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Popular name for the Congregation of Priests of St. Basil (CSB, Official Catholic Directory #0170), a community of priests with simple vows who belong to the Roman Rite and whose principal work is the Christian education of youth.

Origin. The congregation had its origin in the Catholic movement for survival during the French Revolution. Abp. Charles d'Aviau (17361826) of Vienne appointed Joseph Bouvier Lapierre (17571838) pastor of the hamlet of Saint-Symphorien-de-Mahun in the Ardèche mountains and asked him to teach Latin to six aspirants to the priesthood. This rectory study group quickly grew into a school of 140 students that was transferred in 1802 to the city Annonay. Léorat Picansel (17411823), vicar-general of the Diocese of Viviers, drew up the first rule and guided the founders in the organization of a religious community. On Nov. 21, 1822, nine priest-teachers joined with Lapierre in forming a community of diocesan priests. Gregory XVI raised it to pontifical rank and bestowed on it the decree of praise on Sept. 15, 1837. Papal approbations were given by Pius IX in 1863, Pius X in 1913, and Pius XI in 1938.

Growth was gradual, and the work was limited to Annonay and a few neighboring towns, until 1850 when a graduate of the College of Annonay, Armand François, comte de Charbonnel (180291), was named bishop of Toronto, Canada. Before leaving France for his diocese, he obtained from his former teachers the services of a young Irish priest, Patrick Molony (181380). In 1852, the motherhouse of the Basilian Fathers in America, the University of St. Michael's College, was established in Toronto, with a staff of three priests and two seminarians. Under the direction of the first superior, Jean Soulerin (180779), a novitiate was opened, and soon vocations permitted expansion to other cities. The parish of St. Mary of the Assumption, Owen Sound, Canada, was taken over in 1863 with the mission field attached to it. In 1870, Denis O'Connor (18411911), later successively bishop of London and archbishop of Toronto, took charge of a school that later became Assumption University, Windsor. Attached to this institution is historic Assumption parish, which began as a mission to the Native Americans in 1728.

The first permanent Basilian foundation in the United States was made at St. Anne's Church, Detroit, Mich., in 1886, when Pierre Grand (18451922) became pastor of the parish, which dates back to 1701. Other foundations included St. Louis College, opened at Louisville, Ohio, in 1867 and closed in 1873; and St. Basil's College, Waco, Tex., undertaken in 1899 and given up in 1915. The first successful school in the United States was St. Thomas High School, Houston, Tex., established in 1900 by Nicholas Roche (18661932).

Growth. Expansion in the United States and Canada during the second half of the 19th century was paralleled by similar growth in Europe, which included the establishment of the College of Mary Immaculate at Beaconfield, England (1883), and three missions in Algeria. Unfortunately, this vitality did not last, partly because of a decrease in vocations after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and partly because of anticlericalism and the suppression of religious houses in France in 1902.

The canonical development of the Basilian fathers into a full religious community came about slowly. Founded as a community of diocesan priests, members first took the vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty on Oct. 1, 1852, although the constitutions retained the earlier practice of limited poverty. For several decades, modifications in the vow of poverty were a source of difficulty to those who wished to follow the religious life without reservation. On June 14, 1922, at the request of the French province, the Holy See erected the American and French provinces into distinct communities. The separation lasted until 1955, when a new decree united the two communities.

After separation, the Basilian fathers in America, under the leadership of Father Francis Forster (18731929), embraced the simple vow of poverty without any reservations. This step was followed by a notable increase in vocations, which made possible new foundations and the expansion of existing houses. In Canada, the congregation established houses in the Archdioceses of Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver; and in the Dioceses of Calgary, Hamilton, London, Saskatoon, and Sault Sainte Marie. Basilians conduct the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto; the University of St. Michael's College, Toronto; Assumption University, Windsor; St. Thomas More College, Saskatoon; St. Mark's College, Vancouver; nine high schools; and eight parishes. They developed a system of cooperation with state universities that has been copied by other Catholic colleges in Canada. John Read Teefy (18481911) was author of the first such affiliation, between the University of Toronto and St. Michael's College in 1881.

In the United States, the congregation established the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Tex.; and St. John Fisher College, Rochester, N.Y. In 1961 the Basilians undertook the care of San Juan Crisóstomo parish in the suburbs of Mexico City, as an extension of their work with Latin Americans. By the time of the union in 1955, the once flourishing Basilian houses in France were reduced to the motherhouse in Annonay, L'Institution Secondaire du Sacré-Coeur. All others had been closed or taken over by diocesan priests after the suppression of religious houses in 1902.

Bibliography: Basilian Annals (Toronto, Canada 1943 ). Basilian Teacher (Toronto, Canada 1956 ).

[r. j. scollard]