Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 7, 2005
The Sisters of Misericorde
By WCR Staff
The Sisters of the Misericorde once ran Edmonton's Misericordia Hospital and 10 other hospitals like it.
But those days are gone. The order returned to its original charism of helping children and young pregnant women.
And then the flood of new vocations dried up. Today, there are only 131 Misericorde Sisters left in Quebec, New York and Ecuador.
Many women have expressed a desire to join the congregation, but "they can't keep the commitment," says Sister Lucie Lebeau, the order's assistant provincial general and a sister since 1949.
But Sister Lucie has not given up hope.
"I think that religious life has a real future within the Church," she said in an interview. "However, we don't know what it will look like because when we look back over the centuries religious life has changed a lot from one century to the other."
Monastic, contemplative congregations soon gave way to more action-oriented religious lifestyles. "Today it seems that the young people are going back to contemplation; they want more prayer, more reflection. I think they want to find a deep sense to their lives."
Lebeau is confident religious life will continue but in a different way. "Maybe less action-oriented and more focused on prayer and spirituality."
To help their congregation continue into the future the Sisters of Misericorde have surrounded themselves with young laywomen and men who embrace their mission and vision. "We don't call them associate (members); we call them friends because they really share with us our mission, our spirituality and our charism," Lebeau said.
"We have eight different groups. We even have people who make private vows, the same vows that we (sisters) make. They live in the world."
So far the congregation has about 1,500 friends, including about 15 in Edmonton.