Skip to main content

Les Xavieres

Ignatian spirituality for women? As many know, there is no female branch of the Society of Jesus or Jesuits. St. Ignatius considered it, but in the end did not found any such branch. Instead, several groups spontaneously sprung up independently of the Jesuits, but who share with us a spiritual kinship.

One such group is the congregation of women known as Les Xavieres - or Xaviere sisters. Their life is based on Ignatian spirituality, and they take their name from the great missionary Jesuit of the Far East. Similar to their namesake, the Xaviere sisters are outgoing and apostolic, spread out in nineteen communities in France, Africa and now Canada (where they have two houses: Montreal and Toronto), evangelizing in the name of God. Founded in France in 1921, and officially approved in 1963, there are presently 112 Xavieres, many of them young vocations.

Their Toronto house is the first in the English-speaking world. Here at Cardoner House we are privileged to have the friendship of these dynamic sisters, who occasionally join us for Mass and with whom we sometimes collaborate at the University of Toronto Newman Centre. Like other ecclesial communities such as Madonna House and Mary Ward's Loretto sisters, the Xavieres do not wear habits, and often have jobs in the world, where they act as "leaven" through radical insertion in society, while coming together for prayer and common life.

The Xavieres in Toronto have kept a low-profile, but have recently launched a modest website that tells more about them. If any woman is interested in knowing more, Gabrielle Feuvrier is the one to contact in Toronto (information on the site). For the Francophones, their France-based website has even more information.

Do note that they have an open-house come-and-see later this month in Toronto (April 21). St. Francis Xavier, pray for us!


Popular posts from this blog

Focal Things

The German-American philosopher Albert Borgmann is professor at the University of Montana and author of several books on the effects of electronic media on the human person. He rejects both technological determinism -- the view that technology is a irresistible force that forces our hand as we shape our culture, and technological instrumentalism, which sees technology as a mere collective of neutral processes and structures that can be used either well or badly. Like Marshall McLuhan, Borgmann is aware that the medium “is” the message, highly transformative in and of itself, and requires critical analysis and understanding. For example, he writes:
Using or not using the interstate highway system is not a matter of choice anymore for most of us, and neither are the moral consequences of long commutes and the neglect of family, neighborhood, and inner city. When we finally come home, late and exhausted, greeted by a well-stocked refrigerator, a preternaturally efficient microwave, and…

Ten Secular Songs with Religious Themes

While preparing songs for our retreats and coffee house ministries this summer, I have come across many by secular artists -- that is, musicians who don't self-categorize as belonging to genres of religious music -- which were nonetheless powerfully spiritual. This is my top ten list from past and present.

The Island (Ostrov)

By John O'Brien, S.J.

2006, Director: Pavel Lungin. 112 min.
Actors: Pyotr Mamonov, Viktor Sukhorukov, Dmitriy Dyuzhev
Music: Vladimir Martynov

During World War Two, a worker on a Russian coal barge, Anatoly (Mamonov), is given the choice by Nazi boarders to either shoot his captain, Tikhon, and have the chance to live, or be shot alongside him. Anatoly chooses the first option, and then falls overboard as the Germans scuttle the boat. Three decades later (in 1976), Anatoly is living an ascetic life at a monastery on an island. He lives in a boiler house, and spends his time wheeling coal from the wrecked boat to feed the furnaces that warm the monastic houses. He walks the island saying The Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner”) and asking Tikhon to pray for his soul. The monks tolerate his presence, despite his habit of pulling “pranks”, unpredictable acts that unnerve them. Anatoly, it is clear, is something of a “holy fool”, and also appears to have g…