Debate Magazine

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

 

Today we celebrate St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, a very special Canadian saint.

She was born in 1620, the sixth of twelve children in Troyes, France.  That alone is an incredible challenge, growing up in such a large family.  At the age of 20, Marguerite believed she was called to the religious life and desired to be a member of the Carmelite and/or Poor Clares Orders.  Yet, she was not accepted into either Order, wherein she was most disappointed.  But a priest counseled Marguerite advising her that perhaps God had other plans for her which would be revealed to her in His timing.

In 1654, the Governor of the French settlement in Canada visited his sister, who happened to be an Augustinian canoness in Tr0yes, and coincidentally, Marguerite belonged to the Sodality connected with this particular convent. (A Sodality is an organization under the patronage of Our Blessed Mother.)  This Governor invited Marguerite to come to Canada and start a school there, wherein clearly, Marguerite could then see God’s plans for her, remembering what the priest had previously told her.  Consequently, she went to Ville-Marie (which eventually became Montreal), where there was a colony of approximately 200 people, containing a hospital and a chapel served by Jesuit priests.

Marguerite determined she needed more help and therefore, went back to Troyes, recruiting some of her friends and associates to come back with her to her new school.

In 1667, Marguerite developed classes for Indian children, which of course then required more help.  She went back to France, wherein three years had gone by, and she then brought back with her six more women and a letter from King Louis XIV authorizing the school.  This important development lead to her starting the Congregation of Notre Dame in 1676, with its members actually making their formal religious profession in 1698, upon approval of their constitution and Rule.

The bishop requested that Marguerite establish a community of her Sisters in Montreal; consequently, at the age of 69, she actually walked from Montreal to Quebec to begin to effect that request.  At the time of her death in 1700, Marguerite received the honor of being known as the “Mother of the Colony.”

Marguerite was canonized in 1982, and during her canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II said, “. . .in particular, Marguerite contributed to building up that new country of Canada, realizing the determining role of women, and she diligently strove toward their formation in a deeply Christian spirit.”  Pope John Paul then stressed that she was loving towards her students, believing in them and being confident in their talents, “in order to prepare them to become wives and worthy mothers, Christians, cultured, hardworking, radiant mothers.”

When I learned about this gutsy lady, I was absolutely amazed at her determination, her strength of will and love of God as reflected in her good works and spirit.  She did what needed to be done, when she was supposed to do it, and in the manner it was supposed to be done.  May we remember her example when we have goals that seem to be unattainable, situations that are daunting and difficult tasks that are laborious and unending.  May God be praised for giving us this remarkable saint!

Respectfully,

Joan

Source:  Saint of the Day, edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M., Franciscan Media, 2009.


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