REV. FR. PETER MERMIER (1790-1862)
Rev. Fr. Peter Marie Mermier was born on 28th August 1790, at Savoy in France. His father was Francois Mermier and mother Antoniette Bastinon. He grew up, as a child, dedicated and hardworking, endowed with a calm character, alert mind, bright intelligence, and genuine piety. He did excellently well in his studies. He was a model and inspiration to the rest of the students.
As a boy he manifested his desire to become a Priest to serve people. He was ordained as a Priest on 21st March 1813; he was only twenty-two and a half year old. He worked as a teacher at Melan where he formulated his own philosophy of education.
He founded the congregation of the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales (MSFS) and the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod for the poor peasant girls. He initiated the education apostolate of the Missionaries by undertaking the management of the secondary schools of Melan and Evian in France. After an eventful life, leaving behind a heritage of dazzling holiness, heroic courage, and faith, Fr. Mermier breathed his last on 30th September 1862.
Optimism, Fidelity, Gentleness, Hospitality, Kindness, Cordiality, and Positive regard for others were some of the shades of his saintly personality.
Fr. Mermier firmly believed that education is a work of love and that it is incomplete without religious formation. He envisaged an educational programme marked by respect for children. He advised his teacher-confreres to love their pupils to be a mother to them by their tenderness and a father by their prudence “true Education,” according to him, “is opening the heart rather than mind”. He expected from the pupils three thing: knowledge, wisdom, and discipline.
The Fransalians were asked in to work in eastern and central India. Beginning at Visakhapatnam, they opened centers in places as far away as Cuttack, Aurangabad, and Nagpur. They had to travel long distances on horseback or by the bullock cart. They took care of people affected by famine or various diseases. Fransalians started social centers, dispensaries, and orphanages. Realizing the value and the need of education they started the St. Alyosius School in 1847 in Viskhapatnam and laid that foundation for education apostolate. At present the Fransalians are working in different parts of our country in urban and rural areas, helping people to live happy lives founded on ‘Faith in God’ and concern for the welfare of other. While respecting all religions and cultures, we make it our mission to hold aloft the ideals taught by Jesus, who inspired Gandhiji and made especially attractive by St. Francis De Sales, leading Father Peter Mermier to found the Fransalian Society.
“The heart of Education is the education of heart.” – Fr. Peter Mermier