“Generous in spirit,
openness of heart,
always ready to serve.”
Blessed Nicolas Barre, the founder of the Order of the Infant Jesus Sisters, was born in France in 1621. He grew up in a deeply religious family and was a brilliant student. At the age of 18 years, he joined the Seminary to study to become a priest.
At that time, there was widespread poverty in France and only the rich could afford to have their children educated. Children, especially girls, were illiterate and exploited. Fr Barre saw the need to open schools for these girls so that they could learn to read and write and to come to know and love God.
In 1662, he gathered together a few devoted young women to start ‘little schools’ for the poor. Their aim was to help the young, especially girls, to develop their talents, to become the persons God wants them to be – happy, loving and living committed and meaningful lives.
Later, Fr Barre invited this same group of devoted ladies to form a community so as to be better able to serve God through their mission of educating girls. Although they did not have any material security, these women committed themselves wholeheartedly to the mission. They trusted completely in God for everything they needed and God blessed their efforts and their trust.
Soon, this type of school spread to many parts of France. In 1852, nearly 200 years later, the Sisters of the Infant Jesus set foot in Malaya and founded the first Convent in Penang. Two years later, in 1854, the Sisters arrived in Singapore to establish the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) at Victoria Street to provide education and homes for girls.
Today, the IJ Order’s educational arm consists of 11 Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) schools and the social arm, the Infant Jesus Homes and Children’s Centres (IJHCC), remains true to the mission in serving disadvantaged children and youth-at-risk.
“Embedded in each human heart are seeds of goodness
– especially love and compassion.
They are there, but may lie dormant and need to be awakened.”
Sr. Celine Low (IJ Sister)