History of Marist Scholasticate & Novitiate
A project undertaken by Brother Joseph J. R. Belanger based on previous work by Brother Leonard Voegtle and Adrian Perreault
Scholasticate--This was set up post novitiate studies. Originally in the scholasticate the Brothers prepared for taking exams that qualified them to receive teaching certificates. In addition Brothers arriving from France or Canada took lessons in English there. By 1930 studies at the scholasticate included college level courses. What was called Marist Training School and eventually evolved to a bachelor's degree college program (description courtesty of President Emeritus Richard Foy).
Novitiate-- The two year period of religious training prior to taking temporary or permanent vows. For many years the Novitiate was located in the Bech house at the southern end of the campus. (description courtesy of President Emeritus Richard Foy)
The Essay gives a chronological list of Brothers who held responsible positions in the Province, as well as a list of young men who took the Religious Habit each year.
The data on these pages is taken from two lists: a handwritten one of the taking of the Habit from 1908-1949 and the List of Appointments from 1909-1959. The first list was presumably handwritten mostly by Bro. Leonard Voegtle when he became archivist in Esopus; it was completed for 1950-59 by the Archives in Rome The list of Appointments was presumably collected by Adrian Perreault while Librarian at Marist College. These Appointments were mimeographed in early Fall of each year.
The following are the groups that completed their Postulancy on campus and entered the Novitiate to prepare for their First Vows. The Group Year is the year of the taking of the Habit to enter the Novice Year. At the end of the Novice Year students made their First Vows. Brothers with no family name given did not take the Habit in the USA. Bro. Thomas Austin O’Donnell was called to Europe for his Novitiate, after which he returned to his home Province here.
It will be noticed that the majority of young men who took the Habit did not stay with the Brothers. For centuries religious communities trained men and women who eventually left the Consecrated Life. Many of these became lay Church leaders and joined with the religious men and women and the Diocesan Priests to be the “shock troops” or “Marines” of the Catholic Church. Their years in Religious Life provided them with excellent “basic training.”
Take, for example, my Group of 1943. Some 30 of us entered Postulancy [Fourth Year of High School] in Poughkeepsie in August 1942. On 26 July 1943 20 of us took the Habit and entered Novice Year. Daigle, Moylan, Murrell and Pronovost left at the end of their Novice Year. So did Feeney, but he went to CA and became a diocesan priest. 15 of us, therefore, made our First Vows. Messina, Michaud, and Riley left before Final Vows in 1949, and McKinnon became an OFM Cap. Normandin, Shurkus, St. Georges, and Toomey left after Final Vows. Magee, Morrissette, and Stokes died as Brothers. 6 of the original 20 are alive today [March 2007]: Bélanger and Cormier are Brothers, Chassé is retired in MA, Connolly is retired in LI, Moylan is in DeWitt Clinton Nursing Home in Manhattan, and McKinnon is in Yonkers. In sum, out of 20 there are 5 Brothers, 2 priests, and 13 laymen.
The “Academic Diploma” certified graduation from “academies” [high school]. Those without mention of Academic Diploma were most probably still finishing high school. All the Brothers’ schools in 1911 were Elementary schools, except the Secondary school divisions of St. Ann’s Academy  and St. Agnes  in NYC. No certification was needed to teach in private schools, not even a high school diploma. The revised Education Law of 1910 required all teachers in public schools to be certified.
St. Ann’s Hermitage is provisionally accredited as a Junior and Senior High School in February 1923. It is permanently accredited as a Senior High School in June 1925. The last Eighth Grade in Tyngsboro is in 1938-1939. Presumably the same is true for Poughkeepsie. “Regents” exams are authorized in 1877.
The “State Life Certificate” was the NYS Certification for teaching. Some who received this certification were Brothers who did their Postulancy in Canada, and, thus, are not listed below. In 1875 the NYS Board of Regents legislated that the “State Life Certificate” was to be issued only upon examination. The last examination was given in 1926. Thereafter, teacher certification was given by completion of a teacher preparation program in approved institutions.
The first non-North American Student Brothers to study in Poughkeepsie were Bro. Julio Rafaël [Léonce Eugène Méric] from France and Bro. Xavier Marcelino [Gonzalez Chavez C. Xavier] from Mexico. Both took the Habit in 1910. There is a small but steady stream of foreign Scholastics in the next decades.
Bro. Paul Ambrose Fontaine became Master of Scholastics in Fall 1943. He invites foreign students from Europe and Asia and Canada and Mexico and Africa to study at Marist College to perfect their English to go to the missions or to return to their native countries. The foreign student Brothers who took the Habit in the USA are indicated in the lists below.
NOTE: I am primarily responsible for collecting the data herein. Former Marist College President Dr. Richard Foy did most of the computerizing and posting. We were helped by Ruth E. Boetcker, Head of Instructional Services in the Cannavino Library. Help was also received from Bro. Brice Byczinski, Esopus Archivist, our Archivists in Rome, the Marist College Registrar’s Office and Bro. Donald Kelly. Sincere thanks to all. All deficiencies are, of course, my own.