Forty years ago, the tiny village of 'Le Fréchou', hardly bigger than a hamlet, South West of France, became the first cradle of our dear Religious Order.
When Our Lord Jesus Christ's contemporaries were dumbfounded by the wisdom of His answers, His grandeur and dignity, His power and the strength of His soul, His nobility, they were at the same time disconcerted by His meekness, His humility, His mercy, His poverty, His mind's openness, His love for the poor and the little.
They were exasperated by the way He disrupted their habits and prejudices. When they asked where He had come from, they were told: "From Nazareth"; then, they retorted:
"What good can come out of Nazareth?" Likewise today, one could say: "What good can come out of Le Fréchou?":
Completely hidden in this countryside corner of Gascony where roads are so narrow that two vehicles cannot cross, this little village has now become famous the world around because God set His eyes upon it, to henceforth associate its name with the humble Virgin of Nazareth's, the Messenger of God, well known on the five continents as: "Our Lady of Frechou". Several Shrines are dedicated to Her and were named after Her, after this blessed and beloved Name of Hers. Her pilgrim statue, Her images criss-cross countries, fly in the air or travel by sea to reach every place and sow her graces, her blessings, her protections and her miracles there.
Near the village, a fairly tiny Wood was elected by God, as a privileged place to be consecrated to His Most Holy Mother, a spot for Her to make her Mercy burst forth into it, so as to relieve every human misery gathered together before Her. And Her children from the earth come there, to find the peace and comfort they need; health for both their body and heart; and most of all, that they might return to God through prayer, the Sacraments and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Upon the Immaculate Virgin's request, very humbly and through little ways, back in 1971, Most Reverend Bishop Jean Marie founded 'Fraternite Notre Dame', and little by little, vocations came.
During these years of a life hidden in humility, work and prayer, amidst all kinds of difficulties, sometimes very harsh persecutions were not lacking, going so far as to endanger the very existence of the Religious Order. Criticism and slander did not lack either against our Founder. That is not surprising since we know that the disciple is not above his Master; He had foretold this to us: "They persecuted Me, they will persecute you… when the time comes, you will remember that I warned you."
But God keeps watch, God ordered His Angels and Good Saint Joseph to maintain and protect Fraternite Notre Dame, as of old they had rescued the Child Jesus from the hands of they who sought His life.
In 1977, Mary Immaculate appeared to Her Confidant, Most Reverend Bishop Jean Marie. She asked for a pilgrimage and introduced Herself as: 'Mother of Mercy and Mother of the Church'. She requested prayer, penance, and mercy. She promised that She would come on the 14th of each month; then, She promised that She would come until the end of the world. (These points are developed in the page dealing with: "Apparitions").
The pilgrimage that developed in Le Frechou never stopped attracting souls to the feet of our Good Heavenly Mother, Who never ceased granting numerous, immense graces.
A little mustard seed sown in Le Frechou, 'Fraternite Notre Dame' has grown despite efforts by certain persons to destroy it. And the birds of the air started dwelling in its branches. In Frechou grew boughs that later took root in the whole world, and every day, through the care of his Excellency, Bishop Jean Marie, his Priests, religious Friars and Nuns, Tertiaries and faithful, we can see thousands of poor persons being fed, covered, warmed up, treated, encouraged, revived and saved. (To know more about our Missions, please visit our specific web pages).
The Mother House is now located in Chicago, USA, but the pilgrimage is still going on and the religious Priests, Friars and Nuns are still present in Le Frechou, where they continue their life of prayer, work and apostolate. Their days are quite busy attending to prayer, maintaining 'Notre Dame' Blessed Wood, welcoming pilgrims, visiting the sick and helping the poor.
Most Reverend Bishop Jean Marie, whose concern is to lift up the souls towards God, improved the look of both the entrance and reception patio at the chapel of Our Lady of Frechou, Liberator of the Souls in Purgatory in Le Frechou. After crossing the front door's threshold, the pilgrim is welcomed by the sweet, bowed face of a new statue of Our Lady of Frechou, sitting in a pretty monastic shelter made of ancient bricks and handsome wood beams.
We take the pious habit to greet Our Lady of Frechou before entering the chapel where resides our Only Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The patio's walls themselves, decorated with terracotta lamp fixtures, pleasantly convey a monastic atmosphere.
Pilgrims who wish to do so can honor Our Lady at home, by ordering a similar statue of Our Lady of Frechou.
Visiting the sick, teaching catechism, bringing Holy Communion to elderly people is part of the apostolic service rendered. How many health improvements and miracles did not we observe!
To this humble Wood, inconspicuous, hidden, quiet, chosen by Our Lady, Most Reverend Bishop Jean Marie gave the adornment of a place that will be, like Ars, well known to Christianity.
Everyday, the 15 decades of the Rosary are recited in the Blessed Wood, and another 5 decades are prayed at night to the many intentions entrusted to us. How many graces does Our Lady grant through the prayer of the Rosary that She loves so much: graces of health improvements, healing; grace of finding a job, of peace granted to homes.
How many souls left this place, completely transformed, filled with emotion and realizing that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary is there, like her Divine Son near Jacob's well, awaiting the soul of the sinner.
Pilgrims, faithful to thank Our Lady, come to the Blessed Wood on the 14th of each month; regularly, new persons leave from there again, struck by Most Reverend Bishop Jean Marie's sermons, when we feel certain to be listening to one of these great biblical figures speaking to men in the language of prophets. The whole audience is overcome with the sincere and deep conviction of his teachings, the vigor of his tone and this fine touch of wit and humor which characterizes Saints.
This little Wood consecrated to Our Lady witnessed many miracles. Even when Most Reverend Bishop Jean Marie is in Chicago on the 14th, confident souls, coming to the pilgrimage, are aware of the presence of Our Lady and intercession of a man of God, in front of whom they can humble themselves in repentance, asking for hope in their distress, for the grace to have a child, a miracle in sickness, or peace in dissension. Our Lady never ceases giving lavishly through the intercession of Her Confidant.
Through a single word, a look, or a silence even, he puts the souls back on God's track. And for many, the Road to Damascus is actually crossing "Le Fréchou"!