December 9th : Servant of God Louis Stephen Rabussier, SJ

Servant of God Louis Stephen Rabussier, SJ

Born : Dec 12, 1831
Died : Dec 9, 1897

Louis Stephen Rabussier was born in Herblay, France and studied at the diocesan seminary in Versailles before joining the Society on September 6, 1851 at the novitiate in Saint-Acheul. After his first vows on Sep 1853, he taught in Poitiers, Paris and Metz for six years before embarking on his philosophy studies at Laval. After his ordination on Sep 19, 1863, he taught Scripture and Hebrew at Laval for three years but had to give it up because his eyesight was impaired and devoted his time to giving the Spiritual Exercises to religious communities throughout France.

Fr Rabussier was based at the Jesuit residence in Bourges from 1867 to 1884 during which time he exerted great influence on the spiritual growth of many religious communities, particularly the male and female branches of the Trappists, the Benedictines, the Carmelites, the Religious of The Sacred Heart and the Sisters of Nevers, because of his knowledge of ascetical theology. He guided many young candidates to the diocesan clergy and to the religious life as he was a very understanding spiritual director and was blessed with the gift of reading hearts.

In 1879, he formed Zelatrices of the Sacred Hearts, an association of apostolically minded young ladies, many of whom eventually entered religious congregations. They were not only keen to seek their own spiritual advancement but also keen to help others in need in a variety of charitable works. However the success of this group met with some opposition from even among his own Jesuit brethren as they argued that there was no need for this association as there were already many others in existence, such as the “ Third Orders, the Sodality etc”. Afraid that Fr Rabussier’s group would reduce the membership of the other existing associations, they referred the matter to the Jesuit general in Rome. Fr Gen Pieter Beckx, who after studying the matter wrote to Fr Rabussier reminding him of the Jesuit rule forbidding Jesuits to have a women’s spiritual organization totally dependent on them and requesting him to stop promoting it as well as to cease being its director. Fr Rabussier obeyed immediately and to make it easier for him, he was transferred to Rouen in Sep 1884.

During the eight years in Rouen, Fr Rabussier worked non-stop, giving missions, retreats and the annual Lentern series of sermons. In 1889 when priests and nuns were disallowed to teach religion in French schools, Fr Rabussier founded a congregation dedicated to teach religious education to children. When his health began to decline in 1892, Fr Rabussier moved to Poitiers in Oct 1897. There, he suffered a stroke and within a few days paralysis spread and incapacitated him. Though he could hardly speak, he repeated the names “Jesus, Mary, Joseph,” and the prayer “Mary, mother, my true mother, show yourself a mother to me.”

Fr Rabussier died on the morning of December 9, 1897 while his Jesuit brethren were saying the prayers for the dying. He was sixty-six years old and had been a Jesuit for forty-seven years. The investigation into his cause began in February 1950.