Etienne Pernet was born in 1824 in a small village in Franche-Comte,
into a humble christian family. He began his studies at the seminary and
then went to Paris. He used to go every day to the church of Notre Dame
des Victoires, trying to learn what God wanted of him. He met Father d'Alzon
who had just founded a new congregation: the Augustinians of the Assumption.
Etienne Pernet entered their novitiate and, at Christmas 1850, became one
of their first religious.
He then began teaching children from well-to-do families in Nimes
while at the same time looking after a club for about 200 working-class
boys. He used to visit their families and discovered there a misery he
hardly knew existed. From that time, Etienne Pernet carried a painful question
within himself: what could be done in the face of such misery?
He went all over the poorest districts and visited the sick. There,
for a long time, he sought some sort of solution to these difficult situations.
Antoinette Fage was born in Paris in 1824. She grew up among the
Paris working-class, her mother a seamstress. Orphaned at the age of 13,
she was taken in and cared for by neighbors. She started work in a sewing
workshop. Antoinette did not receive a Christian education, but she used
to listen to the word of God in the churches. God spoke to her heart. Around
the age of 18, she discovered the strength of a living faith. She took
part in works of charity and was greatly concerned about the extreme poverty
she saw around her. In 1861, when she was 37 years old, she agreed to run
an orphanage for young girls and joined the Dominican Third Order.
"Poverty does not frighten me. I am not afraid that Providence
will fail us."
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