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Adèle, Aristocrat for the Poor
by Joseph Stefanelli, SM
Father Joseph Stefanelli, SM, writes a brief-yet-encompassing story of the intriguing life of Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon. Adèle’s biography takes the reader from her early years as the child of wealthy aristocrats to her shared work [the formation of the Daughters of Mary] with Marie Thérèse de Lamourous and William Joseph Chaminade, to her untimely death at age 38. It concludes with a brief statement of the mission of today’s Daughters of Mary as they continue Adèle’s work in the modern world.
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Today, it is still the best of times and the worst of times; and into these times through her spiritual daughters and sons, the Marianist Family, Adèle continues to be born, continues to be called by her God, and continues to respond with a life of dedication, service, and especially love. She continues to live and to work in the Institute she founded; it continues her presence among us today.
While many will reflect on her life and draw out its implications for our present world, certain elements of her life are especially important and applicable to our times.
Adèle was born wealthy and aristocratic. She could have enjoyed the “good life” of her day, made a highly suitable marriage, and mothered a family of her own. But she chose rather to cast her lot with the poor. She was able to empathize with them, the miserable and marginalized of her day. She “identified” with them; in fact, in a Christian understanding of poverty, she chose it. She was not poor by necessity, circumstance, or societal injustice; she was poor as the poor of her day were poor, joining in their destitution or sharing their substandard living conditions; but she was not too proud to be found among them, to share their suffering, and to help raise them from their poverty. In interior disposition she was perhaps the poorest of them all, seeking nothing, needing nothing beyond her love of her God.
Adèle was quite remarkable in the way she was able to integrate those very elements of the Christian life whose common connection seems often to escape us. Her life was undeniably, resolutely, emphatically, generously, and fervently centered on God. Yet it would be difficult to find a life in which there was more activity on behalf of others—her family, her poor, her Association, and eventually her Institute.
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon: Her Early Years (1789-1797)
Into Exile (1797-1801)
Return to Trenquelléon (1801-1804)
The Association (1804-1814)
The “Cher Projet” (1814-1816)
The Institute (1816-1820)
Adèle’s Final Time (1820-1828)
Prayer for the Glorification of Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon
The Marianist Sisters Today