The Sisters of the Infant Jesus, previously known as the Congregation of the Holy Infant Jesus or the Dame of Saint Maur, is a Roman Catholic religious institute, dedicated to education and the training of the poor for their betterment of their lives. They were founded in Paris in 1675, as part of the work of the Blessed Nicolas Barre, a Minim friar and Catholic priest (1621-1686), who had gathered some young women for the free instruction of the poor in Rouen in 1662. The members of the Institute use the post-nominal initials of S.I.J or I.J.S (previously C.H.I.J).
The foundation of Barre schools and of the Sisters suggested to St. John Baptist de La Salle the idea of accomplishing a similar work for boys, resulting in his founding of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
After the destruction of the French Revolution had closed all the schools of the Institute, it was not until 1805 when a new community of teachers was formed by seven surviving members of the Institute. The new growth of the Institute was such that, by the mid 19th century, schools were opened in Spain and Asia. Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus were among the pioneer missionaries in British Malaya, Japan and Thailand. In 1887, after over 200 years of service without taking of religious vows, this congregation of Sisters became a religious institute of pontifical right, able to operate independently worldwide.
In 1970 a federtion was established between the congregation of Paris and Rouen to facilitate a greater sense of cooperation and common identity. in 2007 a revival of the original form of life was established, one open to both women and men, called Fraternity of the Infant Jesus, whereby they can live and serve in the spirit of Barre.
Today, the IJS Sisters desire is to make Jesus Christ known and loved through a variety of ministries which continue to evolve according to the needs in each country. Their particular focus is to reach out to those who are most in need. At present IJS Sisters involvements include ministry to children and young people; support of migrants and the education of their children; working with prisoners and their families; teaching children with speech and hearing disabilities; providing riding for disabled children and young people; organizing agricultural projects in the Andes. In addition, IJS Sisters continue to teach in primary and secondary schools; to run medical centres in Africa and to be involved in pastoral and parish ministries.
Sr. Celestine Tham, IJS
P.O. Box 1151
89008 Keningau, Sabah