July 16 – MONTFORT ACKNOWLEDGED AS FOUNDER
MONTFORT ACKNOWLEDGED AS FOUNDER
The circular of Brother Hubert dated 16 July 1888 is the first in our history to present to the Brothers a complete historical sketch of our origins. It was impossible to do it peacefully when Br. Augustin was alive. After his death in 1875, Br. Eugene Marie was pleased to send, in 1877 and in 1878, a note to the inspector of the academy of La Roche-sur-Yon and another for the Ordo of the diocese of Lu on, wherein he affirmed that the Congregation “owes its foundation to the Venerable Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort”. Br. Hubert even went much further. He provided the proofs for this affirmation by studying the biography of Grandet, the testament of the Blessed, the Chronicles of the Sisters of Wisdom and the declarations of Fr. Deshayes himself.
He took care to clarify the respective roles of Montfort and Deshayes. He referred to several aspects: “Our community goes back to Blessed de Montfort. The community of St Gabriel is a swarm from the same hive; it is a branch taken out from the trunk that took root, developed and became a big oak whose ramifications spread from one end of France to the other and is about to go beyond the frontiers [to Canada]. With Father Simon, the Vicar General of Lu on, I would say: ‘We can therefore my dear Brothers – and this is to our glory – resolutely inscribe Montfort at the head of our genealogical tree’. But on the other hand, it is the Venerable Father Deshayes who, after making the mother hive prosper, after the tree planted by Blessed de Montfort to grow, brought about the swarming and prepared the new hive; it was he who cut the branch and planted, watered, trimmed and made it grow. He can .therefore be called the restorer, the continuer of Montfort’s work and our second founder… While Fr. Deshayes was for us a father, Montfort remains for us the forefather, the patriarch… Both of them hold their hands together to bless us; they only have one prayer to protect us, one only heart to love us”.
Br. Hubert concluded his circular by invoking the Special Chapter which had just been held on 9, 10 and 11 June, some days after the grand celebrations at Saint Laurent in honour of Montfort, the new Blessed. He wrote: “Our lOth special General Chapter presided over by Mgr. the bishop of Lu on understood it this way. After a serious study of the documents related to our origin, the following question was asked:
‘Must we look at the Blessed Montfort as our true founder and Father Deshayes as a man sent by Divine Providence to restore and develop the work of the Blessed?’. The Chapter responded in the affirmative, by secret vote, with good moral unanimity (27 votes out of 29). And his Lordship, who was for the same opinion as the Chapter, was glad to ratify the decision. One word about the two opposing men. The first was Br. Louis, Director of La Persagotiere. Having won over to his cause a great number of Brothers of his community, he spent all his energy to write notes and letters to Br. Hubert, in order to ondo the works of the 1888 Chapter. On 2 October 1889 the bishop of Lu on had to forbid him, under holy obedience, from speaking or writing on the origin of the Brothers. The second opponent was Br. Marie-Evre, Director of the Institution at Bordeaux. At the 2nd session of the lOth General Chapter (10 and 11 April 1890), Br. Louis had already been dead for three months, but Br. Marie-Evre was fully alive and more virulent than ever. From the very first sitting – which in fact was devoted to another subject: the revision of the Constitutions – he requested to read a memoir of 32 pages whose aim was “to justify his vote of 1888”. The bishop wanting to read it first, he only could present it to the Chapter on 11 April. The Chapter protested “against the presentation and conclusions of the memoir”.