A man of Contemplation and Action
Pierre Bienvenu Noailles was a man of contemplation and action inspired by love. He was keenly aware of the needs of his contemporaries suffering from the deprivations of the post-revolutionary era and the inauguration of the era of industrialisation.
He was particularly sensitive to the distress of the youth and the poor, abandoned children. To help them he founded the sisters of Saint Joseph. To supply for the deficiencies in education he opened boarding schools under the direction of the sisters of Loreto. To be nearer the world of the youth in the rural areas he founded the sisters of the Immaculate Conception. When there was a demand for sisters to care for the sick and dying the sisters of Hope were there. The exodus from the countryside meant that the rural areas were in dire need so the gricole sisters started farm schools.
The orphans called Fr. Noailles ‘the Good Father’
The sisters of Saint Martha were established to support the parish priests in their work and see to their material needs as well as caring for them in sickness and old age. Finally, the Solitary sisters, the contemplative sisters of the Holy Family were the culmination of his work.
La Solitude, Holy Family Monastery,
Through spiritual directon and catechesis and his numerous acquaintances, Fr. Noailles came into contact with many young people but also with men and women anxious to share in his work. He organised them to carry out works of charity within the scope of each one depending on their ages and availability. To all he proposed the imitation of the Holy Family. In this way the male branch of Joseph and the lay part of the branch of Mary came into being.
From among them he discovered some with a vocation to live a consecrated life as lay people, a vocation that already existed in practice but which the church promoted in a special way in the second part of the 20th century. For them, Fr. Noailles founded the Ladies of the Holy Family.
The more diverse an organisation is the more important it is to safeguard its unity. Fr. Noailles did this by inculcating in his closest collaborators a broad vision of the communion that should exist among the different members and vocations of his spiritual Family and a lively sense of their responsibility for maintaining it.
Fr. Noailles spent forty years completing his work. The Holy Family is fortunate that its Founder was able to accompany it from the beginning and bequeath a clear vision of the spirit that ought to guide it in its mission.