Expansion beyond the lands of Brittany

The first calls :

In 1871, Mother Marie de Saint Charles, Superior General, received a call from Belgium. The unfavourable opinion of the bishop of Vannes prevented her from sending sisters to the neighbouring country but the desire to be attentive to calls from elsewhere did not die out.

In 1897, under the generalate of Mother Emmanuel Marie, seven sisters left for Natal for an experience of about ten years.

The political events of 1901-1905

Several laws passed by the French Parliament affected the congregations in charge of schools. Some schools were no longer recognised while others were closed immediately with the result that, in June 1902, five hundred Daughters of Jesus, were forced to re-join the Mother House. Faced with this forced closure, there were two viable solutions:
    • Clandestinity: some Sisters dressed once again in secular clothing and continued to work in makeshift premises.
    • Departure for other countries: in 1901 a group of sisters left for Belgium, in 1902 others went to Canada, and in 1903 England and the United States of America welcomed the Daughters of Jesus from Brittany.

    In the end, the forced exile proved to be an opportunity for the Congregation. Events thus led the Daughters of Jesus to take root in other lands well beyond the cradle of their foundation.

    “It is a desolate Mother who has come to knock at your door and humbly request your benevolent charity. Struck with a terrible blow by the closing of seventy-seven schools, she has come to lay at your feet the zeal of her daughters, their devotion… Our aims are modest; our work is not of a spectacular kind. Here we are concerned with children, particularly the very young and the poor… To care for the outcasts of fortune, for the aged and the orphans, these ae our tasks…. My Lord, we only ask to spend ourselves humbly, to do as much good as possible and to make little noise… We would be happy to be able to spend ourselves in your beautiful diocese…

    Excerpt, from a letter written by Mother Marie Ste Blandine (Superior General) to the Bishops of Canada, September 1902

    The calls of the Church:

    From 1950 onwards, Pope Pius XII launched several appeals to the Congregations for a missionary opening beyond the European continent.

    The various Superiors General welcomed these calls. New fields opened successively in Cameroon (1953) and Honduras (1957). When the wind of the Spirit blew through the Church at the time of the Vatican Council, the Congregation continued its missionary expansion: in South America: Colombia in 1966, Chile in 1968; in the Antilles: St Kitts and Nevis in 1968, Haiti in 1969, Dominica in 1972; in Africa: Ivory Coast in 1966, Democratic Republic of Congo in 1980, Benin in 2004, Chad in 2007.

    If expansion was experienced beyond borders and even beyond continents, it was also experienced within France. From the 1950s onwards, but especially after Vatican II, the Daughters of Jesus left Brittany to found communities in rural and urban areas throughout France. Apostolic activities diversified, and education and health care were no longer the only areas of commitment.

    “To be reborn throughout the days,

    To leave, when the call is urgent,

    Is it not to live in hope?

    Share This