Our Founder


Blessed William Joseph Chaminade was the second youngest of 15 children born on April 8, 1761 in Perigeux, France. His family was deeply religious and three of his brothers were also priests. He took the name Joseph as his confirmation name and preferred that to William. When he was 10 years old he went to the College of Mussidan (one of his brothers was a professor) and he remained there for 20 years as a student, teacher, and chaplain. He was a priest during the persecutions and violence against the Church during the French Revolution.

He was exiled to Zaragoza, Spain from 1797 to 1800 and lived near the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar and he received a message telling him to be Mary's missionary, to found a society of religious to work with Mary to restore the faith in France. He returned to Bordeaux in November 1800 and founded the Sodalities of Our Lady. The Sodality gathered all Christians -- men, women, young, old, lay, and clergy -- to follow Christ unafraid and committed to living and sharing the faith working under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They had a special consecration to Mary and as an outward sign of this fourth vow; they wore a gold ring on their right hand. In the next years, he did much with France and the order. The order grew and they began teaching in schools. They spread to Switzerland and the United States. They established themselves in Dayton, Ohio in 1849 and Somerset, Texas in 1949. Blessed William Joseph Chaminade died on January 22, 1850 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000 in Rome.