Louise de Marillac and the Priests of the Mission
LOUISE DE MARILLAC AND THE PRIESTS OF THE MISSION
by Elizabeth Charpy
We do not have any record of the date of the first encounter between Louise de Marillac and Vincent de Paul but it is certain that they certainly saw one another walking the streets of Paris. Their houses were near one another: Vincent was living in the de Gondi house on the rue Pavée in the parish of Saint-Sauveur at the same time that Louise lived on the rue Courteau Villain in the parish of Saint-Nicholas-des-Champs.
As Louise wrote in her Light of Pentecost, she experienced a certain repugnance in accepting Vincent as her spiritual director. He did not have the elegance of a Francis de Sales or a Jean-Pierre Camus (her previous director who had been appointed the bishop of Belley).
Blessed with having a spiritual director who lived in Paris, Louise wanted this person to be present and accessible to her at all times. She discovered, however, that Vincent had signed a contract of association with three other priests: would she lose her spiritual director? Who would assist her when she needed consoling or when she wanted to express her concerns or when she had questions?
Louise wanted to obtain information about this pious association and only Vincent could provide her with this: did she receive this information as the result of a meeting with Vincent or did Vincent allow her to read the contract that was signed by the de Gondi family on April 17, 1625 and the act of association that was signed on September 4, 1626. Louise reflected on what she came to know about this association and, as she liked to do with the important events of her life, she put her reflections into writing.
How did Louise view the Association
The principal end of the Association [is] knowledge of oneself and contempt for the things of the world (SWLM:696 [A:38]).
Louise viewed the association as a way for its members to sanctify themselves and this reality gave them a certain peace. As a result her director could better guide her along the path of self-knowledge and thus open her heart to God. In the act of consecration that Louise wrote, it is obvious that she had been a widow for a short time: I implore the Holy Spirit, from this very moment, to grant me the grace of immediate conversion because I never wish to remain for an instant in a state which is displeasing to God. This is my irrevocable intention which I confirm in the presence of my God, of the Blessed Virgin, of my guardian angel and of all the saints, here before the Church Militant which accepts this consecration in the person of my spiritual director. Since this spiritual father takes the place of God for me on earth, I entreat him, by his charitable guidance, to help me to be faithful to my resolutions and to the accomplishment of the holy will of God by my obedience to him in this matter (SWLM:694 [A:3]).
Louise noted that contempt for the things of the world, as professed by the members of the association, also meant a renunciation of all benefits and honors. This was an attitude that was opposed to the lifestyle of many members of the clergy who lived during the seventeenth century. Vincent himself had desired such a benefice and yet the priests who signed this contract of association wanted to live true evangelical poverty. Louise agreed with them since she had wanted to embrace the austere life of poverty as a member of the Capuchins … a plan that she was unable to accomplish. Now Vincent would be able to lead her along the path of poverty … poverty that she earnestly desired and that she wrote down as the first rule to guide her life: May the desire for holy poverty always live in my heart in such a manner that, freed from all bonds, I may follow Jesus Christ and serve my neighbor with great humility and gentleness, living under obedience and in chastity all my life and honoring the poverty that Jesus Christ practices so perfectly (SWLM:689 [A:1]).
Louise was very appreciative of the fact that these priests were missionaries: they went to various parishes to preach and instruct and to administer the sacraments in a worthy manner: In the design of serving the Church, it shall have a knowledge of God, recognizing him as sovereignly worthy of being fittingly honored. To this end, each one in particular shall give himself entirely to work for the salvation of souls and insofar as he can hope to do so by the love of God. This work will be greatly advanced by their example and their instructions on the duties of a Christian as well as by the grace of the sacraments worthily administered in the Church. This will happen and the glory of God will be greater when the only priests are good priests (SWLM:696 [A:38]).
The life of these Missionaries was a continuation of the life of Jesus Christ who came to earth in order to save people. These Missionaries serve the Church: they make God known and teach the country people to love and serve God. The minister for the glory of God whose kingdom and justice they strive to establish: They shall enter into a holy relationship with the Son of God who, by personally detaching himself, as it were, from his Father, willed to take our flesh for the salvation of the human race. Likewise they shall be completely detached from anything that could prevent them from working toward this same end, for the glory of God (SWLM:696-697 [A:38]).
In her writings Louise revealed this same desire that all people be saved. She prayed frequently to the Virgin Mary for the salvation of the world: Most Holy Virgin, have pity on all souls redeemed by the Son of God, your Son, Jesus Christ. Offer to the divine justice your pure body which furnished the blood which he shed for our Redemption so that his merits may be applied to the souls of the dying and effect in them complete conversion. Procure for us, through your intercession, all that we need to give glory to God in the fullness of heavenly beatitude and to enjoy the blessedness which your presence imparts to the saints who are now with you in glory (SWLM:696 [A:4]).
Vincent explained to Louise that the priests who signed the contract of association made a decision to live together in the manner of a congregation, a company or a confraternity. Louise asked if this reality of community life would make it more difficult for Vincent to serve as her director. She exerted much effort in trying to understand the importance of community life and discovered its greatness: Moreover, they shall honor the Blessed Trinity by great union among themselves. This union shall be neither constrained nor forced but always maintained by gentle necessity which cordiality transforms into mutual affection (SWLM:696 [A:38]).
In the foundational contract and the act of association there is no mention of the Blessed Trinity. Did Louise discover in her meditation the richness of this mystery, the image of unity in diversity? Or did Vincent speak to Louise about this mystery? In 1617 Vincent had proposed to the women who were members of the Confraternity of Charity at Châtillon-les-Dombes that they honor the most Blessed Trinity. In the Bull of Approval the Holy Father gave the Blessed Trinity to the members of the Congregation of the Mission as their patron. Louise liked to present the life of the Trinity to the Daughters of Charity because she saw this mystery as a model for their community life, a life of love and self-sacrifice: It seemed to me that in order to be faithful to God we must live in great union with one another. Since the Holy Spirit is the union of the Father and the Son, the life which we have freely undertaken must be lived in this great union of hearts (SWLM:768 [A:75]).
Louise understood the greatness of God’s plan in establishing the Congregation of the Mission and so Louise did not want to oppose in any way Vincent’s work nor did she want to “possess” him. She hoped that this new foundation would bring to perfection the work that God had entrusted to its members. As Louise would later do with the Company of the Daughters of Charity, so now Louise entrusted the Congregation of the Mission to the Virgin, Mother of God. Mary gave birth to Jesus, formed him and accompanied him through his life, even to his death on Calvary. Therefore Mary is also able to assist and sustain and console those who now take the place of her Son on earth. We refer here to another text that Louise probably wrote after a period of reflection: To present the end of the Association to the Blessed Virgin, pointing out that it render the greatest possible glory to God in the person of his Son since it seeks, firstly, to work for the perfections of priests who take his place on earth and who have the honor and the power to render him present so frequently in the sacrament of the altar and, secondly, to reanimate the hierarchy of the church with its primitive fervor (SWLM:697 [A:39).
Mary confronted suffering and a lack of understanding. These are situations in which one is able to accompany those who follow the path of her crucified Son: To implore Mary to offer to God the way by which he is calling them, that is: by honoring the Cross and by imitating the Son of God who, in the abjection of his Passion, united the human race to God (SWLM:697 [A39]).
After these lengthy meditations and prolonged periods of prayer, Louise is certain that the Congregation of the Mission is truly a work of God. She begged Mary, through the intercession of her Son, to provide the Missionaries with the continued presence of the Holy Spirit and this same Spirit guide them every day of their lives: Since their end is also to work for the salvation of souls and to keep themselves always in lowly positions and submissive to others, to ask Mary, by her intercession, to obtain the perfection of this spirit for them and for their successors. To beg the Blessed Virgin … to guide them by his Holy Spirit and to look upon their Association as truly his work (SWLM:697 [A:39]).
Louise was now able to move forward. She was able to trust the Congregation of the Mission in the same way that she trusted Vincent de Paul. God had led both Vincent and Louise along this path so that together they might fulfill the will of God. How, we might ask, was Louise able to do this? Even though we are not able to answer this with certainty we know that her act of self-sacrifice to Mary demonstrates that she placed her life in the hands of the Virgin: I am entirely yours, most Holy Virgin, that I may more perfectly belong to God. Teach me, therefore, to imitate your holy life by fulfilling the designs of God in my life. I very humbly beg you to assist me. You know my weakness. You see the desires of my heart. Supply for my powerlessness and negligence by your prayers. Since your dear Son, my Redeemer, is the source of the heroic virtue of which you gave the example during your life on earth, unite the spirit of my actions to his for the glory of his holy love (SWLM:695-696 [A:4]).
Relationships with the first Missionaries
After the death of her husband on December 21, 1625 Louise had to move because of her financial situation. With her son, Michel she established her new home on the rue Saint-Victor. From there it was easy for her to go the Coll?ge des Bons-Enfants which was located on the same street. Vincent resided there until the end of 1625.
During the course of several visits Louise came to know the first companions of Vincent: M. Portail, a priest for thirty-six years from the Diocese of Arles and two other priests from the Diocese of Amiens, M. François de Coudray (forty years old) and Jean de la Salle (twenty-eight years old). At the end of 1626 Louise met Jean Bécu a priest for ten years from Somme and Antoine Lucas (twenty-six years), a seminarian. Louise was thirty-five years old.
The Confraternities of Charity
After Vincent’s first meetings with Louise he began to orient her to the poor and led her to discover the Confraternities of Charity. Louise became involved in and collaborated in this charitable work. She felt driven to work with the missionaries. In October 1627, Louise was visited by M. François du Coudray who gave her a letter from Vincent. He was looking for the money that Isabelle du Fay (Louise’s cousin) had set aside for the Confraternities. In April, 1630, on the advice of Vincent, Louise visited the Confraternity at Villepreux and it was there that she saw that the children were poorly educated. The teacher was only allowed to admit young boys because the education of boys and girls together was forbidden by both the King and the Church. Louise noticed a young girl, Germaine, who took on the commitment of instructing the young girls. It seems that the pastor was angered by Louise’s intervention in the affairs of the Confraternity and Vincent advised her to apologize: It is very difficult, Mademoiselle, to do any good without conflict. And because we must relieve other people’s distress as far as it is in our power, I think that you would be performing an action agreeable to God by visiting the Pastor and apologizing for having spoken without his knowledge to the sisters of the Charity and the girls … and that this will teach you your duty for the future. If he is not pleased with this, leave it at that … One beautiful diamond is worth more than a mountain of stones and one virtuous act of acquiescence and submission is better than an abundance of good works done for others (CCD:I:75).
Enriched by this experience, Louise spoke about Germaine to Vincent. He asked that Germaine’s project be explained to M. du Coudray who could then negotiate this matter with the pastor and the schoolmaster: These lines will serve to ask you to send us news of yourself and to give you some about us and about Germaine. As for me, things are as usual; and with regard to Germaine, M. du Coudray tells me that he has begun to speak about her to the Pastor, to M. Belin, and to the schoolmaster, and that none of them is adverse to the proposal he has made to them. We shall see what will come of it (CCD:I:87).
Louise’s proposal was well received and for years Germaine taught the young girls of Villapreux. Vincent and Louise would have liked to have seen Germaine become part of the first group of the Daughters of Charity but they respected her decision. In April, 1631 Jean Becu worked with Louise. He had traveled from Montreuil in order to meet with her and visit the Confraternity that had been established there in 1627. A letter from Vincent anticipated the visit: Besides the things that I write to you M. Becu will say and do whatever you want and if things must be done in a manner that is distinct from that which I have stated, then please do as you must (Documentos, #47).
There was great trust between Vincent, the Missionaries and Louise. Each one recognized and respected the competency of the other.
There was a very dynamic cooperation between Louise and Jean de la Salle, a missionary who was highly esteemed by Vincent. At the beginning of 1630 Louise went to Saint-Cloud in order to establish the Confraternity of the Charity there. Vincent had asked Jean de la Salle to assist Louise and on February 9 Jean responded to Louise’s letters: Praise be God for having deigned to give this work such a good beginning. No, God will not deny anything to this ministry, neither his spirit nor anything that is necessary so that everything may redound for the greater glory of God. All we need to do is abandon ourselves to the hands of God. I am very pleased by the zeal and the devotion of these good women (Documentos, #25).
Jean de la Salle then continued to look after the good functioning of the Confraternities especially in regard to their ministry with the infirm and also with regard to the spiritual formation of its members. In October, 1630 Louise was in Montmirail and there she sent Vincent a report on the visit of Jean de la Salle who became the person designated to respond to Louise’s questions.
This mutual collaboration became even more effective during the month of August, 1635 when they worked together in Liancourt. The Duchess was a great friend of Louise and wanted to establish a Confraternity of Charity there. The Duchess had no firm ideas about this matter but she wanted a small house, a type of hospital where those who were ill could be admitted and where medicines could be distributed to those who were in need. Louise felt that the basic element of the Confraternities, namely, home visits, might be forgotten and cast aside but she found it very difficult to oppose her friend. Vincent sent Jean de la Salle whose humble and effective work was admired by Louise. He became the one who established the Rule for this Confraternity. Later, in May, 1637, when Louise wanted to establish the Confraternity in La Chapelle, a small village near Paris, in the same area as the Motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity, she again asked for Jean de la Salle’s assistance.
Vincent was aware of Louise’s friendship and admiration of Jean de la Salle and so he took the time to speak to her gently about the death of this zealous missionary: We must act against what is painful and either break our heart or soften it to get it ready for anything. It seems that Our Lord wants to take a hand in the Little Company. It belongs entirely to him, I hope, and he has the right to use it as he pleases. As for me, my greatest desire is to wish only the accomplishment of his holy will. I cannot tell you how far advanced our patient is in that practice, and that is why it seems Our Lord wants to put him in a place where he can continue it more happily for all eternity. Oh! who will grant us the submission of our senses and our reason to that adorable will! The Creator of the senses and of reason will do so, if we make use of them only in him and for him. Let us pray that you and I may always have one and the same will and non-will with him and in him, since such is an anticipated Paradise beginning in this life (CCD:I:579).
Jean de la Salle died in Paris on October 9, 1639 and Louise, with her sensitivity, mourned the death of this missionary whose depth of spirit and intelligence she greatly admired.
With regard to her son, Michel
During the missionary travels of his mother, Michel Le Gras lived at the Coll?ge des Bons-Enfants and Vincent watched over him. At different times he was entrusted to the care of some younger missionaries. In May 1630, when Michel was seventeen, M. Robert de Sergis helped him. Vincent wrote to his mother who was always concerned about her son: Little Michael is fine; Brother Robert went to see him for me. He told him that he is quite cheerful and contented. Be the same, Mademoiselle, I beg of you, since God wishes you to be so (CCDLI:79-80).
Later it would be M. François Soufliers and M. Jean Pille who would watch over Michel but since they were members of the Congregation for only one or two years, Louise requested that older missionaries would provide for her son. It seems that Vincent did not accept this request and continued to entrust Michel’s care to the younger members of the community: Monsieur du Coudray had nothing to say to you about your son, nor do I, except to find out whether he is pleased with his stay at the Bond-Enfants … M. du Coudray was not asked to talk to you about this (CCD:I:387-388).
Michel showed little interest in work and was always changing his mind about his future. Because of this attitude of her son Louise was very aware of the interest that Vincent and the other missionaries gave to Michel and she often expressed her gratitude to Vincent. In 1646 Louise sent him a painting of the Virgin, one that she herself had painted: It was not my intention that the painting of the Blessed Virgin be either for our oratory or for the Foundlings, but that it might serve as an adornment for an altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, to make reparation in some way for my son’s faults. I used some rings I still had to have it made. This is why, Monsieur, I most humbly entreat you to allow it to remain in your church, that this reparation be made since it was, unfortunately, in one of your houses that the misdemeanor of that son of mine occurred (CCD:II:629-630).
After the foundation of the Daughters of Charity
During the first half of the seventeenth century the new communities of the Company of the Daughters of Charity (November 29, 1633) and the Congregation of the Mission (April 17, 1625) were established. Many young people, often from the same villages and the same family were attracted by this spirituality and this style of life and thus made a commitment to the poor.
Brothers and sisters and cousins began to enter as candidates for the Congregation of the Mission and for the Company of the Daughters of Charity. These family relationships were recognized, accepted and encouraged.
The three Becu brothers, Jean, Benoit and Hubert, went to the Motherhouse of the Daughters to visit their sister, Marie, who at first was ill and then in 1637 was dying. Some years later, Jean became concerned for his sister, Madeleine, who had been missioned to the hospital at Angers. Louise wrote the Sister Servant: Monsieur Bécu wishes to be remembered to Sister Madeleine, and asks if she is well; something I, too, would be pleased to know (SWLM:271 [L:228]).
While in Brienne, Catherine Baucher received from Louise news about her brothers who had been arrested. Eloi was in Orsigny and Marin in Saintes. Louise also wrote to her cousin, Aubin Gontier who had gone to Turin in Piedmont. A letter that Louise sent to Jeanne Lepintre in Nantes provided her with news about the family of Henriette Gesseaume and her brother who was in Crecy with M. Gallais. This same letter also gave news about her cousin, M. Chefdeville, who was in Paris, all of whom were doing well.
In the communities of the Daughters the women speak about their brothers, the Lazarists. In Angers the Sisters know that Catherine Huitmill desired to leave the Company but was afraid to see Louise and her brother Phillip whom she felt had tried to convince her to become o Daughter of Charity. In Calais, Françoise Manceau, before her death, requested that her companion, Marie Poulet, inform her brother, Nicolas, who was in Richelieu, about her death. Another brother of hers, Simon, had died six years before her. In Arras, Marguerite Chétif was visited by Nicolas Rose who had gone there to spend some time with his family. He spoke to her about his sister, Ana, a Daughter of Charity who was undergoing many trials in Paris and asked Marguerite to do whatever was possible so that his sister might be closer to the family.
These fraternal relations were also extended to family members. In 1646 M. Portail visited Madame Delacroix who was concerned about her daughters, Jeanne and Renée … she had heard rumors about them in Le Mans. She was told that all the young women who had gone to Paris were going to be sent to Canada where they would be married to Indians. It seems that men from this area had been recruited to go to this distant country that had been recently colonized by France. M. Portail was unable to calm this woman and so he asked the two daughters to write their mother. In 1649 M. Thibault who was missioned in Saint Méen calmed the parents of Mathurine Guérin who lived in Moncontour a short distance from Saint-Méen.
The Daughters of Charity became intermediaries with the family members of the Missionaries. In Brienne, Marie Donion visited the family of Brother Mathieu Regnard: I did not find the note for Brother Mathieu that you mentioned. Assure his brother, however, that he is fine, thank god, and that he just returned from Burgundy two or three days ago. I shall not fail to relay to him the news of his brother and the concern he has for him (SWLM:627 [L:607]).
These fraternal and friendly relationships arose from a sense of family. A network of mutual help bound together the members of the Congregation of the Mission and the Company of the Daughters of Charity. Seemingly insignificant matters reveal a reciprocal concern for one another. Vincent asked M. Robert de Sergis to obtain holy cards for the Daughters of Charity. The Brothers in the Congregation offered their services: Jean Lequeux to transport material that had been bought, that is, to bring grain to the Motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity; Alexandre Véronne prepared medicines for the Sisters who were ill and because of his ability he was able to bleed a Sister when no one else was able to do so.
In 1656 the community of Nantes became a gathering place for the missionaries who were missioned to Madagascar. Vincent communicated this to the Sister Servant, Nicole Haran: One or two of our priests are supposed to go to Nantes with two Brothers, who have left different houses. I told them to get in touch with you so that, when the first one arrives and gives you the address of his lodging, you can give this information to the others, and they can meet up with one another. I am sending you a packet of letter for one of them, M. Herbron. Please place it in his hands; he will pay you the postage (CCD:VI:107-108).
The ship on which the Missionaries were to embark sank in front of Saint-Nazaire and so the Sisters from the hospital received and guarded whatever had been salvaged of their baggage: You told me that the iron salvaged from the shipwreck is rusting. Thank you for taking care of it. I am sure you have also aired the other articles that needed airing. Please have the iron objects cleaned, and I will send you the money to pay the workman for his trouble. They say that the more fragile pieces should be soaked in oil, and the rougher ones in Tripoli (CCD:VI:270)
In November a new trip was planned for the Missionaries who were being missioned to Madagascar and once again the Daughters received the Missionaries who were bound for this foreign mission: On Last Tuesday, the fourth of this month, three of our priests and a Brother left here for Nantes. They will be able to visit you at the hospital, so I am sending you a letter I have written for M. Éntienne, who is in charge of the others, please give it directly to him (CCD:VIII:186).
Mutual assistance between the Missionaries and the Daughters of Charity whould in no way impede their service of the poor. In 1639 M. Lambert aux Couteaux arrived in Richelieu and requested that a Daughter of Charity be sent there. After some hesitation Louise decided to send two Daughters there (these were the first Daughters to be sent to a place outside the city of Paris). There the Daughters established a Confraternity of Charity to assist those who are suffering. They also began a school for poor young girls. In 1641 M. Lambert received about fifty seminarians whom he had to prepare for ordination. He asked the Sisters to prepare the house to receive these men. Overwhelmed by the hard housework, Sister Isabelle Martin was unable to attend to the poor. Vincent, who was passing through Richelieu, helped M. Lambert see that mutual assistance should never contradict the charism and he also expressed this same idea very clearly to Louise: What mortifies Isabelle, our dear Sister, even more is that she has not gone to the sick for some time since she has been occupied with the arrangements for forty or fifty ordinands. I spoke to M. Lambert about this, so that he will not make use of her that way any more (CCD:II:208).
Every relationship between the Missionaries and the Daughters of Charity should be simple and friendly and also prudent. Vincent and Louise reminded their subjects about this when it was necessary. Two postulants from Richelieu, Vicenta Auchy and Nicole had arrived in Paris. They had known M. Durot who ministered in their village but who had now returned to Saint-Lazare. M. Durot was anxious to see these two young women but Vincent had anticipated this and spoke with Louise: It is important that your Sisters in Richelieu do not see M. Durot or the brother. We must very gently bring him to understand that it is not advisable for us to have any communication except for necessary matters (CCD:II:128).
Brother Jean-Pascal Goret became ill while he was serving the people in Picardy who were devastated by the war. In December 1651 he received a letter from Vincent de Paul who gave thanks to God for his recovery and then as his superior spoke to him about the reserve that he should have with the Daughters who cared for him: You tell me that our good Daughters of Charity looked after you while you were sick. I am glad to hear it, and I am sure you are very grateful for this. However, dear Brother, it is to be hoped that this gratitude will not be expressed by visits or a great many words; it will suffice to see and speak to them only in passing, when necessity requires it. You know how we act with them here, so please do likewise (CCD:IV:287).
To express gratitude for the blessings that one has received is a wonderful thing to do and this is especially true of the Missionaries and the Daughters of Charity. This gratitude, however, should be expressed in a simple and reasonable manner.
During the seventeenth century, the Missionaries placed much importance on the vocational recruitment ministry for the Daughters of Charity. In all the places where they preached, the Missionaries were attentive to and observed and encouraged young women to offer themselves to God for the service of the poor. M. du Coudray found several young women in Lorraine and M. Lambert sent the Daughters several young women from Richelieu. M. Bernard Codoing sent women from Saint-Méen; M. Guillaume Gallais sent women from Le Mans; M. Louis Thibault sent women first from Fontainebleau and later from Saint-Méen. M. Denis Gautier did the same when he was in Richelieu as did Guillaume Delville while he was in Arras. All of these Missionaries presented postulants who were examined by Vincent and Louise: Enclosed in a note is the reply of Mademoiselle Le Gras and my own regarding the girls from Moncontour and Saint-Méen, who want to give themselves to God in the Company of the Daughters of Charity (CCD:III:336).
At times Vincent had to temper the zeal of the missionaries: You wrote me about three good young women who want to be Daughters of Charity. Since the idea of doing so came to them in the fervor of the mission you gave in their parish, see if a short delay will cool their fervor. It will be well to test them (CCD:V:632-633).
On several occasions Vincent reminded the Missionaries about the necessary qualities of a future Daughter of Charity: If you find any strong, healthy young women suitable for the Charity, who are of irreproachable life, determined to humble themselves, to work at acquiring virtue and serve the poor for the love of God (CCD:VI:211).
Whenever one of the missionaries went to a house of the Daughters of Charity, especially on the occasion of a canonical visit, Louise requested the Sister Servant to have the aspirants speak with the Missionary: Concerning the girls you say presented themselves to Monsieur du Chesne, if he finds them suitable, you have but to send them (SWLM:418 [L:365B]).
Vincent reminded the Missionaries about their duties in this regard. He wrote to Pierre de Beaumont in Richelieu: It does not suffice for the Sisters of Charity in your town to think that the two postulants are suitable for their Company, unless you yourself share their opinion. So, if you think they have the strength for this state of life, that it is the desire to serve God and the poor that prompts them to embrace it and not the thought of being more comfortable than they now are, and, in a word, if you see that they intend to persevere, as far as that can morally be foreseen; in that case you can send them (CCD:VII:224).
Louise and Vincent wanted to try to avoid the situation in which young women would join the Daughters of Charity in order to see Paris or a situation in which these young women would leave the countryside in order to provide themselves with a more satisfying future than they would have if they stayed in their homes. They relied on the judgment of the Missionaries to discern the requests that were made.
During all of her life Louise gave witness of her friendship and her trust in the priests of the Mission. She encouraged the Daughters of Charity to establish similar simple and fraternal relationships. Louise expected much from the Congregation of the Mission. She relied on the Congregation so that the Company of the Daughters would preserve their charism, maintain their vitality and fulfill the mission that the Church had entrusted to them.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM