In 1889, mother and daughter — Stephanie and Jeanne Bigard — answered a desperate plea for help from the Missions. The French missionary bishop of Nagazaki, Japan wrote to the two women asking for help to keep his seminary open because he had run out of the funds necessary to help educate these young men to serve their people as priests.
The bishop just did not have the funds to train these young Japanese men whom, he judged, would make excellent priests. The Bigards came to his assistance and started a small group for this purpose in their native Caen, France. From these humble beginnings emerged the Society of St. Peter Apostle. Within five years of sending their first donation to Japan, the Bigards, and those whom they enlisted to help, were sending funds to seminaries in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Korea and China.