Fr. Louis Brisson, OSFS, co-founder of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales was born on June 23, 1817, in Plancy, France, the only child of Toussaint and Savine Brisson.  He was educated by a local priest who had a large library.  Louis read everything; he had a special interest in the sciences.

Brisson was ordained a priest on December 19, 1840.  He began as an instructor at the Visitation School in Troyes.  He then became chaplain to the Sisters of the Visitation.
Mother Marie Therese de Sales Chappuis, the superior, told him many times that the Lord wanted Louis to found a society of priests who would live the Spiritual Directory of St. Francis de Sales and promote Salesian Spirituality.  Brisson refused; Chappuis was persistent in her demands.
One day after again arguing with Mother Chappuis, Christ appeared to Louis.  As he looked into the Lord’s eyes, Louis’ heart was converted and he gave his consent to follow the Good Mother’s direction.

In 1859, Brisson opened a home for girls working in textile factories.  Louis needed he help of religious for his girls’ homes and invited (St.) Leonie Aviat to begin a new congregation, the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales.

On August 27, 1876, Louis and five other priests professed vows as Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.  Louis instructed both Oblate communities:  “Hold the child in high esteem and instead of frustrating, lend a hand to the work grace accomplishes in these young souls.”

Louis argued with the bishop over authority in the Oblates.  In 1881, he spoke with Pope Leo XIII and accepted a foreign mission which put the governance of the Oblates under the Pope through the Propagation of the Faith.

In 1887, Brisson finished the biography of Mother Chappuis for the opening of her cause for beatification.  On December 7, 1887, the Constitutions of the Oblates were approved by Rome for ten years.  Final approbation came from Rome on December 7, 1897.

In the early 1900′s, the French government closed religious houses in France.  The Oblates transferred their General House to Rome.  Because he was too old to travel, Fr. Brisson went to his family home in Plancy.  He died on February 2, 1908, with Mother Leonie Aviat, OSFS, and Oblate priests at his bedside.

-Taken from Spending a Month with Louis Brisson, compiled by Michael S. Murray, OSFS.

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