The Order of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament was founded in Lyons, France by the Venerable Jeanne Chézard de Matel, who, from the beginning, envisioned a means for laity and diocesan clergy to share in the charism of the Order.
“Thought had to be taken concerning priests and laity, who although they had no vocation to religious life, felt that they were, to some extent, in communion with the Foundress and her Order. In 1669, Monseigneur de Neuville founded a Confraternity of the Incarnate Word which was approved by Clement X on January 30th of the following year.” (Jeanne Chézard de Matel, by John Lozano, CFM)
In the spirit of this original vision, in response to requests from several members of the laity for closer association, and according to the Second Vatican Council’s call for renewal of religious life, the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament of Cleveland, Ohio have explored new ways of collaboration and mutuality within the Church and the world.
It is the charism of the Congregation, to be an extension of the Incarnation and to give glory to God, which prompted the Cleveland Congregation to initiate a new means of association and community with the Congregation. During the 1982 General Chapter, a proposal was submitted to develop a tangible link between the Congregation and those who feel a call to live a more intense Christian commitment.
This new means of association and community is recognized by the Congregation as Associates of the Incarnate Word.
The first organizational meeting took place in 1983. And the first ten members formally committed themselves as Associates of the Incarnate Word in 1984.