Canonization of Mother Marie Eugenie
Mother Marie Eugenie
Religious of the Assumption
Mother Marie Eugenie founded the Religious of the Assumption on April 30th, 1839. For a brief description of those early days, please click here.
Mother Marie Eugenie
Sometimes the Holy Spirit works in strange and fascinating ways.
In the early 1800s, a French girl named Marie-Eugénie Milleret grew up in a family that had no interest in religion or Jesus Christ but was passionate about politics and social justice. They deplored the injustices of a class system and the misery brought on by the rise of industrialization. For them, however, there was no connection between these concerns and Catholicism, the traditional religion of the people. They found hope in the cry of the French Revolution for liberty, equality and fraternity.
When she was fifteen, Marie Eugénie’s parents separated and she moved to Paris with her mother, only to see her mother die of cholera shortly afterwards. Her father then sent her to live with relatives whose great interest proved to be money and pleasure. Alone, far from her brother who had been her constant companion, Eugénie wondered about the meaning of life and love. She had lost everything except her fervor for social and political questions and the desire to do something good for others.
Her father next sent Eugénie to live with very Catholic cousins in Paris. He wanted her to take her place in society like other young women of her age by marrying. Marie Eugenie found the cousins’ piety narrow and stifling and, while she had no real objection to marriage, she rejected all suitors.
One day, her cousins invited her to the cathedral to hear a Lenten sermon preached by a priest famous for his eloquence and influence with youth. His way of speaking of Christ and the Church led to her conversion. She discovered that the ideals of justice and liberty, equality and fraternity are rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ who is the universal and definitive Liberator, and that “the Church possesses the secret of doing good here on earth.” While there will always be suffering and difficulties, “God wills to establish a social order in which no human would have to suffer from the oppression of any others.” [Letter 1843]
Less than a year later, hearing her confession and recognizing that Marie Eugénie had intelligence and a passion that could make a difference in society, a priest asked to see her afterward. He convinced her that the religious life and education were her vocation.
Marie Eugénie prepared herself by study and prayer and, at twenty-two, founded the Religious of the Assumption with four other young women. Her life and her work spanned most of the nineteenth century and quickly spread internationally. She and the sisters taught that our faith in Jesus impels us to get involved in contemporary social issues and that all action should flow from a life of love and prayer.
For more information on Mother Marie Eugenie and the Religious of the Assumption, please go to Press Kit For the Canonization of Mother Marie Eugenie of Jesus