The most recent creation by Michel Tremblay is currently being staged at Théâtre Jean-Duceppe until February 3rd. This play takes us back to the world of the author in the fifties, who lived on Fabre Street in Plateau Mont-Royal. Curious about everything and very tenacious, the kid bombards those around him with questions about literature, cinema and ... religion! The various characters among whom are the mother, Nana, the grandmother, the father and the Sister who is the principal of the school, have quite a bit of difficulty answering the incessant questions of young Michel.
The play that has received numerous accolades since its final dress rehearsal, allows Michel Tremblay to portray, in a wonderful way, the society in which he had grown up. Brilliant conversations and dialogues, tinged with humor, innocence and common sense provide an outstanding moment of theater with amazing comedians.
For the record, it should be noted that the costume designer came to the Marie-Rose Center to make the costume for the Sister who plays the principal of the school. She made it as close as possible to the one worn by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) who, at that time, were very prominent in the neighborhoods of East-end Montreal. Apart from some slight changes to the coif and veil to provide a better view of the actress’s face, the work was well done, based on the comments of the Sisters who have seen the play.
For a résumé of the play written by the comedian Henri Chassé, click here. (video in French only)
From January 1st to February 8th, 2018, an awareness campaign with prayer intercessions was orchestrated by the anti-trafficking committee of the SNJM Justice and Peace Network. Sisters, SNJM associates, consecrated laypersons and all those attuned to SNJM values are invited to participate individually or collectively in this process to thwart the phenomenon of human trafficking.
This initiative was inspired by the American Bishops’ invitation of to the faithful to draw attention to the fight against the various forms of trafficking. The project took shape as a schedule of prayer intercessions spread out among the various groups within the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM).
These prayer intercessions can also serve as reflection and awareness of the various aspects of this phenomenon that affects all societies, including Quebec and Canada. It was intended as a calendar, but can be used in a variety of ways and adapted according to circumstances such as suggested intentions during a time of prayer, or to spend a period of reflection at a meeting, etc.
How can we feel what refugees are experiencing? Can we really understand the dilemmas faced by thousands of refugees around the world? What are the hazards of the migration crisis? These are the points that were discussed on December 9th, during a day of education and raising awareness about the experiences of refugees.
Organized by the Jesuit Refugee Service (Canada), this day evoked strong emotions among the participants while providing more relevant information, than ever before, to help them understand this phenomenon of forced migration.
Even before being immersed in a simulation experience to understand how refugees are feeling, the enormity of the situation must be taken into consideration. From your point of view, how many people do you think become refugees, per minute, around the world?
Has the cat got your tongue? Don’t worry; in this case, you are not alone. The answer is both simple and terrible. The magic number is 24. And yes, there are 24 new refugees per minute, in the world. The result of this is an even more terrifying number per year: 65 million refugees or displaced persons.
These refugees come primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen in the Middle East; Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea in Africa; Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti, in Central America. 86% of these people instinctively go to emerging countries with medium and low income. Thus, Canada received only 1% of refugees in 2017, or 65,000.
For this to happen, I had to physically leave the people I love, experience a great deal of insecurity, and be willing to learn a language other than my mother tongue. I had to love without expectations and to accept my vulnerability of not always being able to respond to expressed needs or to understand the needs of others because we do not speak the same language. On the other hand, we all speak the language of compassion and communion and this is what unites us. Without knowing it in advance, I left my comfort zone to open myself to something greater and more human.
These experiences lead me to believe in religious life. They give me the courage to create tomorrow’s future and to take the risks needed in order to respond to the needs of our world. When fear arises and the challenge seems unrealistic, I rely on my faith, knowing that God has always been present in the past, that God is present today, and that God will be present in the future. I sincerely believe that we can still undertake a deep reflection, surrendering to the Holy Spirit who will certainly know how to guide us. Do we have the courage to let the Spirit act and destabilize us once again? Yes, I am convinced that we will let the Spirit do this in the near future.
Huguette Fleurant, SNJM
Last winter, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation from a group of Sisters from the U.S.- Ontario Province to join them in order to get to know each other better, to create solidarity among ourselves and to reflect together on the future of religious life. This gathering has existed for twelve years and brings together Sisters of our Congregation who entered the community after 1970.
The meeting took place in Santa Cruz and included 28 Sisters from Canada, Peru and U.S. - ON. As you can well imagine, we too are concerned about the future of our SNJM community. This gathering was skillfully led by Sr. Joan Stedman from the Congregation of Holy Cross.
The sharing in small groups was riveting because the questions were well focused and clear. We were asked to answer the following questions: What is the essence, the distinctiveness of religious life today? What sets us apart from others?
Another key moment was learning about the three dimensions of leadership (canonical, relational and organizational). Following this, we were asked to gauge where we stood personally, by sharing our strengths and our limitations. Sisters Lynda Haydock and Guadalupe Guajardo then shared their leadership experience at the general and provincial levels.
A video, How Wolves Change Rivers, raised a lot of questions for me regarding our SNJM future. If your curiosity has been aroused, you can watch it on Google, click on this link which is easy to access, or simply type in How Wolves Change Rivers. If wolves have been able to change the ecosystem of a park, just imagine everything we could succeed in changing.
Before leaving, we also took the time to answer another question that called for a commitment on our part. The question was: In light of the challenges to be addressed in my ministry, my religious, social and political life, how do I feel called to respond, what action can I take?
We ended our session with a long meditation-contemplation that was very nourishing. The next meeting is scheduled for July 2019.
The period in which we are currently living is not something unique or new. I am convinced that an institution is often confronted with moments of crisis, anxiety, questioning and transition.
When I think of the death of Mother Marie-Rose, the Sisters probably asked the same questions that we are asking today. What will become of us? Who will be able to assume appropriate leadership in this time of transition? Who will bring us together, unite us in mission?
I continued my reflection by reading two books, one concerning the life of Sister Veronique-du-Crucifix (The Hope of the Harvest) and the other about the life of Sister Thérèse-de-Jésus (Called to Cast Fire). I was greatly impressed by their boldness in moving the community forward, in making courageous decisions to ensure the survival of the community. In the face of adversity and troubling times, they stood firm, they stood tall and they took risks.
Just like those who preceded us, the delegates at the last General Chapter affirmed their faith in the future of religious life. I share this faith but I see religious life expressed and lived according to different structures that would enable us to respond appropriately to the needs of our world.
Pope Francis invited religious communities to open their doors wide and to change their structures in order to better accomplish the mission to which they are called.
Huguette Fleurant, S.N.J.M.
Development and Peace Campaign
Two formation sessions for the new fall campaign for Development and Peace with the theme "Women at the Heart of Peace" took place recently at Maison Jésus-Marie and Résidence Marie-Rose-Durocher. These sessions organized by Sister Phyllis Douillard and Mrs. Dorothy Guha, both members of the organization, and assisted by Sister Jeanne Dagenais of the Solidarity-Justice Committee, helped to draw attention to the positive influence of women.
At Maison Jésus-Marie, a celebration of the Word, led by Sister Jeanne Dagenais, set the tone for the meeting during which the work of numerous women of faith, agents of peace in the world, was highlighted.
“… supporting women is supporting peace”
The formation session followed the same scenario in both residences. After a warm welcome to the Sisters and Associates present, the audience was invited to share on the meaning of peace, taking into account each one’s experience. Small group discussions and the plenary session provided a better understanding of the participants' perceptions.
In the next segment, three Sisters representing the three peacemakers who were profiled in the Development and Peace booklet, spoke of their experiences of peace.
To increase the participants’ knowledge, Sister Phyllis completed the session by disclosing a wealth of information stressing the crucial role of women in conflict prevention and peace building. It is unfortunately realized that women's expertise is largely underestimated and that they are constantly excluded from formal peace processes. In addition, their organizations suffer from chronic underfunding, which impedes their growth and their positive contribution.
After having been called, during the last two years, to “open doors to the future and to Life”, current circumstances lend themselves perfectly to this meaningful theme, explained Sister Denise Riel, the Provincial Animator.
Sister Denise specified the reasons for this choice, especially because of:
In the plenary, based on the testimonies and discussions, the participants confirmed the relevance of the chosen theme at this point in the history of the Congregation.
At the time of the Sending Forth on Mission, a handout was given to each with the message: “Let us allow God to transform us and renew our minds.” (Romans 12,2)
In September, Saint Bruno Parish celebrated the 175th anniversary of its founding with the theme “175 years, something to celebrate!” The Eucharistic Celebration presided by Bishop Claude Hamelin, Auxiliary Bishop of the Saint-Jean-Longueuil Diocese, took place in an atmosphere of serenity where tribute was paid to the “women and men of yesterday and today, committed to following Christ, and who have made Saint Bruno Parish what it continues to be today” said pastor, Father Michel Boutot.
During the Offertory Procession, Sister Aline Hébert, a teacher for several years at Montarville School and at the Trinitarians, presented a flower in the name of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. It was a way of highlighting the important contribution of the Congregation that served in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville in many different ways, beginning in 1918.
Besides the presence of several Sisters at Rabastalière and Montarville Schools, we must mention those Sisters who came to teach music. From among them, Sisters Françoise Lafortune and Luce Boyer were present.
In addition to work in the education sector, of course there was also parish work in which the Sisters were extensively involved. In particular, we think of Sister Luce Boyer who served on the liturgy committee for twenty years. Both Sister Thérèse Lemay, principal of Montarville School, and Sister Line Gratton worked in the field of education and also worked as volunteers in the parish for many years.
The festivities continued and provided an opportunity to renew acquaintances during a reception following the Mass. Sisters Aline Hébert, Luce Boyer and Françoise Lafortune, representatives of the Congregation at this celebration, greatly enjoyed this moving experience.
Sister Luce Boyer was approached by the parents of a student, who today is a judge, and reminded her of how music education has always served their son well throughout his life, including bringing him moments of relaxation in stressful situations.
Several participants voiced their gratitude to the Sisters and were quick to convey the importance of the education they had received and the training offered for their life paths.
Without a doubt, these moments were delightful for the three Sisters who had the chance to talk about remarkable times from another era. It was also an opportunity for them to recall anecdotes that took them back to living conditions very different from those of today.
And so, Sister Francoise Lafortune, who was on her first mission as a music teacher in 1965, remembered that for lack of space, she had to sleep in her music room.
These few facts allow us to better comprehend the many aspects of the term "vocation". Other days, other ways…
At the opening of its 32nd season, the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra (OSDL) presented the world premiere of Symphony No. 1 "On the Ruins of an Old Fortified Castle", created by the composer Airat Ichmouratov, an “adopted” long-time resident of Longueuil. This symphony pays tribute to both Charles II Le Moyne of Longueuil and Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, the foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
The first movement of this creation by the Russian born composer is a musical portrait of the eldest son of the founder of Longueuil. "At first, the timpani and the bass drum mimic the distant sound of the war drums of the indigenous peoples after which a theme, with horns playing, conjures up the image of the baron. Further on, Ichmuratov identifies himself with the heroes.” Then, added to this are “his own astounding memories as an immigrant ... "*
A joyful ‘scherzo’ (vigorous, playful composition) follows in the second movement. Here, the composer describes Longueuil as it is today, with its celebrations, its active lifestyle in which children’s games, the noise of the traffic and the night life are intermingled.
With the Adagio maestoso, Airat Ichmouratov brings us back to the 19th century. He pays tribute to “Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, another great figure in Longueuil’s history.” * Born Eulalie Durocher (1811-1849), Mother Marie-Rose founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1843.
“The Adagio reflects this Sister’s gentleness as well as her strength of character and her humble lifestyle in the convent. In this portrait, Ichmouratov superimposes a portrait of his own mother, who accidentally disappeared while he was working on this movement."*
This symphony’s finale takes us back to the events mentioned above: "celebrations, battles, and moments of nostalgia, ending with a celebration of contemporary life in Longueuil which is presently joyful and peaceful.”*
This world premiere took place as part of the opening concert of the 32nd season of the Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil. With the aim of highlighting the 360th anniversary of the City of Longueuil, Marc David, artistic director and principal conductor, gathered some of Longueuil's great performers.
In addition to the work of the composer Airat Ichmouratov, presented in the last part of this concert, we find in the opening act the Fantaisie sur L’Heptade by Neil Chotem, inspired by the mythical album of Serge Fiori and Harmonium. André Moisan followed with his remarkable Clarinet Concerto by Mozart.
A world-renowned composer
Note that the composer Airat Ichmouratov studied clarinet before obtaining his diploma in 1996. Following several tours in Europe, he moved to Montreal in 1998 where, in 2005, he obtained a master's degree and then a doctorate in conducting from the Université de Montréal. He was Assistant Conductor of the Orchestre de Chambre Les Violons du Roy and Resident Conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Québec before joining the Klezmer Kleztory Band. He demonstrates his many talents, playing the clarinet, and composing and performing arrangements. He has toured extensively throughout the world with this group, and his music is performed by many ensembles and musicians in a number of countries. He has been Associate Composer at the Canadian Music Center since 2010.
*Program from the opening concert of the OSD, September 28, 2017
Recently, during the 10 o’clock Mass, celebrated by Robert Gagné, a Sulpician priest, Mother Marie-Rose Durocher was officially recognized as "Secondary Patron" of the parish of St-Arsène. The parish, located in the Montreal borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, had issued an invitation to parishioners in the weekly bulletin, under the title "We are celebrating Marie-Rose Durocher".
For this special celebration, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary from Marie-Rose-Durocher Residence, across the street from the parish, provided the singing during the Mass dedicated to their foundress. Sister Monique Thériault accompanied them on the organ.
Some of the regular parishioners came to share the joy of the Sisters who were present. They were also joined by Sister Jacqueline Aubry, from the SNJM Mission Sector, who came with a friend who is a member of Les Soeurs Missionnaires du Christ-Roi.
During the Eucharistic celebration, Sister Denise Mercier gave a brief biography of Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, and Sister Louise Danis read the prayer intentions.
At present, the statue of Mother Marie-Rose can be found in the sanctuary of the church while awaiting its transfer to the alcove that is reserved for her.
The “Chemins de vie” organization launched its 15th anniversary year during a festive cocktail reception on September 14th. It was a great opportunity for remembering how far this organization has come, along with highlighting its own trademark: "the warm and unconditional welcome of all those who want to pursue or undertake a spiritual journey," said Yvonne Demers, one of the members of the board of directors.
The gathering was the scene of many heartfelt testimonials from people who have benefited and/or who have decided to become actively involved, won over by this organization’s mode of operation, its vision and its contribution to the development and self-fulfillment of each individual.
It is therefore not surprising that the Quebec SNJMs have been partners with this organization for 15 years, since its mission and its values connect with both components of their educational mission: the full development of the human person through education and commitment to social solidarity.
The Acts of the 2016 Chapter are “bursting with calls to open the doors onto Life”. They encourage "dynamism to keep our mission alive to the end. Partnerships with organizations and groups which embody the same values and the same concerns as ours, help us to continue our mission in new ways, reported an article in the Publication of the Quebec Provincial Leadership Team (November 2016).
This partnership is expressed through financial support but also by the commitment of the Sisters. Thus, Sister Denise Riel, co-founder of the organization, was coordinator for ten years. She continues to be committed to it by facilitating the workshop ‘Spirituality, a Way of Life’ and by being a member of the small group that meets on Sunday to pray and share around the Eucharist.
Sister Françoise Lanthier welcomes people and facilitates small groups who share the Word. Sister Constance Létourneau individually accompanies people who are spiritually searching. Sister Marie-Paule Demarbre is a member of the Board of Directors, while other SNJM Sisters participate in one or other of the witness talks.
In her presentation, recalling some motivating factors that encourage people to join “Chemins de vie”, Sister Constance Létourneau emphasized the desire to "find our mission", to learn to pray, to face difficult situations and to discover God. According to her, these are reasons that legitimize her partnership and that of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
"I find the "Chemins de vie" family to be so generous, lively, creative and adaptable to the needs of our ever-changing society. Year by year, new projects that are always more interesting than the others and are aimed at meeting new challenges are emerging."
In the light of this testimony and other testimonies, we can only hope that this year of festivities will bring dynamism and energy to all the people involved in “Chemins de vie”, members of the team, participants, partners, and donors.
Unable to remain insensitive to the global crisis of migration and the polarization of anti-immigration statements, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) unveiled their corporate stand regarding migrants and refugees. They accompanied their words with action by seeking the collaboration of organizations to provide a profile of the situation on the South Shore, in a context where the number of families of refugees and asylum seekers has increased exceptionally over the last two years.
“We realize the importance of becoming aware ourselves and of raising the awareness of all people to the reality being played out in the field so as to put things in perspective," said Sister Denise Riel, SNJM Provincial Animator. In the current context, the SNJM Provincial Animator for Quebec wants the citizens of the South Shore "to discover the small and large successful experiences of the various organizations as well as the challenges which we all face: migrants, refugees and we, as a host society.”
Last summer, the massive arrival of people crossing the border seeking Canada’s protection necessitated the setting up of several emergency shelter sites, including the one in Boucherville, called Havre Providence. With the collaboration of the CISSS-ME Emergency Response Teams, this site welcomed nearly 500 people from August to mid-September.
During this same period, Carrefour le Moutier provided support to more than 400 people including 111 families. "We mainly supported these people so they could attain housing, material resources, food assistance, work permit applications and school enrollment," said Amalia Suarez, Project Manager for the asylum seekers at Carrefour le Moutier, who hailed the openness and the invaluable collaboration of Longueuil property owners in offering housing to these newcomers.
Private sponsorship: autonomous refugee
The mobilization of the public in the face of the Syrian crisis made it possible to welcome to Quebec 4,500 refugees through private sponsorship, an approach that is unique in the world. On the South Shore of Montreal, numerous private sponsorship committees were established in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Saint-Lambert, Saint-Hubert and Longueuil. The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) contributed to the establishment of the private sponsorship committee, ''Chemins d'accueil de Longueuil'', which hosted two Syrian families of 3 and 4 people, respectively.
The young Marcel Alhanout, 18, also witnessed to this desire to integrate and to take advantage of the chance offered to give them a new life. Pointing out the daily challenges which all the members of his family are facing, Marcel said he was happy to live in Quebec. "The first thing that surprised us and that we really appreciated was the freedom that we find here. We are very grateful to our welcoming society."
"In one year, the first family of Syrian refugees has become autonomous. The husband has found a job while his wife is continuing her training in French and her studies so as to soon begin a new career," said Jacques Morin, coordinator of the group Chemins d’accueil de Longueuil. The second family, who arrived last winter, relies on two young adults who are already working while continuing level 3 of the francization program this fall. According to the speaker, beyond the refugees’ first objective to quickly become independent, the active commitment of volunteers to their committees and the strength of their network of contacts contribute significantly to the success of private sponsorships that are attracting the attention of several researchers and organizations, even European ones.
The first Congregation of teachers founded by a Canadian in Longueuil in 1843, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) are currently working in five countries. In Quebec, they are responsible for the establishment of many renowned institutions including the Vincent-d'Indy School of Music and Collège Durocher Saint-Lambert, and are known as well for their significant presence in almost all schools in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve-Mercier districts. After taking corporate stands on "Water is a human right and public good" and against "Human trafficking", the SNJMs recognized the urgent need to declare their solidarity and to give public testimony by acting in favor of migrants and refugees. In addition to participating in the Chemins d’accueil de Longueuil Committee, the Congregation is also participating in the private sponsorship committee from Saint Monica Parish in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal.
Created in 1975, the Maison Internationale de la Rive-Sud is an organization entirely dedicated to supporting newcomers, including public refugees (supported by the State). Its action focuses mainly on support for the settlement, francization, employability and integration into the host society. The organization has developed strong expertise and has established itself as a key player in the field of integration of migrants and refugees on the South Shore. In light of this, it participates in several round tables. It is the only organization on the territory of the South Shore, to be mandated by the Immigration Department to accompany State-sponsored refugees.
Initially, the group consisted of a core group of 13 individuals from different backgrounds, including religious communities, representatives from the St-Jean-Longueuil Diocese, representatives from community groups and some citizens sensitive to the cause. Since then, some 30 people have been contributing in various ways to support the two sponsored families. Chemin d'accueil de Longueuil is one of the 12 groups involved in private sponsorship in the territory of the Diocese St-Jean-Longueuil.
* Jean-Nicolas Beuze, Representative in Canada of The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), interviewed by the Le Devoir newspaper, July 7, 2017