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How did the Dominican Sisters of Bethany actually come to be founded and what does Father Lataste have to do with it? I have also always asked myself this question. Now I know the story and share it on the occasion of his birthday:

Father Lataste - How it all began...

Father Lataste was sent to the women's penitentiary at Cadillac as a young priest. He had little desire to do so at the time because he could not imagine that women could have any faith at all in a prison. But already after the first sermons his opinion about these women changed.

He was shocked by their fates. Many of them had been raped as housemaids by their landlords and had become pregnant as a result. Single mothers were considered a disgrace in the 19th century. The master of the house threw them out of the house and nobody gave them work now. Consequently, many gave birth to their children somewhere hidden and then killed them. If this became known, they ended up in prison for infanticide. Even after their stay in prison, there were hardly any prospects for these women. They had been disowned by their families and had lost their civil rights: they were not allowed to marry or work. So how were they supposed to live?

The first Dominican of Bethany

One of the prison inmates named Angelique J. came to Father Lataste at that time and was without any hope. She told Father Lataste that she would not see him again on the outside because she would be dead. After all, that would have been her best perspective. She said that already many women who were supposed to fetch water in the well had never come back from it. They didn't talk about these women in prison, but they existed. It would be the same with her. Father Lataste takes this statement of the woman's very much to heart and asks her several times not to do it. "I promise to help you," he said at the time. Angelique J. answered him still full of hopelessness that she would remind him. Later, in the chronicles of Bethany, one reads that Angelique J. was the first penitentiary woman that Father Lataste had clothed in the convent of the Dominican Sisters of Bethany. From then on she bore the name Sister Noel.

"Even if that had been the only woman he had clothed, Bethany would have been worth it," it was said at Father Lataste's beatification.

Since his beatification in 2012, in the baptistery of Father Lataste, you can also find a new figure of him right next to the altar. In his hands he holds a house on which Bethany is written: This once again clearly shows us the start of our Dominican Sisters of Bethany.

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