August 15 – ORDAINED BROTHERS
The decision to admit some Brothers to priesthood was taken in 1969 at the first session of the special General Chapter. It brought to an end the motions and debates (often so passionate) in the previous Chapters which pushed the Capitulants in this direction. Voted after long discussions and in a terise atmosphere, it was adopted v,rith conditions defined by n° 10 of the Conciliar decree Peifectae Caritatis: “Lay religious life, for men and for women, is a state for the profession of the evangelical counsels… The holy synod declares that there is nothing to prevent some members of Institutes of Brothers being admitted to holy orders – the lay character of the Institutes remaining intact – by provision of their General Chapter and in order to meet the need for priestly ministration in their houses”.
Other Congregations of teaching Brothers, confronted by the same problems, have resolved them in different ways: the Brothers of the Sacred heart and of the Holy Family, as St Gabriel; the Brothers of Ploermel, ad experimentum; the La Salle Brothers, by refusing the introduction of priesthood; the Marists, on condition it is supported by more than two thirds of capitular votes (which was not the case, though there was an absolute majority).
The first ordinations, on 15 August 1970, were those of two Canadians: Br. Romeo Gervais (Br. Rembert-Marie), former General Assistant, and Br. Guy StOnge. There were then 25 until 1977, after which the pace slowed down: 16 in twentyone years, between 1978 and 1999. Some Provinces did not deem it necessary to have ordained Brothers. Others that introduced it have stopped it later (there has not been any in India since 1980).
The distribution of ordained Brothers is quite unequal according to Provinces:
20 for Canada, (nearly half of the total of ordained Brothers), 5 for Italy (but one Italian Brother priest who is working in Brazil has since been transferred to the Province of France), 4 for Spain, 4 for Thailand, 3 for Central India, 3 for Yercaud, 2 for Malaysia Singapore, 1 for Ranchi, 1 for Trichy.
On 31 December 1999, the total of ordained Brothers was 28: 9 in Canada, 7 in India, 3 in Spain, 3 in Italy, 2 in Thailand, 1 in Brazil, 1 in Malaysia, 1 in Papua New Guinea, 1 in Singapore.