St. Edmund, Society of

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ST. EDMUND, SOCIETY OF

(SSE, Official Catholic Directory #0440); a religious congregation of priests and brothers founded at Pontigny, France, in 1843 by Jean Baptiste muard, under the patronage of St. Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in exile at Pontigny in 1240. It had become a pontifical institute in 1876 and had received full canonical approval in 1911.

The society, known originally as Prêtres Auxiliaires, Missionaires de St. Edmund, conducted missions and retreats in an effort to offset the effects of Jansenism, and gave assistance to the diocesan clergy whenever needed. In 1867 a house was opened at Mont-Saint-Michel and public devotion and honor to St. Michael, patron of France, was renewed and increased under the society's direction. The society, adding education to its other works, undertook the direction of the College of the Immaculate Conception, Laval, France (1879), and the college at Château Gontier, Brittany (1893). In 1895 it founded St. Edmund's school at Sens.

In 1891 two Edmundite fathers went to Montreal, Canada, to establish a house in North America. They were directed to Burlington, VT, and for a time conducted a mission at Keeler's Bay, South Hero, VT. In 1895, Bp. Louis de Goesbriand of Burlington gave them the parish of Swanton where they opened a juniorate in 1898. When the French law of association of 1901 brought an end to the work of the society in France, a number of the members exiled in England established a mission at Hitchen, Hertfordshire. Others went to the U.S. in 1902 and began their scholasticate at Winooski, VT. The scholasticate was moved to Swanton in 1904 and St. Michael's College for men was built in Winooski.

From 1913 to 1925 the society had missions in Montana where remarkable results were achieved among the Cheyenne Indians at St. Labre. In 1925 the mission at Hitchen was given back to the diocese, and a year later the fathers there returned to Pontigny. In 1934, another mission was opened in England, at Whitton. Three years later, the society began work among African Americans, opening its first mission at Selma, AL. In 1938 a mission was opened at Greenfield Park, Canada.

The U.S. general motherhouse is located in Colchester, VT.

[g. e. dupont/eds.]

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