Blessed Jean-Joseph Lataste, OP (1832-1868) — Born Alcide-Vital Lataste in Gironde, France, on September 5, 1832, in 1857 he entered the Dominican Order and was ordained a priest on February 8, 1863, taking the name Jean-Joseph. His unexpected spiritual journey was about to take flight.
After being a priest all of 18 months, Father Jean-Joseph was sent by the prior of the monastery in Bordeaux to conduct a four-day retreat for the inmates of a woman’s prison. Most of them had been abused and abandoned with nowhere to go, they had been discarded and treated like criminals. Father Jean-Joseph stood before the women, stretched out his arms, and began, “My dear sisters –” He introduced them to God’s infinite mercy, and felt inspired to begin a ministry to serve these women.
In 1866, determined to find a way to help them, he wrote a pamphlet called Rehabilitated. He announced his intentions of starting an order where women leaving prison could begin a contemplative religious life. This order was approved and is known as the Dominican Sisters of Bethany. The Order still flourishes and serves many women in different countries around the world.
Father Jean-Joseph died of tuberculosis on March 10, 1868. He was only 36 years old. As he died, he could be heard softly singing the “Salve Regina.” He was beatified in 2012.