On August 4, 1843, Jean-Baptiste Étienne, C.M. (1801-1874), was elected the fourteenth successor to Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) as the superior general of the Congregation of the Mission and the Company of the Daughters of Charity. He served in these capacities until his death of March 14, 1874. Etienne has been described by some as a “second founder” – one of the most important, if not the most important figure in the modern histories of both communities until the Second Vatican Council.
Fr. Edward Udovic, C.M., of DePaul University, wrote of Etienne:
… he possessed a remarkable grasp of the timeless “esprit primitif” bequeathed to the community by Saint Vincent de Paul; namely: a community based on a Christo-centric discipleship whose rule called for a preferential, direct, disciplined, skilled, personalistic, prayerful and effective service to the most abandoned of the poor and sick. Monsieur Étienne was obsessed with this concept of “l’esprit primtif” and he made it the organizing principle which guided ALL of his rhetoric, policies, and actions as superior general to restore the community and make it successful in the brave new nineteenth century world
Learn more about Etienne and his impact on the Daughters of Charity with the resources below. Both are available both online through DePaul University. Print copies are available for study at the Provincial Archives.
Udovic, Edward R. C.M. (2012) “Jean-Baptiste Étienne, C.M. and the Restoration of the Daughters of Charity,” Vincentian Heritage Journal: Vol. 31: Iss. 2, Article 5.
Edward R. Udovic. Jean-Baptiste Etienne and the Vincentian Revival. Chicago: Vincentian Studies Institute of the United States, 2001.