From the very beginning of our Religious Congregation, established in 1837, our Foundress, St. Mary Joseph Rossello called upon priests and lay collaborators to help, advise and support our community. All are part of what we call, the Rossellian Family, comprised of Priests of Mercy, Rossellian Family Outreach (RFO), and ALAM.
As stated in our Constitutions, "Through the diversity of its membership, the Rossellian Family seeks to announce to all with their words, with their hearts, and with the authenticity of their works the finest traits of
the Mercy of God."
Priests of Mercy
Saint Mary Joseph Rossello had great respect and concern for priests and for the promotion of vocations to the priesthood. Unfortunately, most of the interested young men were from very poor families who could not afford to attend seminary school. At great risk, Mother Rossello established her own seminary that became known as “The Little House of the Seminary.” She was criticized by many who considered this foolhardy and unrealistic. Even some members of the clergy adamantly opposed the idea, accusing her of taking young prospective vocations away from the diocesan seminary of Savona, Italy. In reality, her intent was just the opposite.
Mother Rossello established the Little Seminary in a small building that housed up to 12 men at a time. After much prayer and discernment, she obtained the help of some holy priests whom she knew, to provide spiritual formation for these young men. Mother Rossello, and the other sisters, sacrificed a lot to sustain the Little Seminary. Their efforts yielded great rewards as many of the young men become devoted and holy priests.
Today’s “Priests of Mercy” is an outgrowth of Saint Mary Joseph Rossello’s early efforts. Each province and delegation of our Institute has priests, known as Priests of Mercy, who are members of our religious family. Their membership is spiritual, supportive, and interactive. They receive communications from our Generalate, from the respective provinces and delegations, and are encouraged to attend community functions and celebrations. We share an ongoing reciprocal exchange of intercessory prayers and spiritual benefits – a treasured source of enrichment for the entire Rossellian Family.
As far back as 1874, laywomen have played an important role in the family of Mother Rossello. Giuseppa Ranzani, the first laywoman to work with Mother Rossello, as an apostle of the ransom of young African slave girls, became the first model for a laywoman who shares the mission of mercy and is spiritually bound to the family of Mother Rossello.
In 1974, the Daughters of Mercy, at their International General Chapter, held at their Generalate in Savona, Italy, considered the requests of laywomen who wished to be incorporated into the Institute, that they might spread this same mission of mercy among their families and in their neighborhoods and places of work. On December 3, 1976, the Institute established the Association of Laywomen in the Apostolate of Mercy (ALAM) with a Decree of Approval granted by the Holy See. With this official approval, the practice of incorporating lay associates into the Rossellian Family spread and eventually expanded to include both women and men. (Note: ALAM is not part of the Newfield Province.)
In 1994, our Mother General, Mother M. Celsa Giuseppa Benetti, mandated that each province establish a new grouping for our lay associates -- one with a more moderate structure than that of ALAM. Known as the Rossellian Family Outreach (RFO), it includes single men and women, married couples, and families. RFO members dedicate themselves to carry out the spiritual and corporal Works of Mercy in the Church and in the world in the spirit and charism of St. Mary Joseph Rossello.