Servant of God Flavian LaPlante

1CQsaintdeFlavian Laplante was born in  1907 in Quebec, Canada.  After meeting the Holy Cross brothers at school, he entered the Congregation after high school. In 1923, he received the religious habit and took the name Flavian.  Just over five years later, he professed his final vows as a religious brother.  After working several years in Notre Dame College in Quebec as a teacher, Flavian was assigned to the Holy Cross Brother’s mission in India.  Flavian arrived to East Bengal and he worked in a new high school.  Besides assisting with construction and other manual labor, Flavian also taught before he became principal two years later.  He then worked at many different schools in India run by the Holy Cross Brothers.  In 1942, the Japanese Army started air raids in India and Flavian went to the cities effected so he could assist.  He remained in Chittagong  when a severe famine hit the land so he could help tend to the hungry and sick.  Flavian worked principally with the Hindus, who were considered at the bottom of society.  It was during this time that he met the fishermen to whom he eventually devoted most of his life.  Following the end of World War II, Flavian worked out a program so that many fishermen could receive new boats, because theirs had been commandeered during the war.  Flavian often accompanied the fishermen out to sea for days.  He even led them in resistance against pirates and participated in rescue missions.  Flavian’s main plan, however, was to organize the fisherman into cooperatives in which they could help each other.  At the same time, Flavian began constructing an orphanage after the War to care for the orphans from the Refugee Camp.  Flavian persisted in the project, including the construction of a school.  Flavian dedicated the rest of his life to ministering in the orphanage and among the fishermen of the nearby region.  He renamed the settlement there Miriam Ashram or the “Marian Hermitage,” borrowing from the Hindu tradition of places of religious retreat.  In 1975, Flavian also helped fisherman motorize their boats and founded a technical school to give them the skills to build and repair their own boats.  In 1976, after returning from his final home visit to Canada, Flavian retired to the life of a hermit.  In 1978, he had a statue of Our Lady installed on the property and organized a day of prayer and feast in honor of Mary. Over 800 pilgrims came that day, and this celebration continues as a major pilgrimage in Bangladesh to this day.  In 1981 his health failed and he died in Bangladesh.   He was declared a Servant of God in 2009.