Br. Thomas d’Aquin had left the Institute in June 1881 following a very bad crisis which led him to desert the school he was managing in Lille. The following January he applied to return and the General Council agreed. In the 19th century there were about 40 such cases, but many of the applicants were not allowed to return: ten or so of them left for good during their repeated novitiate and as many while they were in temporary vows. Most of those who returned did so shortly after leaving. Br. Magloire, for example, who had left in September 1864 in order to learn Latin and become a priest, applied to return after two years and made his repeated novitiate at 34. The case of Br. Basilide (Jean Rivier) is quite different. He joined the novitiate at Lorgues in 1860 and left the Institute four years later. He got married in 1871. After being widowed and childless in 1907, he applied to rejoin the Institute in 1919. In view of his age (78) he was allowed to make a repeated novitiate in an ordinary house of the Institute. He went to San Remo (Italy) on 28 October 1920 and died there on 4 April1929.

Out of 440 Brothers who left the Institute in 1903, at the time of the antireligious laws, thirty or so applied to return and were granted their request. Br. Eugene-Joseph seems to be an exception: he had lived outside the Congregation for five years only when he applied to join the novitiate at Peruwelz. Most Brothers who had left applied to return betwen 1916 and 1927. They had to make their novitiate again, regardless of their age (one of them, Br. Ananias, was 70). Some “prodigal sons” longed for the warmth of their paternal home in their old age: for example, Pierre Glenisson (Br. Michael) who at the age of 67 had an accident which set him thinking; or Fran ois Pohu (Br. Marie­ Ephrem), who taught at Sainte-Marie School at Cholet, who became blind at 60 and ended his days in the Bordeaux community helping the blind.

Many secularised Brothers had kept in touch with Brothers who played a part in their reintegration. In the case of Eugene Faveroul, it was a priest who was instrumental in his return. In 1923 this priest had just started a Catholic school in his parish, Sainte­ Pazanne; as he wished to entrust it to a reliable man, he turned to one he had greatly valued when he was a curate at Vieillevigne. Mr Faveroul became Br. Aubin again and managed the school at Sainte-Pazanne for 26 years; he became the best-liked man and the most popular adviser in the parish.

In the 20th century few Brothers who had left returned to the Congregation: half a dozen before the Second World War, and a few more afterwards.