Papeete (Agenzia Fides) – On 17 October 1860 five Brothers of Christian Instruction arrived in Tahiti, from Ploërmel in France. The Superior Brother Albert Marie, was 27, and his four companions were only 19 years old. On 5 December 1860 the Brothers opened their first school at Paofai, in rooms in the barracks of the Lancers. In the beginning the Brothers faced great difficulties also in relations with the local administrators. However the difficulties were overcome eventually and the authorities allowed the Brothers to build proper schools in which to educate and instruct the local children.
Today in Polynesia there are 19 Brothers of Ploërmel, in 4 different communities in Tahiti (Papeete, Faaa, Paea, Taravao) and in the Marquesas (Taiohae). With the help of school directors, teams of teachers and other staff, they run La Mennais College and Foyer in Ta’urua, Papeete, Sacré Coeur College in Taravao, and Saint Joseph School and Saint Joseph CED in Taiohae. Celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Brothers of Ploërmel will begin with the opening celebration on 17 September at La Mennais Colllege, opened 150 years ago, and will close on 27 November with Holy Mass presided by Archbishop Hubert Coppenrath of Papeete. Centenary events also include an exhibition of photographs illustrating 150 years of the Brothers' activity here, the presentation of a book and a theatrical play on the same subject. These celebrations coincide with the Year of Jean-Marie de la Mennais, from 17 August 2010 to 26 November 2011, organised to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of the Founder (1780-1860). (SL) (Agenzia Fides 23/7/2010)