History of the Partnership Founders
Hope Community Project was founded as a partnership between the Infant Jesus Sisters (a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church) and Father Hudson’s Society, now Father Hudson’s Care, (the social care agency for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham).
Hope Community is now an independent charity with the same ethos and values.
The vision and spirit of the founders of the two organisations, and the men and women, who have followed in their footsteps, is important to understand the uniqueness of the project.
Background to the Infant Jesus Sisters and their founder Nicolas Barré
Nicolas Barre was born on 21st October 1621 in France. He was a Catholic and eventually became a monk.
Nicolas founded the Infant Jesus Sisters in 1662 in Rouen, France. At that time half the children in Rouen died of famine. Many were homeless and wandered the streets as beggars, and for some prostitution was the only means of livelihood.
Nicolas was very aware of what was happening around him – especially among the most destitute – and he felt called to make some response. He conceived the idea of a Charitable Institute for those who had no access to any form of education, and were generally neglected by society. The first helpers taught reading, writing and practical skills, but their primary purpose was to give religious instruction to children, young people and adults, especially those most in need. The child was the primary focus. Nicolas was insistent that those who wanted to be of service would do so without taking vows and acquiring the status and security which being a religious sister gave. They were to share the insecurity of the poor who did not have a guaranteed income. In this way they would be in solidarity with the most neglected in society.
In keeping with this spirit, members of the Institute gave themselves voluntarily to the work for variable periods of time, from 1 month to a year or more. They visited children in their own homes to see their family circumstances and the reality of their lives.
Today the Sisters continue working with the poor, marginalised and deprived can be found in Birmingham, Burton-on-Trent, Crawley, Horsham, Liverpool, London and Wolverhampton and in many countries throughout the world.