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St Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Father Louis Brisson (1817—1908) soon beatified
Sister Leonie Frances de Sales Aviat (1844 –1914)
Birth of the Congregation in France
Spreading from France to South Africa
What does our History mean to us Today?
   
Birth of the Congregation in France
5Industrial revolution flocked young country girls to Troyes for work in the textile factories. These young female workers were on their own and exposed to the dangers of the city! Father Brisson was alarmed and moved by their material and moral misery.

These juvenile workers sent him a S.O.S and  God a call! Father Brisson began to set up clubs, workshops and houses to help the young girls organising their new lives. The task was immense, he needed help! At first, the “Oeuvres Ouvrières” were confided to lay women. As this apostolate developed, Father Brisson gave it greater stability by founding a female religious congregation, the Oblate Sisters of Saint Francis de Sales whose purpose was to help the working girls to keep their dignity and to become women of conscience and faith.

7Leonie Aviat who strongly desired to give herself to God, seemed to Father Brisson to possess the spirit of service and the necessary qualities of organization requested for this ambitious project. At 21 years of age, Leonie left her family and with a companion, she took on the direction of the working girls’ apostolate on April 18, 1866.

Even though the purpose of the new Congregation was an apostolate among the working class, the two young ladies were formed in religious life according to the Spirit of Saint Francis de Sales. Companions joined them quickly. This working class apostolate spread rapidly and the Sisters also ran Sunday clubs, boarding houses and primary schools. Soon they would also have to cross the oceans...