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Fr. Peter Marie MermierĀ our Founder was born on 28th August 1790 in Savoy, France. At the time of his birth the population of Savoy was almost rural. The towns and villages had only a few craftsmen and shop-keepers. At the cost of hard work and strict economy, the people eked out their living by the cultivation of their land and by grazing their cattle on the mountains. Fr. Mermier's father, Francois Mermier who belonged to a race of landowners and a family of good standing, was a peasant and the son had inherited all the qualities of a peasant: good sense, practical mind, prudent audacity, tenacious and calm perseverance. His mother, Antionette Bastian was a pious and devout woman to whom Fr. Mermier owed his fine and alert mind, his social sense and above all his first initiation into faith and sound piety. God had the first place in the home of the Mermiers. Fr. Mermier once said: ''I repent for not having written anything about my mother. My God, how much I owe her. No, no, she was not an ordinary woman.''

It was the time of 'Reign of Terror' and little Mermier saw closing of the Church and the school of Chaumont, the belfry pulled down, the bells destroyed and the presbytery deserted. He heard his parents and others whispering about the events which devastated the country, about the priests arrested and sent to prison and to penal servitude. He was highly impressed by the lively faith of his mother and her love for God. She made her house a shelter for the faithful priests hunted down by the revolutionaries. She received them with cordial respect.

He saw her comforting them, sheltering them, watching over their safety under her roof and providing them with some provisions for their departure. And when on Sundays a priest celebrated Holy Mass in the house, Peter Mermier used to remain close to his mother. He felt so happy to see her pray and receive holy communion. Later on Fr. Mermier would say, ''I owe my vocation to the holiness of my mother.'' In the year 1800 religious peace was re-established in Savoy. So he could attend residential schools from 1801. Fr. Marin Ducrey was the director of the school at Melan where Peter completed his studies. He was an exemplary student, a model of virtues.

In the Autumn of the year 1807, Peter joined the Seminary in Chambery. He was an intelligent and hardworking seminarian, kind to his companions. Peter Mermier was ordained Priest on 21st March 1813. He was only twenty two and a half years old.

The young Priest was appointed assistant parish priest at Magland, a countryside parish in April 1813. A perfect community life, harmony and fervour characterised his relationship with the parish priest whom he chose as his spiritual director. Fervour and kindness marked his apostolate among the people. Besides, he spent some time daily for theological studies.

In 1816, Fr. Mermier was transferred to the residential school of Melan where Fr. Ducrey wanted the services of his former disciple. He loved children, taught them and helped poor children financially.

Everything was going on well. But in 1816 Fr. Mermier interceded on behalf of Polycarp Voisin, an excellent student whom Fr. Ducrey, a strict disciplinarian wanted to dismiss. The director granted the favour and became unhappy about it. Polycarp Voisin later became a missionary.

Fr. Mermier went through a period of hesitation. He was attracted to the foreign missions. He had also an attraction for religious life and thought of joining the Society of Jesus.