The Acadians of Nova Scotia attribute the educational reform at the beginning of the nineteenth century to Father Jean-Mandé Sigogne. At that time, the vast majority of the Acadians were illiterate and were not as well educated as the neighbouring anglophones. The 1864 law known as the Free School Act explains the delay regarding the Acadian educational system. In short, the law deprived the Acadians of their right to be educated in their mother tongue and their right to receive religious instruction. Father Sigogne could not tolerate the ignorance within the Acadian community. He thought education and catechism were absolutely necessary to the French Acadian people. After his death in 1844, he was recognized as a zealous man who had longed to see Acadians progress in the world.
Sigogne's ambitions were continued by Fathers Alphonse Parker, Jean-Marie Gay and the Archbishop of Halifax, Cornelius O'Brien. Parker initiated the project entitled Mémorial Sigogne and he, along with Father Gay, are credited with the founding of the higher educational facility for young men of the region that became Collège Sainte-Anne. In 1883, during a pastoral visit by Archbishop O'Brien, Father Gay shared his plans to build such an institution. In short, these Fathers planted the seeds for today's Université Sainte-Anne.
Why the Eudist Fathers came to Baie Sainte-Marie
Without the arrival of the Eudist Fathers otherwise known as the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, Fathers Gay and Parker’s dreams would never have become reality. Why did these Fathers come to Canada and what was the impact of their arrival ?
Several reasons explain why the Eudist Fathers came to Canada. Four reasons in particular will be discussed: instruction by religious congregations no longer tolerated in France, the Superior General of the Congregation wanted to establish an educational facility in North America, the Baie Sainte-Marie Acadians felt the need for a higher educational institute and Archbishop Cornelius O'Brien invited the Eudist Fathers to come to Canada.
On September 14, 1890, Father
Gustave Blanche and Father Aimé Morin arrived in Halifax to
undertake the task at hand.
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