January 11 – ORPHANAGES
The orphanages of Premontre and Perpignan were entrusted to the Brothers only for some months, in 1856 and 1875 respectively. So the one at Arnis managed by Br. Vincent de Paul (a predestined name!) for 21 years could be considered as the first in the Institute. It was an agricultural (including wine-making) orphanage at the gates of Cahors. There, the Brothers succeeded priests in 1880. As they would do all over thence, the Brothers put their heart and soul into giving the youth a solid general and professional formation.
At the end of the 19th century, two other orphanages were entrusted to the Brothers: the one at Sainte-Radegonde at Tours and the one at the abbey of Lerins facing Cannes. They had to be closed down in 1903 like the one at Arnis.
Outside France, it is striking to note that in many countries and regions the first work of the Brothers is an orphanage: in Canada, at Montreal, St Francis Xavier (1888); in South India, at Tindivanam (1904); in Switzerland, at Montet, the Marini orphanage (1904); in North India, at Sardhana (1955); in Mauritius, the Pere Laval home (1969).
In Brazil, while the first works were traditional schools, the Brothers also looked after, from 1960 to 1963, the Lar Fonseca orphanage at Valenca, in the State of Rio, and then, from 1967 to 1968, the Rocinha home at Bambui. But it is after the nationalization of schools in 1969 that the District decided once and for all to start professional centres, at Diamantina and Passes and later, in 1986, at Almenara, for children of broken down families.
The Province of Italy was in charge of the orphanage of San Nicandro Garganico in the Puglie for about twenty years. When it was shut down it opened theCa’ Florens centre at Istrana.
The country which has the greatest number of orphanages run by the Brothers today is India: at Tindivanam and Pondur (Tamilnadu), at Sardhana (Uttar Pradesh) and Goa. There are also the Boys’ Towns of Hyderabad and Manaparai. Boys’ Towns accommodate children, who are not strictly orphans, but coming from families in difficulty. This is the same case with the technical centre in Dakar (Senegal) opened in 1994.
The orphanages of Apprentice Orphans of Auteuil, founded in France by Fr. Daniel Brattier, are widely admired The reputation of some orphanages of St Gabriel, as Saint-Arsene in Canada (See 21 August) and the seven Boys’ Towns of Asia and Oceania (See 25 April) is not inferior. Everywhere we find the same dedication.