Congregation of St. Basil (Basilian Fathers)
The Congregation of St. Basil is a community of priests and students for the priesthood engaged in many forms of priestly activity of education in the Church’s mission of evangelization.
The Basilian Fathers were established as a religious congregation in France in 1822. As a result of the closing of seminaries in France during the French Revolution, two diocesan priests opened a secret school in the mountains of central France. After several years of operation and after a change in French laws, ten priests serving there openly bound themselves into a religious community. They reasoned that the school, by then located in the nearby city of Annonay, would have a better chance of continuing if it were conducted by a Religious Congregation that could accept and train new members to continue the operation of the school after the counding fathers’ retirement. The original members chose St. Basil the Great, a fourth century teacher, bishop and doctor of the Church, to be the namesake of the new community.
The members take the simple vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Their living together has many of the qualities of family life. They eat their meals together, pray together, recreate together and work together on various projects. Most of the members are engaged in teaching and administration in high schools, universities, and parishes in Canada and the United States. Smaller groups serve in France, Mexico, Colombia and St. Lucia.
In the middle of the nineteenth century the French Basilians came to Canada on invitation of Bishop de Charbonnel of Toronto who had been a student at Annonay. They opened St. Michael’s College in 1852. The Congregation grew in numbers and activities in the New World, spreading across Canada and the United States. During the 1930′s the Basilians in Texas began to work with the Mexican people who had settled in the countryside to the southwest of Houston. In 1961 two priests were sent to open a parish in Mexico City. In 1987, the Latin American apostolate expanded to include a parish, school, and health centre in Colombia.