“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


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“We are and we will be feminists as long as it is necessary!”
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“May our lives be renewed!”
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