[Today is World Down Syndrome Day – Ed]
To offer oneself to God, in witness to the Gospel of Life.
This is the mission of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb, a contemplative order in France that opens its doors to women who feel a call to religious life but who may be turned away from other orders because they have Down syndrome. The community depends on other Sisters who do not have Down syndrome but who have committed to share their lives with these lovely, holy women.
The Sisters live quietly and independently, turning their hearts and minds to God. According to the mission of the Order:
Guided by the wisdom of St. Benedict, we teach our little disabled sisters the manual labour necessary for their development. We live poverty in putting ourselves at their disposal. With them, we share the work of everyday life.
The office, adoration and the praying of the rosary are adapted to their rhythm and their capacities. In a spirit of silence, our prayer feeds every day on the Eucharist and on the meditation of the Gospel.
The community was founded in 1985 with the support and encouragement of Jerome Lejeune, the French pediatrician and geneticist whose laboratory research uncovered the link to chromosomal abnormalities including Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome).
In 1990, the group was canonically recognized as a public association by the Archbishop of Tours. The Sisters now reside in a priory in Blanc, where they model their lives after St. Therese of Lisieux’s “Little Way.” A leaflet published by the community explains:
We follow every day the “little way” taught by St. Therese; knowing that “great actions are forbidden to us,” we learn from her to receive everything from God, to “love for the brothers who fight,” to “scatter flowers for Jesus” and to pray for the intentions entrusted to us.
Kathy Schiffer is a freelance writer and speaker who writes about faith and culture at her blog, Seasons of Grace.