Marcel Lefebvre, as a 17-year-old youngster, wanted to become a brother, deeming himself unworthy of the priesthood. He joined the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi to attest to his desire for the religious life. Only later would he take the advice of a wise old missionary and pursue his vocation to the priesthood, which he saw as the will of God. He made this decision upon visiting the religious orders of the Benedictines and the Trappists.
Young Marcel Lefebvre was attracted to the life of the apostolate, but he never lost his love for the religious life. In fact, as a bishop of the church, in the many dioceses in which he was appointed, he would seek out, establish, and erect many religious orders in order to promote the good of the church and souls. Further, when he founded the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) he also established religious brothers, sisters, and oblates to aid the work of the priests of the Society.
Moreover, Archbishop Lefebvre, seeing the demise of the religious orders after Vatican II, encouraged, supported, and aided other religious foundations in order that they may maintain in tradition their religious life, a life of vows. And there are many examples: the congregations aided by the Archbishop include Benedictines (Barroux, Nova Friburgo/Brazil, and New Mexico), the nuns of Our Lady of Confidence (Lamairé), Dominicans (Avrillé), Carmelites(Quiévrain), Capuchins(Verjon/Lyons), the Little Sisters of St. Francis (Flavigny), the Little Servants of St. John the Baptist (Le Rafflay), the Order of St. Clare (Morgon), the Sisters of the Oasis (Barcelona), the Disciples of the Cenacle (Velletri/Albano), and the Sisters of Mary of the Precious Blood(Switzerland).
Thus this great Archbishop did all that he could do to foster the religious life. To one of these religious he wrote that their purpose of existence is “to train souls in sanctity by example and prayer. The priests and the faithful need this example and these prayers to continue the good fight for the Faith against the assaults of hell.”
Though the primary goal of the SSPX is the formation of priests, it foresees the need of helpers and companions for these priests, which the religious brothers are. Indeed, today's brothers of the SSPX, as religious, are the beneficiaries of Archbishop Lefebvre's decades of experience with the Holy Ghost Fathers. He laid out a plan in the Statues of the Society for the brothers: their special status, the aim, the means to attain their goals, the common life, the virtues to be practiced, their role in the active life, and finally, their formation.
Thus, the heart of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was the heart of a religious, a lover of the Evangelical counsels; the heart of a man who understood the importance of the religious life in the plan of salvation.