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Mélodie Dufresne - Biography

MelodieDufresne2Mélodie Dufresne
Sister Marie-Agnès 
1809-1881

Her youth

Mélodie Dufresne was born in Beloeil on November 9, 1809. She was the second child of Jean-Baptiste Dufresne, "master blacksmith" and Ursule Poirier. Fourteen children were born into the family but only eight survived. Being somewhat privileged for the times, Mr. Dufresne paid to give the boys classical courses and to provide the girls with two years of boarding school.

Mélodie initially attended the village school and then pursued her studies at Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu, with the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame.

In Beloeil with Eulalie Durocher

In 1825, she met Eulalie Durocher (Mother Marie Rose) for the first time. The two young women immediately got along well. In 1833, shortly after a trial period with the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, Mélodie was invited to come and help Eulalie at the rectory in Beloeil. The common desire to consecrate their lives to God brought these two young women closer together. In 1843, they placed their talents and creativity at the service of the parish of Saint-Matthieu in Beloeil and collaborated in the mission of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Life in Longueuil

In 1843, Bishop Ignace Bourget invited Eulalie and Mélodie to come to Longueuil to join Henriette Céré who was teaching at the parish school. Their house is now recognized as the "cradle of the Congregation" of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary dedicated to the education of young people. The three were to remain there until August 1844, when the Longueuil Convent was ready to welcome them.

On December 8, 1844, the three foundresses pronounced their vows in the church of Saint–Antoine-de-Padoue in Longueuil. Mélodie took the name Sister Marie Agnes. All her life, she made an effort to apply herself to the work entrusted to her: housekeeping, sewing, drawing and creative crafts. The products of her artistic talent were a source of great joy for her.

Overseeing the students' work, she entrusted them with responsibilities. If sometimes she seemed too demanding, she was able to apologize with great humility. A generous soul, her love of beauty and great sensitivity softened the character traits manifested in her younger years. A former student commented, "She was strict, but we would say 'she is a saint' ".

Here and beyond

Mother Marie Rose's death in 1849 left a great void in Sister Marie Agnes's heart. It was in God that she found the strength and hope to maintain the spirit of the foundress alive. A "mystic of Jesus", as she became known to her companions, she followed the path of renunciation and prayer as she offered her life as a teacher, an artist and a religious to God. She died on December 22, 1881, at the age of 72.

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