The Christian Brothers’ College in Memphis, Tennessee, is conducted by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the renowned religious order founded in France in 1680 by St. John Baptist De La Salle. The order is now spread throughout the world, having schools and colleges in every land.
The college in Memphis was formally opened on November 19, 1871, at the urgent solicitation of the clergy and people of the city, and especially of the Most Rev. P.A. Feehan, then Bishop of Nashville, and afterward Archbishop of Chicago.
Previous to 1871 efforts had been made to induce the Christian Brothers to establish one of their colleges in Memphis. In 1865 a very desirable location on Wellington Street was purchased for the erection of a school for the Brothers by the Rev. Thomas L. Bower, O.P., then pastor of St. Peter’s Church. The pressing demand for schools in other places, however, made it impossible to open the Memphis house before 1871. The great fire of that year having destroyed the Christian Brothers’ College in Chicago, the Provincial was enabled to spare a few members of the order for the purpose of establishing a college in Memphis. The bishop, the clergy, and citizens of all denominations united in a subscription for the purpose of paying the first installment on the college property.
The college property is situated on Adams Street, in a central part of the city. The institution received its charter in 1872 from the Legislature of Tennessee, empowering it to confer such degrees as are usually conferred by similar institutions in the United States; and since that time its career has been one of success and prosperity, despite many obstacles and discouragements, and disadvantages, so that to-day it stands as the one and only thoroughly established Catholc college in Tennessee, and the adjoining states. Without endowment, without capital of any kind other than their own self-sacrifice, the Christian Brothers entered on their work in Memphis. Men and money they have expended in the cause of education, and with no other income than tuition fees they have built up an institution of which Memphis has just reason to be proud.
The college has been honored with testimonials for the exellence of its work exhibited at the International Health Exposition, London, England, 1884; at the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, New Orleans, La., and at the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893.
The system of teaching and training that is usually followed by the Order; and the Brothers during their time in Memphis can point with pride to the number of young men who have gone forth from their institution to occupy positions of trust and responsibility in the Church, in the mercantile, and in the professional world. But along all these who have contributed so much to the upbuilding of this great institution of learning, of which every Memphian regardless of creed, is justly proud, it must be conceded that its success is chiefly attributable to President Maurelian and Vice-President Anthony, two of its founders, and who are still at the head of the college they established and over which they have so zealously watched, and for which they have so diligently labored during the past quarter of a century. It was their untiring zeal, their indomitable courage in the face of all obstacles, their implicit faith in the evetual success that would crown their efforts, that have proven the chief factors in the grand educational institution that is to-day so well known throughout the South, and such an appreciated credit to Memphis. While others have borne their full share of the labor, upon these two devolved the heavist portion of the burden. Cheerfully and conscientiously they have performed their labor of love, and the gratifying result is now apparent to all.
Brother Maurelian’s great work at the World’s Fair, where he so successfully managed the greatest Catholic educational exhibit that this or any other country has ever seen, is too well known to need more than passing notice.
The Catholic Pages of American History (1923)