Congregation of Our Lady of the Missions
Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions is an international missionary congregation founded by Euphraise Barbier on 25th December 1861 in Lyons, France.
Euphraise Barbier was a valiant woman who from a tender age dreamed big to serve God and humanity. A daughter of a laborer, Adèle-Euphrasie Barbier was born to Desirè Barbier and Jeanne Adèle Le Clere on 4th January 1829, in Caen, France. Fearing that the tiny baby would die the parents baptized and christened her on the same day. But no one knew the plan of God that this small child was ordained for an exalted destiny. The parents brought her up in the traditional Catholic faith and Euphraise lived with them until the age of 19 sharing in the active and strenuous life of the class that she belonged to. The Christian faith and religious upbringing had a great bearing on her. She loved God and desired passionately to be a missionary to foreign countries.
In 1848, Euphraise entered a new missionary institute known as the Sisters of Calvary which was established at Cuves. Euphraise had dreamed that this Institute would help to fulfill her hope of becoming a foreign missionary. However, her desire to be a missionary to foreign countries could not be realised and so she decided to leave the Sisters of Calvary and returned to France looking for other possibilities. The Marist Fathers were looking for an excellent religious who will receive and form young women for mission to New Zealand. Euphraise was invited to fulfill the new plan and hence Institute de Notre Dame des Missions was established in December 1861 in Lyon, France. Euphraise wrote: (The Sisters’) "Special end of this Institute is to aid humbly and to the best of their ability to extend the Kingdom of God by devoting themselves to the instruction and Christian education of children and women."
Euphraise Barbier sent her first missionaries to New Zealand in 1864 and other departures followed at regular intervals to Australia, England, Wallis, Tonga and Samoa in Oceania, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam. Since then the Congregation has spread across to all five continents covering 23 countries in the world. The newest missionary insertions are South Sudan, Laos, Orissa in India, Thai-Myanmar borders, Kazakhstan and Taiwan.
Our priorities in mission are among the poor and the marginalised, especially women and children. Our approach to mission is an insertion among people after the example of Jesus journeying with and sharing of who we are and the little we have. In India, we have 20 schools and a college spread across from the North East state of Meghalaya to Kerala providing quality education to girls along with social and pastoral work. Most of our schools, clinics and social work centres serve the poorest of the poor from all faith traditions and cultures.
Euphraise Barbier lived in a real world and lived life with enthusiasm even though she had to overcome many difficulties as the Foundress of the young Institute. She was a woman of great depth, prayer and passionately loved God. She was familiarly known as "The little Mother". Despite her health having been undermined by privations and illness, she had great enthusiasm for life. Euphraise had a delightful personality with virtues of gentleness, simplicity, humility and generosity. Euphraise Barbier wrote on these virtues so that the Sisters and the pupils in the schools could imbibe these in their life. She was also admired her for kindliness and incomparable charity.
The final stage of Euphraise Barbier’s pilgrimage on this earth approached rather rapidly. Her strength was often sapped by illness; nonetheless, she remained active till the end with the concerns of the young institute. On 18th January 1893 at the age of 64 death gently carried her to God whom she loved. Today, after 153 years of service to the church and society the Sisters continue to keep alive Euphrasie’s vision for her congregation "to extend the Kingdom of God."