Communities for Women
SISTERS OF LE RAFFLAY
“Like our Lady in the Service of the Lamb of God”
main purposes is to make the Gospel known and to spread the Word
of God, as irresistible apostles striving
to make people discover the “True Face” of the soft and humble-hearted
Lord, the Lamb of God.” (Constitutions)
At a time when
Catholics wonder if it is timely for the laity to take over the
apostolate, to make society and every single family more Christian,
it is necessary to rediscover the traditional structures.
has totally forgotten “the intermediary link” consisting
in Active Nuns who used to run hospitals, nursing homes, reception
homes of all kinds; thousands of sisters who used to go on foot
or on their bicycles all over the country, along the roads or the
paths, or climbed the stairs of the stairs of the slums to cure
the sick, to catechize the members of the families and, no matter
the way they were dressed, they were “the Sister” who entered
every house to visit the poor and the rich, the healthy and the
unhealthy, the faithful and the unfaithful. Without even speaking,
they made people think of God, their way of life converted countries
is finding its Carmels, monasteries, schools and boarding schools
again, but it has not recovered its convents yet, the convents that
innumerable Sisters used to leave, so humbly, going all over region
preparing the way of the Lord, as John the Baptist did. Such was
the Congregation of the Little Servants of the Lamb of God.
churches and statues which have been destroyed are so many signs
of the fading sacred; cassocks of frocks, cornets and white, black,
gray of blue habits which are disappearing are so many reminders
of God, whereas people form the Maghreb or members of various sects
are proud of the badges they display.
Why? Is It Possible?
is sick. People look for God without being aware of it; is it not
then the right moment for their good and that of the Church to start
again all these active auxiliary congregations of the parishes,
therefore of priories?
In this now
pagan world in which young people have never met active traditional
Nuns, they would never think of a true religious life apart from
Carmels, the monasteries or teaching and semi-contemplative orders
having the Grand Office, partly or entirely.
Then the well
known temptation appears: instead of an active order, it is better
to lead a consecrated life as a lay person who has much more freedom,
even to help the Church. This is just taking no notice of the main
thing: the ACTIVE NUN’S apostolate is first made through supernatural
means: Mass, Divine Office, sacraments, daily duty offered to God,
observance of vows and of a regular life in a deeper and deeper
union with Our Lord Jesus Christ, because the nun has sacrificed
everything for every single soul, as her cloistered or semi-contemplative
sisters do, but in a different way, after a silent, community, doctrine
and spiritual formation which lasts three years.
In this spirit,
at LE RAFFLAY, a small community is growing, willing to answer the
present needs of the socio-medical field in the broad sense of the
Sisters will have to remember that, far from diverting their
attention away from their own perfection, the works feed their
inner life. They will see to it that they do not devote themselves
excessively tot hem, striving like Our Lady, to have an inner
life all the deeper as their occupations are more absorbing.”
First Australian Perpetually Professed Sister (Feb. 2, 2000)
R. F. de la
CHEVASNERIE, S.J. created the Institute of the Lamb of God. It
happened in France (Brest), after the 2nd. World War. The Founder
wanted an active congregation, open to all nationalities, without
any nationalities, without any age limit, admitting fragile people,
even disabled ones, in the same way as healthy people, on condition
that their vocation should be real, that a community life should
be possible, and that the aptitude of a humble docility of heart
should be serious.
1968: In the
middle of conciliar disruption, unable to stop the the disorder
which was taking place, he died after writing his will and saying:
“I cannot do any more for you but, from Heaven I will help you”.
Mary of Magdala, one of the five designated in his will to keep
the spirit of the Insttitute, who has been the general bursar for
25 years, went to Africa (Cameroon) to start the first Mission.
On coming back to France, 4 years later, she found a divided congregation,
invaded by a modernistic and charismatic spirit…All experiences
are permitted except that of Tradition.
Mother Antoinette-Marie, she created the Little Servants of St.
John the Baptist, who would remain faithful to the traditional Church
and who recognized Father de la Chevasnerie as their posthumous
founder. Very quickly, two more persons joined them. The small
community, put under the patronage of St. John the Baptist, who
once presented our Lord as the Lamb of God, found itself linked
to its origins.
God, and putting themselves in the hands of His Blessed Will is
what they have all chosen.
days, Providence showed Itself in a generous as well as unexpected
way. It gave the exiles not only a roof but also an old house with
a park and a wood (some 12.35 acres). The donor died two years
later. He bequeathed an important sum of money to the growing community
in order to enable the nuns to expand to have some works done.
From 1980 to 1985, in prayer, silence, and discretion, their life
is that of all foundations: clearing, alterations, constructions,
St. Joseph being the financier: not a single debt, thanks to him.
In the middle of this working site, everything organized itself.
September 1984 saw the opening of the Novitiate.
the Lamb”. The phrase “Lamb of God” crystallizes, epitomizes,
symbolizes: The final spirit, the childlike spirit, the little way,
the evangelical spirit. The LAMB has been the revealed and traditional
symbol of the Lord for ages, maintained by the Church by being mostly
Life in the
mother-house: The day is divided into: ½ hour meditation, Tridentine
Mass, Office, Spiritual reading, Rosary, ½ hour Adoration, Examination
of conscience. 3-month Prepostulate, 6-month Postulate, 2-year
Noviticiate, 6-year Temporary vows.
1991: The community
consists of 12 professed, 3novices and 2 postulants, among whom
are one Mexican and one Australian. It is open to everyone, as
Father de la Chevanesrie wanted, without any age limit nor refusal
of fragile people on condition that they should have an active vocation.
The House has
been turned into a rather functional convent in order to accommodate
about 10 professed and some 30 novices.
The day is
punctuated by prayer and its spiritual exercises for about 3 hours
and a half. As for the community life, it takes place during working-times,
at mealtimes with reading, during recreations, lectures, classes,
during the heavy work consisting mainly in the small farming concern
with its pluri-rearing which makes it possible to live almost entirely
on its production. Each nun take part in these works as far as
she can. So, whereas some of them are working in the sacristy,
the secretariat, the bursar’s office, the kitchen, the linen-room
or the laundry… other go and plough, plant or take care of the various
animals. The postulants and novices work for about 2 hours on their
own each day: Sacred Scriptures, Catechism, History of the Church,
study of the constitutions. Of course, like in all congregations,
the inner and external silence is kept as much as possible in order
to make life more united to God, the novitiate being the learning
stage. Besides, everything is planned; no fantasy. The bell is
rung for the end of the works; together with Obedience, are to remind
that God is the sole Master on board.
at Le Rafflay
is already the beginning of a medico-social setting up:
-Through many different contacts with the local people for
the ploughing, the sowing, the haymaking, etc… when every
one of them tries to help “this new kind of nuns”, that they
all thought had vanished for good, and that were loved for
so much good.
the family atmosphere after Masses, Processions, and ceremonies
open to all.
accommodation for short or long retreats, for the Sister’s
families, or for people trying to find quietness and rest.
All this requires every nuns’ collaboration.
strict discretion so that Priest’s or nuns who want to love
a few days on their own in a quiet atmosphere, far from the
noise of the cities, might come.
above all, these so different welcomes already represent a moral,
professional and spiritual preparation for which each sister, as
far as she can, has to help. To help means to be alert, interchangeable
to be a feminine thoughtfulness which quickly understands what the
host’s needs are, without ignoring the limits of the Community.
The exercises of this poor, simple but warm welcome will make those
who stop a few days peaceful and joyful again.
is, then, the learning of abnegation, self-negation, charity with
others, and no matter whether there are qualifications or not, it
is the application of the only diploma that is needed in our crazy
world, the diploma of the happy walk to holiness which, alone, can
make miracles and cure the souls and the bodies.
will depend on each nun’s health. Of a medico-social vocation “The
sisters will look after the sick, the elderly, the children, and
everything which deals with those who suffer, with the spiritual
good of the souls in view first”. (Constitutions)
home, in an establishment or on a mission.
*either in small houses with 4 to 5 Sisters, the main pivot
of activities being to work as nurses, taking care of people
in their homes, aided by domestic helps and everything which
deals in evengelization.
in Establishments such as convalescent homes, children’s homes,
old people’s houses, etc.
a Mission from a dispensary, consisting in a sanitary education
in the villages. The main requirement is that the healthy
and the more or less handicapped nuns take part in the common
task. This “mix” of different health, ages, cultures, in
the very center of the Community will make the Sisters understand
the anxieties of all kinds more easily.
will exclude the big establishments that would make them dependent
on the Civil Service, paralyzing their apostolate and making if
difficult for each nun to be admitted. A wide recruitment is then
necessary for all the different jobs to be fulfilled. It requires
varied abilities, with or without diplomas (doctors, nurses, social
workers, accountants, secretaries, cooks, linen maid, seamstresses,
If we think
of founding a few missions once we have developed, we plan, in the
nearer future, to perform a medico-social action of a new kind,
fitting modern needs, and not covered by the present legislation.
A kind of haven of peace, a country house far from the noises of
the city, a peaceful and quiet stopping place for people of all
near the existing spiritual pole of the Community of LE RAFFLAY,
but totally independent of it as for its organization.
Tel:  (40)
06 51 68