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“What a joy to rediscover this world so dedicated to the full development of young girls..."

Success of the Open House and its special activities during Archeology Month

Close to 150 people walked the corridors of the Longueuil Convent of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM), during the first weekend of activities organized as part of Archeology Month, in Longueuil. The congregation took advantage of this theme to offer animated presentations on the heritage and history of the Longueuil Convent and its transformations over the years since 1740.  Emphasis was placed on the SNJM’s presence since their arrival in 1844, soon after their foundation. 

Based on their meticulous research in the congregation’s archives, archivists Geneviève Noël and Yvonne Painchaud provided many details on the use of the site by the sisters and all the modifications made to the building over the years, in order to meet the growing needs. Participants were surprised to learn that many sisters had to sleep in their classrooms because of the lack of space in the convent, even until the year 1970! 

Former students were especially touched by the part of the presentation which highlighted the major transformations of the Longueuil Convent in 1983, with the closure of the boarding school to adapt to the changing purpose of the building. 

Impressed by the story and the diversity of the sisters’ works

At the same time as these presentations, the doors of the Convent were opened wide to welcome visitors who made many discoveries. The following, are some of their comments: 

“I am very happy to finally see what is inside this imposing historic building.’’  “What a great experience it was to get to know more about this world, sensitive to the full development of young girls.’’  ‘’Thank you for the beautiful learning session, still useful 40 years later.‘’   “This visit makes us aware of our roots. . .  We are the product of this story. . .”  “I’m happy to see what the sisters have done and are doing still today.‘’

This opening to the public also provided an opportunity for many to share anecdotes about their years in Longueuil Convent, to recall the sometimes emotional memories of their teachers, and even to experience an alumnae reunion! A sister, currently living in the convent,  reconnected with a student she had not seen in 50 years. 

The open house allowed visitors to see the Foundation House and the museum dedicated to the foundresses of the Congregation and to soak up the atmosphere of the chapel and the historical rooms where Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher lived.  The archives exhibit, Educate to Liberate underlining the SNJM’s 175th anniversary,  presented  an overview of the works and commitments of the first teaching Congregation founded by a Canadian-born female religious.  

While walking the long corridors, visitors were able to see the photo gallery of the general superiors and the works of SNJM artists (canvases and drawings) as well as an impressive list of Longueuil schools where SNJM sisters had ministered. Some visitors extended and completed their exploration by listening to Sr. Lisette Boulé’s commentary on the grounds outside. 

This experience offered by the SNJM community is part of the activities for the 175th anniversary of the Congregation. It is a great way to stay close to their mission, welcoming the public with a spirit of openness typical of their foundress, Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher. 

Various comments by visitors attest to the success of the event: ‘’Thank you for the warm welcome. We felt the presence of Mother Marie-Rose, her energy, her values.’’ ‘’We were surprised to realize all there is to see here.’’  ‘’I am happy to rediscover the spirit that inhabited me during my school years.’’

The next Open House, combined with another special presentation, will take place on Saturday, September 29th. In the meantime, anyone interested in visiting the Marie-Rose Center’s museum can make an appointment from Wednesday to Sunday, until September 2nd. 

Source : Odette Côté – 514 995-7941 
Communications SNJM

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