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An introduction


Our story begins in 1621 with the birth of a baby boy who would come to be known as ‘our Founder’: Nicolas Barré.


Nicolas was born in Amiens in France in October 1621.  He was educated by the Jesuits and later experienced a call to enter the very austere life of the Minims of St Francis of Paola.  In 1659 he was sent to Rouen where the social and religious conditions of the time meant many were living in ignorance and poverty.  What could be done to change the situation?

Nicolas gathered a group to reflect and pray for a solution.  The answer formed slowly but clearly:  Education!  Gather the children, Adult Education, Vocational skills; not only the 3 R’s and catechism but also health, nutrition and all that respects the dignity of human life.

The first ‘little charitable Schools’ emerged in 1662 and then to support and encourage each other in this mission the first Sisters formed Community in 1666.  They desired to be totally dependent on the love of God for everything.  In 17th century language this was known as ‘abandonment to Divine Providence’.  Such total confidence in God demanded deep faith as well as courage and daring.

This abandonment to Divine Providence has been lived out in many ways since then and has inspired succeeding generations to join in the mission of the Institute as it has spread around the world and adapted to the great variety of cultures and needs encountered.

As it was at its origin, the mission of the Institute has been lived out principally through Education.  An ever changing world has presented new challenges and so new and creative ways to carry out this mission of ‘education’ have evolved.

Click on the menu items below to travel through our historical journey...

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