Born: 1754, 1761, 1789
Died: 1828, 1836, 1850
FEast: [Adele] Jan. 10th, [CHaminade] Jan. 22nd, [Marie Therese] Sept. 14th
The Marianist Family
William Joseph Chaminade was born in a small French town in 1761, the 14th of 15 children. His family was able to afford a good education for him, and he became a priest in 1785. When the French Revolution broke out not long after, he and his older brother, a Jesuit, chose to reject the Civil Oath demanded of the clergy and became anti-government. He hid with his parents in Bordeaux and began an underground ministry. Using disguises and frequently going into hiding, he secretly baptized, wed, and blessed the sick. He also chose to organize a group of lay leaders to help preserve the Church during this time of violence, and among the members was Marie Therese Charlotte de Lamourous.
Marie Therese was born prematurely in a rural area near Bordeaux in 1754. She learned many agricultural skills until her family moved into the city and she was able to receive a formal education. She had hoped to join the Carmelite Order, but soon was tasked with taking care of her 10 younger siblings and her father when his business and mental health began to fail. When the Church went underground, she held classes and gave advice to her community. She would go on missions to bring produce to her community, visit the prisons, and aid the clergy in communicating messages.
Because of an error in documentation when government leadership changed, Chaminade was exiled into Spain for three years, where he continued his secret ministries. He finally returned to France in 1800, and found the country to be full of older Christians that had faced persecution and younger ones that had never known Christian community or sacraments. He sought to re-establish religious life in the country, and began to enlist the help of the contacts he had made while underground.
Looking to St. Mary to guide them, with Chaminade's group of lay people, something close to a parish was begun. It was open to all Christians, regardless of age, gender, or social class and it focused on unity.
Marie Therese, while helping with this effort, also found herself immersed in a friend's project - working in a home caring for sex workers who wished to start a new life. Though she had hoped to retire and was unsure about the idea, the home brought her so much peace and she remained. Though there was violence, arguments, and overcrowding at the home, Marie Therese helped to fix this.
Another person Chaminade reached out to for help was Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon.
Born in 1789 and by far the youngest of the group, Adele also came from a wealthy, aristocratic family. When her father went to exile in London, her mother continued to care for the sick in her community, bringing the young Adele with her, until she, too, because of a clerical error, was forced into exile. In Spain, Adele was able to witness people living their faith openly for the first time. She realized that she wished to enter religious life, but since she was too young, her spiritual director proposed that she and a like-minded friend form an "association" to encourage each other spiritually until they could enter. Soon, there were over 60 members with Adele as their natural leader despite her age. Women from all over a rural area of southwestern France joined the group to help re-establish spirituality in France.
When she was 19, Adele grappled with a decision over whether or not to marry. She finally decided against and focused her efforts instead on merging her group of women with Chaminade's lay group. Together, all the members helped to educate, support, and spiritually encourage the community.
When the group was suppressed by Napoleon in 1809, Chaminade took his flock underground again. By 1817, however, this group sprouted into what Chaminade began to call the Society of Mary. Traditional religious Orders were still not allowed in France, but members of the groups proposed living communally and working with the underprivileged.
When Napoleon died, Chaminade sent Marie Therese to Adele to help her initiate this process. Differences in ideas between Chaminade and the bishop were resolved in a compromise which allowed the cloistered sisters to leave the convent on occasion to do social work in the nearby city. Adele, as leader, wrote numerous letters, and though the first decade of this Order was a trial full of misfortune and struggle, by the time she died at only the age of 38, Adele had helped her group expand to 3 more new convents.
Chaminade and a companion worked to form the "Brothers of Mary", a companion group of formal religious life to Adele's. It was organized in the same way as the "Daughters of Mary", and both groups worked to re-institute education systems that had disappeared in the Revolution. One way he sought to do this was through training teachers on spiritual retreats.
Meanwhile, Marie Therese continued her work at the "House of Mercy". She helped it expand into new property, looked for work for the women, and created classrooms to teach the women trades. She would only accept women who came to the home of their own will. She made sure that living there was not a punishment, but a rescue. She helped arrange marriages and jobs, or allowed the women to stay for their whole lives if they wished. When legal difficulties forced her into a decision, the home became an official "religious institute", and Marie Therese found herself in charge of a group of religious life as well.
The model of the home inspired women from other cities to begin their own homes. By the time of her death, the home had almost 300 residents and she was widely known for her good work.
Chaminade was again exiled in 1830 with the monarchy back in power, barring him from attending Marie Therese's funeral. When he returned in 1836, he helped complete one of Adele's dreams by founding a Third Order of the Daughters of Mary of women who would work in schools and care for orphans. Unfortunately, Chaminade suffered the loss of many people defecting from the group and a drastic disagreement between himself and his successor (chosen after he had been asked to resign). He passed away in the midst of this in 1850. However, the Marianist family still exists today with all of its different branches, and around 10,000 members.
you decided not to let something like age stand in your way from your calling. In fact, your solution only made something more impactful and necessary than you had imagined. Remind us that we can never be too old or too young (or too in-between) to go after our dreams.
Bl. Fr. Chaminade,
the fact that your dream was something that you knew you could not achieve alone was not a problem for you. Help show us how to gather teams of support and inspiration around us like you did. Surround us with encouraging, motivated people who invest in our dreams as we do in theirs. Amen.
Ven. Marie Therese,
Like you, we may have a good idea about where we belong and what we should be doing in our world, so guide us when we might realize that something else is disrupting those plans. You did so much good for so many when you pursued what called your heart, help us do the same. Amen.
Each piece goes together with color schemes and shapes and yet can also stand on its own in representation of this team's contributions both together and alone. Adele is shown communicating, as she was known to always be engaged in doing, and has a heart shape on her phone to represent her many writings about the idea of "heart". She grins with enthusiasm. Marie Therese gives the viewers a firm, but loving smile in her characteristic manner. Always shown with a bonnet, she now wears a more modern hat and carries groceries first to her underground community and then to her "daughters" in her House of Mercy. Lastly, Chaminade, always recognizable with long hair, mourns the loss of faith in his country and later, the loss of companions and teammates. He is fearful for the lives of those he cares for, and always in hiding. He shows this pain while still looking up, to the future, clutching a paper that represents his dreams drawn out in a "mind map" format.