Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales
Teaching, Missionary work, serving the poor
Get in Touch!
410-398-3699. Sr. Frances Carol, OSFS
Childs, Maryland, Towson, MD, Troyes, France, South Africa, Namibia, Ecuador, Columbia, Italy, Switzerland, France, Austria
Patron Saints/Famous Saints of the Community
St. Francis de Sales, St. Jane de Chantal, St. Léonie Aviat (Foundress), Blessed Louis Brisson (Founder)
At the heart of the Church, our life of union with God calls us to Live Jesus and to be signs of God’s loving presence in the life of each person. Our apostolates are in the areas of education, social work, health ministry, pastoral ministry, elder care, ministry to the poor, catechesis and sacramental preparation.
Blessed Louis Brisson was born in Plancy, France in 1817. Early in his youth, he felt a call to the priesthood and entered the seminary to pursue this dream. After his Ordination to the Priesthood in 1840, Fr. Brisson taught in the Seminary and became the chaplain of the Visitation Sisters. Saint Leonie Aviat was born in Sezanne, in the region of Champagne, France.
She attended the Visitation School in Troyes, where Mother Marie de Sales Chappuis and Father Louis Brisson exerted a profound influence on her. Having thus been formed at the school of St. Francis de Sales, she prepared herself for the mission with which she was to be entrusted: the foundation of a congregation committed to Salesian spirituality and to the evangelization of young workers.
Father Brisson, a zealous apostle, had opened, in 1858, a center where he would welcome young girls working in the mills. He decided, under God's inspiration, to establish a religious congregation to direct this important work. He found in Leonie Aviat an incomparable co-worker and a zealous apostle, like himself. The Congregation of the Oblate Sisters was started by Father Brisson along with Saint Léonie Aviat in 1866.
Léonie, who had earlier felt an attraction toward the contemplative life of the Visitation Order, was affected by the plight of young factory workers and felt herself called to the active apostolate. Thus the new congregation of the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales came to be founded. The congregation placed itself under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales, and identified completely with the spirituality and the educational principles of the holy Bishop of Geneva.
In 1868, the young foundress received, together with the religious habit, the significant name of Sister Frances de Sales. She made profession of vows on October 11, 1871. In 1872, she became the first Superior General of the Institute.
Under their guidance, the community grew in numbers, the social apostolate unfolded and girls' schools were opened. In Paris, the first residence for young ladies was started. Thus, the apostolate of the Oblate Sisters extended to the different classes of society and to diverse forms of education.
Like all founders, Fr. Brisson and Mother Aviat experienced suffering and privation. In the early 1900s, France passed laws of secularization which caused the community to be stripped of all its properties and to leave France. Fr. Brisson was able to remain in Plancy at his family home where he died on February 2 1908. Louis Brisson was beatified on
Mother Aviat and many of our Sisters had to leave France. Our Motherhouse was reestablished in Perugia, Italy. Although the French government worked to suppress religious orders, our works flourished in France and elsewhere thanks to the dedication of our Sisters and many generous benefactors.
On January 10, 1914 Saint Léonie Aviat died in Perugia after entrusting herself totally to God. To her last breath, she remained faithful to the resolution she had taken at the time of her profession: "To forget myself entirely." To her daughters she left, for all time, the very Salesian precept: "Let us work for the happiness of others." She was beatified in 1992 and canonized on November 25, 2001.
As active, contemplative religious, we balance our life of work with our prayer life. For an Oblate Sister, our prayer life is based on the Spiritual Directory of St. Francis de Sales. This little document guides us in sanctifying all that we do by our union with God. Each action is offered to God in our direction of intention. We maintain our spirit of prayer by turning our minds and hearts to him throughout the day.
As religious, the Eucharist is the center of our daily prayer. We participate at daily Mass and receive Communion. Daily meditations and frequent Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament center our lives. Our liturgical life is enriched by the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours which we pray in union with the whole Church. Our community is dedicated to our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Light. The rosary and her litanies are part of our daily devotion. We also consecrate ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and work to remain close to his heart at all times.
Each year, for the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady on Nov. 21, we renew our Vows and our commitment to Christ and our religious community. This simple ceremony is a powerful reminder of who and what we are.
As far as possible, our Sisters spend some time at our Motherhouse before Perpetual Profession. This allows each Sister to deepen her knowledge of our founders and our charism.
At the beginning of each year, Sisters exchange our profession cross. This reminds us that nothing belongs to us and that we are to share in one another’s crosses.