(Paris) In France a very special female, traditional religious order exists. It provides women with Down Syndrome a safe haven and allows them to live a religious vocation.
The Little Sisters are "not self-evidently in a hypocritical world," said Veronque Labrion. A world which, although working on behalf of people living with Down syndrome, but at same time attempt with increasingly perfected meticulousness to detect their existence through prenatal and pre-implantation diagnosis and kill them before birth.
Founded in 1985, canonically erected in 1990
Les Petites Soeurs de l'Agneau Disciples (Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb) are a small community of Consecrated Life, which was founded in 1985 in Buxueil in France. In 1990 it was canonically erected by the Archbishop of Tours. Since 1995, the monastery is located in Le Blanc. In 1999 it was recognized by the Archbishop of Bourges as an order of contemplative life.
The spiritual care of the woman of the Order is the responsibility of the abbot and the traditional monks of the Abbey of Fontgombault, near which the monastery is located.
The emergence and formation of the young community was accompanied in its first steps by the famous French geneticist and servant of God, Jerome Lejeune (1926-1994) whose beatification process was completed in 2012 at the diocesan level.
Contemplative Order of Sisters with Down syndrome
The Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb are the first contemplative orders, the women with Down syndrome has the opportunity to realize their religious vocation. The sisters with trisomy 21 form pursuant to statutes, the majority, they are supported by a minority of nurses without Down syndrome.
The nuns make, depending on inclination and aptitude, within the meaning of the Benedictine Ora et labora, make fabrics, tapestries, wood sculptures and other tems to secure a livelihood by selling them.
The Congregation wants "to allow those who in the world are in last place, to take the leading role as a bride of Christ in the Church, and through their God ordained witness of the Gospel of Life for those whose existence is so despised that their lives are threatened by the culture of death," said mother Line, the prioress of the community.
The "Little Way" of St. Therese of Lisieux and the Benedictine Charism of Ora et Labora
The Little Sisters follow the "Little Way" of St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), who was raised in 1997 by Pope John Paul II. to a Doctor of the Church. Significantly also, there is the influence of the Rule of Benedict and the Benedictine charism.
The nuns lead a modest life of prayer, work and sacrifice. They do gardening and handwork, Eucharistic adoration, maintain the Divine Office and the rosary, we live the Holy Mass every day, live in silence and prayer, and look at the Scriptures, each according to their possibilities and abilities, which is why the daily rhythm is something distinct from that of other contemplative religious, a basic rhythm, however, it offers all the sisters an important basis, says Mother Line.
The Order came about by the encounter between two young women in the 1980s, of Line and Veronica. Line is now the prioress of the convent, Sister Veronica has Down Syndrome.
Silent inconspicuous life in the service of Christ
The Little Sister Disciples of the Lamb take young women on who feel touched by the spirit of poverty and dedication and are willing to put their lives along with their sisters with trisomy 21 at the service of Christ.
Such a young woman was Sr. Rose Claire Lyon (1986-2013), who because of her cheerful and cordial nature was called "Sourire de Jesus" (the smile of Jesus). She was born in 1986 in the Alsace-Lorraine town of Laxou and came from a family with many children. At the age of 19 she entered the convent of the Little Sisters in Le Blanc. Sr. Rose Claire saw her role model in the "Little Therese", whom she referred to as "my big sister."
"Her longing for heaven was so great that she left the world as she wished, quietly and tranquilly at the young age of only 26 on May 4, 2013," said mother Line. Dom Jean Peteau OSB, Abbot of Fontgombault, who celebrated the funeral Mass, said in his homily: "The message of Sister Rose Claire is contained in one word and that message is: Jesus".
Marc Jeanson made a documentary about the young congregation.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
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