Our history

“The Community of Saint Martin can only be made up of each of its member’s misery. So, from a human perspective, it is a misery the Church has absolutely no need of. But, in the faith in the merciful Love of Jesus, the only and supreme Priest, it is part of the Wisdom of the Son to the glory of the Father for the service of the souls.

1/6 - Rev. Father Jean-François Guérin


Jean-François Guérin was born in 1929 in Loches, Touraine (France). When ordained the 29th of June 1955 by Bishop Gaillard for the diocese of Tours, he became curate of the Tours cathedral and chaplain of the secondary school. After graduating with a Canonical Law degree from the Catholic University of Paris (Institut Catholique de Paris), he was made Director-General of the Œuvre d’Orient (serving Christians in Orient).

He was also made Oblate of the Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault and has thus been deeply influenced by the Benedictine spiritual life. In the 60s and 70s, while doing his ministry in Paris, many students assembled around him.

2/6 - The Origin of the Community


In 1976, convinced by students who felt a vocation to the priesthood, “Monsieur l’Abbé” decided to leave France to start a new community under the fatherly supervision of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, archbishop of Genoa, Italy. With the first seminarians, he settled in Voltri, in the diocese of Genoa.

Cardinal Siri, until his death in 1989, supported and kept alive his friendship with our founder, expressing his profound and highest esteem for him by appointing him Honorary Canon of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence in Genoa. Our founder then became Monsignor Guérin.

3/6 - The Return to France


While several French bishops were beginning to show their trust towards the Community as it grew by calling its priests to their first ministries, Monsignor Guérin felt the importance to return to France.

In 1993, the Community’s Mother House and House of Formation moved to Candé-sur-Beuvron, in the diocese of Blois, under the care of its bishop, Mgr Jean Cuminal, and later, from 1997, Mgr Maurice de Germiny.

4/6 - Passing the Baton

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In 2004, for health reasons, Monsignor Jean-François Guérin stepped down as General Moderator of the Community. The General Assembly of priests and deacons of the Community elected Father Jean-Marie Le Gall – one of the Community’s first priests, ordained in 1980 by Cardinal Siri – to succeed him for a six-year term.

Mgr Guérin passed away in the peace of the Lord on the 21st of May 2005. He is interred in his childhood village of Artannes, in the diocese of Tours.

In 2010, a new General Moderator was elected for a six-year term, Father Paul Préaux, ordained in 1989. In 2020, in the midst of his second term of office, Father Paul celebrates his tenth year as Moderator in the service of the Community.

5/6 - Arrival in Évron

In 2014, the seminary’s premises in Candé-sur-Beuvron were getting so cramped that it needed to move. In the summer of the same year, the seminary moved to Evron (Mayenne) in the diocese of Laval.

Since then, the seminary has grown up in the Benedictine abbey of Évron (17th century), where the seminarians receive their human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral training, in the wake of the impulse given by Father Guérin and maintained by his successors.

This house is also home to the Community’s Mother House. As a decision-making centre, it welcomes priests for community gatherings, ongoing formation and rest periods.

6/6 - Parishes over time

In the early decades, the Community took on parishes progressively. From these early years, the Community’s priests are still serving Fayence (1983), Saint-Raphaël (1986), Cellettes-Montrichard (1990), Vouvray and the sanctuary of Montligeon (1995), and Nogent (1997).

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of parishes increased with Chinon (2000), Font-Romeu (2002), the Pontlevoy boarding school (2005), the parish of Placetas in Cuba (2006), Châlons-en-Champagne (2008), and Brie Comte-Robert and Mortagne-au-Perche (2010).

Since 2010, the Community has taken on new parishes in Soissons and Genoa (Italy) in 2011, Meyzieu and Biarritz in 2012, Paris (Notre-Dame des Blancs Manteaux), Évron and Dijon in 2013, Laval as of 2014 (with new sectors in 2016 and 2019), Trélazé St Barthélémy and the sanctuary of Lourdes in 2015, youth ministry in Blois in 2016, Brive-la-Gaillarde and Arles in 2017, Amiens in 2018, and Sarcelles in 2019.