Sharing the History of the US Province of the DHS


In his letter to religious proclaiming the Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis calls us to look at our history. The first aim for the year is to “look to the past with gratitude. All our Institutes have inherited charism-rich histories.  Recounting our history is essential for preserving our identity, for strenghening our unity as a family and our common sense of belonging.”  (Pope Francis) In the light of this, we are launching a web site series focusing on the history of our US Province. We will see how the Spirit has moved among us and led us forth. We will examine how we became who we are today as we tried to be attentive to the Spirit’s voice and docile (compliant) to the Spirit’s direction.

Because thousands of you have been a vital part of our province history, we encourage you to hop aboard this historical ride and share your memories with us at this time either via e-mail to or  We will be happy to get in touch with you and to continue our conversations as new history gets made and published.

Now let us together be filled with God’s breath and undertake our common journey into the past and follow it through its interesting and sinewy paths into the Spirit’s unpredictable future.


God’s Breath

God’s Spirit breathing forth
What is this breath?
A gentle breeze;
perchance a stronger gust;
or maybe, gale-force winds.

A gentle breeze
which warms, uplifts, energizes
the stronger gust
which swirls leaves about
and stings one’s face,
or gale winds
which topple and strip.

God’s Spirit breathing forth
You have blown into our lives
sometimes gentle breezes;
sometimes strong gusts;
and, yes, toppling gale forces.

Spirit breathing
Breathing into your Daughters
life, strength, inspiration.
Enticing us to
explore, soar, create;
to live in Your love;
to love You!
(God’s Spirit Breathes Forth – Marian St. Marie, DHS)

Holy SpiritThe foundation of the U.S. Province occurred at the bginning of the twentieth century at the same time as a number of national and world events which definitely had an effect on the Daughters. New technology had produced the Model T Ford and the Wright Brothers had made their memorable flight. World War I raged during this period causing considerable anguish for the sisters from France who had relatives in the path of war. As the war was ending, the influenza epidemic of 1918 brought death to many. On a more positive note, Anerican women gained the right to vote with the nineteenth amendment.

Throughout the three centuries of their existence, the Daughters of the Holy Spirit have had to live through troubled times. France has frequently been in turmoil resulting in hardship for its citizens. The DHS have survived harrowing revolutions, wars, poverty and epidemics. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, France was again in turmoil as it  attempted to change from a monarchy to a republic. Supporters of the republic often lined the institutional Church with the nobility whom they detested, thus, a wave of anti-clericalism spread throughout France.

Religious, considered an arm of the institutional Church, immediately felt the pinch of the anti-clerical legislation. On July 1, 1901, the Law of Associations declaring religious congregations illegal, was passed. Without legal authorization, members of Congregations were not allowed to run schools, nor teach in them. Under President Emile Combes the Law of Associations was strictly enforced and thus, by July 1902, 250 private schools in France had been closed. The Daughters ran 125 of these schools.

Sisters in a boatAs the Sisters were ejected from schools and convents, the Daughters sought refuge at their MotherHouse in St. Brieuc (Brittany). As the numbers multiplied in that house, the situation soon became impossible to manage because the ability to support all these Sisters was limited. A religious could teach only if she were “secularized” and the then Superior General, Mother St. Georges, was strongly opposed to this concept. She, her council and  Bishop Morelle of St. Brieuc worked to reverse this situtation, but to no avail. So, after much prayer, soul-searching and disicussion, it was decided that this ongoing situation was a sign that the Holy Spirit was indicating that it was time to turn to other lands.   (to be continued)


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