Brother Zephiriny (1861 - 1927)
Family name: Brochier, Louis
He was born in Lyons France with the family name François Adophe Louis Brochier. He entered the Marist Brothers, serving one year after the novitiate as a cook. He then worked as an assistant teacher until 1888, during which time he acquired the brevet which authorized him to teach any of the elementary grades in France. His superiors recognized his ability and sent him to England for a year to learn English. Then he relocated to New York City, where he founded St. Ann's Academy.
Zephiriny was the key Brother in purchase of the two estates in Poughkeepsie which make up the Bech and lower Barnard area.
François Adophe Louis Brochier was born in the city of Lyons, France, in 1861. His parents were devout Catholics, as were most of the citizens of this area of Southern France. He joined the Brothers in 1876, completing his Novitiate and taking first vows in 1878. He received a one year assignment as cook (common in those days) and then became an auxiliary teacher for several years, during which time he studied for his brevet, which authorized him to teach any of the elementary grades. He may have received the name Brother Louis Zepheriny at the time he entered the Brothers, as it was common to receive a different name upon acceptance. His superiors recognized that he had extraordinary talent, and sent him to England so that he could become proficient in the English language, this preparing him for service in Canada and the United States.
After his year in England, he came to New York City where he founded Saint Ann’s Academy (now Archbishop Molloy HS in Queens NY). He had a special devotion to Saint Anne; the Brothers were in charge of novenas to Saint Anne in Saint Jean Baptiste Church.
One story about his stay at Saint Ann’s Academy is that he wanted to import a statue of Saint Anne from Europe. For some reason, the statue was retained by the Customs Office for several weeks or months. Brother Zepheriny traveled to Washington DC to meet with President Theodore Roosevelt. The President, impressed with Zepheriny’s spunk, arranged for the statue’s release. It stood in the courtyard of Saint Ann’s until the school closed in 1957, and perhaps may now be located at the successor school Archbishop Molloy HS.
How did he manage to arrange this appointment? I hazard a guess that he went through Coudert Brothers, the most prestigious international law firm, who for some reason handled the legal affairs of the Brothers.
29 December: Brother Zepheriny
(Francis Adophe Louis Brochier, 21 September 1861-29 December 1927)
Louis Brochier was born in the city of Lyons, France, in 1861. His parents, Louis and Reine (Fuzier) Brochier, were devout Catholics, as were the majority of people in this conservative region of France, and they were happy to see him embrace the vocation of a Marist Brother. St. Marcellin Champagut had founded these "Little Brothers of Mary" on 2 January 1817 at LaValla, some 45 kms SSW of Lyons. They were well known and loved in the region. Louis entered Postulancy in October 1876 and received the Marist Habit on 2 February 1877.
After the Novitiate in 1878 Louis was appointed cook, as was usual in those days. After that year, from 1879 to 1881 he was "enseignant auxiliaire," (any unspecified school function helping the educational process: prefect, proctor, substitute, econome... ) in Quintenas, and from 1881 to 1888 "auxiliaire" again at Valbenoite, both in the diocese of Lyons. Presumably these positions gave him some opportunity to cultivate himself and do personal study. He loved literature. The "auxiliaire" appointments completed, he was named teacher at the Hermitage, headquarters of the Marist Brothers. At this time, he had acquired the "brevet complet" or "supérieur" which certified him to teach all the classes in the primary. This was short-lived. His outstanding talent designated him for administrative work in the new Province of North America, recently founded in Iberville, Canada, in 1885 by Brother Césidius.
After a year of intensive study of English in London, England, Bro. Zepheriny came to the New World to become the founder of the Brothers' new school in New York City. He had an ardent devotion to "la Bonne Sainte Anne" and after naming the new school in her honor, he acquired a bronze statue of St. Ann teaching the Virgin Mary and placed it in an outdoor niche overlooking IÄngton Avenue and Street. Such protective placements were common in his native France. In many places a statue of Notre Dame would be erected with the Latin phrase: "Posuerunt me custodiam, " "they have placed me as guardian." Zepheriny's energy and competence laid a solid base and made the Academy one of the premier schools of the city. He also gave the school its nickname, "the beehive," and wrote its motto, Non Scholae sed Vitae," "Not for school but for life." When St. Ann's Academy in mid-Manhattan became Archbishop Molloy High School in
Queens in 1957, the old school was sold and torn down, and the statue of St. Ann and the Virgin Mary was moved to the English Village quad in Esopus and re-dedicated to Bro. Oswald who had spent 53 years at the Academy.
An English-language school had been opened in Lewiston in 1886, followed by others in Manchester NH (1890), NYC (1892), and Lowell and Lawrence MA (1892). Many boys from these schools were drawn to religious life by these beloved teachers. At first they were sent to Iberville for training, but this soon proved impractical and a formation center was sought in the United States. The Provincial at that time, Brother Césidius, entrusted this project to Bro. Zepheriny, who, in 1904, had become ViceProvincial and "Visitor" or Superintendent of the Marist schools in North America. With the advice of the Jesuit Fathers at St. Andrew's in Hyde Park and the financial help of his sister in France he bought the MacPherson Estate in the town of Poughkeepsie on 28 February 1905. he immediately renamed the property St. Ann's Hermitage in honor of his favorite patron saint. Bro. Zepheriny was reprimanded by the major superiors for undue haste and bypassing procedures, but nonetheless, in 1907, they appointed him Provincial of the North American province. Under his direction St. Ann's Novitiate was opened in 1908, the Brothers started teaching at St. Peter's in Poughkeepsie, and Camp St. Ann on Isle LaMotte, VT was bought. Bro. Zepheriny developed serious heart problems which forced him to resign the Provincialate after two years for reasons of health. He then returned to Poughkeepsie as teacher.
When the separate English-language Province of St. Ann was established in 1911, he opted to remain in the United States. He became Master of Novices in 1919, but his heart problems re-surfaced in 1923 and he had to spend his remaining years in the infirmary. He died there on Thursday 29 December 1927. Two days only before he died he composed his poem "Farewell," on the Marist cemetery in Poughkeepsie. He was buried on the feast of the founding of the Institute, 2 January 1928. Among the many mourners was a Mr. John McCann of Poughkeepsie.
Bro. Zepheriny's outstanding abilities as administrator and teacher were softened by a genuine humility and a sincere love for students and confreres, especially his fomer Postulants and Novices, who continued to seek his advice and prayers until he died.
[JLRB, 11 November 2002, taken from various sources]