Mother Foundress

Claudine Thevenet was a woman called by God to form the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus & Mary. Her work was born out of a heart crushed by the pain of personal tragedy. During the French revolution, two of her brothers were shot in her presence. For nineteen-year old Claudine, this was a turning point in her life.

God works in wondrous ways to realise his plans. Led by the spirit of God, Claudine opened her doors to welcome orphans. Later, her response to God's call took shape in a total commitment of herself. As a result, a religious family was born.

Later on, some of them would make an arduous journey from France to India to undertake the task of educating the girls from 1842.

Claudine's ideal was to make God known and loved by means of Christian education in all social milieus. This ideal remains the aim of the congregation whose preference, inherited from the Foundress, is for the young and among these the poor.

What kind of women did she wish to form in her work with the young? :
  • Women who have faith in God, in themselves and in others, who would live their lives in the light of Faith,

  • Women capable of being good wives and mothers and creating happy homes,

  • Women whose very presence anywhere would exude goodness and touch other lives, and,

  • Women capable of earning a living by their honest work.

What did she desire of her Religious and their lay collaborators? :
  • To be a living witness in their own lives... of the values they teach,

  • To be completely given to the young and to be real mothers to them,

  • To have foresight and thoroughness in preparing and carrying out their duties,

  • To be impartial,

  • To have simplicity in doing things to please God,

  • To be courteous, but without any affectation in their manner, tone of voice, deportment and behavior, and,

  • To be clean and orderly in their work and in their personal appearance, but without pretence.

What was her pedagogy? It was a system :
  • of prevention that foresees and forestalls faults; giving guidance at the opportune time... there is greater delicacy of love implied in removing obstacles than merely healing wounds,

  • of attention to the individual, stressing the dignity of each person,

  • of participation and collaboration because love cannot develop except in a united school community,

  • of giving a practical formation and enabling the young, while living with the present, to prepare for the future,

  • of social formation... the ability to take their place in society with confidence,

  • a pedagogy based on simplicity and a family spirit, and ,

  • A stimulating pedagogy giving each one the taste for going beyond the self; for making a reality of the dream which God has for each of his children.

Hers was a pedagogy of love... a love that she drew from the heart of Jesus pierced on the cross for the salvation of all men. Different social structures and environment require new forms of presence and make new demands on our creativity, but today, as in the time of Claudine Thevenet, the work of education in love remains the best reform we can offer. The finest methods affect nothing without love.