Our Founder - Fr. Peter Mermier

Peter Marie Mermier was born on August 28, 1790  in Savoy, Western Europe. The French Revolution had badly affected the Church in Savoy and many priests left the country while a few went in hiding. Peter’s parents, who were fervent Christians, risked their lives and property by welcoming priests. Between the age of four and ten Peter had the rare privilege of assisting at the Mass celebrated secretly in the house. The faith and courage of his mother and of those daring priests motivated him to make a decisive choice for the Lord.

The revolutionaries had closed Churches and schools. So Peter Mermier had his primary education by his own mother. He was home schooled as we know it today. Peace returned to Savoy in 1800. He did his secondary school studies as a boarder in Melan. In 1807 he was accepted at the major Seminary of Chambery. He was fervent at prayer, a hard worker and with thoughtful regard for his fellow students.

He was ordained priest on March 21, 1813 at the age of twenty three.  The first few years of his pastoral ministry awakened him to the indifference of the people to the Catholic Faith and practices due to the influence of Jansenism and the French Revolution. He found Preaching Parish Missions as an excellent way of  reaching the people and enriching their faith. In 1826 the Bishop of Annecy  permitted him to dedicate himself entirely to preaching mission. Gradually a small group of missioners were formed. In the meantime Fr. Peter Marie Mermier sensed the irreplaceable role of the parish missions, the necessity of a religious Congregation of Missioners and the value of the spirituality of St. Francis De Sales.

Peter Joseph Rey became the new Bishop of Annecy in 1832. He allowed the missioners, at that time six in all, to move to a house in La Roche in June 1834. On September 29, 1836 Bishop Rey gave provisional approval for their rule of life and they were known as Missionaries of Annecy. They set up their motherhouse in Annecy on August 8, 1837. It became a house of prayer and study and religious and missionary formation.

On October 24, 1838 Bishop Rey issued an official document giving canonical approval to the Congregation founded by Father Peter Mermier known as the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales (MSFS). He founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales for the renewal of Christian life by preaching parish mission, for evangelization and for the education of the youth. His missionary zeal impelled him to ask the Holy Father for a mission abroad and accept a vast mission territory in India when the Congregation was in its infancy with just eleven professed members. The first missionaries reached India on September 8, 1845.

Between 1828 and 1857 Fr. Mermier himself conducted ninety missions. He considered sermon as the chief means of proclaiming the word of God. On August 10, 1862, Fr. Peter Marie Mermier had a fall, which caused a double fracture of his right leg. He left for his heavenly abode on September 30, 1862.

Our Patron Saint - St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis De Sales was born on August 21, 1567 at Thonon, near Annecy in France. He graduated from the University of Padua with a doctorate in both civil law and Church law. He was ordained a priest on December 18, 1593. He worked among the Calvinists, faced much opposition, including attempt on his life and converted the whole district of Chablais to the Catholic faith.

Francis De Sales is foremost among those who were consistently and visibly human in his relationship to God and people. His spirituality was so human that those without theological insights could understand and follow his spirituality. He radiated divine light through humanness like his master Jesus. He was very human and gentle, optimistic and positive about life and the world, strong in character and compassionate in ministry and most of all he had a harmonious and peaceful spirit.

To read more about St. Francis de Sales, click HERE.