Her Father died when she was five—It changed the course of her life

Venerable Marie-Mallet                                                en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Marie-Anne-Marcelle Mallet was born on March 26, 1805, in Montreal. Canada. Her father, Vital Mallet, passed away when she was only five, and his passing immediately changed the direction of her life. Her mother, Marguerite, unable to provide for her children’s education, sent Marie and her brother to live with an aunt and uncle in Lachine. Marie’s new guardians sent her to the nearby monastery of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre-Dame, where she would spend most of her growing years as a boarder.

Marie-Anne, having lost her dad to death and her mom to circumstances, became extremely sensitive to the confusion and disruption that had become part of her very young life. She quickly developed and displayed a natural empathy for the poor and downtrodden. As she grew, she was drawn to religious life as she saw this the best way to help those in need. She decided to join the Sisters of Charity of the Hospital General of Montreal,

This order, (also known as the Grey Nuns of Montreal), was the first religious congregation founded in Canada. Marie was admitted as a postulant when she was sixteen. Two years later, on May 6, 1824, she was allowed to enter the novitiate. On May 18, 1826, she professed her vows. Her primary duty from that point on was to care for the sick.

In 1846, Sister Marie added to her job description when she began visiting the sick and home-bound. She discovered she loved being part of this ministry, and the people she saw came to know and love her. But in 1847, Typhoid struck Montreal.  It was Sister Marie who instinctively put her organizational skills to work. She was appointed assistant superior and assumed complete responsibility and supervision of the hospital and staff.

Her leadership and guiding hand saw her assist in establishing new hospitals in such places as Manitoba, Ottawa, and Quebec.  She was chosen to be the leader of the new Quebec Mission, and this move required her to leave her order and found a new one. On August 21, 1849, Sister Marie Mallet cut ties with the Sisters of Charity of Montreal and founded the Sisters of Charity of Quebec. She and her five followers were immediately faced with a daunting task.

Quebec was going through a terrible time in its history. The city was recovering from its second destructive fire when a cholera epidemic struck. Mother Mallet and her companion sisters, had come to “care for the sick and educate young girls.” Based on the circumstances they confronted, Mother Mallet first ordered the establishment of a relief service for needy schoolchildren. She took in orphan girls, then, in 1855, homeless women, in 1856, the aged and infirm, and then in 1862, she opened a home for orphaned boys. There was never a lack of charitable work to be done.

In 1866, Mother Mallet opened an out-patient center for the needy, and during the seventeen years, she was the director of her community she was responsible for establishing with the diocese of Quebec, five boarding schools for girls which had curriculum similar to local schools but also trained women to be schoolmistresses. Let us not forget that the Sisters of charity also took in newly arrived immigrants who had no place to go and gave aid and shelter to those who lost everything to fires.

On July 1, 1866, Pope Pius IX approved the rule of the order of The Sisters of Charity of Quebec. Mother Mallet and her followers had stayed true the rule of the Sulpicians. However, the Bishop of Quebec imposed a new Rule on the order. This Rule had been derived from the Jesuits. This caused an internal crisis because the sisters wanted to stay true to their original vows even though the difference was hardly noticeable. But it required a pledge of loyalty to the newly designated Rule. Even within the confines of a deeply spiritual environment, politics reared its ugly head.

Mother Mallet, accustomed to 40 years of honoring the Rule of the Sulpician Order, could not give allegiance equally to both Rules. But the new nuns coming in embraced the Jesuit way and, in 1866, Mother Mallet was not re-elected as Mother Superior. She was even left out of all administrative duties. She returned to live the rest of her life as a simple nun.

Mother Marie-Anne Mallet, suffering from cancer, passed away on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1871,  in Quebec City at the age of 66. She was declared Venerable in January of 2014.

Venerable Marie Mallet, please pray for us.

copyright©LarryPeterson 2020


Marie Elisabeth Turgeon— Charity was her unifying principle and, though sick most of her short life, she founded the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

Blessed Elisabeth Turgeon             public domain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Everything turns out for the best for those who seek the will of God.”  Blessed Marie Elisabeth Turgeon

By Larry Peterson

Elisabeth Turgeon was born February 7, 1840, in Beaumont (Quebec) Canada. She was the fifth child of nine that would be born to Louis-Marc Turgeon and Angele Labrecque. Elisabeth was always sickly but was blessed with a brilliant mind. When she was 15, her dad died. Consequently, her schooling was put on hold because she had to stay at home to help her mom with the younger children.

Five years later, Elisabeth was able to return to school and she began studying to be a teacher. She entered the Ecole Normale in Quebec and graduated in 1862 with her teaching credentials. She went on to teach is Saint-Romuald and in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre. But someone else had his eye on her. His name was Monsignor Jean Langevin, who was the Bishop of the Rimouski Diocese, a city in Quebec. He recognized her qualities and wanted her to begin training qualified teachers for his diocese.

Elisabeth’s plans were once again put on hold. This time it was because of her bad health. There was never a definitive diagnosis but she lost all her strength and had to fight hard to regain it. During her recovery time, she tutored children on a one-to-one basis. She also turned to St. Anne and asked for her help, promising to teach for free if she helped cure her.

Slowly but surely, her health improved and Bishop Langerin contacted her again asking for her help. He wanted her to direct the small community of teachers he had put together in his diocese. She was afraid of her health deteriorating but accepted the position believing it is God’s will to do so. The deciding factor for Elisabeth was that the bishop wanted this group to become a religious order. Ironically, Elizabeth always believed that her ultimate calling was to be a teaching nun.

On April 3, 1875, she accepted Bishop Langevin’s invitation and joined the small group of women who the bishop had chosen to start this new ministry in his diocese. The group was called Soeurs de Petites Ecoles which means Sisters of the Little Schools.  Elisabeth was appointed to be their director. Their initial mission was to dedicate themselves to the education of the poor children that were spread all about the surrounding countryside.

Elisabeth set to work establishing schools in the vast Diocese of Rimouski. It was a daunting task as much of the area was newly settled Canadian wilderness. But within a few years, five schools had been established in five different towns.

On September 12, 1878, with Bishop  Langevin’s approval, she renamed and established her order calling it the Congrégation des Sœurs de Notre-Dame du Saint-Rosaire meaning Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy  Rosary.

On September 12, 1879,  Elizabeth and twelve other ladies made their formal vows. Elisabeth was appointed Mother Superior and from that point on, was known as Mother Marie Elisabeth Turgeon or simply, Mother Superior.

Mother Elisabeth’s health was deteriorating rapidly and by March of 1881, she was mostly bedridden. By August, she was dying and on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, she was anointed and met with the members of her order to bid farewell. She died on August 17,1881. She was 41 years old.

Mother Marie Elisabeth was declared Venerable by Pope Francis on October 11, 2013. In September 2014, a miracle was attributed to her intercession. Then on April 26, 2015, she was beatified at the Cathedral in Rimouski by the official representative of Pope Francis, Cardinal Angelo Amato.

Today the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary are at work in ten countries, six provinces in Canada, and nine dioceses in Quebec.  Mother Mary Elisabeth always said, “the surest way to go to Jesus is through Mary.”. This explains the motto of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary: “All for Jesus through Mary.”

Blessed Marie Elisabeth Turgeon, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Widowed with Eleven Children, she began taking in Unwed Pregnant Girls; She would go on to be known as Sister Marie of the Nativity

During an era when unwed mothers were rejected by society, she took them into her home

public domain

Larry Peterson

Rosalie Cadron was born on January 27, 1794, in Quebec, Canada. She was the oldest of two daughters born to a farmer by the name of Antoine Cadron and his wife, Rosalie Roy, who was a midwife in their town. Shortly after her birth, Rosalie was baptized in the local church. She would receive her First Holy Communion when she twelve.

Rosalie’s early life consisted mostly of work. She attended a boarding convent that was nearby but was so lonely that she returned home after only two weeks. She never learned to read until later in life and never was taught how to write. Instead, she was instructed in housekeeping, sewing, and craftwork, and worked at the farm and in her home.

When Rosalie was 17, she married Jean-Marie Jette. They had 11 children, some of whom died very young. They moved to Montreal and settled there in 1827. Sadly, in 1832, Jean-Marie died from cholera. Rosalie began looking after unwed mothers. This was quite the undertaking because at the time, unwed mothers and those that helped and associated with them, were despised and most of the citizenry viewed them with contempt.

Rosalie did this quietly in her home for the next five years. She possessed a broad-mindedness that was extremely rare for that period in time and also was filled with a spirit that respected all people, no matter their station or plight in life. It was Bishop Ignace Bourget, who first heard about the Catholic widow who reached out to the unwed mothers in his diocese. He met her, talked to her, and became her spiritual director. Now it was time to seek her help.

Bishop Bourget was socially aware of the rapidly growing population of Montreal and the growing need to help the unwed mothers who were held in such contempt by the society of the day. He believed that the church was responsible for reaching out to all peoples and that maybe it was time to create new religious communities that were free of rigid rules and could meet the unique needs of society.

Rosalie Cadron-Jette was foremost in the bishop’s mind as the woman to approach with his plan. He believed she would be perfect to begin the task of leading women who would be devoted to extending the temporal and spiritual works of mercy to the unwed mothers in the diocese and beyond.

Starting in 1840, he began to seek our Rosalie’s help in caring for unmarried mothers who had come to him for help. This was all done in secret because most of the women who had come to the bishop had done so in the confessional. Since their “sin” was socially repugnant and placed the women in danger of physical harm, the bishop wanted a “kind and prayerful woman” to take charge of this work.

Between 1840 and 1845, Rosalie helped 25 women during their pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery. She often placed the newborns with her own children, who were now grown. After each birth, Rosalie would take the mom and the newborn to Montreal’s Notre Dame Church and stand as Godmother as the child was baptized.

On May 1, 1845, with the support of Bishop Bourget, Rosalie Jette, along with a “penitent” (unwed mothers were called penitents),  moved into a small house given to them by one of Bishop Bourget’s supporters. It was the start of a new religious community. The fledgling community grew and on January 16, 1848, the founder, Rosalie Cadron-Jette, and her followers took their vows from Bishop Bourget.  From that time on Rosalie would be known as Sister Marie of the Nativity.

Sister Marie of the Nativity refused to accept any position of authority in the new order. However, working in the background, she shared in all the activities of the order which was called the Congregation of the Sisters of Misericorde aka Misericordia Sisters. The Misericordia Sisters (Sisters of Mercy) took the traditional vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and also took a fourth vow, that “they would assist in their labour fallen girls and women.”

Sister Marie of the Nativity passed away on April 5, 1864. Bishop Ignace Bourget had administered Last Rites a few hours earlier on April 4. Pope Francis has declared Sister Marie a woman of “heroic virtue” and she has been declared Venerable.

The Misericordia Sisters are still active in several countries and multiple continents around the world including the United States and Canada.

Venerable Marie of the Nativity, pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

 


Meet “Brother Ave”—the one armed Blacksmith

Venerable Anthony Kowalczyk                                                  fsspx.com

By Larry Peterson

Anthony Kowalcyzk was born in Dzierzanow, Poland, on June 4, 1866. He was the sixth child in a family of twelve, and his mom and dad were devout Catholics. They had Anthony baptized at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Lutogniew, Poland and it was here that young Anthony developed a great devotion to the Blessed Mother that would inspire him his entire life.

Anthony entered the local school at the age of seven.  Upon finishing his elementary education, his parents took him out of school so he could help them work their small farm. Anthony did that for three years, and then his parents allowed him to accept a position as an apprentice blacksmith.

At the age of twenty and having completed his training, he was classified as a “journeyman
blacksmith.” He then left for Hamburg, Germany to find a job. He found work in a factory, but to his dismay,  when his co-workers and “friends” discovered he was Catholic, they begin to mock and abuse him. He was continually made fun of and provoked. The constant abuse actually made him ill.

Praying hard for guidance, he left for Cologne.  His prayers were answered as a Catholic family took him in. They treated him as their own and introduced him to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It was then that Anthony heard the call to service through religious life.  He said good-bye to his friends in Cologne and traveled to Holland.  Here he was accepted into the Oblate novitiate.

He spent the next three years praying and learning and on October 2 1892, he made his vows of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience. Two years later he renewed his vows for one year and was sent to the mission of St. Albert in what is today, Alberta, Canada. From there he traveled to Edmonton and then north to Lac la Biche to work among the Cree and Metis Indian tribes.

Brother Anthony worked hard and spent many hours in prayer while in Lac la Biche. He was an excellent mechanic and handyman and kept all the machinery running smoothly and the stationery equipment in perfect condition.  But he was soon to be faced with a tremendous challenge.

The friars were busy working in the lumber mill when the power belt turning the giant saw blade snapped. It sounded as if dynamite had exploded and the belt hit Brother Anthony in the right forearm mangling his hand and arm. When they helped him up, he said, “It is God’s will.”

It took four days for them to get Anthony to the hospital in Edmonton. When they finally reached the hospital, gangrene had already set in, and the arm and hand had to be amputated. They had no anesthesia, so Anthony asked for his Crucifix and held it tightly as they removed his lower arm. They say he never made a sound.

Recovery was hard, but Anthony worked every day to improve himself. In 1897, he was sent to the mission of St. Paul de Metis. He and two other Oblate brothers set up a sawmill and flour mill.  On January 17, 1899, Brother Anthony knelt before Bishop Legal and took his final vows accepting his role as an Oblate Brother for the rest of his life.

Brother Anthony was eventually sent to St. John’s College in Edmonton and would remain there for thirty-six years. In 1912, he was fitted for an arm prosthesis with a hook on the end.  He became so proficient with his “new hand” that he became the resident blacksmith, gardener, bell-ringer, sacristan, and even took care of the animals. He also repaired the hockey sticks and sharpened the blades of the student’s ice skates.

Most importantly, he was always there for the young people for words of advice, encouragement, and prayer. They called him “Brother Ave” because he had such devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary. Plus, he always asked those who requested his prayers to pray an extra AVE (Hail Mary).

On July 10, 1947,  after a brief illness, Brother Anthony Kowalcysk died.  He was 81 years old. He had been the first Polish Oblate to come to Canada.

On March 28, 2013, Pope Francis declared  Brother Anthony Kowlcyzk a man of “Heroic Virtue” and therefore worthy of the title of Venerable Anthony Kowalcyzk.

Venerable Anthony Kowlcyzk, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


Saint Marie of the Incarnation—the “Mother of the Catholic Church in Canada”

Marie of the Incarnation                                                  en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Marie Guyart was born on October 28, 1599, in Tours, France. By the time Marie was fourteen, she had already asked her parents if she could enter the convent. In her book, The Jesuit Relation, written in 1654, she wrote that she had experienced a visit from Jesus when she was seven years old. She wrote that Jesus had come to her, reached out, put His arms around her, and hugging her said, “Do you wish to belong to Me?”

She says she told Him loudly, “YES!” Marie also wrote in her book, that from that point forward she could only think of “Goodness.”

Although Marie constantly spoke of becoming a religious, her parents betrothed her to a man named Claude Martin. When she was eighteen, Marie did as her folks wanted and married him. The couple had a son but Claude died when the boy was only six months of age. Marie was twenty. The year was 1919 and Marie was suddenly a young widow with a baby to raise.

She then moved in with her sister and her husband, Paul Buisson. Paul owned a thriving transportation business, and Marie began working for him. She possessed great organizational skills and soon took over management of the Buisson business. However, over the ensuing ten years, her primary focus and desire were always to enter the spiritual life.

Marie’s intense desire to become a religious was always present.  When Claude Jr. became a teenager, she began making plans to enter the Ursuline order. Marie’s sister was willing to raise the young man as her own. Marie was heartbroken to leave young Claude, but she believed that he would be better off with a father figure in his life. Paul treated the boy as his own son, and her sister loved him dearly. Those factors sealed her decision to become a nun.

Marie joined the Ursuline order in 1632. She received the name of Mother Marie of the Incarnation. It was sometime during 1636 that Mother Marie had a vision of a beautiful place filled with mountains and forests and beautiful lakes.  She was told that this place was  Canada, and she was supposed to go there and build a house for Jesus. It took her several years, but she managed to raise the necessary funds.

Mother Marie garnered the support of the Jesuits.  She was given the charter to establish centers in New France (Canada) by none other than Louis XII.  On April 3, 1639, she and two other Ursulines, set sail for land she had never seen but only dreamed of.

They arrived in Quebec on August 1, 1639. Mother Marie and her companions immediately set about doing missionary work by attending to the many Indian people in the area. Soon several more Ursuline nuns joined them, and the nuns moved into a small house donated to them for use as a convent. By 1642 the nuns had managed to have a permanent stone building built.  It became the first school in Canada and was known as the Ursuline Monastery of Quebec.  (Today the building is one of  the National Historic Sites of Canada).

Mother Marie’s unique management skills enabled her to organize the new school and convent into a functional and efficient operation. There were Iroquois, Algonquin, Montagnais, and Ouendat natives in the area and Mother Marie worked with the Jesuits and learned their languages even writing dictionaries in all the languages. Slowly but surely women began joining the order.

Ten years after Marie had entered the Ursuline order, her son, Claude,  became a Benedictine monk. Mother and son kept in frequent contact, and when Marie left for Canada, they kept up a regular correspondence with each other and this continued for more than thirty years. Mother Marie of the Incarnation passed away on April 30, 1672.

She had spent 33 years in the Canadain wilderness. Claude wrote a biography of his mom. In it he wrote, “Her zeal for the salvation of souls, and especially for the conversion of the Indians, was great and so universal that she seemed to carry them all in her heart. We cannot doubt that, by her prayers, she greatly called down God’s many blessings upon this new-born Church.”

Mother Marie of the Incarnation is recognized as one of the primary reasons Catholicism grew and flourished in Canada. There is even a statue in her honor standing in front of the Quebec parliament.

Saint Marie of the Incarnation was canonized by Pope Francis on April 2, 2014. We ask her to please pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019