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Our History

Founding Story

A little fishing village named Cancale in Brittany, France was Jeanne's birth place.  The date of her birth was 25th October, 1792.  She had seven siblings and her father was lost at sea when she was a small child.  As a teenager, she worked as a kitchen maid for a wealthy family In 1816 she refused an offer of marriage because, to use her own words, God wants me for Himself.

In 1817 she left home to work in the hospital in Saint Servan.  In 1818, unable to find a religious order which appealed to her, Jeanne joined an Association for lay women founded by St John Eudes known as the Third Order of the Admirable Mother.  Her life from then on was one of silence, prayer and practical charity towards the poor.

It was the winter of 1839 when she found Anne Chauvin.  This elderly, infirm and destitute woman was carried in Jeanne's strong arms and placed in Jeanne's bed.  From then on Jeanne Jugan belonged to God and to the elderly of the whole world; the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor was born.  This elderly woman was followed by another and another expansion was rapid and by 1850 there were over 100 Little Sisters

The Little Sisters in Oceania

The first foundation was in Melbourne.  On 5th November, 1884, after a sea voyage of six weeks, six French and two English Sisters disembarked at Port Melbourne.   Sydney was next, in 1886, the Congregation already demonstrating the universality of  its communities. There were five French Sisters, one English, one Irish and one American.  The first house was at Leichardt.  Another 2 years, 1888, and the first group of Sisters set off for Auckland, New Zealand.  A few months later they received the first young New Zealand girl who felt called to share their life.  The Province of Oceania was truly forming when the Little Sisters arrived in Noumea, New Caledonia on 9th February, 1897.  Two weeks later they welcomed three elderly gentlemen.  

In 1904 it was back to New Zealand, to Dunedin in the South Island, the 5th foundation.  It was then the Golden West. The Little Sisters arrived in Perth, Western Australia in 1920.  They took possession of two cottages in Adelaide Terrace.  Western Samoa, the pearl of the Pacific, was the latest foundation in 1971. Homes were also established in Adelaide, 1912, Hastings, 1956, Drummoyne, NSW, 1956 and Kalgoorlie, WA, 1969.   Due to less Little Sisters, these Homes are now owned and administered by other organisations.

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