“Saint Louise has been presented to us as a committed woman, a woman of the Church, a spiritual woman, a theologian, etc. We cannot forget, however, that all during her life as a Daughter of Charity she was a formator. She was most passionate about this task and also had outstanding natural abilities in this area.

“In order to understand Louise’s contributions to formation and her approach to this profound and delicate task, we must apply some method to our study. We might ask if her formation was meant to be complete and final or on-going. It is also interesting to inquire about the scope of the formation that she provided, that is, was it global or was there emphasis on specific aspects, such as religious formation? I hope that as we come to understand Louise’s style of formation we will be encouraged to imitate her, not so much to act like her but rather to be inspired by her so that we can act in the way that our society requires.”

So writes Gregorio Ado Tellechea, CM in “St. Louise as Formator”. He goes on to provide insights into her own formation and then how she approched the formation, first of the Ladies in the COnfraternities of Charity and then the then young women who joined the COmpany of the Daughters of Charity.

Samples of how he develops the theme…

1. Louise’s Formation

“In the biographies about Louise little attention is given to the first forty years of her life. This was due in part to a lack of documentation. At the same time this was also due to the fact that for certain people the first part of Louise’s life did not appear to be very exemplary and did not appear to conform to the customs and habits of her era. Today, however, many of the prejudices of the past have been dismantled and we are in a better position to reflect on Louise’s origins and her childhood and youth. We could even say that her home environment was very modern. Her family situation, which at that time was viewed as being outside the established norms of the ancient regime, today would perhaps be seen as even conservative since family life has become very diversified in its forms. In fact today we find it difficult to define the “normal” family structure which at this time appears to be more flexible than in previous eras.”

2. Sister and model among the Daughters of Charity

“We can allow ourself to be led along by force of habit and thus continue to view the Daughters of Charity as a prolongation of the Ladies of Charity. We could even think that Louise repeated with the Sisters the experience that she had acquired when animating the Confraternities. Yet very soon we would become aware of the fact that we are speaking about very distinct realities. The new task that Vincent entrusted to Louise appears to be more delicate than the first one. With the Confraternities Louise participated in their meetings and resolved problems that naturally arose. Now, however, with regard to the formation of women who desired to become members of the Daughters of Charity, she was dealing directly with the life of a group of young women.”

The entire article by Gregorio Ado Tellechea, CM “St. Louise as Formator“, first appeared in Anales, Volume 119, Number 3, May-June 2011 and had been translated and posted in the Vincentian Encyclopedia  with the permission of the editors of Anales.


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