July 31 – THE JESUITS
The feast of St Ignatius of Loyola is the occasion to mention how the history of the Jesuits, which had already criss-crossed that of Montfort, once again met with the history of the Institute of the 19th century, at least from the time of Br. Eugene-Marie. Entering the novitiate of Lorgues at 18 years, he had the chance of meeting there Fr. Gravier, who had in former times managed the Roman School and who gave him a good intellectual and spiritual formation. On pilgrimage to Rome, he made a week’s retreat at the Jesuits’ which was followed by many others in France. He dreamed of setting up a second novitiate according on the model of theirs. Each year, starting from 1866, he asked them to animate for- his Brothers the Great Exercises of St Ignatius for a month. He entrusted to them the first university scholasticate of the Institute at Lille, where solid friendship would be built between Fathers and Brothers, like that betwen Fr. Delaporte and Br. Hermogene, two men so passionate about drama and poetry. The ambitious rule he prepared was submitted many times to Fr. Cotel SJ, and the articles of this rule concerning education were largely inspired of the pedagogy of the Jesuits. He sent Brothers to teach- and to be formed- in the schools they were running in Poitiers, Paris, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Avignon and Le Mans. In their turn the Jesuits sent to St Gabriel well formed youth coming out of their apostolic schools of Poitiers and Avignon.
On 7 July 1883, the Rector of the school in Villefranche-sur-Saone wrote to Br. Hubert: “The Rector of St Joseph’s in Avignon told me so many good things about the Brothers whom you had given for his elementary classes that I took the resolution to address myself to you so that you would render me the same service”. Br. Hubert could not oblige but he sent Brothers to two other schools in Paris and to Alexandria in Egypt. Br. Martial continued the tradition and sent Brothers to two other Jesuit schools, at Moulins and at Monaco.
In the 20th century, the relations did not slacken at all. The preachers of retreats in France, Belgium and Canada were often the Jesuits. At Sault-au-Recollet, the novitiate of Canada is next door to that of the Jesuits who take care of the spiritual direction. The second novitiate of Clematites had only one spiritual Director, Fr. de Coster, a Jesuit, as was also the one in Rome, especially Fr. Renard.
In India, when the Jesuits thought of giving up their five schools in Bihar they wanted our Brothers to replace them. Trichy Campion School was run by the Jesuits before we took it over. The names were preserved and remind us of their origins: at Ranchi, St Aloysius reminds us of the young Jesuit saint Louis Gonzaga, and at Trichy it is Bl Edmond Campion, an English Jesuit martyr.