La Neyliere

La Neyliere was bought in 1850 by Fr Colin when he was superior general. It was the Founder’s intention that the house be a Eucharistic Retreat for the members of the Society.

The second superior general, Fr Favre, did not favour this intention and the idea was not pursued, however Fr Colin came to La Neyliere in 1854 after his resignation.

But Fr Colin was a great traveller, constantly on the move in search of a new place to settle. The short text above the original tomb at La Neyliere was something misleading. It read:

Here lies the body of the Venerable Jean Claude Colin, who lived in this house for 21 years.

Indeed from 1854 to 1875 Fr Colin did spend the greater part of the year at La Neyliere, but it would be stretching even one’s pious imagination to think that he was there for 21 continuous years of solitary retreat.

However, while he was “based” at La Neyliere, one of his major tasks was to complete the writing of the Constitutions, and this caused him great difficulty.

There was also the “Maitrepierre Controversy” over the foundation of the Society.

While this episode caused conflict and rumour, it also resulted in the collecting of a great deal of valuable inforamtion on the beginnings of the Society.

For over 50 years La Neyliere was the novitiate of the Marist Fathers and brothers, where some hundreds made their vows.

Marist Fathers and Brothers throughout the world regard La Neyliere as the house of Fr Colin, the guardian of his tomb, and the enshrinement of his spiritual message – of welcome, faith, prayer, and service of others ‘after the manner of Mary’.

It may be worth noting that the Cure of Ars was expecting to retire there.He made many references during his life-time to Fr Colin and the Society of Mary.

Fr Colin had called Cerdon his Bethlehem and Belley his Nazareth. But neither of these places seemed to him to compare with the solitude he loved to find at La Neyliere. This was his place of contemplation and reflection. He had longed for this place to be set up.

It was early as 1842 that he had mentioned the place to his confreres. He wanted a place where the Fathers and Brothers could come and pause, refresh themselves and prepare themselves for the next battle of the apostolate. Superiors, he suggested could also send there any members of their communities who were exposed to dangers and all who came to this place could find peace, strength, and encouragement for the future.

The money to purchase Le Neyliere (Francs 48,000) came from Fr J-F Viennot, a former lawyer.