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A Brief History of the Clerics of St. Viator

The Congregation of the Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians) was born in Vourles, France in the nineteenth century during those perilous years following the French Revolution. It was a time political upheaval and social unrest. The practice of Religion was at low ebb, anticlericalism was rampant; and Christian education, especially in the hinterlands, was woefully neglected. It was within this political and social context that a pastor of the small country parish of Vourles, Father Louis Querbes (1793-1859), had a dream.

Knowing full well that re-Christianization had to start with the Christian education of youth, Fr. Querbes agonized over the lack of Christian teachers. His dream was that one day countryside parishes, much like his own, would have schools directed by men of deep faith and competent learning. These men would not only direct parish schools, but also assist and companion country pastors. After prayerful discernment, Fr. Querbes presented his dream to the Bishop of Lyons, France. Episcopal approval followed on November 3, 1831. The dream of Fr. Querbes is realized—the foundation of the Clerics of St. Viator dedicate, in the words of Fr. Querbes, to “The Christian Education of Youth and the Service of the Holy Altar.”

As patron saint of his foundation, Fr. Querbes chose St. Viator, a young fourth century catechist-lector of the cathedral church of Lyons, France. St. Viator aptly embodies the dream of Fr. Querbes: teaching Christian doctrine and assisting at the altar.

On September 21, 1838 the newly founded Congregation received Papal approval. With this approval the Viatorians could grow and expand far beyond the boundaries of one particular diocese. And grow it did, spreading the dream of Fr. Querbes to far off lands. It was in the year 1842 that the first Viatorian mission was established in St. Louis, Missouri.

Today the Congregation of the Clerics of St. Viator continues to live the dream of Fr. Querbes in the United States, Colombia, Canada, France, Spain, Chile, Peru, Haiti, Central America, Taiwan, Japan and Africa.

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