L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia
Sisters of Jesus-Mary
Sisters of Jesus-Mary. The Congregation of Jesus and Mary comprises two groups of religions: choir religions, to whom is confined the education of youth, and auxiliary sisters, who, in the different houses, take charge of the manual labour. In some countries, as in India, where the customs of th people are entirely different from those of Europeans, the religions of Jesus-Mary have been authorized to accept a third class, the associated native Sisters, whose knowledge of the native dialects makes them invaluable to the missions, especially for catechism and religions instruction and in dispensary work. The education of youth is the first duty of the religions of Jesus-Mary. The Congregation has 12 houses in Canada, 10 in the United States, 6 in England, 2 in Ireland, 12 in Spain, and 4 in South America. The Sisters have in these various countries flourishing boarding schools where young girls receive secular training and a solid knowledge of their religion. In the New England states, they conduct several vast parochial schools, where thousands of children are taught.
The Congregation of Jesus-Mary was founded at Lyons, France, in 1818, by Claudine Thevenet, under the direction of Father Coindre. Claudine Thevenet, daughter of a wealthy silk merchant of Lyons, was but nineteen when the French Revolution broke out in 1793. During the days of the "Terror" she became a veritable apostle of charity, gaining access to the prisons, and encouraging the prisoners among whom were two of her own brothers, who were martyred. Later, aided by a number of other young women, she formed a charitable association, the aim of which was the religious instruction of the poor children of Lyons. She was seconded in her zealous work by Father André Coindre, a priest of Lyons, who became protector of the little society. He confided to her his plans of founding a community of religions for the education of the young girls of the poorer classes. On October 6, 1818, Claudine Thevenet left home, and occupied a miserable dwelling under the shadow of Notre Dame de Fourvières, where she assumed the care of orphans. It was on this same hill of Fourvières that, in 1821, the first boarding school for young ladies of the higher class was opened. Thus the little Congregation, from the outset, united the teaching of the poorer with that of the higher class.
In 1855, Mother St. Cyprien at the head of a colony of religions left France to establish the first house in Canada, at St. Joseph de Lévis. There are at present 12 houses in Canada, the principal one and provincialate being at Sillery near Quebec. For a few years,
Sillery has offered the advantage of a college course to both French and English-speaking students, and the degree of B.A. is conferred by Laval University. Here also, as in New York and in different cities, the religious of Jesus-Mary conduct a residence for ladies, where the latter may enjoy the benefits of a home atmosphere along with the charms of solitude as desired. Other houses in Canada are at Trois-Pistoles, St. Michel, St. Gervais, Beauce-ville (which has a normal school for girls), and Lameque, New Brunswick. The Convent of Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan, opened in 1915, now has its own novitiate for the west of Canada, and dependent on it are two parochial schools.
In 1896 Pope Leo XIII permitted the foundation of a house in Rome; and later the mother house of the Congregation was removed from Fourvières to Rome. The present mother-general is Mother Borgia; Cardinal Marchetti Selvaggiani is protector of the Congregation. Besides the Mother House, there is also, in Rome, situated on the Via Nomentana, just opposite the Villa Mirafiori, a college under the direction of the religious of Jesus-Mary which offers young ladies who have enjoyed a liberal education in their own country the opportunity of perfecting themselves in foreign languages and specializing in music and art, under professors of high repute in the schools of Rome.
After an existence of 100 years, the Congregation counts at present  over 1,500 religions spread throughout Europe, Asia, and America, in 60 houses, with an attendance of 15,000 pupils.
Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Volume VI, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 398p., pp. 10-11.
© 2008 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College