Our Foundress – St Emilie de Vialar:
Birth: 12th September 1797 in Gaillac, France
Death: August 24, 1856.
Her last testament:”Love one another”.
Canonization: 24th June 1951
Feast: June 17th.
SHORT HISTORY OF ST EMILIE:
Emilie de Vialar was the eldest child and only daughter of Baron James Augustine de Vialar and his wife Antoinette, daughter of that Baron de Portal who was physician to Louis XVIII and Charles X of France. She was born at Gaillac 1797. At the age of fifteen she was removed from school in Paris to be companion to her father, now a widower, at Gaillac; but unhappily, differences arose between them because of Emily’s refusal to consider a suitable marriage.
For fifteen years Emilie devoted herself to the care of neglected children and to the help of the poor in general. In 1832, her maternal grandfather died, leaving her a share of his estate which was a quite considerable fortune. With that she bought a large house at Gaillac and took possession of it with three companions. She set out with them on Christmas Night 1832. That was the moment the Congregation was born. The sisters called themselves Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. Their work was to be the care of the needy, especially the sick, and also the education of children. She considered this work of education so very important that she actually wrote Guidelines for the teaching sisters – and now also lay people – to follow.
She called these CONSTITUTIONS.
First Constitutions 1835
In the First Constitutions of the Congregation, Saint Emilie gave her Sisters nine points to help them in their teaching and in educating the children entrusted to them in a Christian way:
- God knows and gave us our talents. He has entrusted us with a mission. We need first of all topray for
- An educator should be consistent in her behaviour. She should be clear and firm.
- Use silence; it calms down excitement, brings back tranquillity and re-establishes order.
- Nothing is more effective than good example. In word, dress, behaviour and actions, a teacher must always be a model for the students. The teacher should be firm but gentle.
- A teacher should be vigilant. This means following carefully everything that is going on in the behaviour and work of her students.
- A teacher should be ready to freely help the poorer child, whether materially, academically or emotionally.
- The teacher must be impartial towards the students in her charge. Each student has a right to the care and attention of her teacher.
- There should be uniformity in our teaching so that our students know what to expect from us. This gives them a sense of security.
- A teacher should never be away from her class except for when it is absolutely necessary. She has a responsibility to give her students the best of her talents. There should be regularity in class.
These principles that are meant to regulate the life of a teacher within a St Joseph School are further elaborated by the values which Saint Emilie developed. These values help to place in perspective the vision that Saint Emilie had for the Christian educator.
“The principal aim of a Convent School is often considered to besolely the imparting of secular knowledge. I endeavour to impress on the Sisters that their chief ambition should be the implanting of a deep and extensive knowledge of religion and the duties it involves”. The principal aim of a Convent School is often considered to be solely the imparting of secular knowledge. I endeavour to impress on the Sisters that their chief ambition should be the implanting of a deep and extensive knowledge of religion and the duties it involves“. St Emilie, 1854
- To be familiar with the spiritual patrimony of St Emilie and share it with others;
- To witness to the tenderness of God in our everyday life;
- To respect values and beliefs different from our own in our everyday life;
- To second Divine Providence.”Use your strength to make Him known and loved by your students. Inspire in them a dominant love for the Lord; let that be your aim”.
- To be of service to each person, to respect his/her dignity and take into account all his/her spiritual, physical, psychological and socio-cultural needs;
- To help each person discover his/her talents and potentialities: to achieve an aim in life;
- To give personal attention to each one: to instil self-confidence, trust and a sense of commitment;
- To show concern for the less privileged: to give special attention to persons with material, psychological and moral difficulties;
- To make sure that each person is accepted and loved;
- To offer young people an experience of life founded on gospel values.
Co-responsibility and Solidarity
- To assure one’s responsibility for the mission;
- To encourage dialogue and team spirit amongst the personnel;
- To develop a healthy collaboration at all levels for a better service;
- To encourage dialogue and solidarity between the different schools in our Province.
Competence and Adaptation
- To encourage an on-going formation at all levels;
- To update our schools regularly… to answer to new needs;
- To be ready to take risks and accept changes for a better service;
- To evaluate periodically the objectives of the school;
- To cherish the patrimony handed down by the Congregation and take initiatives to develop and enhance it.
Charter: Sisters of St Joseph, Malta