Holy family missionaries

Also known as the Congregation of Missionaries of the Holy Family (MSF, Official Catholic Directory #0630); a missionary society of papal right with simple vows, founded in 1895 at Grave, Netherlands, for the special purpose of fostering priestly vocations among the poor or those advanced in years. When the founder, Jean Baptiste berthier (1840–1908), a La Salette missionary, submitted his proposal to Rome, Leo XIII gave his approval on Nov. 14, 1894. French anticlericalism, however, impelled Berthier to go to Holland, where, after obtaining the approbation of the bishop of s'Hertogenbosch, the congregation was established on Sept. 27, 1895, and 12 applicants were received in the dilapidated barracks of the former garrison of Grave. The first three members were ordained in 1905; at Berthier's death, Oct. 16, 1908, there were 25 priests, representing five nationalities.

In 1911 the first five missionaries were sent to Brazil, the same year Rome bestowed the decree of praise on the congregation which had spread to four countries. The war years brought severe losses to the society; 40 members were killed in World War I and more than 150 in World War II. Under the Nazi regime the society's schools were confiscated, requisitioned, or destroyed, and 50 of its Polish members were killed. The generalate is located in Rome. Its first foundation in the United States was made in 1924. Its United States provincialate is in San Antonio, Texas.

Bibliografia: p. j. ramers, Bonus Miles Christi Jesus: Johann Baptist Berthier (Betzdorf 1931). f. nolte, Historische Skizzen der Kongregation der Missionare von der Heiligen Familie, 5v. (Betzdorf 1931, Grave 1949–54).

[j. wahlen/eds.]