From October 16 to October 20, 2009, six SNJM’s from Quebec, along with Sister Jocelyne Latreille, from the SNJM General Leadership Team had the privilege of participating in the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Sisters of the Holy Names presence in Oregon, USA.
A short history
On September 15, 1859, when the Congregation numbered 72 Sisters, 12 of these Sisters, ages 18 to 33, left Quebec in response to an invitation extended by Bishop Norbert Blanchet, Archbishop of the diocese of Oregon. He had requested that they work with the French Canadian immigrants who lived in that part of the United States.
They had to raise funds in order to cover the cost of the $4 000 for this voyage. The trip by ship lasted 37 days. The Sisters took the train to Saint Lambert and from there took a boat to Troy, NY. The superior general Mother Theresa of Jesus and Mother Veronica of the Crucifix accompanied them to New York City where they embarked on yet another boat for the long journey. The missionaries arrived in Key West, Florida, on September 26th, San Francisco, California, on October 16th and finally arrived in Portland, Oregon on October 22nd. Certainly a much longer journey than going by plane!
150 years later
The major events of the festivities concluded with a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated at the University of Portland. It was presided by Archbishop John G. Vlazny, a man who knows how to speak from his heart. The ceremony was simple yet full of grandeur. A small boat symbolized the courage and faith of the pioneers from Quebec.
Sister Joan Saalfield, provincial superior of the U.S.-Ontario Province, reminded those present that these twelve missionaries had brought their faith, courage, books, a piano and the spirit and values of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Music and art were an integral part of a full and rigorous curriculum at St. Mary’s Academy that opened in 1859. Twelve Sisters boldly ventured forth with a mission and many others have continued to carry the flame during these past 150 years.
Pride and gratitude were deeply felt
throughout these joy-filled days.
Inspired by some articles written by Simone Perras, s.n.j.m.