Blessed William Joseph Chaminade — Fr. Chaminade’s life changed dramatically with the beginning of the French Revolution. The political tension and religious persecution during that period all but destroyed Christianity in France and left the Church in structural ruin. He was exiled to Spain, where he was inspired by Mary at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar in Saragossa. After the revolution, Fr. Chaminade brought men and women together into small communities of faith. They became like families, supporting one another in faith and in the challenges of daily living. What was unique about these communities was a deep sense of equality and an emphasis on the importance of each individual. Fr. Chaminade believed this type of community could attract others to follow Christ and help to re-Christianize France.
Venerable Mother Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon — Adèle came from an aristocratic background; her father was a Baron and member of the French king’s Royal Guard. She and her family were exiled during the revolution. During her years of exile in Spain, she depend her religious upbringing, realized her responsibility to the poor, and began to understand the importance of community – both in the pursuit of individual holiness and in the regeneration of France. After her return to France, she began forming small groups among her friends and acquaintances. They gathered for prayer and support of personal spiritual growth. Under Adèle’s enthusiastic leadership, these spiritual groups spread quickly. Adele’s work was similar in ways to Fr. Chaminade’s, and her association of spiritual groups eventually affiliated with his. Out of the small groups of Christian communities, some of the members expressed the desire to follow Christ as vowed religious. Together Adele and Fr. Chaminade founded the Marianist sisters—the Daughters of Mary Immaculate. Just a year later, Fr. Chaminade founded the Marianist brothers and priests—the Society of Mary. These women and men dedicated themselves to Mary’s mission, centered upon conformity with her son, Jesus.
Venerable Marie-Thérèse Charlotte de Lamourous — Marie-Thérèse was side by side with Fr. Chaminade’s endeavor of attracting others to follow Christ. When the pastor of her local parish was exiled, she took charge, becoming the heart and soul of the parish community for six years. With her experience of empowering the laity and building religious communities, Marie-Thérèse became an important ally of Fr. Chaminade. She kept in touch with him during his years of exile and worked with him in developing the small faith communities which they called Sodalities.