Communities for Women
SISTERS OF SAINT PIUS X
Flower planted by Divine Providence
when a young girl thinks of a religious vocation, her gaze is drawn
automatically towards those religious Orders which have come down
to us through the centuries and whose founders have been canonized
by Holy Church. These saints, such as St. Teresa of Avila, St. John
of the Cross, St. Dominic, St. Benedict, St. Francis of Assisi,
have left to their spiritual sons and daughters a specific doctrine
of sanctification which in its turn has produced many canonized
saints. Hardly a glance perhaps, would be given to a new congregation
such as the Sisters of the Society St. Pius X, whose apostolate
is apparently an unknown, humble and insignificant one.
Rev. Mother Mary Jude,
re-elected Superior General with her two Assistants (April 2000)
Why is there
such a great variety of religious Orders in the Church? It is because
the Church is an immense garden where every flower has its own place
and necessity. A violet could never be a rose and a rose could never
be a daffodil. Why not? Because each plant is different. This is
what makes God's garden so beautiful. What is it that differentiates
one religious institute from another? It is its spirit. It is that
driving force which animates its members and has been the influencing
factor in determining how each congregation will live its religious
life and keep the vows - as manifested in the Constitution or Rule
of that Institute. It is the spirit of the founder that permeates
the lives of its members like a fragrant perfume. In order to understand
the spirit of the religious congregation, however, we must first
go back to its origin. If we trace back to the origin of each of
the great monastic Orders, we can see that throughout the centuries,
God has always raised up within His Church souls who had a mission
to bring to light some moral or doctrinal points of the Catholic
Faith which had been neglected or questioned by her enemies in order
to weaken the Faith or in a bid to destroy the Church entirely.
The first Sister received the veil in Ecône
experiencing, especially after the Second Vatican Council, a crisis
such as she had never known in her history, God raised up 'a
Prelate who stood in absolute opposition to this wave of apostasy
and impiety by preserving the priesthood, by forming good priests'.
(cf message of Our Lady at Quito in the 16th century) This Prelate,
more than likely, is His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre,
Founder of the Sisters of the Society of Saint Pius X as well as
of the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X.
in Rome, diocesan priest, religious, missionary in Gabon, rector
of seminaries, Archbishop of Dakar, Apostolic Delegate, Superior
General of the Holy Ghost Fathers... 'Few persons in the Church
were able to acquire the experience and information in the measure
Archbishop Lefebvre was able to do it, not by his own will, but
by the will of Providence'. By all this rich experience, God
prepared him to found an international priestly Society and religious
Congregation in the Church and for the Church.
Divine Providence, little by little things fell into place and the
Society St. Pius X was officially founded on November 1, 1970. Less
than four years later the branch of the Sisters was also formed.
Since the foundation,
and until his death in 1991, the Sisters had many contacts with
the Archbishop who loved to visit us at the Mother House where he
instructed us in the spiritual life and taught us to love the Church.
The example of his virtues with humility as their base and charity
at the summit, all with such candid simplicity, firm faith and calm
fortitude, radiated his love and defence for Christ and incited
us to imitate our dear Saviour by living fully our consecration.
and training of young girls to the liturgical life
Mother Mary Gabriel
Gabriel, the fourth child of the Lefebvre family, was a year and
a half younger than the Archbishop. After entering the missionary
Order of the Holy Ghost Sisters, Mother Mary Gabriel was professed
on March 20, 1930. Fifty-six years later, barely six months before
her death, she still evoked fond memories of the missionary life
she so loved and would have liked to take up again. She had travelled
into the most diverse countries: Martinique and Guadeloupe in the
West Indies, Cameroon, Senegal and the Central African Republic,
where she baptised "in extremis" more than a hundred little
black children who now make up her crown in Heaven. With untiring
devotion to duty, she manifested her love for God and neighbour,
especially in her role as a nurse, when she took care of her sick
ones, her lepers at Bangui. Having a deep-seated humility, she never
talked about the great responsibilities she had in her congregation.
She was Assistant-General and Visitor. She devoted herself entirely
to everything she did; thus she lived her total gift to God, not
made up of beautiful words, but of simplicity in activity as in
Lefebvre asked her if she would come and help in founding the Congregation
of the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X, she hesitated but it
was with the same zeal, the same liveliness that she responded and
made once again the complete gift of herself. She was in the image
of Our Lady, the co-foundress of this great Work willed by God for
the salvation of souls and for His greater glory.
Gabriel was for all of us a model of religious life. She had a deep
sense of the virtue of charity, which made her excel in courtesy
and good manners. She always had time to comfort a soul, to listen
to parents or anyone who needed to confide their troubles and worries.
In all circumstances, she was guided by her love of God, her primary
aim being the extension of the love of God in souls.
And in her
novices, how she inculcated in them the love of humble, daily tasks,
the love of simplicity, the love of duty! She could never understand
how one could give oneself to God with measure - for her it was
all or nothing. How often even in her advanced years, did she show
us how to work in the garden, to use limited space to the full,
to produce, with very little, enough for all. She was always resourceful,
full of strength, and she possessed an undaunted enthusiasm. From
the sewing room to the garden, from the chicken coop to handling
a screwdriver, hammer or saw, from the organ to the sick room, Mother
was just as proficient.
was Mother's love of poverty. As a missionary, she taught us the
virtue of poverty. The necessary would do, anything else was considered
superfluous. She taught us to do without and not to complain. Even
up until her death her bedside table was a trunk! Suffering disappointments,
sickness and different trials… she felt them keenly, yet she never
complained, was never bitter. Animated with a profound spirit of
Faith, she had indeed given everything to God. Her work was a continual
prayer, for the duty of state had an important place in her religious
life. It was the expression of the Divine Will, and she could not
pray better than doing God's very Will. Her occupations were illuminated
by her deep piety which she had received from her parents, and which
she made bear fruit from day to day. She used to say: "Once
you have been clothed in the religious habit, your time no longer
belongs to you. It belongs to the Church."
She was very
joyful. Her good disposition, her care for others, her tender delicate
nature came from a living faith. She loved to say in her lectures
on the religious life, "Joy and holiness - it is all one".
Such was Mother
Mary Gabriel, the sister of His Grace, Archbishop Lefebvre, and
co-foundress of our Congregation.
Sunday 1986: The Sisters with their Founder after the taking of
of the Sisters of the Society
the spirit of the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X, we must
go back to Calvary on the very day that Our Lord was crucified.
Jesus was suffering atrociously. Every once in a while He opened
His eyes and looking down, He saw His beloved Mother, several holy
women and St. John, His faithful priest, standing at the foot of
the Cross. Seeing that His end was coming, Jesus gave Our Lady one
last look and said, "Woman, behold thy son", and
to St. John, "Son, behold thy Mother". In this
Our Lord entrusted to His Mother the treasure most dear to His Sacred
Heart: the Catholic Priesthood. Our Lady received from Our Lord
a new mission. By her humble and hidden life, she was to do for
St. John and the other Apostles, the first priests, that which she
had always done for her Divine Son. Her prayers, yes, would help
them; but she was also to relieve them in their material cares and
in the apostolate. She was to serve Christ in His priests.
of the Society of St. Pius X find their place at the foot of the
Cross. Their spirituality is entirely centred on the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass and the soul of the Virgin Mary under her beautiful
title of Our Lady of Compassion.
Blood of Jesus and the tears of His Mother flowed together and
mingled on Golgotha for the redemption of the human race",
says Dom Guéranger.
have passed since that first Good Friday when Our Lord underwent
His Agony and Passion and at last consummated His sacrifice for
our sins. Today, Our Lord is suffering His Passion and Crucifixion
again in His Mystical Body. And, since it is the Priesthood and
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that are being attacked, He has planted
another "flower" in the garden of the Church and it is
called the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X. True, this plant
is still young, but after 25 years it has taken solid root, and
with God's grace it is still flourishing to His greater glory.
of the Society prolongs, in time, the Compassion of Mary and her
Immaculate Heart, in associating herself more particularly with
the torments that Jesus endured for the souls of today - in offering
herself with the Divine Victim and with the Virgin Mary, in praying
for priests, in serving Our Lord in His priests.
in Primary School
Congregation of "Mixed Life"
of the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X is what is called a
Congregation of "mixed life", that is, a blend of the
active and contemplative lives. While the Sisters are not a totally
active Order like teaching Orders, neither are they totally cloistered
like the Carmelites. Our Lord Himself lived a mixed life, preaching
and working miracles, then retiring to places of solitude where
He could spend many hours in prayer.
At the end
of six months of postulancy, the two-year noviciate begins with
the taking of the habit. It is only after this second stage of probation
that the Sisters make the profession to live according to the three
vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, which they promise to observe.
These two and a half years of formation are not filled by prayer
alone. They attend classes on various subjects such as the Church,
its History, Sacred Scripture, as well as spiritual conferences.
They also have their share of material tasks, such as gardening,
the upkeep of the property and of the few animals and fowl kept
to provide some food.
profession, the Sisters are sent to various houses of the Society,
where they will help and complete the priestly apostolate by various
works: catechism, visits to the sick, sacristy, primary schools,
etc. The knowledge acquired during the Noviciate might enable them
to do more: making of Altar breads, making and repairing of priestly
vestments, playing the organ, singing, gardening, as well as daily
duties such as cooking, cleaning, washing, etc.
the Sisters have an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament,
in order to pray for diverse intentions: for the Pope, for Bishops,
priests, consecrated souls, and in particular, to make reparation
for the outrages committed against Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
It is in fact the contemplation and imitation of Christ on the Cross
that makes the true Christian and gives all its value and grandeur
to the religious life.
true Christian, through Baptism, is a missionary, but by their religious
consecration the Sisters are totally dedicated to the Church, working
to extend the reign of Christ the King through their own sanctification
and through their apostolate. If prayer and spiritual growth are
the most important aspects in the life of a baptised soul, they
are even more so for a Religious, and especially for a Sister of
the Society who is an auxiliary of priests far more by her life
of union with Our Lord than by exterior activities. Her whole life
is centred on the Sacrifice of the Mass, source of all graces. Thus,
her interior life - and by extension, her apostolic life - flow
from the very Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ and her union with
Our Lady of Compassion.
with the sick and the elderly
and expansion of the Congregation
1970 was the date of the Canonical foundation of the Priestly Society
of St. Pius X in Fribourg, Switzerland. His Grace, Archbishop Marcel
Lefebvre, an important figure in the mission field of the Church
and an eminent defender of the Faith, both during and after the
Second Vatican Council, established a seminary to train young men
for the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, young priests to continue
the true Sacrifice of the Mass.
Who will pray
and offer sacrifices for these priests? Who will assume the more
humble tasks, allowing the priests to give themselves more freely
to their priestly duties? Who will take care of the chapels, the
altar linens, and the vestments? Who will teach catechism to the
children, giving them the truths of the Faith and a love for it
that will lead them to Heaven? Who will visit the aged and the sick?
This is the
way His Grace explained it: "It is quite a normal thing
that in founding a community for men, I sought the possibility of
being helped in the apostolate by religious, in order to facilitate
the work of the priests and to support them by prayer.
I would certainly not have undertaken anything if it had not
been for my sister, Mother Mary Gabriel, for I did not feel
apt to training Sisters. Just as much as I feel at ease in dealing
with seminarians, I would have felt it beyond me to train Sisters!
As in any other circumstances that I have recalled, it is Divine
Providence that paved the way. It is only when postulants started
to come forward, particularly from Australia, that may surprise
many but it is quite true, that I did a bit like I have done
in the beginning with the seminarians. I sent them to Pontcalec
in order to be trained. On her side, my sister was facing more
and more difficulties because modernism was creeping into her
Congregation. Like others who left their monastery or congregation,
my sister, as she said herself, had difficulty in taking the
step. I had to insist. To break away from one's religious family
after 40 years is not an easy thing! Fortunately she came, and
I was able to entrust to her the postulants who came, and hence,
found the Sisters of the Society..."
1974, Monseigneur Lefebvre gave the holy habit to the first Sister
of the Society St. Pius X. The Sisters' noviciate was near the Eternal
City of Rome for three years, before it was transferred in the autumn
of 1977 to Saint-Michel-en-Brenne, a tiny village in the centre
of France. With the appearance of more postulants, our little family
grew, and so began the foundation of houses in other places:
Le Pointet, France (a retreat house)
First foundation outside of Europe - St. Mary's, Kansas, (U.S.A)
First year of catechism by correspondence in French
Spanish-speaking noviciate at La Reja, Argentina
English-speaking noviciate at Armada, Michigan (U.S.A)
January 27, 1987
Our dear Mother Mary Gabriel passed away amongst her daughters at
the Mother house
A few days after the historical consecration of four bishops on June
30, 1988, foundation of Mary Help of Christians Convent in
Transfer of the Spanish-speaking noviciate to Pilar, Argentina, leaving
a small community of Sisters at La Reja to help at the Seminary
Community of Dijon transferred to Marseille, France
French-speaking noviciate transferred to Ruffec, France, whereas
the Mother house and catechism by correspondence remained
at St. Michel
Transfer of the English-speaking noviciate to Browerville, Minnesota
Le Brémien, France - First home for the elderly
German-speaking noviciate at Göffingen, Germany
St. Michael's School, near Châteauroux, France
First African Mission in Libreville, Gabon
Responsibility of the Eucharistic Crusade and girl's camp in France
as well as camps in the U.S. and Australia
Bruges near Bordeaux, France
Return to Albano near Rome
Community at the French District House at Suresnes, near Paris
First year of catechism by correspondence translated and dispensed
in English by our Sisters in Browerville.
2000 pilgrimage to Rome of the Sisters.
Arrival at St john of the Lateran
1999, after 25 years of existence, the Congregation is comprised
of 108 professed Sisters and 15 novices and postulants of 17 different
nationalities, thus showing its truly international character, just
like the Priestly Society of St. Pius X. The Sisters are dispersed
in 19 houses of which 4 noviciates, 7 schools, 8 priories, a seminary,
retreat house, nursing home, mission or Mother House, where they
pray and work, cooperating in the mission entrusted by Our Divine
Lord to His Apostles: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations...
Behold I am with you all days..." (Mt. 28:19-20)
Sisters with the Asian Pilgrims
in front of St Mary Major, Rome, August 10, 2000
Noviciat Notre-Dame de Compassion
F-36300 Ruffec le Château
Tel:  2 54 37 83 49
Sacred Heart Noviciate
540 W. 8th Street
Browerville, MN 56438
 (320) 594 2944
Los Robles del Monarca y Alem LA LONJA - Quinta La Margarita
Ruta 8, km 47,5
(1629) PILAR (Provincia de Buenos Aires)
54 2322 47 01 78