Basilian Fathers is a religious congregation of priests and aspirants to the priesthood within the Catholic Church. Through vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and by exercising our charism of "education within the Church's mission of evangelization," we hope to give witness to the Gospel through the service of our brothers and sisters. Moreover, we realize that in these same people whom we serve, we ourselves come to recognize more fully the love that God has for all people and how His grace works in our lives. This is especially true when we seek to respond to the needs of the poor and marginalized.
The Basilian Fathers were established as a religious congregation as a result of the closing of seminaries in France in 1822. 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 founding 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 Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thomas Aquinas have also been our patrons. Since those early days of the congregation, St. John Bosco has been added to the list of patrons because of his admirable work with youth.
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, offering, in the French style, a combination of what we would call high school and university education. Today, the University of St. Michael's College and St. Michael's College School continue the work begun in 1852.
The Congregation grew in numbers and activities in the New World. Assumption College in Windsor, Ontario, was opened as well as several parishes. Work in the United States began in a permanent way in 1886, at St. Anne's Parish in Detroit, Mich., and by the end of the nineteenth century the community was working in Texas.
From these beginnings, the Basilians have spread across Canada and the United States, where they work in the archdioceses of Detroit, Santa Fe, N.M., and in the dioceses of Rochester, N.Y., Gary, Ind., Galveston-Houston, Texas, Las Cruces, N.M., Phoenix, Ariz., and Oakland, Calif.
For more detailed information about the Congregation of St. Basil, please visit the Basilian Fathers website.
Father Jim Rent, CSB, Toronto, details the history of the Basilians in the four-minute video below.