Congregation of the Religious of Jesus & Mary

claudine-ThevenetCLAUDINE THÉVENET was born in Lyon on 30th March 1774, the second of a family of seven children. “Glady” as she was affectionately known had a strong influence on her brothers and sisters, thanks to her goodness, gentleness and self-forgetfulness in the desire to make others happy. The French Revolution broke out when she was fifteen. In 1793, she witnessed the execution in revenge of her two brothers after the city fell in January 1794. Their last words, “Forgive, Glady, as we forgive” remained deep in her heart and her mind and were to change the course of her life. From now onwards she would dedicate herself to the relief of the great suffering caused by the Revolution.

For her a main source of distress was the people’s ignorance of God and thus was born in her the great desire to make Him known to everyone, but it was to be the children and the young people who would be the main object of her zeal and her desire to make Jesus and Mary known and loved. Her encounter with a holy priest, Father Andre Coindre, would help her to discover more clearly what God was asking of her and would be decisive in the orientation of her life. When Father Coindre found two little shivering children abandoned on the steps of the church of St. Nizier, he took them to Claudine who did not hesitate to take them into her care.

Companions soon joined Claudine and they formed an association, the Association of the Sacred Heart of which Claudine was immediately elected president. On July 31st 1818, the call of the Lord was heard through the voice of Father Coindre . “God has chosen you”, he said to Claudine. This laid the foundation of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary.

Her Congregation was to be profoundly influenced by her strong personality. “Be true mothers of both body and soul” she told her sisters. She would tolerate no preferences, no partialities: “The only preferences I will permit are for the most poor, the most miserable, those who have most defects; those you will love a great deal”.

Claudine Thevenet was canonized (declared a saint) during the Pontificate of His Holiness Pope John Paul II on the 21st March 1993.

The education of the children was the main concern of our mother Foundress so she says,” let us form these children that they will be a blessing to every house they enter.” This is our thrust and our goal too of shaping and influencing the lives of the children entrusted to our care. Throughout their school life we instill in them values and mold them into a caring, honest, realistic human being who is concerned about others. For us Education is not only book learning, it is learning how to live a good and purposeful life. Character building, protecting and strengthening the Child’s goodness and their sense of moral and civic responsibility is the first and foremost aim of Our Education these are some of the moral and civic responsibility is the first and foremost aim of Our Education these are some of the qualities fostered in a Jesus and Mary pupil.

Today the education institution began by the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus & Mary are found in several countries spread across Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America. In India we serve in 40 institutions in 9 States, we have colleges, High Schools, Teachers Training Colleges, Schools for mentally handicapped children, orphanages, dispensaries, project for women upliftment and Faith formation, Claudine’s legacy continues today through her beloved daughters-Jesus and Mary sisters.

The congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM) are guided by the values and principles set forth by our foundress – Claudine Thevenet.

What kind of women did Claudine wish to form in her work with the young?

  • Women of faith in God, themselves and others who would live their lives in the light of Faith
  • Women capable of being good wives and mothers and creating happy homes
  • Women whose very presence anywhere would exude goodness and touch other lives
  • Women capable of earning a living by their honest work

What did Claudine desire of her Religious and their lay collaborators?

  • To be a living witness in their own lives… of the values they teach
  • To be completely given to the young and to be real mothers to them
  • To have foresight and thoroughness in preparing and carrying out their duties
  • To be impartial
  • To have simplicity in doing things to please God
  • To be courteous, but without any affectation in their manner, tone of voice, deportment and behavior
  • To be clean and orderly in their work and in their personal appearance, but without pretence

What was her pedagogy? It was a system:

  • of prevention that foresees and forestalls faults; giving guidance at the opportune time… there is greater delicacy of love implied in removing obstacles than merely healing wounds.
  • of attention to the individual, stressing the dignity of each person.
  • of participation and collaboration because love cannot develop except in a united school community.
  • of giving a practical formation and enabling the young, while living with the present, to prepare for the future.
  • of social formation… the ability to take their place in society with confidence.
  • a pedagogy based on simplicity and a family spirit.
  • A stimulating pedagogy giving each one the taste for going beyond the self; for making a reality of the dream which God has for each of His children.

Claudine’s was a pedagogy of love… a love that she drew from the Heart of Jesus pierced on the cross for the salvation of all men. Different social structures and environment require new forms of presence and make new demands on our creativity, but today, as in the time of Claudine Thevenet, the work of education in love remains the best reform we can offer. The finest methods affect nothing without love.