Birth of the Convent of Longueuil

SNJM Memory Lane New vocation: From teaching to administration

Until the moment when the churchwardens of the parish of Longueuil will acquire the land and the house of Louis Briquet, this property will be the object of several transactions without knowing major transformations, if we rely on the notarial acts.

In 1842, the churchwardens purchased the original site of Louis Briquet’s house. During the following year, they realized that the property was not large enough to accommodate a convent of teaching nuns. In 1843, they acquired the sites and outbuildings of the trustees of the bankruptcy of Joseph Roussel.

Then, they decided to proceed with the repair and enlargement of the first house purchased in 1842.

“… which repairs consist in raising the house by one floor, making another roof, making openings in the part adjacent to the house which has been used up to now as a shed, renewing the floors and frames, making the frames and floors that the raising will require and buying all the materials for the said works…” (1).

At the time the churchwardens made their decision to expand, the congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) was born (1843). The three founding sisters lived, prayed, studied and taught at the École de la Fabrique, a house located in front of the church (now identified as the Foundation House).  This building soon proved to be too small. It is hard to imagine how 72 people could fit into this 30′ x 40′ house!

The decision of the churchwardens is easily explained in the circumstances. It also supports the will expressed by Bishop Ignace Bourget, who wanted to be able to count on a religious congregation capable of fighting ignorance of the young through quality teaching.

At the beginning of the school year in September 1844, the nuns found themselves at the Longueuil Convent, also known as the Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Jésus (1844-1983). They welcomed 33 boarders, 20 more than at the small École de la Fabrique School. They also care for 57 day-students, 7 more than the previous year.

An excerpt from the Community Chronicles captures the great change that was taking place for the young teaching congregation.

“Our convent is a rough stone house (measuring 90 feet in length and 32 feet in width) of two stories with a first floor and attic.

On the first floor, on the left as you enter, are the visiting room, the students’ refectory and the sisters’ refectory; on the right, there are two adjoining classrooms. A staircase, placed in front of the entrance door, leads to the second floor. Half of the second floor is reserved for the sisters; the students never enter it: it is the cloister.

In the attics which are divided into two parts are our chapel and the students’ dormitory.” (2)

1 – Register of deliberations – 19th leaf – verso
2 – SNJM Chronicles, August 20, 1844, page 37