Br. Thomas, had- -l-e-ft–Poi-tiers-and-moved into the older building-·at La–Peyrouse·untH-a · more functional home and a sports hall were built; the home included workshops (chair making, rattan work, and making of paper briquettes); what was most important was a life setting fostering relations with the outside world. A deaf-blind person is even able to phone on Minitel.
The home for deaf-blind is the property of the French Province but since 1993 it has been managed by an association which receives capitation grants; this makes it possible to employ lay staff but some Brothers still work there, managing the house and accompanying in their leisure time the ten or twelve deaf-blind adults.
This exceptional work evokes interest, as shown by the fact that, on two occasions in 1990 and 1996 the national televised Sunday morning Mass came from the local parish and involved the deaf-blind people. On the second occasion, the Brother in charge of the home, Br. Leon Flatres, said to the press: “Relating to a deaf-blind person requires first of all presence and availability. A disabled person is keenly sensitive to the quality of physical contact and soon feels whether he is made welcome or merely put up with. Christ’s priority given to the poorest is a permanent challenge and invites us to devote time to them in a way which, humanly speaking, is not economic. Welcoming poor people is a sign of the Church and should attest to the sacred character of each person and to the Father’s special love for the most afflicted ones.”