Thursday, 27 November 2003

Patna (Fides Service) – A hundred years ago in 1903 three French St Gabriel Brothers of Christian Education set out from Saint Laurent sur Sèvre Vandea, France for India and they settled at Pondicherry, in southern India, where they opened a small mission to start evangelising among the local people and help them improve their living conditions. Today after a hundred years of mission, in India there are 575 St Gabriel Brothers and novices working in six different provinces in education and health care.
In this month of November St Gabriel communities all over the country celebrated the Centenary of their presence in India. Presiding an open air centenary Mass for the St Gabriel Brothers community in Patna, Bihar state north east India, the Archbishop of Patna Mgr Benedict Osta, praised the work of the Religious thanking them for being “a milestone” for spreading the Good News of the Gospel in India.
“Faith and hope in Jesus through Mary is the basis of your spirituality and the good works you achieve”, the Archbishop told the Brothers, adding “like Monfort you show mercy to the poor and the suffering”. He thanked the Brothers for opening yet another new school recently in Bihar for poor students.
Today the Brothers have missions in a number of states in India where they run 150 schools, mainly for orphans, poor and disabled children and street children.
The St Gabriel Brothers take their charisma from St Louis Grignon de Monfort, a 17th century French priest whose motto was “reaching union with Jesus through Maria”. It was St Louis who started what were called ‘charity schools’ for poor children in France. During the French revolution at the time that Fr Gabriel Deshayes was Superior General of the Society of Mary (the Monfort Congregation), a group of Brothers decided form a separate religious congregation dedicated entirely to education. From then on they became known as “St Gabriel Brothers”, and they went to work in parts of the world: Canada, India and Thailand.
(PA) (Fides Service 27/11/2003 lines 33 words 357)