June 20 – THE BEGINNINGS OF A HISTORIC QUARREL
THE BEGINNINGS OF A HISTORIC QUARREL
A year after the celebration of Montfort’s beatification a 36-page anonymous booklet was published; the introduction was by Bishop Becel of Vannes and it had been approved by Fr. Maurille, Superior General of the Company of Mary. Its title was Deux points d’histoire and the writer insisted that Fr. Deshayes was the real founder of the Brothers of Saint Gabriel. In order to grasp the significance of this booklet (actually written by Fr. Jouet) and why it was published then, it is necessary to go back a few years.
Fr. Louis Perouas smm wrote in Revue du Bas-Poitou et des Provinces de ‘Ouest, No. 5-6, of September-December 1970, p. 408: “Since 1886 there had been some tension between the Superior General of the Company of Mary, who, because of his position and according to tradition, was also Superior of the Daughters of Wisdom, and Bishop Catteau of Luc :on who thought that this position was irregular and wanted to · have full jurisdiction over the Sisters. Several small difficulties had resulted from this. For example, in April 1887, the Bishop wanted to appoint Fr. Maurille, newly elected Superior General of the Company of Mary, as Superior General of the Daughters of Wisdom. It would seem that Fr. Maurille feared that Bishop Catteau might then argue from analogy with regard to the Brothers of Saint Gabriel” (whose Institute was under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Lucon).
The disagreement between Fr. Maurille and Bishop Catteau grew worse in 1889 when the latter announced to the Daughters of Wisdom that the Chapter they were due to hold, according to their constitutions, would not be held: he had obtained from Rome an indult extending the term of office of the Sisters’ Mother General, who was siding with him. “There is no doubt that, at that stage at least, the disagreement over the Daughters of Wisdom was linked with the disagreement over the founder of the Brothers of Saint Gabriel (…). It was while the situation was in a state of crisis that the authorities of the Company of Mary, who were suffering from an inferiority complex in regard to the Bishop, thought it fit to publish an anonymous booklet claiming that the Brothers of Saint Gabriel had been founded, not by Father de Montfort, but by Fr. Deshayes. Did all the smm priests agree with this? Fr. Fonteneau for one opposed this thesis strenuously. Basically the booklet was a defence meant to ward off Bishop Catteau; however, it was hurtful to the Brothers and in contradiction with the statements made by the Company of Mary shortly before that; it was a defence that called for a riposte.” (Louis Perouas).
The riposte came in the shape of three other booklets. A 30-page one, La verite sur l’origine des Freres du Saint-Esprit et de Saint-Gabriel (prefaced by Br. Hubert, Superior General) was written by Fr. Fonteneau smm. A 102-page one, Le Bienheureux de Montfort et les ecoles charitables. Reponse a la brochure: Deux points d’histoire (prefaced by Bishop Catteau) was written by Abbe Blain, chaplain to the school for the deaf in Poitiers. A booklet of 100 handwritten pages was written by Br. Alberic sg:
Refutation du memoire adresse au Saint-Pere par le P. Jouet.