History of Sisters of the Christian Retreat
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Christian Retreat was founded in Eastern France by Father Anthony Receveur, a priest in the diocese of Besancon at the time of the French Revolution. The name of the congregation expressed the aim of their founder: to bring back an alienated world to God and religion through reflection prayer and retreat. He had witnessed at the eve of the French Revolution a falling away from the Faith and a dechristianisation of the rural areas in North Eastern France that had been entrusted, to his priestly ministry.
After his ordination in 1775 he was sent to a neglected country parish, Les Fontenelles, near the Franco-Swiss border where he began schools for the local children. It was in response to the frequent entreaties of those young people that he eventually resigned from his parish and built a convent where those who wished to dedicate themselves totally to God could live together in imitation of the early Christians, owning everything in common. From an original group of lay people, a religious congregation was born. The founder’s aim was to spread the Gospel anew by means of serious reflection, by retreats and by Christian Education.
The community was evicted during the French Revolution and wandered around Europe. In the early 1800’s they were allowed back into France and several small communities began their work of evangelisation in the south of France and eventually they managed to return to the Foundation House that has remained a school and a centre for prayer and retreats in the Jura mountains to this day.
The Sisters moved to England in the late eighteen hundreds where eight communities were established. They taught in the parish schools or in the three Independent Schools that have now been integrated into the Catholic School System. Many of the Sisters who joined the Order in England were Irish.
The Sisters of the Christian Retreat came to Tuam in 1959 where they looked after the boarders in St. Jarlath’s College. The Congregation had been looking for a suitable house in Ireland to establish a novitiate and when the Mountbellew Convent and school became available, they decided to purchase the property and run the school. The school became coeducational in the mid-sixties and now numbers in excess of 500 students.
Religious and Educational Philosophy
Inspired by the vision of their founder, the Sisters of the Christian Retreat give priority to:
Creating a caring, Christian environment that will generate a climate in the school that is permeated by the Gospel Spirit of freedom and love.
Forming young people in the faith, attentive to the needs of today’s youth, and illumined by the gospel message.
Helping students to live out their Christian commitment:
- by reflection on the gospel message and on the purpose of life,
- by sharing and celebrating the mysteries of Christ through the liturgical cycle of the Church’s year,
- by prayer, meditation and devotion to Mary the Mother of God.
Enabling students to identify as part of the Christian Community with family, parish, fellow students, staff and School Management – all working together for their moral and spiritual growth, helping students to discern God in History and Creation.
In today’s world we recognise that education requires dedication and commitment from everybody involved in order to meet the changing needs of our times.