In what context was the SNJM congregation founded?

Why a religious congregation?

The work accomplished during 12 years in the parish of Beloeil and its surroundings made Eulalie Durocher (Mother Marie-Rose) aware of the main realities of the population: poverty, lack of education and gaps in faith.

In 1827, a petition against the Dalhousie regime showed that of the 87,000 signatures collected, there were 78,000 crosses. After the rebellions of 1837-38, there were only three village schools (the forerunners of public schools) open in Lower Canada, which had 61 in 1833.*

At the same time, Monsignor Ignace Bourget, Bishop of Montreal, wanted to solve social problems (care for the sick, services for the needy, etc.) and to fill the gap in general and religious education.

He approached the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) in Marseilles, France, pointing out that he already had two young women, Eulalie Durocher and Mélodie Dufresne, ready to become novices in the Congregation. The distance and the living conditions slowed down the nuns in Marseille who declined Bishop Bourget’s invitation.

*Le système scolaire de la province de Québec, Gérard Filteau

Beginnings of a new congregation in Quebec

mère Marie-de-Saint-Augustin-de Jésus

The story goes that it was at the suggestion of the bishop of Marseille and with the agreement of the founder and superior of the Marseille congregation, Mother Marie-de-Saint-Augustin-de-Jesus, that Bishop Bourget asked Eulalie and Mélodie to found a new congregation. To help them in the foundation of this new congregation in Longueuil, the superior of the SNJM of Marseille offers a copy of the Rules and Constitutions and a miniature model of their costume.

At the same time, Henriette and Émélie Céré were teaching at the École de la Fabrique, in the heart of the village of Longueuil, just across from the church. Bishop Bourget hopes that these two young women will join Eulalie and Mélodie in the new community of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM). Henriette would join Eulalie and Mélodie to become the first novices of the young congregation which would be established at the École de la Fabrique, later referred to as the “foundation house” of the SNJM. On October 28, 1843, the three foundresses began their life in common. This is the date of the foundation of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

Here are the religious names of the three postulants:

  • Eulalie Durocher (Mother Marie-Rose)
  • Mélodie Dufresne (Mother Marie-Agnès)
  • Henriette Céré (Mother Marie-Madeleine)

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