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Phone: 781-898-3117 | Fax: 617-812-2432
SLG and FIC
The Brothers of Christian Instruction, also known as the De la Mennais Brothers, is a teaching order founded by Father Jean-Marie de la Mennais in 1819 to teach the poor children of Brittany in Western France. These children had not had the chance to go to school, nor to learn about their faith due to the social upheaval caused by the French Revolution in 1789 and its far-reaching consequences.
Jean-Marie de la Mennais was born in St. Malo, Britanny, on September 8th, 1780. His father was a wealthy ship-owner who had greatly helped his region during a time of famine by selling corn to the local people for less than he had paid to buy it. King Louis XVI (16th) of France gave him a special honour in reward for his actions. Jean-Marie's mother died when he was only seven, but her deep faith and lively intelligence left their mark on the young boy.
From an early age Jean-Marie decided that he wanted to be a priest, despite the difficult times of the Revolution and the persecution that priests suffered. His family gave refuge to priests in hiding. Young Jean-Marie showed great courage in the help he gave to them. He advanced rapidly in his studies and in his spiritual growth under the tuition of Father Vielle, a young priest in hiding, and Father de Cloriviere. On February 25th, 1804, Jean-Marie was ordained a priest. On top of his priestly duties, he also tried to do something about the number of children who were not able to go to school. Education was to remain his main concern for the rest of his life and it was for its sake that he refused the offer of becoming a Bishop on numerous occasions.
Fr. Jean-Marie de la Mennais was very popular with the ordinary catholic people of his region, but was strongly disliked by the enemies of the Church because of all the good work that he did in the service of God and his people. In 1819 he founded, together with another priest, Fr. Gabriel Deshayes, the Brothers of Christian Instruction or De la Mennais Brothers to educate the youth of Brittany and 'make Jesus Christ better known and better loved'. He gave as a motto for the new congregation, 'Dieu Seul' (D.S.), which means 'For God Alone'. He endured vile accusations and threats, but such was the success of his congregation of Brothers that they were soon in demand throughout France and in its colonies.
In 1903, the Congregation had a severe setback when the French government closed all its schools in France and the colonies, like those of other congregations. The French 'Noviciate' or training house for candidates to the brotherhood was immediately transferred to Taunton in south-west England and new missions were started in other countries such as Spain and Canada. In 1922 the Noviciate moved to Jersey and the Brothers in England opened their first school in Southampton, St. Mary's College, which still exists. In 1961 the Brothers came to Liverpool and in 1964 they began teaching at St. Francis Xavier's College. In 1974 they took over the direction of the College.
The Brothers are now in 24 countries around the world, places like Haiti,
Chile, Japan, Uganda, Tahiti, Senegal, Italy, USA, Argentina, etc... Wherever
they are, their aim remains that of their Founder :
"To educate the young and to make Jesus Christ better known and better loved".
[Source: site of Brother James (FIC) [originally at http://members.madasafish.com/~bro_james/JdlM2.htm - site is now down]
Upon request from Mgr Testar du Cosquer, the Brothers of Christian Instruction arrived and started working in Haiti in 1864. In spite of many adverse events *(see below), many middle schools were built in various cities of Haiti. In 1890, they built the Institution Saint-Louis de Gonzague. In 1895, the Brothers were running 20 schools, including 5 in Port-au-Prince.
After the setbacks of 1903 and 1914, more Brothers came from Canada and Spain in 1922. In 1938, there were, in Haiti, 131 Brothers teaching 8112 students in 22 schools, thanks to the leadership of Brother Archange and Brother Hippolyte-Victor.
This is the status of the work of the Brothers in 1990:
Primary and secondary (1st cycle) : 3
Primaire et secondaire (1st et 2nd cycle) : 1
Students : 8355
Lay Teachers : 204
January 12, 2010 brought major challenges to the work of the FIC in Haiti. Major destruction of four (4) campuses including:
Delmas Campus of Institution Saint-Louis de Gonzague
Downtown Campus of Institution Saint-Louis de Gonzague
Jean-Marie Guilloux School near the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince
Mennaisian Center / Novitiate in Petion-Ville
SLGAFI has established the "SLGAFI Reconstruction Fund" to allow you to contribute in the reconstruction of these important** schools in Haiti.
1866: Fire destroyed 2 schools
1878: Seven Brothers died of yellow fever
1903: Severe setbacks in France slowed down the work of the Brothers in Haiti.
1914: Thirty Brothers called back to France to fight for their country.
Over the last 140+ years, the FIC have educated a large number of Haitians who were very successful both in Haiti and abroad.
The Saint-Louis de Gonzague Alumni Foundation Inc. is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit corporation registered in Massachusetts, USA (Identification Number: 000819849) and with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service - United States Dept of Treasury).