Brief History of the Province
Fired with a desire for the foreign missions Fr. Mermier decided he would send some of his missionaries to preach the gospel in Africa. But in 1842 they were asked by the Holy See to work in India. One of the early missionaries, Fr. Francis Larive was keen to go to India. In November 1848 Francis Larive arrived at Kamptee in India. He spent 11 years there working in the parish and as chaplain to the garrison of the British Army. It was from Kamptee that Fr. Larive travelled to England in the company of Capt. Dewell, an Army officer he had received into the Catholic Church, who was from Malmesbury in Wiltshire. They arrived in England on 24th May 1861.
Fr. Larive was the first Missionary of St. Francis de Sales to come and work in England. After a brief meeting in Bristol with Bishop Clifford, Fr. Larive was sent to be the first resident priest in Chippenham. During his five years there he worked to set up the parish in Devizes, where he blessed the foundation stone of the church on 11th July, 1864. He was well supported in this work by other Missionaries, both Priests and Brothers, who had joined him from Annecy. By 1866 he was free to start a new church and community in Malmesbury. Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy, who had known him in Kamptee, also came to Malmesbury and set up a school. This was the beginning of MSFS in England.
In 2013, the parish at Hampton Hill, where the MSFS ministered for 85 years was given back to the Westminster Diocese.
At present, four priests from the South West Province, and one each from South East and North East Province are working in England. MSFS Priests are in the Dioceses of Clifton, Northampton, Plymouth, Southwark and Westminster. They also provide chaplaincy to home for the elderly in Clacton-on Sea and in Dublin.
The Province support other MSFS priests working in education, health care and social and pastoral fields in Africa and India.