PLATTSBURGH — Come September, Freres de L’instruction Chrétienne (Brothers of Christian Instruction) wrap up 111 years of ministry in the North Country.
The address 93 Court St. will no longer be home to Brother Charles Thomas, FIC; Brother Raymond Fortin, FIC; and Brother Mark Couture, FIC.
Locally, the Brothers of Christian Instruction taught legions of students at Mount Assumption Institute (M.A.I.), Seton Catholic Central, St. Peter’s School, St. Alexander’s and St. Joseph’s Parish.
Founded in 1819 by two French Catholic priests, Gabriel Deshayes and Jean-Marie de la Mennais, the order numbers 1,500 worldwide.
In 1960, there were 21 Brothers inhabiting half a dozen houses on Court and Brinkerhoff streets.
Now, the last three plan to leave their Victorian-era residence and relocate to an old Shaker House to join a dozen or so others in the community’s U.S. headquarters in Alfred, Maine.
‘AS LONG AS WE’RE ABLE’
Fortin joined the Brothers in 1946.
“I was taught by the Brothers at St. Peter’s School,” he said. “I graduated in 1946 from eighth grade, and I went to the Brothers School in Alfred, Maine. They had a prep school over there.”
Fortin joined the community attracted by its lifestyle and the joy of teaching. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in secondary school administration from La Mennais College in Alfred, Maine.
“I started teaching in Sanford, Maine,” Fortin said. “I taught mathematics and eighth grade. I went to Detroit for five years, and then I came here to Plattsburgh in 1960 and taught at M.A.I. I was here from 1960 to 1970. Then, I went to Africa for three years. We organized a school in Tanzania. Then, I came back here. I was here until 1992. Then, I went to teach in Japan for one year and came back here.”