The congregation of the Sisters Marianites of Holy Cross was founded in 1841, in the parish of Holy Cross near Le Mans, Sarthe, France, by a priest of the same city, Basile-Antoine Moreau, b. at Laigné-en-Belin, Sarthe, France, 11 February 1799; d. at Le Mans, 20 January, 1873. He was aided in this work by Léocadie Gascoin, who was born at Montenay, Mayenne, France, 1 March, 1818; and died at Le Mans, 29 January, 1900. The Rev. B. A. Moreau sent her with three other young ladies to the superioress of the Good Shepherd house in Le Mans to prepare for the religious life. After a year's instruction he had them assist in the educational establishment founded at Holy Cross, and permitted them to engage themselves to God by the triple vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, pronounced August 4, 1841. Thus was formed the nucleus of a religious family of which Miss Gascoin became the first superior, under the name of Sister Mary of Seven Dolours, in honor of the august patroness of the congregation, 15 September, 1844. Mgr. Formari, papal nuncio at Paris, being informed of the projects of Rev. B. A. Moreau, approved them. The congregation, of which the rules were approved for ten years on trial, 19 February, 1867, by the Congregation of Propaganda , received its final approbation on 28 October, 1885. It comprises two provinces: that of Louisiana, numbering 13 houses, and that of France, 10 houses; the missions of New York are attached to the French Province. There are two novitiates, one in New Orleans, and the other in Tottenville, Staten Island. This congregation, the members of which take only simple vows, is governed by a general superioress and six councillors, elected every six years by the general chapter. The mother house is in Le Mans, France. The founder in grouping these souls of goodwill listened to their desire to consecrate themselves to the care of the sick, the education of youth, and the charge of orphans. Mgr. De la Hailandière, Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana begged Rev. B. A. Moreau to send him Sisters. This request was granted, and the mission known as Notre Dame du Lac was founded in 1843. Mgr. Bourget, Bishop of Montreal, Canada, in 1846 asked B. A.. Moreau, whom he had visited at Holy Cross, to send him Sisters whom he might establish in his diocese. Four religious were sent in 1847 and founded their first house in the village of St. Lawrence, near Montreal. These two foundations, with their numerous affiliations, declared themselves independent: Indiana in 1867, Canada in 1883. The third foundation was established in New Orleans in 1851. In the same year, by direction of the cardinal prefect the Propaganda, a foundation was made at Dacca, Bengal, India ; owing to the climate, however, this mission was abandoned. In 1861 the Sisters opened in New York City an establishment, now known as the Asylum of St. Vincent de Paul, where 221 orphans are cared for. At present (1909) in the same city the Sisters are in charge of an academy, a parochial school, a day nursery; they serve in the French hospital, and have also the care of an academy at Tottenville, Staten Island.
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