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Jacques-François Dujarié (1767-1838) was a French Catholic priest who served the people of France at the start of the 19th century. To this end, he founded a congregation of Religious Sisters and another one of Brothers.
Dujarié was born in Rennes-en-Grenouilles, France on December 9, 1767, and was a seminarian in Angers when the French Revolution broke out in 1789. Beginning in 1789, the parishes, convents and monasteries that had provided most of the country’s education and health care were closed and their assets seized. In 1791, when the Revolutionary government required all clergy to take an oath of loyalty to the state, the seminary disbanded and Dujarié returned home. Priests and religious who did not take the oath were forced into hiding to avoid imprisonment, deportation, or even execution. For several years, Dujarié traveled from village to village, disguising himself as a shepherd in order to assist the priests who were ministering “underground.”
In July 1795, he resumed his studies for the priesthood in secret with a pastor in Ruillé-sur-Loir. On December 26 of that same year, he was secretly ordained a priest in Paris. Throughout the Revolutionary period he ministered to the Catholic faithful as an "underground priest" throughout northwestern France, particularly in the countryside around Ruillé-sur-Loir, in the former province of Maine. At times he even posed as a peddler to go out through the countryside tending the people.
After the restoration of the Catholic Church, Abbé Dujarié was installed as parish priest of the town of Ruillé on 27 May 1803. He worked tirelessly to rebuild the parish, but he became profoundly concerned about the state of affairs in which the Revolution had left the Church and the state of education, especially in the poorest region outside the town, known as the "Heights".
The Sisters of Providence
In 1806 Dujarié recruited two young women of the region to teach girls and care for the sick. He had the Little House of Providence built for them in that locale. Immediately the women set up a school, dispensary and a routine of visiting and caring for the ill. Within just a few years the group of women spread out to surrounding parishes to carry out Dujarié's vision. They group had grown so much by March 1821 that he began the building of a larger house for them on the outskirts of the town, called the Great House of Providence. In 1831 they were recognized religious congregation, called the Sisters of Providence. Their motto became: Deus providebit (God will provide).
The Brothers of St. Joseph
Dujarié had a view to build a joint congregation of men and women, of priests, brothers and sisters, all working together on the model of the Holy Family, providing for one another the gifts of their vocation for the sake of the mission. Out of this motivation, in 1820 Dujarié had also founded the Brothers of St. Joseph for the education of rural boys. Similarly dedicated to the renewal of education and the Church, the Brothers by his plan would share in the resources of the Sisters of Providence. This the sisters objected to and had him removed from a position of responsibility for their Congregation.
In 1835, the Brothers of St. Joseph had grown to open and teach in schools throughout northwestern France, running as many as 60 schools. Still, they had not been formed into a religious community with a novitiate or recognition from the Church. Dujarie, on account of his failing health, handed responsibility for the Brothers to the Abbé (now Blessed) Basil Moreau, who had in the same year founded a group of "Auxiliary Priests" within the Le Mans Diocese. By 1837 Moreau would take a major step toward realizing Dujarié's dream of a unique congregation of men and women—priests, Brothers and Sisters—by bringing together the Brothers of St. Joseph and the Auxiliary Priests of the Diocese of Le Mans into a new Association of Holy Cross, which would become the Congregation of Holy Cross.
In October 1836, Dujarié retired to live with the Brothers at their motherhouse in Le Mans. He died there on 17 February 1838, the founder of two communities which would soon become three congregations: the Sisters of Providence (Ruillé-sur-Loir, France), the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, (Indiana), and the Brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross
Dujarié was buried in the cemetery of the Brothers. His remains, however, were transferred to the Sisters, and he was re-interred at their motherhouse in Ruillé on 31 August 1873.