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Pierre Laboureyas (1842–1924)

by Alban Doyle

This article was published:

Pierre Laboureyas (1842-1924), Marist Brother known as Ludovic, was born in November 1842 at Egliseneuve, Puy-de-Dôme, France, son of Jean Laboureyas and his wife Marie, née Pialloux. He joined the teaching congregation of the Marist Brothers founded in 1817 by Marcellin Champagnat in the Lyons diocese. After teaching in Britain he was chosen to lead the first four Marist Brothers to New South Wales at the invitation of the Catholic Education Association. They reached Sydney on 26 February 1872 and filled a void in Catholic education left by the forced departure of the Christian Brothers in the 1840s.

Repairs and alterations to a former Anglican school adjacent to St Patrick's, Church Hill, delayed the opening of a school until 8 April 1872. Brother Ludovic was faced with many problems among the clergy and laity and divisive national elements. The unruliness of his pupils was apparently improved by the inculcation of some religious practices. He had difficulties with Archbishop John Bede Polding who took control of the school away from the parish and gave it to a diocesan committee. Brother Ludovic was blamed for building debts and financial mismanagement. His careful and documented administration refuted these charges, but suspicions that large funds were being sent to France continued for years. Rumours were spread about his high-handed tyranny over his community and his personal luxury, but were dispelled by Polding on a canonical visit. Other rumours about the incompetence of his teachers were scotched by Brother Ludovic who welcomed an examination of the school by a panel of five priests and five laymen; this course was suggested by Polding in 1873 and at the behest of Archbishop Roger Bede Vaughan in 1874. The inspections showed that both teachers and pupils were doing satisfactory work. Increasing numbers of students and general dislike of the monitor system added to his worries, but the founding of a novitiate in July 1872 eased the teaching burden and filled the gaps when two of the original group defected and another suffered a long illness.

Brother Ludovic planned an evening school and began a school bank which was stopped by his superiors. Aware of the need for secondary education he encouraged his principal teacher, Brother Augustine, to found the Marist Brothers' High School in 1875 at St Patrick's, Church Hill. In co-operation with Vaughan, who foresaw the ending of state aid to denominational schools, he opened schools at Parramatta and St Benedict's in 1875. He bought a property at Parramatta and acquired another adjacent to the Marist Fathers at Villa Maria.

Brother Ludovic's leadership of the foundation ended with the arrival of Brother John (Denis Dullea) in January 1876 as provincial superior. As master of novices, Brother Ludovic acted as deputy for Brother John in his long absences. In 1880, with immense courage and vision but few resources, they undertook the building of the first stage of St Joseph's College, Hunter's Hill, finance being guaranteed by a friend of Brother Ludovic.

Brother Ludovic went to New Caledonia in 1884 but was soon summoned to Dumfries, Scotland, as novice master. He died in France in March 1924. By 1972 his small band of four brothers teaching in one school had grown to nearly a thousand Marist Brothers with 38,000 pupils in over ninety schools in the three provinces in Australia and New Zealand.

Select Bibliography

  • U. Corrigan, Catholic Education in New South Wales (Syd, 1930)
  • R. Fogarty, Catholic Education in Australia 1806-1950 (Melb, 1959)
  • A. Barcan, A Short History of Education in New South Wales (Syd, 1965)
  • T. L. Suttor, Hierarchy and Democracy in Australia 1788-1870 (Melb, 1965)
  • P. J. O'Farrell (ed), Documents in Australian Catholic History, vol 1 (Lond, 1969)
  • Marist Brothers Archives (Mittagong, New South Wales, and Drummoyne, Sydney, and General House, Rome).

Citation details

Alban Doyle, 'Laboureyas, Pierre (1842–1924)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 13 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Ludovic, Brother

November, 1842
Egliseneuve, Puy-de-Dôme, France


March, 1924 (aged 81)

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