Chavoin House is named after Chavoin College (1967–1979), the school on the Burwood site prior to Emmaus College. This school was named after Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, foundress of the Marist Sisters.
Jeanne-Marie Chavoin was born in a French village northeast of Lyons, in 1786. Jeanne-Marie grew up during the unrest of the French Revolution where religious persecution and abuses prevented freedom of worship. She had no official education and whatever she learnt came from home. Despite her personal lack of education, Jeanne-Marie valued learning very highly.
Growing up, Jeanne-Marie learnt concern and compassion for others, particularly those less fortunate. As religious freedoms started to be restored, she began to work in her parish, helping to take care of various people. Jeanne-Marie did this without drawing attention to herself. During this period, Jeanne-Marie encountered several religious groups who influenced her and was asked many times to join different religious orders. Jeanne-Marie was not interested in the usual monastic life of many of these offers. She was wanting to encourage open work in the community.
Having been invited to meet with John-Claude Colin and hearing about the Marist project (Marist = Mary+ Christ, a family of Marist groups that hold our Mother Mary as their role model), Jeanne–Marie founded the first community of Marist Sisters’. Her vision for the Sisters was to live a hidden life in the world, acting as apostles in the community and educating children with limited opportunities. Marist Sisters are now located in many areas of the world continuing this work.
Jeanne-Marie died in 1858.