Week of December 25, 2000
Mother Emilie ready for beatification
Boy miraculously healed through intercession of order's founder
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Mother Emilie Tavernier Gamelin, founder of the Sisters of Providence, may be beatified next year following Pope John Paul's formal recognition of the miracle she needed to join the ranks of the blessed.
At a Dec. 18 meeting, Archbishop Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, told the pope that Mother Emilie, "having obtained through her intercession the healing of a youth afflicted by a serious illness, can now be listed among the vast number of blessed."
The Vatican did not announce a date for the beatification ceremony but the Sisters of Providence expect it to happen as soon as next year. Beatification is the step prior to sainthood.
"I think this is a wonderful event for the Church, society and the Sisters of Providence," said Sister Gloria Keylor, general superior of the congregation. "We are very pleased."
"This will be a great opportunity to make her works and her spirit better known throughout the world," said Sister Germaine Chalifoux, spokesperson for the Sisters of Providence of Western Canada.
Speaking from the congregation's headquarters in Montreal, Keylor said the miracle that was presented to Rome in 1997 concerns an "extraordinary cure" that took place in Montreal in 1983.
It concerns a 30-year-old Quebec man who 17 years ago was cured of leukemia through Gamelin's intercession. Keylor won't release the man's name until he has been notified of the Vatican's decision.
In 1980, when the man was 10, he had a craniotomy to remove a growth of tissue from the brain. A year later, he developed acute leukemia. He was treated but experienced two remissions, which were followed by a relapse of the disease.
In September 1983, after undergoing chemotherapy, he underwent a bone marrow transplant with bone marrow donated by his mother which he rejected a month later.
"This absence of bone marrow lasted about 100 days at the end of which the child was not given very much chance (of survival)," Keylor said.
He needed a miracle. But that miracle was already in the works. From the time the boy became ill his grandmother, some relatives, friends and the Sisters of Providence had been praying to Mother Emilie asking her to intercede on the child's behalf.
"The child also prayed for healing and in December of 1983, when the doctors examined the bone marrow, they discovered that the leukemia had not progressed and the child was sent home from the hospital and completely recovered," Keylor said.
"The Holy Father declared that there was truly a miracle granted by God through the intercession of the venerable servant of God Emilie Tavernier, foundress of the Sisters of Providence."
Keylor said the Quebec's Medical College studied the cure and said they could not explain it scientifically.
Emilie Tavernier was born in Montreal in 1800 and married the wealthy merchant Jean-Baptiste Gamelin in 1823. They had three sons, but each died in infancy, and Jean-Baptiste Gamelin died in 1827.
After being widowed, she devoted herself to acts of charity, and in 1830 she opened a refuge for elderly and destitute women. Later outbreaks of cholera and civil unrest led to a ministry of nursing and visiting prisoners.
Along with the bishop of Montreal, she founded the Sisters of Providence in 1843. The congregation grew rapidly and is particularly known today for its advocacy for the poor in Canada and in the United States.
Currently there are 1,200 Sisters of Providence in nine countries in Africa, Asia, and South and North America, including 800 in Canada and 86 in Alberta.
(With files from Catholic News Service)