Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, patron of Chavoin House and Foundress of the Marist Sisters, was born in Coutouvre, France in 1786.
In her adolescence, after a childhood that was secure and comfortable in spite of the dangers and terrors of the French Revolution, Jeanne-Marie was drawn to religious life. Although she engaged in much voluntary work, Jeanne-Marie was not keen to enter any of the congregations with whom she was familiar.
At Cerdon, a small village near Lyon France, Jeanne-Marie responded to a call from Father John Claude Colin, founder of the Society of Mary, and his brother Father Pierre to lay the foundation stone of the feminine branch of the Society. Feeling strongly that this is where she belonged, Jeanne-Marie, with her friend Marie Jotillon, left home and family for Cerdon in late 1817 to begin a congregation in Mary’s name.
Education and service to the poor was a significant feature of the Marist Sisters’ charism as it spread through France. Jeanne-Marie carried on her active work until she died in 1858. She was a woman of strength, humility, realism, and prophetic insight who proclaimed the timeless message of the Gospel by living Mary’s example.