Our Beginnings

Marie Balavenne and Rennee Burel were two ordinary women, sensitive to the distress of the poor in rural Brittany, France. In 1706, under the guidance of Jean Leuduger, a priest of the Breton missions, they formed the first small community of what was to become the Congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit


Their mission to ‘the poor, the sick and the children’ at Le Legue attracted more women and what was first the ‘mustard seed’ soon became a large tree which spread across Brittany. They suffered years of persecution during the French Revolution and when later an anti- clerical Government forced priests and religious into exile. 

From these humble beginnings and despite times of difficulty and persecution we are now present in France, Belgium, Holland, Britain, Ireland, USA, Chile, Peru, Nigeria, Cameroon and Burkina Faso where we continue to serve the poor, the sick and the children.

The Congregation has now three branches ; Sisters, Associates and Consecrated Seculars which make up The Daughters of the Holy Spirit Family.

Vatican II re-acclaimed the Call to Holiness which is a call to all Baptised Christians.

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First House of Charity in Britanny, France

Many Catholics took this to heart and turned to Religious Orders for spiritual guidance, hence the beginning of the Associate Movement in the Church.

Members of the DHS Family – Sisters, Associates, Consecrated Seculars, share the same Charism, Spirituality and Missionary thrust. We live our baptismal consecration in the Spirit of Pentecost.

Sisters, apostolic religious, live in community. They make vows of chastity, poverty and obedience within the Congregation.

They share a common mission of love. 

Associates are lay people, married or single.

They live the DHS charism and spirituality at the heart of their family life and places of work.

Consecrated Seculars are single lay women, living alone or with family or friends. They make vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. They live simply, and participate with others in the Spirit’s mission of love.

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First DHS in Britanny, France

Feeding the poor children after catechism