Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 2, 2006
Panels depict Marie-Rose Durocher's life
This foundress of a religious order first educated children
Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher – October 6
- Photo by Ted Fitzgerald
The statue of blessed Marie-Rose stands above her tomb in Longueuil catherdral.
By TED FITZGERALD
Special to the WCR
Those seeking to understand the life of Blessed Marie-Rose-Durocher can do no better than to begin at her shrine in the Marie-Rose Centre of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) in Longueuil.
Here, artefacts associated with the holy woman's life are reverently preserved. And in the nearby Co-cathedral Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue the new Marie-Rose Chapel contains the much-visited tomb of the area's respected native-daughter and founder of the order in 1843.
Eulalie Durocher, fifth generation descendant of 18th century settlers from Angers in France's Loire Valley, was born in 1811 not far from Longueuil near the farming community of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu. She attended the parish church there and at an early age showed a serious level of devotion.
It was in the Richelieu River town of Beloeil, that over a period of 12 years she developed a deep interest in furthering the education of children, particularly girls.
She made her living by serving as housekeeper for her brother Theophile, local parish priest.
Today a plaza beside the church there bears her name and a bust of Blessed Marie-Rose graces the east nave wall of Saint-Matthieu-de-Beloeil Church.
With the encouragement of Montreal Bishop Ignace Bourget and local Oblate fathers, Eulalie and two associates founded the congregation at Longueuil to provide education for district girls. Blessed with initial success, the order grew rapidly under the capable direction and prayerful leadership of Mother Marie-Rose.
Sadly, she passed away just six years after the founding so failed to see, on earth, the full blossoming of her work and the worldwide expansion of her congregation.
An early death
Although the Marie-Rose Centre is open to the public at certain times, it's best that an appointment be made to visit, particularly if a tour in English is desired.
The facility is in convent buildings situated on grassy, tree-shaded grounds on rue St.-Charles Est near the city's cathedral two km east from the Longueuil Metro station.
Some visitors may have the good fortune to have as their guide pleasant, knowledgeable Sister Yolande Laberge, noted historian and author of the book in the Celebrities Biographic Collection series Mother Marie Rose.
Sister is a professional educator, at times holder of positions as teacher and administrator as well as working in community and pastoral ministries.
Centrepiece of a visit is the newly renovated original 60 year-old chapel, a serene venue for Mass and the sisters' daily devotions.
The small but ornate reredos is dominated by an image of the Sacred Heart, while along the west nave wall is a series of modern panels depicting in bas-relief phases in the life of Mother Durocher.
Among the centre's treasures is a stained glass window that once illuminated Marie-Rose's tomb in the Montreal motherhouse. It portrays the seal of the order and bears the congregation's motto "Jesus and Mary, my strength and my glory."
In 2004, the blessed mother's tomb was moved from the motherhouse into a new chapel attached to the west side of the Longueuil cathedral. The pink marble sarcophagus reposes beneath the altar and a statue of Marie-Rose.
The shrine is open daily and can be entered via an exterior doorway or through a decorative iron grill that separates it from the cathedral's nave.
Mother Marie-Rose was declared venerable in 1979 and on May 23, 1982, to the delight of her congregation, the holy woman was beatified by Pope John Paul II. The first reading at the Eucharistic celebration in Rome on that day was delivered by Sister Yolande Laberge, SNJM.