June 3 – AN AVALANCHE OF REQUESTS IN FRANCE

AN AVALANCHE OF REQUESTS IN FRANCE

3 June 1853: the headmaster of the school at Saint-Benoit-du-Sault requests Brothers to teach there until they could take over the management.

3 June 1882: the archpriest of Nerac would like the Brothers to start a Catholic school there.

3 June 1883: the Superior of the Jesuit school in Poitiers writes to the Superior General requesting that the Brothers who have already taught there should return in October.

In France in the 19th century there was an abundance of letters of this kind: fifty or so per year, judging by the number of those kept in the archives in Rome.

Most of the letters came from western France, i.e. an area stretching from Charente-Maritime (57 letters) to Mayenne (29 letters); however, letters came from all parts of France except eight departments. The 23 requests from Herault and the 34 from Haute-Garonne do not come as a surprise, because of the reputation enjoyed by the schools at Poussan and Toulouse; the surprising fact is that letters came from departments where no Brothers were working, for example, from central France: Allier (17 requests), Nievre (10), Cher (12), Indre (22). The requests are for primary schools. Occasionally they are for schools for the deaf and dumb: Some of these were granted, such as those for the schools in Toulouse and Curriere, but a large number were rejected: those coming from Bourges (1853), Sacierges-Saint-Martin (Apri11859), and Bourg-en-Bresse (June 1859).

Who was making these requests? Mostly parish priests, sometimes bishops or nuns (especially the Daughters of Wisdom), and also fairly often notables. Some of them repeated their requests three or five times.

Fr. Greffier, parish priest of Cherves, a parish of 1000 people in France, made as many as ten requests. In February 1869 he requested only one Brother who might live close by with the community at Thenezay. Br. Eugene-Marie replied, “Later.” In September a lady benefactor volunteered to found a Catholic school and requested two Brothers. In December 1876 the new parish priest, Fr. Ripaule, also requested two Brothers, or if not two at least one who could be lodged at Thenezay. In February 1877 a draft contract was drawn up but in March the parish priest found a layman and said he was willing to wait until 1880. However, the Superior General had no Brother available that year. Nor was any Brother available in 1881 and he wrote: “We will not be able to found a school at Cherves unless we destroy another. Which parish priest would be willing to sacrifice his own?” In 1832 Father Ripaule, who was wonderfully patient, wrote again in April and August. The two requests he made to the Superior Br. Hubert in

1883 were no more successful. “Knock and the door will be opened to you.” Not every time.

Date

Jun 03

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