Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb
Les Petites Soeurs Disciples de l'Agneau
Formation1985; 37 years ago (1985)
Mother Prioress
Mother Line
Websitewww.les-petites-soeurs-disciples-de-lagneau.com/en/

The Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb (French: Les Petites Soeurs Disciples de l'Agneau) is a Roman Catholic religious institute for women based in France. It is the world's first contemplative community to welcome those with Down syndrome into the consecrated life.[1][2]

History

The Little Sisters was founded in 1985 by now-Mother Prioress Line when she befriended Véronique, a girl with Down Syndrome.[1][3][2] The group was assisted by Jerome Lejeune, a French pediatrician and geneticist, best known for discovering the chromosome abnormality that causes Down Syndrome.[3][4] Véronique wanted to join a religious community but was denied because those she approached could not accommodate her needs.[1][3] Line and Véronique moved into a small apartment in a council house in the village of Buxeuil to begin their community.[1][3] By 1990, another girl with Down Syndrome joined them and they asked Archbishop Jean Honoré to recognize the group as a public association of the Christian faithful.[1][4][3] He would later promote the association before Vatican officials.[1]

In 1995, the group had outgrown their space and so moved to Le Blanc where they were welcomed by Archbishop Pierre Plateau.[1][3] With Plateau's support, the group obtained the status of a contemplative religious institute in 1999.[1][3] With the intervention of Archbishop Armand Maillard, they obtained the definitive recognition of their statutes in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI.[1]

Little Sisters today

As of 2019, there are 10 Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb, eight of whom have Down Syndrome.[1][2] The group follows the Little Way of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.[1][3] Before being admitted to the community, all women, with Down Syndrome or not, must undergo a period of discernment.[1][3] Following that is one year postulancy and three years of novitiate.[3] Temporary vows are then taken for three years and are followed by a final profession.[3]

The sisters daily lives consist of prayer, work, and sacrifice.[3] Mass is held every Tuesday in their chapel, and the sisters engage in weaving, pottery, and tending to a garden of medicinal plants.[1] Their convent is near Fontgombault Abbey and a monk from the Abbey serves as their chaplain.[3] They have a special relationship with the monks of Clear Creek Abbey.[3]


References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Vet, Cyprien (July 24, 2019). "Religious Sisters with Down syndrome: the joy of shared contemplative life". Vatican News. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c McGurn, William (December 23, 2019). "Down Syndrome and the Gift of Innocence". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Berry, Donna Sue. "Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb". Regina. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Schiffer, Kathy (March 21, 2016). "Women With Down Syndrome Respond to God's Call". Retrieved July 31, 2019.