Society of Saint Peter Apostle
As the 19th century was drawing to a close, Jeanne Bigard and her mother, Stephanie, received a letter from Bishop Jules-Alphonse Cousin, then serving in Nagasaki, Japan. He told of the more than 50 young men preparing for the priesthood and about the difficulty he was having providing for them and trying to accommodate the growing number of young men applying for admission to the seminary.
Stephanie and Jeanne began collecting funds to support those seminarians. In 1889, they established the Society of St. Peter Apostle to support mission vocations, both priestly and religious.
In the first year of its foundation, the Society of St. Peter Apostle aided some 2,700 seminarians. In 1922 the society obtained papal patronage from Pope Pius XI. Today, some 31,000 major seminarians, mostly in Asia and Africa, receive an average annual subsidy of $700 per student; assistance is also provided for 10,000 men and women religious novices.