The story of the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres is a long story of Love extending over 300 years written in a mysterious way and hidden in the hearts of thousands of women.
In 1696, Father Louis Chauvet, a young, humble parish priest of Levesville-la-Chenard, a small, poverty-stricken remote village in France, invited three young girls, together with Marie Anne de Tilly, a gentlewoman from Allaines, to form a community to care for the sick and to comfort the lonely and the poor. Soon, a little school was started and the children began to learn and to develop a sense of their own dignity, despite the desperate poverty of the times. Levesville is not far from the great Cathedral of Chartres, and the Bishop of Chartres, Monsignor Paul Godet des Marais, took a keen interest in the little community. In 1710, after the death of Fr. Chauvet, the Bishop took the Sisters under his protection and gave them his name. The Sisters were then officially known as “ Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres”.
From the earliest days of their fledgling community, the Sisters drew inspiration from the writings and spirit of St. Paul. They resolved to follow his footsteps, eager to spread the Good News of Jesus. The Congregation has no territorial preference and responds with fidelity to the call of the Church, to leave everything in order to follow Christ and to serve their brothers and sisters under every horizon, with a special love for the most neglected. Their major services include education, nursing, and all kinds of pastoral work. In practical terms, this has often meant working in leprosarium, prisons, visiting and serving in remote, poverty-stricken areas.
In 1727, in response to the personal request of King Louis XV, the first four missionaries set out for French Guyana, in South America, to the notorious Devil’s Island. After the French Revolution, despite the suppression of the Church, Napoleon called on the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres to go back to French Guyana where the need was great.
Now, in the 21st Century, the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres serve in 34 countries all over the world, ready to answer both spiritual and human needs, anywhere and at any time. In Vietnam, where one of the largest groups of Sisters can be found, over 1,000 Sisters work in hospitals, schools, orphanages and aged care facilities. Sisters from Hong Kong were sent in 1984 to establish communities in Australia. At present, the Sisters’ work in Australia includes an international college, a retirement village, a student hostel and local parish ministry.
True to its humble origins, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres aspires to live the poverty and simplicity of Christ’s Gospel in genuine charity and humility, daring to trust in God alone.
As Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, consecrated women with the daring spirit of St. Paul, we believe the Spirit of God has called us to this mission and ministry :
The initiative of Love belongs to God. It is He who calls and gives strength to answer, while respecting everyone’s freedom.