XAVERIAN BROTHERS: A Roman Catholic teaching congregation, established at Bruges, Belgium, in 1839 by Theodor Jakob Rycken (1797-1871), who was at first interested in the conversion of the American Indians, and visited America for that purpose, but who later turned his attention to the religious education of youth. In 1838, believing that Europe already had an abundance of teaching orders, he went to St. Louis and laid his plans before the bishop of that diocese. These plans were approved, and the favor of the bishop of Bruges, in whose diocese the mother house of the congregation was to be established, was also secured, while the benediction of the pope quickly followed. The constitution and rules were now drawn up, and on the feast of St. Francis Xavier (Dec. 3), 1843, Rycken was invested with the religious habit under the name of the patron saint of the new congregation, the final vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience being taken by the founder and his associates in 1846. A school was immediately established in Bruges, which has since developed into St. Xavier's College, and in 1848 the congregation was planted in England.


Though the congregation was primarily established for American work, it was not until 1854 that Brother Francis was able to introduce it into the United States, its first house being St. Patrick's school, Louisville, Ky. In 1860 the founder resigned the generalship of the congregation, of which Brother John Chrysostom became superior general, at the mother house in Bruges, Brother Isidore being provincial for America, and the other two provinces being Belgium and England. In 1866 the congregation was introduced into the archdiocese of Baltimore, where the major number of its houses are still centered; in 1881 they entered Richmond, Va., and in 1882 Lowell, Mass. The task of the Xaverian Brothers is the Christian training of youth in parochial schools, academies, and colleges, and the superintendence of homes for boys, male orphanages, industrial schools, etc. In 1911 there were in the American province 250 brothers, with 6,889 pupils, and with houses in the archdioceses of Baltimore and Boston, and the dioceses of Louisville, Springfield, Richmond, Wheeling, Manchester, Detroit, Hartford, and Newark; while in England the congregation possesses schools or colleges in the dioceses of Salford and Southwark.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Currier, Religious Orders, pp. 518-524.



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