Meet our first Sisters

Updated: Sep 6


Marguerite Lestocq and Françoise Duval are the founding members of the group that became the the Institute of the Infant Jesus Sisters. They were the first in the long line of valiant women in the Institute that have served God and very many people for over 400 years. It is from them that we have inherited the founding spirit of the Institute, courage, self-forgetfulness, trust in God's Providence, inner freedom, a love of simplicity, great desire to bring people to know God's love and bring them to their full human potential.


When Nicolas Barré first enlisted Marguerite and Françoise to help him during that now memorable mission in Sotteville-Rouen, in 1662, it was because they had already stood out among the young women who had helped him from time to time in other towns. Françoise came from Honfleur and was 18 years old at the time. Marguerite, born on the 8th May 1642, came from Picardy.

She was related to Nicolas Barré and was twenty years old when she began to work with him. For almost a year, the women held classes for young girls in a room lent to them for that purpose. We know the kind of advice and training Nicolas Barré gave them what attitudes they were to adopt in dealing with the children and their parents. We know, from a Memoir written by Marguerite herself when she was 39 years old, that these young women put into practice all they were taught with the love and enthusiasm so characteristic of them: "Abandon yourself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who gives grace to the humble and puts words on their lips. Avoid all affection and complicated language. Speak in a humble, gentle and homely way so that even the youngest and the least educated can understand you".

In their busy apostolic lives, they lived what they taught to others: "Put before your pupils the eight beatitudes? Teach them to live out the Gospel by loving God with all their heart and their neighbours as themselves. Make sure above all that your teaching is loving as well as informative". There was nothing sentimental or unreal about this love.