Their story went around the world and moved all the defenders of life and its intrinsic dignity. The Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb, located in the Diocese of Bourges in central France, have indeed a very singular apostolate — it is the first and only religious institute with a rule of life adapted for people with Down syndrome.
In an article published July 24, Vatican News provides a detailed portrait of its members and their prophetic mission. The community was founded by Mother Line in 1985, after she met Véronique, a young woman with Down syndrome, whose faith and wish to become a nun deeply struck her. Mother Line’s objective is thus to allow women with mental disabilities to follow Christ through a consecrated life, accompanied by nondisabled women with whom they share a community life.
The community obtained the status of a contemplative religious institute in 1999, thanks to the then-archbishop of Bourges, Pierre Plateau. Its statutes were definitively approved by his successor, Archbishop Armand Maillard, in 2011.
The sisters are not attached to any other community and draw their spiritual inspiration from St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Benedict. All of them, whether they have Down syndrome or not, perform the same daily activities and tasks, according to the abilities of each one of them.
Mother Line told the Register that her community’s way of life gives the sisters with mental disabilities an independence they wouldn’t have in any other social context. “Our lifestyle, which is a contemplative lifestyle, suits people with Down syndrome very well,” she said.
There are currently 10 Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb, eight of whom have Down syndrome. “We really need new vocations, as we lack young women without disabilities who could be consecrated with and provide support to those with Down syndrome,” said Mother Line.
Since their story was published by Vatican News, the sisters have received countless messages of support and requests to visit the community, especially from the United States. “The Catholic Americans are by far the most sensitive to our mission and those who expressed the greatest interest toward our community, as they see it as a prophetic message to the world,” she said. “We are so grateful to all those that help us spread our testimony, and we hope that it will encourage more people to consecrate themselves to the Lord through the service to the Little Sisters with Down syndrome.”