We are an international community founded in Algeria in 1939 by Magdeleine Hutin.   
She was born in 1898 in a small village on the French-German border, the youngest of six children. 
By 1925 she was the sole support of her mother, having lost the rest of her immediate family to
war or illness.    

Growing up along a border which was constantly in question and having herself been displaced by
war, the pain of divisions left a deep imprint upon her spirituality. Magdeleine wanted her life to
somehow reach across that which separates people from one another, to be a sign of love to those
who were rejected by others. While she desired to be a religious, due to poor health none of the
orders she knew of would accept her.

Magdeleine waited 20 years for some kind of sign that she
should go to North Africa to follow in the footsteps of
Charles de Foucauld.  Her dreams were considered foolishness. 
The hoped for sign finally came in the form of a potentially
crippling bout of rheumatism when her doctor advised her to
go somewhere where it never rained…  
She left immediately with her mother and one companion, Anne, who eventually left her.


with her mother circa 1940

“God took me by the hand and, blindly, I followed…  in what seemed the most total darkness, and in the most disconcerting absence of hu man means, but with unlimited trust in Jesus, Master of the Impossible.”                                       l sr Magdeleine

 

 

What began as a small group geared only to the nomads of the Sahara and as a presence in the midst of Islam radically shifted in 1947 when she realized that this same form of contemplative presence could be lived anywhere.  As more and more women began joining her after the war she traveled around the world defying the conventional wisdom that her dream was unrealistic.  Her “little sisters” would go wherever there was a handful of people or a group that was inaccessible in some way to other forms of Church presence.  She always sought those who were the farthest away or isolated.  Sending her sisters to these peoples and places meant that they too would be isolated in many ways.

Magd & mother

L Sr Magdeleine learning to ride their donkey in order to visit nomad friends in the surrounding desert;

(Below) Stopping for tea with early members and their friend who guided them; 
                        (Right) One of our first tent communities in Algeria (with goats).

 Tent

 

 

(Above) With Gypsies in Europe;

(Left) On the Amazon in Brazil traveling to the village of the Tapirape people where we lived for over 50 years.

(Below) In rural India.

India

True to our nomadic roots she also founded communities among migrant farm workers, gypsies, traveling circuses and carnival workers, as well as clandestine communities behind the "Iron Curtain" in Eastern Europe.
   
In keeping with the inspiration of our foundation we maintain a large number of communities among Muslim peoples in various countries around the world.   
 





Little Sister Magdeleine died in 1989 at the age of 91 after celebrating the 50th anniversary of the foundation and receiving the final approval of the Constitutions of the congregation that she never started out to found.


We are a multi-cultural community.  It is very important to us and to our identity as a community that sisters of different nationalities, races and cultures live together as a visible sign of Unity in the midst of a divided world.  The mere fact of concretely living this out speaks in ways that words cannot and gives witness to the Reign of God.    

We now number about 1100 women from 67 nationalities living in about 60 countries around the world. 

They traveled every year through Eastern Europe in a camper, founding communities and visiting hard-pressed Christian groups.

 

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