“Fulfilling the call to love others”

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With thanks again to Crispina in Holland, here is an article from a Dutch newspaper regarding the Brothers of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows (Brothers of the Blue Cords) heralding their departure for Canada to, as is said in the article –  “in a modern way” – fulfill “the call to love others.”  The article was written on or shortly before 18 September 1956.  The first four brothers were leaving for Canada on the 20th of  September 1956. I have posted the article along with translation as a pdf file on the Brother Gregory Van Buuren page.  Thanks to Lona for the translation, I will post the translation here and then make a few comments:

Title: “Brothers of the Blue Cords” go to Canada”

Subtitle: Their name (fame) reached across borders

[note: summary of this article titled “Four (religious) brothers to Canada” was
published on Tuesday September 18, 1956 in the Leidsch Dagblad (daily)]

Four brothers of the blue cords, who are known (famous) for –amongst other achievements — their technical education skills, provided by them at the Bisschopelijke Nijverheidschool (Technical School) in Voorhout, are leaving on the 20th of September [note: 1956] from the headoffice of their congregation in Warmond. They are going to Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada to make preparations to open a technical school for boys.

Although is it more or less a coincidence that the brothers of Our Lady of Seven Sorrow will establish themselves in Canada, they are — in a modern way — fulfilling the call to love others.

In order to provide love for others, there has to be an unmet need for this love. As strange as it may seem, also in Canada, which is affluent and has great potential, there are unmet needs which make the arrival of the brothers (urgently) needed. Because the high level affluence which exists there brings with it dangers for youth who are lured to leave school in order to benefit from high wages available to them.

Subtitle: Educational Experiment

It was a thorn in the flesh of the Bishop of Antigonish, Monsignor J.R. McDonald, that only 20% of the students who left elementary school progressed to high school. And only 20% of those who entered high school, graduated. Instead of attending school, the youngsters want to benefit from the high wages available to them and want to earn a lot of money. They dream of their own car with a girl in it and going to the drive-in. They save their money to realize this “ideal”. If not on that, they spend their money on junk food and gambling or spend their money on things which do not benefit their healthy development at all.

Subtitle: Sad state of Affairs

There is a vocational school in Halifax the regional capital and this provides boys an
opportunity to gain theoretical knowledge with some practical and applied knowledge, but it has become evident that there is limited use being made of this opportunity. The vocational schools, as known by us (i.e. in the Netherlands) is completely unknown in Canada.

During a visit to the Dominican Republic, the bishop visited a vocational school and he immediately realized that such a school was urgently needed in his diocese. Shortly thereafter, while travelling to a congress in Vancouver, he met Dutch brothers who had established an agricultural school. Now he was determined to provide this new way of education and adapt it to the needs of his region.

Immediately he made a decision: a cleric from Antigonish – who was on his way to Rome to continue his religious studies – was sent a message to stop in The Netherlands in order to study their way of doing vocational training. He was then to report on this to the bishop.

That is how Father MacNeil appeared in the Netherlands — where during a 2 day visit he also visited several institutions (internaten) and schools of “the brothers of the blue cords”. The brothers gave him explanations of anything he wanted to know. The result of this site visit was a lively correspondence between Holland and Canada in which Monsignor McDonald gained more information on the possibility of achieving his plan.

Subtitle: Invitation (Uitnodiging)

In turn, the brothers indicated they did not know if it was possible to adapt their training methods to the Canadian setting. In April, Brother Liguori is funded by the Diocese of Antogonish to bring a site visit to Nova Scotia. It was then agreed that after a probationary period, during which the brothers would familiarize themselves with a foreign language (i.e. learn English), the education of students would be undertaken.

Brother Longinus is appointed the superior of the newly established site. Under his
leadership, Brothers Salesius, Octavianus and Anastasius are given temporary
accommodation in the experimental agricultural school Mount Cameron in Antigonish -while waiting to establish their own technical school in New Glasgow, which is a place of about 24,000 inhabitants. During this (waiting) time, the brothers will also take classes at the university of Antigonish.

Subtitle:  Willingness to make offerings and looking toward the future (Offerzin en vooruitzien)

Concerning establishing the school: we have learned that |Monsignor McDonald – in
financing the building and furnishing of the physical site – was supported by several
prominent industrial companies, and that government subsidy has been confirmed for the future.

While the outcome of the training experiment is pending, the interim costs will be funded by the diocese.

The outcome which is hoped for is that youth and their parents will note that a youth who completes his studies will be accepted as a trained worker and will earn more than one who is not trained and just out of school. This will result in youth wanting to follow applied training. This will help keep them off the street during their difficult teenage years. In a concrete manner, the brothers of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows fulfill the 100 year mandate of their order: through education, help youth on their way to maturity and adulthood.

 My comments and questions:

(1) Henk Heithuis was sexually abused by Brother Gregorius/Gregory at Harreveld boarding school from around 1953 to 1956.   The school was run by the Brothers of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.  Henk reported his abuse in 1956, and in March of that year was forcibly castrated.

Recent reports from the parliamentary review in Holland regarding forced castrations advised that 19 brothers (“clerics”) at Harreveld were accused of sex abuse.  Of the 19 only six were convicted and sentenced.  We know that Brother Gregory eluded charges and  conviction.  And we have reports that  Victor Marijnen, the Director of the Boarding School and later Prime Minister of Holland intervened on behalf of Gregorius and other brothers.  How many others?  I don’t as yet know when these various brothers were reported or their names.

The plans for the brothers to go to Canada were in the mill by the Fall of 1955.

In April 1956 Brother Liguori visited Nova Scotia.

On 30 September 1956 the first four brothers arrived in Antigonish.  The next wave of brothers arrive in March 1957, and another contingent arrived the following year.

Was Gregorius really the only sexual predator who was shipped off to Canada to fulfill the call “to love others”?

(2) The people of  Nova Scotia was not by any means “affluent.”  While it is true that in the 50s many Europeans looked upon Canada as “the land of milk and honey,” it is equally true that the brothers were aware or should have been aware that they would not be dealing with affluent people.  Nova Scotia was a ‘have not’ province;

(3)  “In order to provide love for others, there has to be an unmet need for this love”  and “there are unmet needs which make the arrival of brothers (urgently) needed”?!

Knowing what Brother Gregory was all about, this gives me chills.

(4)   “[T]he youngsters want to benefit from the high wages available to them.”  Can anyone from Nova Scotia confirm or refute this claim that a high school drop-out in Nova Scotia in those days stood to make a good living?

(5)  What was the difference between the vocational school the brothers were going to set up and the one in Halifax?  I have been trying to sort that out without success;

(6)  What congress would both the Brothers of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows and Bishop John Roderick MacDonald of Antigonish have attended in Vancouver?

(Bishop MacDonald, a native of Port Hood who was ordained for the Diocese of Antigonish, served as Bishop of Peterborough, Ontario from August 1943 to March 1945.  In March 1945 he was appointed Coadjutor bishop of Antigonish:  he was installed as Bishop of Antigonish in 1950.  He died 1959. His successor was Bishop William Edward Power [May 1960-December 1986]).  Bishop Colin Campbell succeeded Bishop Power [December 1986-October 2002] .  The brothers left Nova Scotia some time in the early 90s.)

(7) The Father MacNeil who was asked to pop in to Holland on his way to Rome would have been Father Joseph Neil MacNeil.  Father MacNeil, a native of Sydney, Nova Scotia, attained his PhD in Canon Law in Rome in 1958 (he studied in Rome form 1955 to 1958).  He was installed as Bishop of St. John, New Brunswick in June of 1969, and as Archbishop of Edmonton, Alberta in July of 1973.  He resigned in June 1999.

(8)  I wonder if Father MacNeil visited the Harreveld boarding school?

(9)  The brothers actually had to learn English before starting the school in New Glasgow?!!!

(10)  Upon their arrival in Antigonish Brothers Longinus, Salesius, Octavianus and Anastasus were given temporary accommodation at Mount Cameron in Antigonish and studied at St. Francis Xavier University.

Mount Cameron was actually on the outskirts of Antigonish.  It was an experimental farm owned by St. FX. I have been trying to determine if Mount Cameron was tied into the Antigonish Movement, and think perhaps it was.  Can anyone tell me?  I think too that perhaps the invitation to the brothers and the work they were to do was tied into the Antigonish Movement?

(11)  The diocese was financing the building and furnishings of, I assume, the building which was to house the technical school in New Glasgow. A government subsidy was confirmed for the future.

What, I wonder,  happened in 1963 when the brothers closed shop in New Glasgow for want of funds?  Where were the promised monies?

By way of interest, since there are references to political funds and interventions woven throughout the brothers’ stay in Nova Scotia, here is a listing of which party was in power and when:

1953-1956:  the Liberals were in power May 1953-September 1956.  Angus L. MacDonald, an Inverness native, was premier until his death in 1954.  His government had focused heavily education and he had appointed the first Minister of Education for the province, Henry Hicks.  After MacDonald’s death the party was split along religious lines – the party voted the protestant Hicks to carry on as Premier vs the Catholic Harold Connolly who had served as interim Premier following MacDonald’s death;

1956-1970: The Progressive conservatives were in power.  Robert L. Stanfield, a Truro native, was Premier until 1967.  According to Wikipedia, Stanfield government “invested heavily in education at all levels including the creation of vocational schools.”  When Stanfield moved on to Federal politics in 1967 he was replaced by George Isaac Smith, a Stewiacke native;

1970- 1978:  The Liberals were in power.  Gerald Regan, a native of Windsor, N.S. was Premier;

1978- 1988:  The Progressive Conservatives were in power.  John Buchanan, a Sydney N.S. native, was premier;

1993: The Liberal were in power.  John Savage, a Welsh-born emigrant, was Premier.  I think the brothers were gone by 1993.

(12)  What went wrong here?    Why did the order not prosper in Nova Scotia, both in New Glasgow and Mabou? Surely their failures can’t all be due to policy changes? or, can they?

I will make a list of all the brothers we now know who spent time in Canada. I am hoping to find a way to get the names of those 19 brothers who were either accused and/or convicted in Holland.


A reminder of upcoming court dates:

(1) Father Rene Labellle:

Tuesday 24 April 2012:  09:00  am, Kingston Ontario court house (279 Wellington St. Kingston);

(2)  Father Daniel Miller

Wednesday 25 April 2012: 09:30 am. Renfrew Ontario courthouse (127 Raglan St. S., Renfrew)

Enough for now,


This entry was posted in Accused or charged, Bishops, Canada, Clerical sexual predators, Europe, recycled, Scandal and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “Fulfilling the call to love others”

  1. MikeMc says:

    “Recent reports from the parliamentary review in Holland regarding forced castrations advised that 19 brothers (“clerics”) at Harreveld were accused of sex abuse. Of the 19 only six were convicted and sentenced. ”

    Only six?

    Brothers, seminarians, priests, Bishops……1950s

    62 years of this on the records!

    Who’s joining this crowd today?

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