The Founding of the Foyers
Martha Robin and Father Georges Finet
In the moral crucible of the 1930’s, when the whole world was suffering materially, and diabolical evils were about to be unleashed, a young farm woman in the countryside of France, Martha Robin (1902-1981), had consecrated her entire life to God with deep determination and insight. Paralyzed at home in her parents’ farmhouse, she gave herself entirely to unceasing prayer to God.
In prayer the Lord led Martha to understand that all humanity was called to rebirth and renewal. The Christian and Catholic community, in particular, needed to rediscover its mission to serve the whole of humanity. This would be done through a fresh preaching of the good news of God’s love. Martha had a remarkable understanding of the infinite abundance of the eternal Father’s love for his children, and of the harm done to them by evil.
Many initiatives would be needed to accomplish this universal renewal, and among them Martha envisioned the Foyers of Charity. The Foyers would be a community of ordinary men and women together with a priest, the Father, consecrating themselves to the preaching of the Gospel of God’s love. In February 1936 Martha asked Father Georges Finet (1898-1990) of the city of Lyons, France, to begin the first Foyer and, with the blessing of Church authorities, he did this in September 1936. This first Foyer is in the little village of Châteauneuf-de-Galaure, just down the road from Martha’s farm. From that initiative seventy-three Foyers have opened in more than forty countries.
Throughout Martha’s life visitors from every part of the world came to her home and enjoyed her welcome and her wisdom and joy. Similarly retreatants flocked to Fr Finet’s retreats at the Foyer of Châteauneuf and benefited from his teaching and love for life.
The Foyers proclaim the Gospel with special emphasis on the infinite love of God the Father and the call of all humanity to live as the family of God. The Foyers carry on their mission in a simple, direct way, trusting in the goodness of God and in the freedom and the fundamental goodness of the human person.