Addresses, Speeches, Homilies 1984

Visit to the tomb of Marguerite Bourgeoy

              MONTREAL, QUEBEC
SEPTEMBER 11, 1984

Dear Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame,

Time does not permit me, before the mass that will bring together the whole Christian community of Montreal, to share with you all the thoughts that fill my heart here before the tomb of your holy foundress. It was my honour to canonize her on October 31, 1982. On that date, I spoke of her spirituality, of her admirable apostolate with the young and with families and of the interest her initiatives continue to have for the pastoral ministry today. We honour this saintly woman as one of the founders of Montreal and of the Church in Canada.

Today to you and to all teaching sisters, her dear spiritual daughters, in this country as well as to all others involved in the education of youth and in the promotion of the family, I say simply: look at the zeal, the realism, the audacious love of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. Think of the value she attached to the soul of every little girl: be she a colonial or an Indian, she was like “a drop of the blood of Jesus Christ”! Consider her devotion and her capability as a teacher, opening schools where they were needed, near the families and working with them. Appreciate her concern for giving complete training to youth, emphasizing faith, prayer, apostolic sense and the cultural and practical abilities necessary to take on the tasks of an adult woman. Admire her pastoral imagination and tenacity in preparing young men and young women to establish stable homes, and in forming cultivated, hard working and radiant Christian wives and mothers. Note the concrete support she continued to offer families and married women in associations. You know the faith, the firmness and the tenderness that marked all her work.

Today, the children and young people, like those whom I am going to see this afternoon and this evening, need educators like her to help them discover the meaning of life and to give of themselves generously. And above all, those families in distress have a greater need than ever of a specific apostolate in their favour (cf. Familiaris Consortio). Women who rightly desire their advancement have a reason to contemplate this valiant woman who wanted the women of her time to be worthy of their vocation.

Let us pray for all these intentions to Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. And you, dear Sisters, continue to draw light and strength from her example. With all my heart, I bless your congregation.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Conférence des évêques catholiques du Canada