“Education of the heart is
the heart of education.”
Fr Peter Marie Mermier, the founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries of St Francis de Sales, was born in Annecy, France, in 1790. He entered the seminary in Annecy, and was ordained priest in 1813. He died in 1862, and Pope John Paul II raised him to the status of Servant of God.
Fr Mermier was interested in starting a congregation for preaching missions abroad. With the support of a few fellow-priests, he founded the MSFS Congregation which received canonical approval in 1838. For Fr Mermier, the Salesian spirituality was all-embracing and pastorally effective. Mermier felt proud of his native saint, SFS. He wanted the members of his congregation to be contemplatives in action and mystics of God’s love.
The invitation of Pope Gregory XVI to extend missionary activities to the Church in Asia and Africa was the answer for Mermier’s prayer and longing. The congregation was invited to take up pastoral activities in the Apostolic Vicariate of Visakhapatnam in 1846. The MSFS today work in 26 countries, starting with India in 1845 and ending with Poland in 2003.