Saturday, May 23, 2009
Sophie's Journal - 21
Mother Barat's love for the poor made her long for free education for poor children. She said: "By our vocation we ought to welcome this kind of good work; it saddened me that this house had not been able to undertake one of the aims of our Institutions."
Her joy was great when she could finally open a school for the poor at Poitiers. The Pastors in all the nearby parishes were informed by a circular letter. They were asked to send children who would be taught by the religious to read, calculate, and sew, as well as learn their catechism. Soon ninety were enrolled; the boarding school also increased to twenty-seven by the beginning of 2008.
Mother Barat wanted every house to have a school for the poor and to give their best teachers for this work. She said in her Journal, "I have designated the two religious who are most fervent and filled with the Holy Spirit, Mothers Suzanne Geoffroy and Therese Maillucheau, to share the work with the youngest children." The preference for the poor and for the youngest children was characteristic of Mother Barat. She thought highly of both Suzanne and Therese and said that "these are chosen by God and are faithful to him."
After such praise, it is tempting to look at what Mother Barat wrote elsewhere in her Journal about both of these religious. Therese had a gift for prayer; Mother Barat had chosen her as superior when she had to be away and had made her second in charge with the title of "assistant". She wrote of her: "she loves our Lord with extreme ardor, and is very humble, very straightforward, and very simple. She follows in St. Teresa's footsteps, and what more can I say?
Tomorrow we will look at Suzanne Geoffroy who was nearly twenty years older than Sophie when she became a novice in 1807.