March 3 – LEGAL RECOGNITION
On 1st May 1822, the Congregation of the Brothers of the Christian Instruction of Saint-Brieuc and Auray (who will be later called the Brothers of Ploermel) were approved by a royal decree and authorised to teach in five Breton departments, corresponding of the dioceses of Quimper, Saint-Brieuc, Rennes, Vannes and Nantes.
On 17 September 1823, Fr. Deshayes who was at the origin ofthis approbation, got a similar one for the Brothers of the Holy Spirit, with the authorisation for them to teach in five departments situated around Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre: Vendee, Maine-et Loire, Deux-Sevres, Vienne and Charente-Inferieure.
In 1826, Fr. Deshayes agreed on a convention with Fr. de la Mennais by which, in the diocese of Nantes, the Brothers of Ploermel could take the schools to the north of the Loire River and the Brothers of the Holy Spirit to the south.
The departments situated in the Southern France escaping these territorial limits, Fr. Deshayes had to use a sort of subterfuge to send Brothers there: he gave the impression of sending teachers directly attached to the local Bishop. But the novitiate in Mees, started in 1837, and that ofLorgues started in 1841,-were closed by the academic authorities shortly after their opening, because they did not have legal authorisation.
That is why Br. Augustin wanted to have the Institute recognised all over France. He started taking the steps in 1849 when Mr de Falloux who favoured the Congregations became minister of public instruction and cult. He made use of the talents of Br. Louis de Gonzague who was more diplomatic and who moreover was from Anjou like the count of Falloux. The very long procedures got highly placed personalities to be involved
The imperial decree (thus called because signed by emperor Napoleon Ill) was signed on 3 March 1853. The first article stipulated: “The Congregation of the Brothers of the Christian Instruction of the Holy Spirit, authorised by ordinance on 17 September
1823 for the departments of Maine-et-Loire, Vienne, Deux-Sevres, Charente-Inferieure and Vendee, will enjoy in the entire French territory, the rights attributed to religious associations of teachers recognised by the State as establishments of public utility”.
The second article, “The Congregation will in future take the title of the Brothers of the Christian Instruction of St Gabriel”, marked the official birth of the Institute under its present name. As seen by Br. Augustin, it sought to guarantee the theory of the Deshaysian origin of the Institute, but Br. Simeon, Superior General since 1852, thought of writing, with the consent of his Council, to the ministry of public instruction to ask that the Congregation retained its former name as pledge of its belonging to Montfort. However, fear of outbursts from Br. Augustin and the threat of a possible breakup – not so probable – of the Institute restrained him.