St. Mary’s Independent School celebrate their Founder, The Venerable John de Lamennais
St. Mary’s Independent School celebrate their Founder, The Venerable John de Lamennais. He was born at Saint-Malo, on 8 September 1780. During the period of the French Revolution, his family sheltered priests who would offer Mass secretly in their home in the middle of the night and the youngster felt drawn to follow them. When the reign of terror was over, John studied for his ordination on 4 May 1804. The country had lost many priests to the guillotine and many people had abandoned their faith. John quickly realised that hard work lay ahead and he set about with zeal to found seminaries and schools for the abandoned youth. especially among working class. Thus two religious congregations were founded: The Brothers of Christian Instruction and the Daughters of Providence. The motherhouse was established in Ploërmel (1824). At the time of his death on St. Stephen’s Day, 1860, there were 852 Brothers serving throughout France and its far flung colonies in the world, from French Guiana to Senegal; spreading later to Africa, North and South America, Asia and Europe. One such European school was Saint Mary’s in Southampton, which was opened in September 1922. The Mass this year was extra special because it marked several months of preparation for the 200th anniversary of the Congregation (6th June 2019). The ikon selected by the Brothers is ‘A New Page’. Several pupils from Nursery to Year Eleven presented highlights of John’s life by stepping through pages of his life and listening to a former Head, Brother Francis, OBE, explaining in detail the importance of this remarkable Founder. In the photo, Brother Francis, former Head of the school, invites Teddy Blake to turn over the next page in the story of the Brothers of Christian Instruction.