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III Chapter - 1860, Saint-Genis-Laval


06/1860 - 36 Brothers participants

The headaches Brother François had been suffering for a long time as a consequence of his occupations and the demands, which were multiplying with the number of pupils, became chronic and so acute that the government of the Institute was made almost impossible. Father Favre, Superior General of the Society of Mary, who was on a trip to the Eternal City, took the responsibility of presenting the case to the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, which advised the election of a Brother Vicar to assist the Brother Superior.1

On 2 July 1860, a General Chapter was convoked, to which were summoned2 the brothers with the vow of stability3. Thirty-three Brothers were present, including the members of the Regime, and three were absent for justifiable reasons4.

The new General Chapter, without any elected members, opened with the same ceremony as 1852, but in Saint-Genis-Laval.

Brother François announced that, after consulting the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, and owing to the state of his health, and the fact that the administration of the  Institute was growing greater all the time, he had decided to ask the Chapter to discharge him of the responsibility for the administration of the  Institute5. At the same time, he proposed to transfer to Brother Louis-Marie full authority and all the powers necessary for the administration and general government of the institute as Vicar of the Superior General.

Brother Louis-Marie rose to protest against this method of nomination, and asked the Chapter for a decision.  The secret vote, proposed by Brother Pascal, 3rd Assistant  General, resulted in 33 votes in favor of Br. François’ proposal and  2 against. After this vote, the Chapter all together and unanimously granted Br. Louis-Marie all the powers of the Superior together with all his responsabilities6.

On the proposal of Br. Jean-Baptiste, the Chapter decided to give Br. Louis-Marie, just appointed Vicar, the title of Reverend Brother Superior and to Br. François, the retired Superior, that of Very  Reverend Brother  General.7 

From this time on, it was Br. Louis-Marie who directed the Institute and assumed charge of all its subjects. Despite his oficial title, Br. François considered himself only a honorary superior, regarding Br. Louis-Marie as his successor, in spite of his being his  Vicar.8 After the retreats of 1860, he retired to Our Lady of the Hermitage, and accepted the post of Director of the house in place of Br. Mathieu9.

The Chapter proceeded with the study and discussion of the project10 relating to the 9 articles of the  Constitutions, which Rome had communicated as new ones and needed to be settled definitively, and added another two to them11.

This meeting also approved the reorganization of the existing Provinces and the creation of new ones, which required new elections12.

The chapter assembly nominated as Assistants Brothers Theophane, director of Valbenoîte-Saint-Etienne; Philogone, director of the novitiate, and Chrysogone, director of l’Arbresle13. The Regime, thus organized, decided in 1861, to divide the Central Province in two:  Saint-Genis Laval and Notre-Dame de lHermitage. The first was entrusted to Br. Jean-Baptiste and the second to Br. Philogone. The Province of Midi was assigned to Br. Pascal and that of the  Nord to Br.  Theophane. Br. Chrysogone was assigned the novitiate, which became the common one for the  provinces  of Saint-Genis-Laval and Notre Dame de l’Hermitage.14

In his last circular addressed to the Brothers, dated 21 July 1860,15 Brother  François published the acts of the third  General Chapter: elections, chapter statutes, etc. Among the statutes the following are emphasized:

- The feast of the glorious St.Joseph will be a holiday and celebrated in the Novitiate like the five great feasts of the Virgin.
- Smoking is not permitted to the Brothers. The need and habit of smoking is a reason for not admitting to profession.
- The establishment of a Procurator General, with branches in the houses of the Institute in sufficient number to provide a regular service.

 “The Chapter desires:
- That the districts be delimited and a Brother be appointed, with the vow of Stability if possible, in the main town of each district.
- That a model of the Book of Annals be sent to the Brothers
- That the Regime provide for the composition of the text books which have to be produced, and charge a commission to correct them before printing.
- That a book be composed containing the subjects for meditation, and be delivered to the Brothers,  just like an Office Book16.
“The Chapter repeats the wish that the Brothers adopt a single elementary catechism”17.

1 Abbé PONTY, Vie du Frère François, premier Supérieur Général de lInstitut des Petits Frères de Marie, 1808-1881, Lyon, Librairie Emmanuel Vitte, 3, place Bellecour, 1899, pp. 216-217.

2 "We can note first something curious: the first Chapter, which elected Brother François on 12 October 1839, at Notre Dame de lHermitage, and the third Chapter, which accepted his resignation on 18 July 1860, at Saint-Genis-Laval, were not composed of elected members. All the perpetually professed Brothers were members by right at the first General Chapter. There were at that time 112; in fact, only 92 took part in the election. Members by right at the third General Chapter were all the Brothers professed with the vow of Stability.
Since 2 September 1855, 42 Brothers had taken the vow of Stability, of whom three had already died and a further three could not go to Saint-Genis-Laval "for reasons accepted by the Chapter”. Thirty-six Brothers with Stability, therefore, remained to take part in the Chapter assembly, including the Reverend Superior General and his three Assistants.
The number of 36 Stable annulled the second of the four temporary articles approved by the second General Chapter on the afternoon of  18 May 1854, and to which Brother  François made explicit reference in his circular of  2 July 1860. This article stated: "If there is necessity to call a Chapter before attaining thirty-three Brothers with the vow of Stability,  to reach the required number the method and criteria adopted in the  Circular of 17 April 1852 will be followed".
For this, it was necessary to follow the requirements of article 7 of the first section of Chapter  IV of the Rules of Government, which stipulated that the members of the Chapter would be elected from among the Brothers with Stability and elected for all the perpetually professed in the  provinces. In practice, the operation was reduced to electing  33 capitulants from the 35 elegible, seeing that the members of the Regime were capitulants by right. This election would appear ridiculous, the more so when forseeable resignations were expected. In fact, there were three.
The intelligent thing to do at this time was to convoke all those elegible; this was the decision taken by Br. François.
The  circular of 2 July invited the capitulants to be at  Saint-Genis 12 days later. After a day of retreat, the Chapter began on the 16th, feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For some reason unknown to us, perhaps because of some delays understandable given the speed of the convocation, the opening of the Chapter was postponed a day ". Bulletin de l’Institute T. 24, (1960-1961) p. 387-389.

3 Circulares T. 2, p. 440.

4 Ver: Circulares T. 2, p. 400-401. Bulletin de l’Institut T. 24, p. 389. Chronologie de l’Institut, Roma 1976, p. 126

5 Chronologie de l’Institut, Roma 1976, p. 126

6 A la découverte du Vénéré Frère François, Essai sur sa démission (18 juillet 1860), Bulletin de l’Institu T. 24, p. 278-294 y 387-401. Chronologie de l’Institut, Roma 1976, p. 126

7 Act. Cap. 3, 214. Constituciones II, 402-412. Bulletin de l’Institut T. 24, p. 386-397.  Chronologie de l’Institut, Roma 1976, p.127

8 Abbé PONTY, op. cil., p. 229. Cf. Circular del 21-7-1860, T. 2, pp. 402-403.

9 Annales de la Maison et de la Province de Notre-Dame de lHermitage, Fr. AVIT, p. 47. Y Abbé PONTY, op. cil., p. 230-233. Bulletin de l’Institut T. 24, p. 399

10 Actas Cap. 3, 207-210. Bulletin de l’Institut T. 24 387-391. Chronologie de l’Institut, Roma 1976, p. 126

11 Actas Cap. 3, 215. Chronologie de l’Institut, Roma 1976, p. 127

12 La obra de nuestros Capítulos generales Boletín del Instituto T. 27, (1966-1967), p. 633

13 Chronologie de l’Institut, Roma 1976, p. 126

14 Ibid., p. 48 et Annales (générales), cahier 6, p. 528.

15 Circulares, T. 2, p. 402-408. It is by mistake that this circular bears the date of 2 July instead of 21 (p.. 402) .

16 Actas Cap. 3, 215. Chronologie de l’Institut, Roma 1976, p. 127

17 Chronologie de l’Institut, Roma 1976, p. 127


III Chapter - 1860, Saint-Genis-Laval


Government of the Insitute (1860 - 1862)