Antionette Fage was born in Paris in 1824. She was born into a poor family where her father deserted the family, her grandmother was shot during street riots and her mother died when she was only 13 years old.
When together, her family lived beside a prison. Antoinette noticed that every day at the same time a prisoner came to a cell window. She felt he must be lonely so often she would go and stand under his window, sing a little love song and dance for him to cheer him up. She dial not know who he was but she cared for him. Later on she helped many of the young girls she worked with to get married by giving them whatever money and possessions she had.
In Paris in 1865, Father Stephen Pernet, the founder and Antoinett Fage, together responded in the name of God to the cries of the poor, by starting a Congregation of sisters who would go out among the people, into their homes, be with them in their times of need, worries, troubles, sickness, family upsets, disappointments, to love and care for them; to help people make their families places where each person is loved and grows to love and by being loved; to understand by being understood; to forgive by being forgiven.
The place where people can come to know God’s love through the love of others.
Antionette undertook this work with great courage and love despite her poor health. She lived 20 years as a Little Sister of the Assumption, caring for the sick, the poor, the lonely, going wherever there was need.
Often in the early days the sisters were poor and sometimes had little to eat. Always, Antionette, now Mother Mary of Jesus, had great faith in God.
A small band of Assumption sisters came to New Zealand in 1955 at the request of Bishop Kavanagh of Dunedin. Since then the have worked in Petone, Porirua, Otara and Bell Block, North Taranaki.
People often ask whether the Sisters are the same congregation as the Assumptionist Father. Strictly speaking, they are not, but in a manner of speaking they are cousins as both their respective founders were Assumptionist Fathers.
In their own community life too, they strive to live all those fibres and strands of the Good News that they aim to share with those to whom they minister in the City. So it is in hundreds of small, ordinary and often insignificant ways, they discover the power and beauty of the life of the Risen Christ in each other and in the people and events which mould and shape people lives into the image of Christ. It is like a song that will never end, because the sisters song reveals Jesus Christ as himself – risen.
International: Assumption Sisters