Father Chauvet’s parents, Noè Chauvet and Marguerite de la Forest lived in the town of Pertuis in Provence. His Father, Noé Chauvet, was a merchant. His mother’s name was Marguerite de la Forest. The Chauvet family included three sons: Louis, Joseph and Antoine and two daughters: Jeanne and Genevieve. The Chauvet family was of modest means, but sufficiently well off to give good education to the children.
Father Chauvet as Pastor Father Chauvet was ordained on March 13, 1688 in Avignon, and was assigned to the parish of St. Martin in Levesville-la-Chenard in June 1694. He was accompanied by his young sister, Genevieve who took charge of the presbytery household until Fr. Chauvet died.
At his own expense, Fr. Chauvet made extensive repairs in the rectory. He had a very rich library with 176 volumes, 17 of which were the Bible, the Gospels, epistles and works of the most illustrious Fathers of the Church. This revealed his education, culture, learning, and his love for work. His harpsichord and organ gave proof of his taste, delicacy, education, and distinction. He was a musician and was regarded in Beauce as a friend of the sun and of music.
Father Chauvet’s presence attracted the people to confide him: the poor, the sick, the sinners, Christians who looked for a more perfect life and a more enlightened direction. He dealt with every kind of problem in his parish. Being a friend of the poor, he made it a point to be the indispensible counselor of the rich.
Fr. Chauvet's Passion
The passion of Father Louis Chauvet was to raise the level of life of the people, teach them to go beyond concerns of mere survival, and to aspire for the finer things in life—in the things of the Spirit.
Ten months after his installation in Levesville, he made known his projects. He took every means to prepare the public opinion and to keep himself ready to profit by favourable circumstances.
On April 28, 1965, he assembled the officers of the parish council in the presbytery… He settled with them the division of the land belonging to the parish council after publicizing it for several Sundays and leaving the auction open to the people of the parish.
Among the seven tenants who got a portion of the land of the council was Father Chauvet who “is renting about nine ‘septiers’ for the upkeep of a school master and mistress and “will pay the amount of six ‘septiers’, one ‘minot’ and two-third of a ‘minot’ for the maintenance of a school master and mistress.” …On April 28, 1695, the Community of the Daughters of the School already existed in the heart of the founder and perhaps this can be considered as the date of its baptism.
Father Chauvet was, therefore, ready to make use of every eventuality which allowed him to realize his projects. It is not just a case of imagination, then, to state that he was equally pre-occupied about the choice and the preparation of the “school mistress” who was to assure the instruction of the children in order to fulfil the desire expressed in the lease. That would be failing to recognize the spirit of firmness, of will power, method and precision which characterized the pastor of Levesville. Even the parishioners of Father Chauvet did not doubt that.
The end of the 17th century, however, was marked by the strong movement of mysticism which occasioned a lot of useless controversies. Certain people wanted, by their devotedness and sacrifice, to repair the faults of the past centuries, to come to the aid of the unfortunate and assume the instruction of the youth so as to enlighten, guide and lead them back to God. It was under this profound and powerful impulse, that important royal edicts were promulgated during the last ten years of the 17th century. This is the goodness of Providence to repair faults and save a people that was drifting away, straying and losing itself.
On account of his taste for study and his priestly qualities, Father Chauvet felt, more than other priests, the necessity of helping and instructing. From the time he arrived in his parish he not only exercised the traditional ministry according to the established customs and administered the sacraments, but he fought against the religious torpor born of lassitude, misery and above all ignorance.
To remedy this evil, he wanted to teach the children how to read and write in order to enable them to study and learn more about Christian doctrine, to participate more fully and more intimately in religious ceremonies and to practice religion truly and perfectly. For Father Chauvet, this was one of the primordial and essential conditions of all Christian renewal. He wanted to instruct in order to convince. Besides, he liked to call himself Teacher Louis Chauvet, pastor of Levesville. In fact, Father Chauvet was as much teacher as pastor, without ever failing in his parochial ministry.
Father Chauvet’s Creative Response
• He offered to rent the idle land once donated to the parish to pay for a school mistress.
• He used his own resources to build a house as school for the children and home for the school mistress.
• He recruited young pious girls with whom he shared his vision.
• Finally, aided by a Royal decree in 1698 that schools be set up to educate the people in the villages, Fr. Chauvet and his Daughters were able to establish a school in Levesville.
Father Louis Chauvet and his Daughters’ good work became known, appreciated
Nearby parishes asked for his Daughters to serve as school mistresses in their parishes. Others sent him young girls to be trained to become school sisters.
The Rule of the Daughters of the School
Father Chauvet gave to his daughters a Rule to imitate Christ, to live in piety, humility, simplicity, and work and to serve the poor with compassionate love in tranquil daring.
Detachment of Father Louis Chauvet
Father Louis Chauvet, with great spiritual detachment, entrusted his Daughters to the protection of the Bishop of Chartres. He stayed on in Levesville. He passed away on June 21, 1710 at the age of 46.
Even in death, Father Chauvet continued to give. He ensured support for his community of Sisters, his fellow priests, his nephew studying for the priesthood, the poor and destitute, poor seminarians to whom he left his books, and Genevieve, his sister, who accompanied him in his mission in Levesville.