Members of the Sisters of Charity of Notre Dame d'Évron leadership team met in Edmonton on June 29. Clockwise from front left: Sisters Ann Yuhasz, Cécile Goyer, Thérèse Verrier, Rosanne Favreau, Réjeanne Beaulieu, Mary Ellen O'Neill.


Members of the Sisters of Charity of Notre Dame d'Évron leadership team met in Edmonton on June 29. Clockwise from front left: Sisters Ann Yuhasz, Cécile Goyer, Thérèse Verrier, Rosanne Favreau, Réjeanne Beaulieu, Mary Ellen O'Neill.

July 13, 2015

When Jesus became man and lived on the earth the Scriptures say he proclaimed the Good News, went around doing good and healing.

Such is the charism of the Sisters of Charity of Notre Dame d' Évron who, led by this incarnational spirituality, have devoted their lives to giving Christian education, assisting the sick and doing good wherever they are needed, since landing in Canada in 1909.

"While (Jesus) was on earth he did healing, teaching, all the different ministries, and he had this personal relationship with the Father also. So we try to live that way, the way that he did," said Sister Ann Yuhasz of Edmonton.

Yuhasz is one of the 13 Canadian members of the French congregation.

Born in Cherry Grove, Alta., she was introduced to the Sisters of Charity in Bonnyville, where she went to school and worked at St. Louis Hospital, one of the hospitals founded and run by the Sisters of Charity of Notre Dame

d' Évron. She was drawn by the way they lived, worked and prayed.

"Their witnessing, their charity, simplicity and humility – that's what struck me," she said. "I thought that this is a life that I could live."

Yuhasz entered the novitiate in Trochu and made her first commitments at 19.

Entering a francophone community meant that she had to learn the French language, just as the Sisters of Charity who originally came to Trochu from Évron, France, had to learn English to establish their ministry in Canada.

Consecrated Life

The sisters learned from Father Hippolyte Leduc – who returned to Évron with Bishop Vital Grandin in the late 1800s – about the Oblate missions that were opening in Western Canada and of the need to have nuns who could teach and care for the sick.

At that time, the laws in France prohibited the congregation from doing its work teaching and looking after the sick, so the sisters were starting missions in Belgium, England and Canada.

In 1909 the French community of sisters started a mission in Trochu, devoted to teaching and nursing works, according to the ministries of foundress Perrine Thulard, who established congregation in La Chapell-au-Riboul, France, in 1682.

Born Perrine Brunet in a hamlet northeast of Évron in 1654, Madame Thulard sensed that she was called to be a nun but, at the urging of her parents, got married to a local notary, René Thulard, at age 19.

After her husband's death seven years later, she became a childless widow, who had inherited a fortune.

Returning to her original desire of religious life, Thulard was encouraged by a parish priest to educate the young and care for the sick and destitute because of the great need.


She began these two works of charity after a preparation of two years. The congregation continued over the years to attend to the spiritual and material well-being of the poor through teaching and nursing all over the world.

The sisters established hospitals in Trochu, Vegreville and Bonnyville, as well as a nursing school at St. Joseph's General Hospital in Vegreville.

Today the activities of the sisters are more diversified.

They serve as pastoral agents in parishes, hospital pastoral care providers, in prison ministry, administration and in rehabilitation programs for physically and mentally challenged individuals.

Perrine Thulard

Perrine Thulard

Since 1909, the sisters have served in 19 different communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

"What we've always tried to do is respond to the needs of the Church at the moment," said Sister Cécile Goyer, who is based in Fort Chipewyan.

"(Goyer) is very isolated in Fort Chip and doesn't get out that often but still it was a need of the Church at the time," added Sister Mary Ellen O'Neill.


Two more Sisters of Charity came to be based in Pickardville in response to a bulletin in the Edmonton Archdiocese's newsletter Quid Novum, requesting the presence of two retired sisters to live with the Christian community there.

"That was one of the things of all the places where we were founded – we always lived close to the people," said O'Neill.

Being a servant of Jesus Christ poor, in the person of the poor, is the mandate set out by foundress Perrine Thulard.

"We don't like complicated lives," said O'Neill. "Simplicity is one of our traits."


She quoted the spiritual testament of their foundress, which states: "'God keep alive among us a spirit of charity, simplicity, humility and unity.' That's her last will to us."

In Canada, the congregation has 59 lay associates who share the spirituality and charism of the foundress.

The congregation has 13 members in Canada, including one who is currently on mission in Peru, from about 80 in Canada at its peak in the 1960s.

Around the world, the congregation has about 200 members in France, the United Kingdom, Ivory Coast, where they expanded in 1957, and Peru, where they have dispatched sisters since 2003.