Sunday, 29th November, 2020
Josephine Potel was born March 14, 1799 in the village of Bécordel, Northern France. Bécordel is located approximately two hundred miles north of Paris between the cities of Amiens and Arras. Even today this little agricultural village has only one main street, one church and approximately three hundred inhabitants. We know little about Josephine Potel other than that she had found her way from this little village of her birth to the distant city of Paris when she was very young.
She was twenty-two years of age, when filled with a strong faith and a deep desire to serve those in need, she joined a group of women who gathered to respond to the needs of the people, caring for the sick and poor. Josephine and her 11 companions formed a group that would become the Sisters of Bon Secours.
As the leader of the new group, Josephine presented the vision of Caring for the Sick and Dying in their homes to the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor de Quelen. This new vision of religious caring for the sick and dying in their own homes was viewed with mistrust by the Church. However, on May 24 1824, the foundation of our Congregation was finally accomplished when Josephine Potel, a woman of great energy and deep faith, received the necessary permission from the Archbishop.
Through their care of the sick and dying and the example of their lives, by the end of 1824, thirty women had joined Bon Secours.
Following a serious illness, Josephine Potel died in Paris on May 6, 1826. Her memorial states that she was like ‘a victim placed at the foundation of the Congregation to assure its survival by a premature holocaust.’
The special spirit entrusted to Josephine Potel and her companions has been the activating principle of the mission of the Sisters of Bon Secours over the last one hundred and eighty-eight years, and we pray that it may continue to be the vital dynamism animating us in our response to the ever-changing aspects of our service to those in need - today and into the future.