5, 1864 - June 13, 1940)
Brother Joseph L R Belanger, taken from various sources, 6 November
and Marguerite (Coulaud) Marthouret gave birth to a baby boy on 5 November
1864 in Toumon (Ardeche) and named him Lucien. He took the Marist Habit
on 2 February 1879 at Notre-Dame de l'Hermitage, France, and in September
of that year was appointed cook in Perigneux. The next year he went
to cook again at St-Romain-en-Jarez. In April 1881 he is named "enseignant
auxiliaire" (any unspecified school position helping the educational
process: prefect, proctor, substitute, econome...) at Valbenoite until
1894, where he then comes on board as "enseignant" at what
was arguably the most renowned Marist Brothers' school in France. At
that time he had acquired the "brevet complet" or "superieur,"
certifying him to teach all classes at the primary level.
these many years of "enseignant auxiliaire" he cultivates
himself. He had a thirst for knowledge and was brilliant in math and
science, all learned on his own, He makes Perpetual Profession on 15
August 1887. In December 1903 he goes to Dumfries, Scotland, for six
months to study English, and in 1904 he takes over the direction of
St, Ann's Academy in New York City from Bro. Zepheriny, now charged
with looking for property on which to locate an English- language formation
center. Bro Zepherinye buys the MacPherson Estate in the town of Poughkeepsie
on 28 February 1905.
1909 Bro. Ptolemeus again succeeds Bro. Zepheriny, this time as Provincial
of the North American province. In 1910 he decides to move the Scholasticate
from St. Ann's Academy in New York City to St. Ann's Hermitage in Poughkeepsie
and he appoints the 21-year-old Bro. Mary Florentius as Master of Scholastics.
He also opens three schools in Montreal, another in St. Boniface, Manitoba,
and a fifth in St-Jean-Deschaillon, Canada. When the United States becomes
a separate province in 1911 under the patronage of St. Ann, Ptolemeus
stays on as Provincial of the new Province and he establishes St. Ann's
Hermitage as the Provincial House. His dream of another province in
Western Canada leads him to found three more English- speaking schools
in Manitoba, but these will all close within 10-15 years.
his Provincialate Bro. Ptolemeus returns to teaching in Poughkeepsie
at the Novitiate and Scholasticate from 1914-1920, after which he once
again is asked to direct St. Ann's Academy in New York City, then St.
Joseph's in Haverhill MA. From 1926 until his death in 1940 he is stationed
at St. Ann's Hermitage in Poughkeepsie. He does whatever teaching and
manual work his failing health allows him to do. The Student Brothers
at Marist Normal School, chartered in 1929, treasure his intellectual
and religious gifts as they interact with this awesome autodidact Brother.
Bro. Ptolemeus dies on 13 June 1940. Father Beat Gmur, SSS, New York
archdiocesan Spiritual Director and close friend of the Brothers since
1910, celebrates the funeral Mass on Wednesday June 12 at the Hermitage
Ptolemeus is remembered as a model religious, a visionary administrator,
and a great educator. He filled with utmost zeal and unusual success
various positions of responsibility, requiring tact and firmness. For
over 30 years he was a member of the Provincial Council and in that
capacity he effectively helped build up our Marist educational apostolates
and solidly established the Marist Brothers' reputation for excellence
in teaching tempered by family spirit. A stem exterior masked a paternal
heart, but his brilliant mind and broad outlook brooked incompetence
and sloppiness only with strenuous religious spirit and easy humor.