Louis Brisson, a priest of Troyes in France, founded the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. As a diocesan priest, he was assigned as the full-time chaplain to the monastery of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Troyes. Mother Marie de Sales Chappuis, the superior of that community was convinced that it was, in fact, the will of God that their humble chaplain start a religious order of men to follow the spiritual legacy of St. Francis de Sales. He resisted.
However, the presence of God continued to stir within Fr. Brisson, climaxing in an apparition of Jesus Christ. This moment of prayer provided Fr. Brisson with the impetus to begin his work to gather men as Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, who were founded in 1875. He also started, with St. Leonie Aviat, the founder of the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales, to redress the injustices of industrialization as it impacted poor girls in the urban districts of Troyes. Together, they began schools to ensure that these students would be protected from poverty and conscripted employment.
Since 1875, thousands of men in Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America have joined the community. Oblates first arrived in the United States in 1893 and established a permanent community in 1903. The decision was made to form two American provinces - one headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware and one in Toledo, Ohio - in 1966.
Fr. Brisson was beatified, at the authorization of Pope Benedict XVI, in 2012, in Troyes, France. The cause for his canonization remains active.
The dream, inspiration and vision of Blessed Louis Brisson and Mother Marie de Sales Chappuis - embraced over and over again by each new member of the Community - is the ongoing story of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.
This story, through the grace of God, becomes the story of any disciple yearning to live Jesus.