Congregations in Sri Lanka

The Religious Institute of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux

Founder: Rev. Fr. Pierre Bienvenue Noailles

Father Pierre Bienvenue Noailles, Parish Priest of St. Eulalie in Bordeaux, moved by the Spiritual and material conditions that prevailed in Society after the French Revolution, formed the Association of the Holy Family in 1820. Soon after in 1822, he was blessed with an apparition of Our Lord in the Monstrance (1822). His zeal knew no bounds, and so was the work he founded. He says that "the Association of the Holy Family is open to all the Faithful both men and women, whether they live alone or in community, whether they observe precepts only or aspire to the perfection of the Gospel". The Fonder himself states his aim is "to renew and to extend, as far as possible, in all classes of society, the spirit, the virtue and the good works of the early Christians, and of the Holy Family of Nazareth".

Originally the Association of the Holy Family was divided into three branches - that of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Branch of Mary included the Religious Sisters of the Holy Family, who responded to various needs of the Society of France at that time. According to the specific apostolic activity they were engaged in, they were divided into seven branches viz. Sisters of the Immaculate Conception who were in charge of Schools, Sisters of St. Joseph in charge of Orphans, Sisters of Hope in charge of Hospitals. Agricole Sisters engaged in rural agriculture etc. After Vatican II when the Congregations were asked to go back to the original inspiration of their founders in orders in order to adapt and renew themselves according to the needs of today, the Holy Family Congregation discovered that the vision of the Fonder was to establish an Association embracing all the different vocations in the Church Contemplatives, Apostolic Religious, Consecrated seculars and lay associated, and Ecclesiatics, four groups each with its specific way of life, but all having the same spirit and same aim to form the Association of the Holy Family, or the Family of Pierre Bienvenue Noailles as it is called today.

The Institute of the Religious of the Holy Family is a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right with two specific vocations organized into a Vicariate for the Contemplative Religious, and Province and Delegations for the Apostolic Religious. The Consecrated Seculars form the Secular Institute of the Holy Family and the Lay Associates, and Ecclesiastics attracted to the Holy Family Charism its spiritually and aim, form part of this vast family.

The concrete expression of the Charism is lived out today in 24 countries by over 4,000 Religious who are engaged in whatever form of work the exigencies of their milieu and the needs of the local church draw them to. These Missionaries are in England, Spain, Canada, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Camaroonns, Lesotho, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Argentina and India. At the request of Bishop Semeria of Jaffna the First Nuns came to Sri Lanka in 1862 and founded their first Convent in Jaffna. Now they are working in the entire Diocese and are organized as two Provinces, the Province of Jaffna and the Province of Colombo.

The sisters of the Holy Family have beenassociated with the oblates of Mary Immaculate in their pioneering missions. After the death of their Founder this association of sisters was looked after by the Founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Blessed Eugene de Mazenod.

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