August 18 – IN ANJOU
Br. Theodoret, ‘born at Beaupreau, attended the first school opened by Fr. Deshayes in 1822 after his arrival in Saint-Laurent. It was in the department that everybody continued to be called by its former name of Anjou.
During the forty years that followed this first foundation, the Angevines schools would multiply at an impressive rate: 24 at the time of Fr. Deshayes, 9 with Br. Augustin, and 12 under Br. Simeon. There would only be three more foundations thereafter in the 19th century, including Saint-Joseph of Cholet. Most of these schools were concentrated between Cholet and La Loire in the region Mauges situated around Beaupreau, at that time a sub-prefecture. The schools of Mauges were so close to each other that a Director of Andreze relaxed himself one Thursday visiting his confreres of Beaupreau, of Geste and of Fief-Sauvin, and the following Thursday those of La Poiteviniere. The other schools of Anjou, few in number, were in the north of the department, Segre around.
During the 20th century, the Institute would only develop in two towns: Cholet and Angers. At Cholet, two other schools would be added to Saint-Joseph’s: Gellusseau in 1912 and Saint-Jean in 1932; in 1938, the acquisition of the La Tremblaie castle outside the town would enable the opening first of a novitiate and then a juniorate. At Angers, the main city of the department, the first step was taking charge of the St Augustine’s school (primary and secondary) in 1955, then in 1961, the opening of a university scholasticate in the vicinity of the town, at Avrille.
The Catholic University of the West would thereafter be a point of attraction: Brothers would give classes there (philosophy, mathematics, linguistics)· and several others would be students. The community of Avrille, closed down in 1981, was replaced by the one at 83, rue Desjardins, just a few steps from “Catho”. Brothers from Africa and Asia would stay for some months or years.