MARIANNHILL IN CANADA
1947 marks the beginning of the first Mariannhill foundation in Canada. Brother Eucharius Dinkel and Brother Jordan Himmelman were already in Canada as German prisoners following the victory of the Allies over Germany. The two Brothers discovered a Church where the vocations to the religious life and to the priesthood were very abundant. They encouraged this new Mariannhill foundation, especially since the situation was too unstable in Europe to open up new houses there. The Mariannhill Missionaries already admired the apostolic zeal of the Canadian Oblates in South Africa, with whom they were regularly in touch. In September 1948, this new foundation called MONT-SAINTE-ANNE received its first students. It is just outside the Sherbrooke city limits, in the Province of Quebec.
The Mariannhill Missionaries in Canada have always been part of the same religious Province as their confreres of the United States. The American region became a religious province in 1938. That same year, for security reasons, the Generalate was transferred from Austria to England. In 1954, the first Canadian candidates for the Congregation went to Brighton, USA, in order to make their noviciate. In May 1961, the ordination of the first Canadian Mariannhill, Fr. Gervais Giguère, took place in Sherbrooke, Quebec. He later was in charge of the MONT-SAINTE-ANNE, as rector, for more than twenty years.
In the beginning of the sixties, the Province of Quebec, underwent deep social changes. It was called " the peaceful Revolution ". That peaceful revolution brought about some important changes in education. Among other things, it set up a Ministry of Education. What was called the "classical course", given in minor Seminaries like Mont-Sainte-Anne, ended. After the classical course, the students could go on to University. Now all of that was replaced by 5 years of secondary school, or high school. Then the students still have to go through 2 or 3 years of College or "Collegial" before going to the University. So, because of this new situation, ten religious Congregations, including the Mariannhill Missionaries, got together in order to found, in 1965, an institution of college level being the continuation of our minor Seminaries. That new corporation was called SÉMINAIRE SAINT-AUGUSTIN and located close to Quebec City. The Mariannhill Missionaries had their own Residence where they could welcome about forty students. Because of an important decline in the number of students which also caused serious financial problems, the SÉMINAIRE SAINT-AUGUSTIN had to close down in 1996. However the Mariannhill Congregation kept its Residence.
The Mariannhill Missionaries, in the province of Quebec, have often closely cooperated with other religious Congregations. For example, in 1967, they welcomed, for a few years, the Assumptionist Fathers and their students in Mont-Sainte-Anne, after the closing down of their own institution. In 1974-75, the Consolata Missionaries, together with their students, lived with the Mariannhill Community, at the SÉMINAIRE SAINT-AUGUSTIN. The Mariannhill Missionaries also would like to express their deep gratitude to the LITTLE SISTERS OF THE HOLY FAMILY for having benefited by their services and their dedication for many years.
From year to year, many important changes occurred in the history of MONT-SAINTE-ANNE which, in 1998, celebrated its 50th anniversary. In 1963 it added a new annex which included a wonderful Chapel and a gymnasium. In 1972, it built the MONT-SAINTE-ANNE ARENA. The following year, they installed the necessary equipment for artificial ice. This gave the students the opportunity to play hockey, their national sport. In 1983, even if the Mariannhill Community remained in charge of the school, they decided to entrust to a team of lay people, the direction and the operation of the institution. Mr André Bessette became the first lay rector of the school.
Up until 1991, the Mariannhill Community was living within the walls of the MONT-SAINTE-ANNE. But as the number of students was increasing, it became important to have more space. So the Mariannhill Missionaries decided to build a new Monastery, on the other side of the road, in front of the school. In August 1992, the Community moved into its new home.
Now the Mariannhill Missionaries dedicate themselves mainly to the missionary animation and pastoral work. That is why the MARIANNHILL MISSION CENTRE takes an important space in the house.There is also a PUBLICATIONS OFFICE where two magazines are published : RMM, in French, and LEAVES, in English. A VOCATION CENTRE also gives a chance to some young or not so young people to discern their vocation in the Church along with the Community.
Finally, two important events, concerning the whole Congregation must be mentioned. First, in 1990, Fr. Yves La Fontaine, a Canadian, was elected as Superior General of the whole Mariannhill Congregation. And, in 1996, the General Chapter of the Congregation was held in the MARIANNHILL RESIDENCE in Saint-Augustin, near Quebec City. In 2000, there are eight Mariannhill Missionaries working in the Province of Quebec. Eight Canadian confreres are also working in foreign mission countries. And a group of 15 associate members are helping the Community to accomplish its missionary mandate.