Durocher, Marie Rose, Bl.

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Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Canada; b. St. Antoine, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 6, 1811; d. Longueuil, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 6, 1849.

The tenth of 11 children, Eulalie Mélanie Durocher was educated by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame at their convents in St. Denis and Montreal. From the age of 18, shortly after the death of her mother, she served as hostess, parish worker, nurse and homemaker in the Beloeil parish where her brother, Theophile, was pastor. For 13 years Durocher coordinated activities in the rectory, organized programs in religious education for children and young women of the parish, and cared for the poor and sick of the surrounding village. During the latter part of this period, with the assistance of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate who had recently arrived from France, Eulalie established the first Canadian parish Sodality.

In October 1843, at the request of Bishop Ignace Bourget, bishop of Montreal, Durocher, together with two companions, Mélodie Dufresne and Henriette Céré, founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, at Longueuil. The purpose of the congregation, as stated in the 1850 Chronicles, was "to give religious education to the poorest and most abandoned children." The Oblates of Mary Immaculate helped the three women with the new foundation, offering spiritual guidance as well as financial and moral support. The new congregation adopted the habit and a modified form of the Constitutions of a Marseilles community of the same name, a group whom the Oblates had directed in France, and who were unable to send sisters to Canada to begin a new foundation. The Marseilles community later ceased to exist due to political upheaval in France. On Dec. 8, 1844, during the pontificate of gregory xvi, the Canadian congregation was canonically established, with Eulalie (Sister Marie Rose) as its first superior.

A woman of deep faith, practical wisdom and singleness of purpose, Sister Marie Rose overcame many obstacles to commit her congregation to its work with the poor and illiterate. Poor living conditions, misunderstanding from an Oblate pastor who had been a main source of support, and false reports about the congregation spread by a discontented priest of the diocese were the greatest challenges during these early years. Undaunted, Sister Marie Rose particularly addressed the needs of young women, whose religious education as well as overall education was sorely neglected in Quebec at this time. Using the congregation's limited resources to provide them with the best quality of education available, she even sent some sisters away for professional training to insure their thorough preparation for teaching. Through her numerous letters and frequent visits, Sister Marie Rose fostered a sense of unity among the sisters which enabled them to stay focused on their mission despite the hardships they endured.

When Sister Marie Rose died at 38 years of age, six years after its foundation, the community had 30 sisters teaching 384 students in four schools. In 1859 the first distant mission of the congregation was founded in Oregon. From 1931 on, the congregation spread beyond North America to Basutoland (Lesotho), Japan, Brazil, Peru, and Haiti. Sister Marie Rose was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 23, 1982.

Feast: Oct. 6.

See Also: holy names of jesus and mary, sisters of the.

Bibliography: "Sister Marie Rose Durocher," Archives, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (Longueuil). f. allison, She Who Believed in Tomorrow (Montreal 1981). j. beaudet. Braise au coeur du pays (Montreal 1982). c. marie, tr., Beatifications et Canonizationis Servae Dei Mariae Rosae Durocher, 10 v., Positio (Vatican City 1975). p. duchaussois, Rose of Canada (Outremont 1934). g. duval, Par le chemin du roi: une femme est venue (Montreal 1982). e. teresa, So Short a Day (New York 1954). m. theriault, "Foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary," Vita Evangelica (Ottawa 1975).

[p. a. parachini]