The Year of St. Jane

I received the newsletter of the Visitation Monastery in Minneapolis yesterday. It announced that 2008 was being celebrated by Visitation nuns all over the world as "the year of St. Jane." The nuns are also preparing for the 400th anniversary of the Order's beginning.

Years ago - as a young 25 year old - I began teaching at Convent of the Visitation School in St. Paul, MN, before coming to Georgetown Visitation, here in Washington DC. I taught at both schools for nearly 22 years and my doctoral dissertation was the fruit and product of my years there: A Salesian High School Curriculum Using Groome's Shared Praxis, 1992.

St. Jeanne-Francoise Fremyot de Chantal co-founded the Visitation Order in 1610 with St. Francis de Sales. Theirs was a spiritual friendship that was truly epic - recorded in many books. One of my favorites is Bond of Perfection by Dr. Wendy M. Wright - Professor of Theology at Creighton University.

The Sisters of the Visitation note that St Jane was a:

Woman of prayer
Woman who dealt with much loss in her life
A married woman who raised foster children as well as her own
A business woman who managed to balance work outside and inside the home
A soul companion to St. Francis de Sales
A foundress and beloved Sister to many Visitandines
A spiritual guide and advisor

The newsletter then profiled many working women and mothers from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds whose lives were similar to Jane's. It was a beautiful and moving tribute to women who are living very deep and rich, spiritual lives - touching their family and friends in very profound ways.

One of St. Francis de Sales' often repeated quotes from his work - Introduction to the Devout Life is:

"Be who you are, and be that well."

And St. Jane herself said:

"We cannot always do great things. But we can always do little things with great love."

This quote was later adapted and made famous by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Reading the newsletter brought back fond memories of these sisters I had spent so many years with - as well as memories of the years I spent immersed in Salesian studies. But mostly, it rekindled my love for St. Jane and my desire to follow her simplicity, her dedication, and her passionate love for God - in my own life.


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