“We are and we will be feminists as long as it is necessary!”

As part of International Women's Day, Lise Leduc, a lawyer, delivered a speech at the Beauharnois Community Center where she paid tribute to several women, including the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM). With her permission, we are including a few excerpts from her talk, entitled "We are and we will be feminists as long as it is necessary!"

I was invited to come and speak to you on this Women's Day, identifying myself as a woman whose life path could have been created from feminist thinking. I was born in 1941 and I was awakened to life in the enthusiasm, excitement, and the promise of tomorrows that the post-war years sang about.

As the youngest daughter in a family of 11 children, I soon learned about precocious responsibility from "the big sister.” I was fortunate enough, I must say, to have had women throughout my life who guided, counseled and loved me. A single glance of tenderness sometimes sufficed.

SNJM Heritage

It is with emotion that I today think of my teachers, the Sisters from the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a community that took charge of educating girls in Beauharnois.

Without them, I would not have experienced the importance of knowing, the obligation to learn more, to push further, the happiness of enjoying reading, of learning music, of writing and of speaking our beautiful language and to be proud of it. They led me to discover where there were real "golden nuggets", which became more valuable with advancing age. I take this opportunity to honor them and to thank them.

Feminist as long as it is necessary

Memories of inspirational women

There were also among us inspiring women who opened paths to the future, whose presence in the life of the citizens of Beauharnois changed things. Women’s Day is also the time to rekindle the memory of these women; and that's what I have chosen to do. They are numerous, unknown or forgotten. I have been able to trace the journey of four of them now gone; women whom I have personally known and cannot resist the desire to tell you about them as a sign of gratitude and as a tribute for what they have left us.

First, let me render thanks to Yvon Julienour, a local historian who has maintained the memories. I have drawn from his pamphlets, booklets, books, published over nearly thirty years, much of the information on the commitment of Cécile Godin and Loretta Hudon Simard, citizens of Beauharnois whose memory we have honored by giving their names, one to the Cécile-Godin Center and the other to Loretta-Simard Street, formerly named rue Leduc in the Maple Grove Borough.

I also want to talk to you about Rita Montpetit-Lefebvre, who established our municipal library and Isabelle Labrecque-Paquette, founder of the "Regroupement des personnes handicapées", two great volunteers, inspiring women whom we must not forget.

« La mémoire est la seule immortalité pour les êtres qu’on a aimés. » "Memory is the only immortality for those we have loved."* 

We remember that Madame Leduc was the first president of the Board of Directors of "Maison des Enfants Marie-Rose", founded more than ten years ago. She studied in Beauharnois, first at École Marie-Rose for elementary school and at École Jesus-Marie for high school, before going on to business courses at the Holy Names Business College, then located at the SNJMs’ Motherhouse in Outremont (Montreal).

"Registered in a permanent formation program at Collège Sainte-Marie, she accumulated the required credits to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree.  Admitted into the Faculty of Law at the University of Montreal in 1978, she became a member of the Quebec Bar in 1984.  She practiced law until 2015.  She had also been elected municipal councillor of Beauharnois in 1974." 

* translated from an article entitled "Le Droit  d’être rebelle – Marcelle Ferron

Demystify aging and maintaining the development of one's cognitive abilities

Conference by Geneviève Ling

"What I remembered, among other things, is that the brain has three different memories and that the latter has an unlimited capacity for acquiring new information, so it is good and necessary to keep it active through new learning at any age," said one of the many participants in this lecture by Geneviève Ling, who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Neuropsychology.

Ms. Ling, recognized for her years of experience in assessment, diagnosis and monitoring of various childhood and adult learning disabilities was the guest speaker in November and February at the Congregation House for the Sisters and Associates.   She is also a lecturer on memory and cognitive aging.

While currently completing a doctoral thesis on home treatment of people with Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia or mixed dementia, Ms. Ling presented a theory on aging and knowing how to maintain and develop cognitive abilities.

Continuing to learn at any age

Despite the complexity of the subject, the speaker was able to give a clear picture of an alarming situation, given the increase in the lifespan of people exceeding the age of 85. With the help of anecdotes and scenarios, Ms. Ling succeeded in making the various notions related to cognitive problems comprehensible.

"What generally stands out for me is that our brain is of paramount importance in our lives. We have to take care of it as much as possible, taking into account our genetics and our personal resources," stated one participant.

Another participant made this comment: "The theory on aging allowed me to understand, through diagrams and explanations, the complexity of the brain. This diagram shows the management of  the cognitive functions (language, memory, perception, planning). When we advance in age, we undergo normal consequences; a decrease in brain volume, a decrease in the blood flow, and a decrease in the hippocampus, all which lead to a decrease in memory and the ability to gather knowledge."

Another participant, reassured by the content of the speaker's remarks, commented, "With age, the brain can function more slowly, it is normal, it is not necessarily a sign of dementia, and you have to know how to follow your own pace, while continuing to learn new things."

Helpful hints to slow the deterioration of the brain

Geneviève Ling provided some important practical tips on how to prevent the brain from deteriorating. Here are a few:

  • Being diligent about exercising reduces the possibility of dementia by 38%.
  • Making some changes in our habits, for example: Change our lunch menu
  • Becoming socially involved in interpersonal gratifying relationships, family and friends
  • Retaining some information at least once a day
  • Paying close attention to some work
  • Monitoring our diet according to Canada's Food Guide
  • Look at our environment and our world with a positive outlook
  • Playing games (cards, dice, do-it-yourself projects, dance), etc.
  • Appreciating the people with whom we are living
  • Writing a book or writing down our memories
Judging by the comments and feedback received after the two conferences, the speaker had achieved her goal. The richness of the interaction and the content has been most inspiring
Another pertinent comment: "This meeting gave me several tools to decrease the weakening of my cognitive functions. As a caregiver, I have been able to gain a better understanding of the effects of dementia in people who have it or who are progressively ''out of touch with reality ."

“May our lives be renewed!”

Day for Consecrated Life in Longueuil  

On February 2nd, World Day for Consecrated Life, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) welcomed consecrated persons and consecrated groups from the Saint-Jean-Longueuil Diocese, at Maison Jésus-Marie.

For the occasion, Sister Lorraine Caza, C.N.D. and Father Michel Proulx, O. Praem, developed their presentation based on three circular letters from Pope Francis, which were recently addressed to consecrated persons.

The very mention of the titles of these letters: Rejoice, Evaluate, Contemplate, constitutes in itself a compelling call.

Rejoice in the renewal experienced since the Second Vatican Council. Listen carefully to recognize God’s Presence and witness to it by a life centered on communion and attention to the needs of the world.

Evaluate the horizons of your life and your time with careful attention. Scrutinize the darkness to discover the fire which enlightens and guides; scrutinize the sky to recognize the signs of blessings...

Contemplate in the midst of your daily life. May your quest be passionate. Remain, despite the nights and the struggles, so as to hear God’s whispers (just like Elijah). Look to God to see the faces of people and other creatures.

After a period of discussion, a break and returning to the group, it was time for thanksgiving: Father Jean-Pierre Camerlain, Episcopal Vicar for Canonical Affairs and Chancellor of the St. Jean-Longueuil Diocese presided at the Eucharistic Celebration. . He was assisted by eight concelebrants.

The 175th anniversary of the founding of the SNJM Congregation was highlighted with a prayer intention and by the placing of a bouquet of roses at the foot of the statue of Mother Marie-Rose.
Simone Perras, S.N.J.M. 

Photos - Sister Gisèle Lalande


A look back at the year 2017 - Intense, touching and inspiring moments

The year 2017 was full of twists and turns, unexpected events, enriching encounters and various activities for the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM). With such fertile ground, it is always difficult to embark on a journey back in time.

This time, to help us look back at this year, we have chosen to present 12 memorable moments that occurred in 2017. They are memorable for the gratitude and the outreach but also for their historic aspect in this year marked by major tributes for Montreal and many other organizations.

Here then is our look back at the year 2017:

1. The presence of the SNJM Choir at a broadcast of "En direct de l’univers"

It is difficult to ignore this adventure which showcased the SNJM Choir on a prime-time television show. It also served as a stirring reminder that the host Julie Snyder was a former SNJM student and a "fan" of Mother Marie-Rose in her early teens!

2. A significant interview with a Sister committed to prisoners

Sister Phyllis Douillard’s interview in the Catholic Register shed light on her commitment to restorative justice, a spiritual and social program designed to help prisoners, who are sexual predators, integrate into society after they have served their time. This teacher, who also campaigns against human trafficking, drew attention to certain problems experienced in the prison environment, including a lack of funding for support and accountability programs and the role of chaplains. This is another example of SNJM commitment. 

3. Diocesan Order of Merit for an SNJM Associate

The tribute paid to Dorothy Guha, a long-time SNJM Associate, by the Saint-Jean-Longueuil Diocese, highlighted the constant work and commitment by this citizen in her community. It was a great way of emphasizing the presence and contribution of associates who are continuing the SNJM Mission in their respective milieus, by seeking to respond to the needs.

4. International solidarity against human trafficking with Talitha Kum

As a representative of CATHII (Action Committee against Internal and International Trafficking) where she has been working since its founding in 2004, Sister Claudette Bastien, SNJM, participated in an international meeting Talitha Kum in Rome. There she made thought-provoking encounters and discovered the positive impact of this international solidarity in everyday actions. It was a reminder that demonstrated and reaffirmed the ongoing commitment of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) who adopted a corporate stand against human trafficking in 2004.


5. A new page in history is written for Résidence Sainte-Émélie

The reunion at Sainte-Émélie brought together participants from the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve districts and from elsewhere. They used this opportunity to reconnect with the Sisters and to share memories. This day of celebration also served as a reminder of the journey travelled by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) as soon as they arrived in the neighborhood in 1860 and especially at Sainte-Émélie Convent.

6. Welcoming a third family of Syrian refugees 

To date, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM), along with partners from the milieus, have sponsored three families of Syrian refugees. The arrival of this third family brings the opportunity to build bridges between Christians and Muslims. A look back at the story of this new family and at their first steps on Quebec soil...

7. A tribute to the SNJMs during the "Paroisse de la Nativité" festivities 

The commemoration of 150 years of the Paroisse de la Nativité in Montreal was an occasion to pay tribute to the religious congregations, including the SNJMs, who were very involved in education and pastoral work in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, since 1860. The organizers also recognized the contribution of women through their work in the many cotton mills in the area, by officially inaugurating Place des Tisserandes.

8. Gratitude to the SNJMs in Saint Bruno

During a celebration commemorating the 175th anniversary of Saint-Bruno parish, the contribution of the SNJMs who began their commitment in this municipality in 1918, was highlighted. The representatives of the congregation had the opportunity to meet and converse with former students and their parents. It was another great opportunity to recall the diversity of the commitments of the Sisters who have taught and who have contributed to pastoral activities in many ways.

9. SNJMs participation in a presentation of “Archives à voix haute” 

During the year 2017, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM), were able to highlight their contribution in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve-Viauville districts. Also, within the context of a public reading of archival documents, presented during the festivities of the 375th anniversary of Montreal, the SNJM Central Archives Department selected excerpts from articles published in the local newspaper referring to history lessons, prepared by the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve History Workshop with the collaboration of professors, one of whom was Micheline Collin, SNJM. 

10. An experience of solidarity at the official launch of the corporate stand in favor of immigrants and refugees

The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM), prepared an activity to officially launch their corporate stand by rallying community organizations to present a portrait of the situation experienced by refugees and immigrants on Montreal’s South Shore. The interventions of a variety of collaborators captivated the large audience. It was a great opportunity to raise the awareness that the SNJMs are actively involved in this matter which concerns the entire world community.

11. The SNJMs visibility at the exhibition “375 YEARS IN THE HEART OF IT ALL” 

Among the numerous activities organized for the 375th anniversary of the City of Montreal, an exhibition entitled “375 Years in the Heart of It All” was held at Maison Saint-Gabriel. This exhibition showed the many facets of the contribution of women's religious congregations to the City of Montreal. Among the dozen or so participating religious congregations, of course, were the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, the first congregation of women religious teachers founded by a Canadian.

12. World premiere of a symphony honoring Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher

At the opening of its new season last fall, the Orchestre Symphonique de Longueuil (OSDL) presented its first symphony by a Russian composer, who created his musical work to pay tribute to two key figures from Longueuil, one of whom is Mother Marie-Rose. It was a wonderful sign of gratitude to the foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM). 


Other articles in the section News
“We are and we will be feminists as long as it is necessary!”
Demystify aging and maintaining the development of one's cognitive abilities
“May our lives be renewed!”
A look back at the year 2017 - Intense, touching and inspiring moments
The SNJM’s helping hand in Michel Tremblay’s play at Théâtre Jean-Duceppe
Becoming aware of human trafficking on a daily basis
A journey into exile…
May peace be with her