Friday, 1 July 2016

Our Montfortian Foundation

We trace back our foundation to St. Louis Marie de Montfort and the community of Brothers that gathered around him. The founding-Charism was at work from the early days of Montfort’s missionary life. Disciples began to gather around him from 1703, just 3 years after his ordination, Marie Louise Trichet being the first. At the height of his career as the “Apostolic Missionary” he desired to form a company of vagabond priests like him, in accordance with the trend of the time, to carry on with his preaching mission; he called it “The Company of Mary”. He wrote a Rule for it, prayed for it and tried hard to establish it but divine providence took its own time to realize it. 

Montfort’s formal involvement in education mission began in 1711 as part of his commitment to the Bishop Champflour of La Rochelle where he was invited to preach missions and to participate in the diocesan plan of organizing school education for the poor children. For the next 5 years Montfort worked relentlessly for the renewal and revival of the Catholic community both in the Dioceses of La Rochelle and Lucon. Apart from preaching missions Montfort participated in the implementation of the diocesan education policy. Along with the diocesan schools Montfort also organized schools by himself with the support of the Bishop and entrusted these to his disciples. The first of these schools he organized was for the girls which he entrusted to his beloved disciple Marie Louise Trichet and her companions in 1715. This group of Religious sisters is known today in the world as the “Daughters of Wisdom”.

Montfort organized a second school for boys in which he himself was involved in its organization and management. It led to the formation of the community of the Holy Spirit which came to existence officially on Pentecost day, 1715 (June 9, according to tradition, as much of the early documents were lost) when four of his disciples took the Vows of Obedience and Poverty in the hands of Montfort and joined him, at La Seguiniers (a parish, Notre-Dame-de-Toute- Patience, near the town of Cholet in Nantes). At the time of his death (28 April, 1716) Montfort had this community of the Holy Spirit comprising of these 4 Brothers attached him.
“He entrusted them to the divine providence in order to carry on his work, particularly through charitable schools” (R.L.p.9) as it is evident from his last Will:
“… I confide to His Lordship the Bishop of La Rochelle and to Fr. Mulot my small piece of furniture and mission books, to be preserved for the use of the four Brothers who joined me in a life of obedience and poverty; namely, Bro. Nicolas of Poitiers , Bro. Philip of Nantes , Bro. Louis of La Rochelle and Bro. Gabriel, who is at present with me, for as long as they continue to renew their annual vows, and for the use of those whom divine providence will call in to the community of the Holy Spirit …  and the two pieces of land given by the lieutenant of Vouvant’s wife, and a small house given by a good lady of rank. If there is no possibility of building there, it should be put at the disposal of the Brothers of the Community of the Holy Spirit to conduct Charity Schools …” (Last will of Montfort).
It is the tercentenary of this event that we are celebrating. In 1722 the community of the Holy Spirit was re-constituted under the superior ship of Fr. Mulot and settled at Saint-Laurent-sur-servre, near the community of the Daughters of Wisdom governed by Marie Louise de Jesus. It became the community of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit where the Brothers and the priests lived together. Besides teaching in the schools the Brothers devoted themselves to the works of the mission and rending material services.

During the period when Fr. Gabriel Deshayes was the superior General of the Montfortian communities (1821 – 1841) he gave a new impetus to the teaching Brothers. Eventually he constituted them into an autonomous Institute. In doing so Fr. Gabriel Deshayes revived the community of the Holy Spirit for Charitable schools which Montfort had started in his time. It became independent after the death of Fr. Gabriel Deshayes in 1841 and was legally recognized in France in 1853 under the name of the Brothers of Christian Instruction of St. Gabriel.

Formulated by
Bro. Paulose Mekkunnel s.g.

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