An invitation to action in solidarity with SNJM’s

Thursday, October 4, the administrations of schools associated with Quebec SNJM's presented a video in their respective institutions, encouraging young people to commit to  some action related to justice. School principals responded positively to the invitation to participate in the first SNJM Day of Service and Justice, initiated to celebrate the 175 years of the Congregation's existence.

The purpose of this day is to witness to the SNJM spirit and mission still vibrant today.  Within the same time frame, with the magic of technology and social media, SNJM Sisters and Associates in various parts of the world shared their experiences, giving an excellent portrayal of all that is being done and can be done to fight injustices and help make the world a better place.

The video (in French but with excellent photos) initiative is the result of a collaborative effort by members of the Quebec Leadership Team and the Quebec youth group that participated in the SNJM Youth Justice Forum this past summer.

The invitation is addressed to Sisters, associates, current students as well as parents, alumni, students, faculty, staff, members of the various organizations associated with the SNJM’s, collaborators and friends.

Several projects had been announced and were held close October 6, the birth date of the foundress, Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher. Details can be found on the SNJM Quebec Facebook page.

Let us recall, in closing, that Collège Durocher-Saint-Lambert, Saint Nom-de-Marie Boarding School, the Vincent-d'Indy School of Music and Mont-Jésus-Marie elementary school were founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. These schools, presently managed by private and autonomous corporations, remain associated with the SNJM’s through shared values and the desire for excellence in education.

Sr. Claudette Bastien represented Canada at a forum in the Vatican concerning migrants and refugees

The work being done by Canadian organizations such as Cathii which fight against human trafficking sparked a great deal of interest among the almost fifty participants last July, in Rome, at the international gathering regarding the section on Migrants and Refugees in the Discastery which promotes integral and human development.  The presentation by Sr. Claudette Bastien, official delegate of the Council of Canadian Bishops, shed light on concrete actions taken to tackle the many causes of this global phenomenon.

Her presentation was noted all the more because almost all the other presentations were more oriented towards ethics, morals and spirituality. Coincidently, the only other presentation along the same lines, was given by Sr. Colleen Jackons, RSC. , Member of ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans). She also represented the bishops of her country, Australia.

A very serious problem

Of the 48 participants, including 29 invitees, there were four women, including two women religious. The seven minute presentations allowed enough time to focus on the current intolerable global phenomenon and to provide material for reflection as advance preparation for the writing of a document providing directives to the Catholic Church and to civil society.

This document, due in September 2018, should contain new directives and recommendations to address the challenges of migrants and refugees as well as challenges regarding human trafficking. "The goal is to improve civil laws, train judges and police officers and continue to raise public awareness of this issue, which affects all of our communities, including our own in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and many other smaller cities.”

 Claudette Bastien, SNJM.

Some significant meetings

Following her participation last year at the Talitha Kum (an international network against human trafficking) meeting, Sr. Claudette’s presence at this forum, convened by Pope Francis, has proven to be a rewarding experience in more ways than one. "In addition to the content of the presentations, it was interesting to make connections concerning the realities of each country and to identify the sources of the problems. It was particularly fascinating to note the similarities of information presented by the ACRATH organization in Australia, and CATHII in Quebec. "

“I was particularly moved by the sharing of a Congolese refugee, a former customs officer who fled from his country and had to leave his son behind.”  It is unimaginable that this man was caught, deported to several countries and tortured before finally settling in a European country.”  “This testimony and that of many others reveals so much human suffering which is hidden under the expression “migrants and refugees”, "rightly recalls this Sister, long committed to the Justice and Peace Committee of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM).
Sr. Claudette has another good reason for remembering her trip to Rome in July, 2018.  She actually shook Pope Francis’ hand during a special celebration in commemoration of the sinking of a ship, five years earlier, near the Italian island Lampedusa.  Some 200 people, many of whom were affected by the tragedy, attended the celebration.  This once again demonstrated the Pope’s sensitivity to this current, burning issue.

In conclusion, let us highlight that the Canadian Council of Bishops had asked CATHII (an action committee against national and international human trafficking) to send someone to represent them at the Dicastery. The Canadian bishops considered this organization the best suited to offer a significant contribution to the debate.  Thus, CATHII designated Sr. Claudette Bastien SNJM, one of the founders of this organization, as the official representative. 

Click on the Pdf below to access Sr. Claudette's presentation in Rome.






175 Years in Solidarity for Liberating Action

The many comments and accolades received since the beginning of the festivities celebrating the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) confirms the major impact of these Sisters on the development of the full potential of thousands of girls and boys, throughout Quebec and in other parts of the world.

Following the spring launching of the festivities with the exposition, “Educate to Liberate”, organized by the archives department, several other activities have been open to the general public.  These were opportunities for learning, sharing and discovering large segments of the history of the Congregation, founded in Longueuil on October 28, 1843, by Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher.

A significant public event took place on September 29, within the context of the Cultural Days in Longueuil. Two presentations offered excerpts from the archives that were read aloud, accompanied by audio and visual elements featuring the 175 years of SNJM history.  The audiences were captivated by stories about the daily lives of the Sisters as well as their various commitments throughout the years.  They also discovered the deeply-held values of the Congregation which ministers on three continents.  

In addition to these presentations which required reserved seating, the Longueuil Convent opened its doors to welcome visitors interested in viewing the various attractions of this historic site: the Foundation House, museum, historic rooms, original chapel and an archival exhibition. All were accessible free of charge between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 80 Saint-Charles Street East in Longueuil. In addition, architectural heritage enthusiasts were invited to register for the guided outdoor visit at 3 p.m. entitled "If the walls could speak"



Commemorative Eucharistic Celebration

The archival exposition and various other events organized during the 175th anniversary of the SNJM foundation invited people to rediscover the determination and the vision of Mother Marie-Rose.  Sr. Denise Riel, Province leader, noted at the launching of the festivities, “She had an unshakeable faith in education as a vehicle for social change, a commitment that is just as relevant today”.

This desire to encourage young people of their time, especially young girls from the countryside, to develop their full potential expressed the Sisters’ vision of the role of women and women's leadership in the family and society. An avant-garde approach, still relevant today, has brought forth much fruit.  A former student, during her visit, expressed this so well: "Thank you for the many wonderful things I learnt and which are still useful 40 years later.”

On the occasion of the birthday of Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, founder of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM), a commemorative Mass, celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Claude Hamelin, took place on Saturday, October 6, at 4:30 p.m. in Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue Co-Cathedral. The public was cordially invited to attend.




Other activities

Following a few informal visits or pilgrimages, the festivities surrounding the SNJM’s 175th anniversary will end in the Quebec Province with a Eucharistic celebration on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 

The general public will have free access to the “Educate to Liberate” archives exposition which will remain open until January 25, 2019.  At any time, by appointment, those interested in visiting the Marie-Rose Centre located in the Longueuil Convent are welcome to see the many artifacts in this heritage site.  For information or to make an appointment please phone 450-651-8104, extension 1209.

The SNJM Sisters have worked in a dozen dioceses in Quebec, including Montreal, Gaspé, Hauterive (North Shore), Joliette, Saint-Hyacinthe and Valleyfield. They founded convents and boarding schools, worked in public schools, taught all subjects including music, contributed to the advancement of social causes and worked in parish ministry.

Today, the Sisters are still involved in pastoral work, social justice and spiritual accompaniment.  They partner with others for the cause of migrants and refugees; work against human trafficking and forced labor; and promote sustainable development especially in the area of access to clean drinking water.

2018 has been a year full of events and moments of gratitude for the SNJM’s, expressed by alumni, partners and collaborators. "I’m happy to see what the Sisters have accomplished and are still involved in today", said a former student who attended a recent event.

“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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