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News from Marguerite-Bourgeoys Province

Presentation of Carrefour Marguerite-Bourgeoys by Sister Nicole Bernier

Last year, Carrefour Marguerite-Bourgeoys celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding. Its mission is to provide a living environment that fosters autonomy and social inclusion for seniors, by offering a range of popular education activities and a support service for the most vulnerable. It currently has 175 members, including 25 volunteers.

Classes include Spanish, French, English, yoga, art, genealogy, line dancing, a book club and several information sessions on health, safety, aging… A social worker makes home visits for many people in need.

Last December, Le Carrefour moved into new premises at 425 Sherbrooke Street East, on the first floor of a 17-storey building. Sister Louise Gélinas, one of the 4 CND founders, has been giving knitting classes there for 41 years. What dedication!

Sister Nicole Bernier has been a member of the Board of Directors for 7 years. Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys must be very proud of all that is being done at Le Carrefour!

SASMAD in Quebec City (by Sister Claudette Houle, management team)

The Service d’Accompagnement Spirituel des personnes Malades et Âgées à Domicile (SASMAD) has been developing and expanding since the summer of 2018.

Recently, we elected a Board of Directors made up of our volunteers, who have been working hard to turn our service into an NPO (non-profit organization). The process is well advanced, and we expect a positive response next autumn.

More and more people are asking us to become volunteers or to be accompanied. Our latest cohort of candidates forms the thirteenth group of volunteers. On Saturday, April 13, 2024, they pledged their commitment. One volunteer explains what this means: “No complicated techniques, just let yourself be guided and see the beauty of the ‘deep heart’ that is in the other person and also in myself.”

Let us give thanks for so many wonders and blessings! The mission of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame continues with the Holy Spirit at work with Mary and Marguerite Bourgeoys when elderly and/or sick people are visited by volunteers.

“We come to Petite École to succeed and be happy” by Sisters Denise Rivard and Carmen Savard

On April 17, 2024, at Petite École Jeanne-Marguerite, both young and old celebrated Marguerite Bourgeoys’s birthday. After some clever calculations, they discovered that she would have been 404 years old!

To mark the occasion, everyone was invited to a festive snack in honor of Marguerite! We sang “Happy Birthday” and, those who wished to, wrote her birthday wishes and messages of thanks. One of the sweet children then asked if we could send this to Marguerite in heaven! Most thanked her above all for having founded the first Petite École, aware that what they have today would not have been possible without the school of 1658.

Thanks to the generosity of Sister Madeleine Rochette, a beautiful replica of Marguerite’s stable school is still there to remind us of where it all began. In this way, both the young people and the volunteers develop a genuine appreciation for the woman who remains our daily inspiration.

La Petite École can count on 8 volunteers: Four sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame (Sisters Gisèle Bourque, France Cossette, Denise Rivard and Carmen Savard) and four lay persons.

Memories/Slices of Life

Witness of a resurrection by Sister Bernadette Breton (Mahonia Residence)

That was when I was part of the Rivière-de-Corps parish pastoral team in France. Before Saturday evening Mass, the parish priest, Gontran de Tricornot, saw a woman crying in the half-light. Unfortunately, he had no time to speak with her, so he advised her to go see the sister at the rectory reception desk the following Thursday.

When I was told about this appointment, I feared there would be no follow-up… But on the appointed day, Christiane showed up. She began the story of her misfortunes. Married on her parents’ orders because she was pregnant, she gave birth to Arnold. The couple lived in happiness and harmony. A few years passed and her husband developed a disease that left him paraplegic, unable to work and only able to get around in an electric wheelchair. As an adult, their son joined the army. He met Catherine and fell in love. One day, she told him she was leaving him to join the Dominicans. Arnold returned to his parents’ house and committed suicide in the basement…

At the third meeting, having listened to her with compassion and respect for her tears, I asked her if she had the opportunity to get out of the house from time to time to clear her mind. She said she visited cemeteries to collect empty flowerpots and decorate them with leftover tapestries and felt to sell or give as gifts.

I gave her an appointment for the following week, and I put her into contact with Monique, the head of Secours Catholique. Once a week, in a spirit of fraternity, Monique brings together persons in need in the parish to do handicraft activities. Perhaps Christiane could become involved? Once the introductions were made that day, the weeping lady became a woman who was happy to get out of the house, to help others by sharing her talents and, above all, to be able to talk to Monique, a radiant and compassionate woman!

“Go, I send you to proclaim the Good News” by Sister Michelle Boulanger (Megantic)

I’ve been sharing the Good News with my first graders for over 30 years. I journeyed with them, I loved talking to them about Jesus. Shortly before completing this mission, I was asked by a sister to replace her and give Communion in a Boucherville residence. Frustrated and surprised, after some hesitation, I accepted; the Lord was waiting for me around the corner. It turned out to be a true call, a visitation. When I returned home, I knew that this “yes” had oriented me toward working with the elderly. I then continued this service in two residences in this area until I left the city.

In Lac-Mégantic, I was warmly welcomed by Sister Lisette Fillion, who greatly facilitated my integration into the community. While allowing my mother to continue living in her home until the end, I began visiting seniors in a few residences. After she died in 2001, I continued to work with the elderly. Still today, every week at the Manoir Salaberry residence, a dozen or so people welcome me with open arms. My presence allows them to receive Jesus, the Bread of Life. I experience real encounters, visitations. At each celebration, starting with the Gospel, I tell them about Jesus, we sing, we pray, and I know that the Spirit is at work, leading us to a greater understanding of the Father’s great love.

Every month, I have the joy of meeting my friends from Voilier de l’Espérance, our Faith and Light group, people with intellectual disabilities. Sometimes, on Sundays, I am also a Communion minister. All day long, my visits are brought to life through meetings, services received and given, and the beautiful fraternity of the neighborhood.

After taking the Word to the children, I continued my journey with the seniors. So many happy smiles, so many knowing, welcoming and shared glances, so many genuine encounters, as Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys wanted, imitating the life of Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth. Like the disciples of Emmaus, I can say: “Were not our hearts burning within us on the road?” It is an invitation to communicate our happiness, to continue together on the road to eternity. Magnificat!