Evolution of the Province
Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel – Province of Yercaud
The world today has moved from being “self-content” to being “self-centred”. It has become more consumeristic. Having more is considered to be the “source of happiness” and being humane is considered to be a “sign of weakness”. The rich are becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer; corruption and selfishness being the driving force.
There is a need for caring and responsible leaders who will strive hard to transform the world into a new haven of joy and peace following the Kingdom values, as preached and practiced by Christ during his life on earth.
Great men and women whom we call ‘saints’, consciously or unconsciously harkened to God’s call and followed His footsteps, serving His children, specially the poor, neglected, and the differently abled.
St.Montfort walked a different path compared to other holy men. He followed Christ, preaching the Wisdom of Cross and considered suffering as a source of blessing. For St. Montfort, Christ is the incarnate wisdom of God who was born of the Virgin Mary in order to take the world back to his Father. Mary, the mother of Christ was a sure way to reach Christ. He propagated a filial devotion to Blessed Virgin Mary with the dictum “to Jesus through Mary”.
Conscious of the values of this world and thrown into the service of men, the Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel bear witness to the loving presence of God, through their work and mission to transform the creation and rededicate it back to Him, in Jesus Christ.
Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel walk the same road that Montfort trod. Stirred by his spiritual experience, they partake in his wondrous heritage along with numerous sons and daughters, whom the Spirit gathered together to carry on his mission.
In the midst of God’s people, the Institute of St. Gabriel has a vocation of its own approved by the church. The world can be consecrated to Him only in the spirit of the Beatitudes. Along with Mary, the faithful virgin who received the Word, they grow in the expectation of the promise and living its fulfillment in her Son. This union is a favoured way of delving more deeply into the mystery of Christ. They are always in communion with her, their mother in the faith and in all that makes up their lives. They manifest this relationship, by renewing through Mary, their total oblation to Christ.
St. Louis Grignion De Montfort was born on 31st January 1673 in a small town called Montfort in France. He loved the young and looked upon them as ‘angels’, irrespective of caste and religion. Throughout his life he worked ceaselessly for sick, marginalized and abandoned people. He preached the wisdom of God manifested and embodied in Jesus Christ. He advocated a sure path to God through Mary, Mother of Christ. He died at an early age of 43, on 28th April 1716. The people acclaimed him a ‘Saint’ and the Church canonized him on 20th July 1947. He was a powerful preacher, a painter and a sculptor.
He has authored a number of spiritual books such as “The Love of Eternal Wisdom”, “Treatise of the True Devotion to Mary”, “The Secret of Mary”, “The Secret of Holy Rosary”, “Methods for saying Rosary”, “Letter to the friends of the Cross”, “Letter to the people of Montbernage”,in addition to numerous Hyms, Spiritual letters and sermon notes.
He established organizations such as Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel, earth. “God alone” was his motto and “No Cross, what a Cross!” became his philosophy of life. The spiritual movement, “The Legion of Mary” was initiated under the influence of ‘True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin’. The Marian theological elements “Treatise on the True Devotion” re-echoes in ‘Lumen Gentium’. Blessed Pope John Paul II was a great devotee of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort and strongly advocated the learning and practice of ‘True Devotion to Mary’.
There are many educational institutions especially for the poor and differently abled under the care of Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel all over the world. The flame lit by this holy man continues to glow and shine with greater intensity even after 300 years.
Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel
It was in 1842, the teaching Brothers under the title ‘The Institute of the Brothers of St. Gabriel’ got separated from the Company of Mary. Thereafter, the society has grown much, first in France and then elsewhere. In 1888, the Brothers went to Canada and in 1900 to Africa. The mission spread to Europe and Asian countries too. In the recent past, the Brothers went to Oceania also. Today, the Brothers work in many countries, across continents.
In Africa, they are in Cameroon, Congo, Ggabon, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Republic of Central Africa, Reunion Islands, Senegal, Tanzania and Zaire.
Their mission continues in Canada and South American Countries such Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Peru.
In Asia, Montfort Brothers have their mission in India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. In Europe, they serve in Belgium, England, Spain, France and Italy.
Their service extends to French Guyana, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga in Oceania.
Brothers working in the above countries concentrate mainly on education, rural development and social activities. One of their main objectives is to teach the hearing impaired and the visually challenged. There are more than 1200 Brothers across the world, continuing the missionary work initiated by Montfort. Though education is their selective field of mission, they also take up many other forms of apostolic work in Technical schools and institutions meant exclusively for the physically challenged. They look for newer and more urgent needs of people, without conforming only to formal education.
Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel in India
“The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step”. For the Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel, that epic journey in India began on the 11th day of September 1903, when three French Brothers Denis, John Baptist de la Salle and Martin de Vertou set foot on the Indian shores at Pondicherry taking that “first step”.
Today, a century later, the Montfort Brothers of St.Gabriel have established a dignified, forceful and majestic presence – a heritage that is a beacon to the world in ” Service to Society”
The three pioneers who landed in Pondichery on 11th September 1903, started to teach at the Petit Seminaire College on 14th September 1903. In 1904, one of them Bro. John Baptist reached Tindivanam in Tamil Nadu and started an Industrial School for the poor children. The Brothers started recruiting Indians for the new mission and started a Novitiate in 1904. The first Indian Brother was Louis Mary, who made his first profession in 1910.
In 1917, Montfort Anglo Indian residential school for the poor Anglo Indian students and St. Joseph’s School for the Tamil Medium children were started in Yercaud, Salem Dt.
In 1931, St. Antony’s High School, Coonoor was started. In 1939, Bro. John of God started recruiting candidates from Kerala who were admitted to the Apostolic School in Coonoor. In 1942 a Novitiate was started in Coonoor. This was later shifted to Eachinkadu, Yercaud in 1952.
Bro. Eleazar became the first Provincial Superior of the Indian Mission in 1948. He was a great visionary and the number of Brothers increased from 55 to 140 and the missionary spread all over India.
Bro. John of the Cross was the first Indian Provincial, followed by Bro.Stephen and Bro. Antony Francisco. In 1962, the Province under the leadership of Bro. Anthony Francisco started a school for the “hearing impaired” and another school for the “visually challenged” at Adyar, Madras. This is a special mission of the Brothers of St. Gabriel. Many such Institutions have come up in India, under the care and management of the Brothers.
In 1967, the Indian Province was divided into three regions, Southern, Central and Northern.
In 1975, the Province of South India started its “mission expansion” to North East, particularly Mizoram.
In 1973, Brothers from the Province of South India went to Fiji Islands and later to Tonga.
In 1983, the Province of Central India sent Brothers to Tanzania as missionaries.
In 1989, the Province of North India was divided into 2 provinces: Ranchi and Delhi.
In 1995,MCDS (Montfort Community Development Society) was initiated by Bro. Gerard Patrick at Chennai.
In 1998, the Province of South India was divided into 3 provinces: Trichy, Yercaud and North East India.
In 2000, the Good News Welfare Society, Kalghatgi was taken over by the Province.
In 2001, the Montfort Community Project a 21st Centenary Human Empowerment programme was initiated at Kombuthooki, Yercaud under the leadership of Bro. George Kalangod.
In 2003, the Brothers in India celebrated the centenary of their arrival and mission in India. After 100 years of fruitful mission there are 520 Brothers and 150 Institutions where Brothers serve, particularly the young, with preference to the poor and the underprivileged. The celebrations were marked by ‘thanksgiving’ ceremonies, sessions to evaluate Montfort Brothers mission and to re-focus religious and apostolic endeavours. National level celebrations were organized in Chennai. Province level celebrations were organized in all the provinces.
The Yercaud Province is the “Mother Province” among the 8 Provinces in India. It came into existence on April 28, 1998, along with the provinces of Trichy and North East India. Bro. Mathew Panathanath was the first Provincial Superior, followed by Bro. Thomas K K and Bro. George Padikara.
The Province has nearly 25 Institutions in Tamil Nadu, Fiji and Tonga. The Province celebrated the centenary of the arrival of Brothers in India on 18th, 19th ,and 20th September 2003 at Montfort School, Yercaud. Yercaud being the Mother Province, celebrations were organized meaningfully with dignity and solemnity. To mark the occasion, the Cemetery at Eachinkadu was rebuilt to honour the Pioneers and Senior Brothers who toiled hard to build the Montfortian Institutions in India. It was christened “Heritage Park”.
Large numbers of dignitaries, past students, Brothers, Religious, Parents and well wishers were present. Mr. George Fernandes, Honourable Defense Minister of India was the Chief Guest for the inaugural function and Mr. N Rangasamy, Honourable Chief Minister of Pondicherry was the Chief Guest for the concluding session.
On 28th April 2010, Bro. George Kalangod assumed responsibility as the Provincial Superior. The new administration focusses mainly on vocation promotion, ongoing formation and new foundations. The Province took over St. Anselm’s Institute at Kent, U.K on 01.06.2012. The mission of St. Anselm is to prepare and train leaders and formaters for the Church.
The Province has nearly 25 Institutions in Tamil Nadu, Fiji and Tonga.
Institutions (Province of Yercaud) at the service of people
St. Joseph’s Matric Hr.Sec.School, Chengalpattu.
St. Joseph’s Primary School, Chengalpattu.
Montfort Centenary Academy Matric Hr. Sec. School, Palayaseevaram.
Montfort Matric Hr. Sec. School, Ariyalur.
Santhome Hr. Sec. School, Chennai.
Montfort Academy Matric. Hr. Sec. School, Chennai
St. Peter’s Hr. Sec. School, Royapuram.
St. Peter’s Primary School, Royapuram.
Montfort Nursery & Primary School, Royapuram.
St. Joseph’s ITI, Tindivanam.
Montfort Matric Hr. Sec. School, Tindivanam.
Lourdu Annai Hr. Sec. School, Kanakkankuppam.
Montfort A.I Hr. Sec. School, Yercaud.
Montfort School (ICSE), Yercaud.
Montfort Community Hr. Sec. School, Yercaud.
St. Joseph’s Hr. Sec. School, Susaigiri.
St. Joseph’s Primary School, Susaigiri.
St. Mary’s Hr. Sec. School, A.N. Mangalam.
Montfort Nursery & Primary School, A.N. Mangalam.
Mary Mount Juniorate, Kolathur.
Nirmala Hr. Sec. School, Kolathur.
Montfort Matric. Hr. Sec. School, Kolathur.
Montfort Boys’ Town,:Suva, Fiji Islands.
Montfort Technical Institute,:Savusavu, Fiji.
Montfort Technical Institute,: Nuku’alofa, Tonga.
The Prime Mission of the Province
The prime mission of the Province is ‘Education’ in all its multi pronged and multifaceted dimensions. This ‘privileged field of Education’ must find its expression in the ‘evangelizing mission of the church’.
“Your active share
in the evangelizing mission of the Church
as a Brother of Saint Gabriel,
lies in the privileged field of education,
particularly that of school-going youth”
Brothers of the Province have been carrying out this mission ever since its foundation by St. Louis Grignion de Montfort. However, it became more focused with Gabriel Deshayes, the second founder, who gave the Montfortian family a great heritage of educating the differently abled, particularly the visually challenged and the hearing impaired. The Province of Yercaud has a number of excellent academic schools and technical institutions, in addition to some of the best boarding homes. The schools and technical institutions have produced many outstanding personalities in all walks of life -leaders, soldiers, battle heroes, freedom-fighters, Ambassadors, politicians, priests, Religious, Bishops, sportsmen, Olympians, entrepreneurs, social workers, research scholars, scientists and Nation builders.
The ‘Montfortian Education’ propels one to go the extra mile in caring, educating and empowering the differently abled.
The school at Belagola for the hearing impaired is a witness to this ‘Deshayes-Montfort’ vision of true evangelization.
The Montfort Community Development Society (MCDS), in Chennai is another beautiful expression of service to the poorest of the poor and the marginalized. It has a large network benefiting nearly 25,000 people.
The Montfort Community Centre at Kombuthooki (MCC) initiated in 2001 is a daring Montfortian Venture in favour of the less privileged and the oppressed. It takes care of nearly 1000 tribal children who are first generation learners, boys and girls who have never been to school. They are given free education with food, uniform, books, notebooks, transport and medical facilities. After completion of high school, they are placed in colleges and training centres for higher studies. This initiative has brought new life to the area with roads, electricity, transport, telephone and postal service. The tribals are coming out of their age old customs of female infanticide, child labour, child marriage and other negative beliefs and practices.
Obeying the command of our Lord and Master to go out and preach the Good News to all Nations, Montfort Brothers of Yercaud Province work in Tamil Nadu and in far away countries such as Fiji and Tonga.
“The Church is ever anxious that the Good News
be proclaimed to the poor.
With your Brothers,
You will seek out what is most urgent
for the fulfillment of this task.
Near you, or in far-away countries
they await your fraternal love and your help,
to make them conscious of their human dignity,
to free them from oppression of every kind,
to dispel their ignorance,
to lighten their spiritual distress,
to satisfy their longing for a hope of salvation.
Their condition is also a light from Christ,
Which reveals to you your won situation before God”.
“If we do not risk anything for God we will never do anything great for him”. St. Louis Grignion de Montfort.
Are you looking for a challenging way of life? Are you dreaming to be some one different from others?… Are you longing to serve humanity as a true disciple of Christ? Have you heard Him in the silence of your heart calling you?…
Have you heard His silent steps coming behind you day and night?…
Here is an opportunity for you to turn around and follow Him- like Abraham, Moses, the prophets and the Disciples of Christ.
In order to follow Him, they gave up everything they had their possessions, relatives, friends and their own lives.
“to open the eyes of the blind,
to enable the deaf to hear
and the lame to walk,
to heal the sick,
to raise the dead to life
and to preach the Good News to the poor”