Foundress of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary

CLAUDINE THEVENET was the woman called by the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary work. Her work was born in a heart crushed by the pain of personal tragedy during the French Revolution.Her brothers were shot to death before her and the family was distressingly scattered.

Claudine was then 19 years of age and this event was a decisive turning point in her life. God works in such wondrous ways to realise His designs. She concluded the violence she witnessed there was more ignorance than malice. The thought of those who live and die without knowing God haunted her and caused her anguish. Far from closing in upon herself in suffering, she opened her heart to the miseries surrounding her. Led by the spirit, Claudine first opened her door to welcome two orphans-a door which would never close. Many young people would later cross the threshold of Convents which are found throughout the world.

Her response to the call of God took the form of total commitment of herself to the following of Christ. A Religious Family was born in the Church, the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary. Claudine’s ideal was to make God known and loved by means of Christian Education in all social milieux. This ideal remains the aim of the Congregation with the preference inherited from the Foundries, for the young and among these, for the Poor.

What kind of women did she wish to form in her work with the young?
  1. Women of Faith in God, themselves and others. Those who would live their lives in the light of faith.
  2. Women capable of being good Wives and Mothers and of creating happy Homes.
  3. Women, whose very Presence anywhere would exude Goodness and touch other's lives.
  4. Women Capable of Earning a Living by their honest work.

What did she desire of her Religious and their Lay Collaborators ?
  1. To be living Witness in their own lives of the values they teach.
  2. To be completely given to the young and to be real Mothers to them.
  3. To have Foresight and Thoroughness in preparation and carrying out their duties.
  4. To be impartial.
  5. To have great simplicity in doing all things to please God.
  6. To be courteous, but without any affection, in their manner, tone of voice, deportment and behaviour.
  7. To be clean and orderly in their work and in their personal appearance but without pretence.

What was her Pedagogy? It was a system:
  1. Of prevention that foresees and forestalls faults giving guidance at the opportune time.... there is a greater delicacy of love implied in removing obstacles than merely healing wounds.
  2. Of attention to the individual stressing the dignity of each person.
  3. Of participation and collaboration because love cannot develop except in a united school community.
  4. Of giving a practical formation enabling the young while living with the present to prepare for the future.
  5. Of social formation…. To take their place in society with confidence.
  6. A pedagogy based on simplicity and a family spirit.
  7. A stimulating pedagogy giving each one the taste for going beyond self for making a reality of the dream which God has for each one of His children.
Hers was a Pedagogy of Love ..... A love that she drew from Heart of Jesus pierced on the cross for the salvation of all. Different social structures and environments require new forms of presence and make new demands on our creativity; but today, as in the times of Claudine Thevenet the work of Education in Love remains the best reform we can offer. The finest methods effect nothing without love.
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