July 8 – JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS
On the occasion of anniversaries of religious professions in the Institute, the very Biblical custom of celebrating the goodness of God who calls and the faithfulness of man who responds goes back to the origins. The fiftieth anniversary of the first vows of Brothers Simeon and Augustin was celebrated at the Mother House on 24 September
1874 with much solemnity (See 28 May). One other Superior General, Br. Benoit Marie, had the right to still more solemnity and his fifty years of perpetual vows were first celebrated in France, at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre (on 15 August 1942 at the Mother House and on 27 May 1943 at the boarding school), then in Belgium on 23 July 1943, where the Superior who was absent because of the war, was represented by his portrait.
The Chronicle, in its first issues, does not cease describing this kind of celebrations which concern also the chaplains. The issue of 7 July 1900 devoted 23 pages to the silver jubilee of Abbe Caille, the chaplain of the Institution for the deaf at Ronchin. For these occasions, the Brothers were often asked to make a spiritual bouquet of communions, ways of the cross and sacrifices. These have reached astonishing figures in number as well as in precision. : .
Little by little each Province devised its own way of celebrating these jubilees. Apparently it is in Canada that these things are done in great style. A jubilee committee works for a long time in advance to prepare the day which is spent in turn at the church, at the banquet hall and in festivities. The families too are there. A pamphletis published to trace the itinerary and depicts the portrait of all the jubilarians, with 70, 60, or 50 years of religious life. With the division of the Provinces, the practice also got shifted between Montreal (a day in July) and Champlain (a day in September). This continued even after the merger of the Provinces.
Asia (India, Thailand, Singapore) does not lack in such solemnity but guests from outside are less in number. It is not rare that an entire issue of the Provincial bulletin is devoted to the jubilarians: portraits, interviews, poems, etc. As an example we may recall what took place at Bhopal on 14 February 1999. The six Provincials of India were in the capital of Madhya Pradesh on the occasion of their National Council meeting and they were joined by hundreds of guests who filled the cathedral and then the St Francis Xavier school to felicitate two Brothers of the Province of Delhi for their 25 years of religious life and to celebrate the 50 years of religious life of six Brothers, who had come from four Provinces of India despite their age and in some cases their poor health.
In other places a quieter style is adopted, but the gatherings are equally warm. In France the jubilarians who are honoured in their communities very much like to have a separate meeting among themselves, often in one of the houses where they were formed, juniorate or novitiate.