October 5, 2017

Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, Virgin and Foundress

Blessed Marie Rose Durocher

October 6th, the Church observes the optional memorial of Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, (1811-1849) the 19th century Canadian religious, who founded the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. She was born, Eulalie Mélanie Durocher in the village of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, the tenth of eleven children to Olivier and Geneviève Durocher, devout farmers. Four of her siblings were called to religious life. Her brothers Flavien, Théophile, and Eusèbe became priests. Her sister Séraphine entered the Congregation of Notre Dame.

Eulalie aspired to follow her sister and join the Congregation of Notre Dame. She was home-schooled by her paternal grandfather and attending various boarding schools. In 1827, she enrolled in the school of the Congregation of Notre Dame in Montreal, with the intention of entering the novitiate, but was turned away due to poor health. In 1830, Eulalie's mother Geneviève died. The next year, her brother, Father Théophile, who was curate of Saint-Mathieu Parish in Belœil, convinced his father and her to live in the rectory. There Eulalie worked as a housekeeper and secretary. It was during this time that she became aware of the severe shortage of schools and teachers in the surrounding countryside.

With the encouragement of Bishop Ignace Bourget, the Bishop of Montreal, in 1843 she founded the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary, taking the name Marie Rose. The Order was dedicated to providing Christian education, particularly among the underprivileged and downtrodden. For the rest of her life, she committed her energies, together with those of the women who joined her, to ministering to the poor living in rural areas. During her tenure as Mother Superior she was strict but nurturing to her fellow sisters and the students in her charge.

Beset throughout her life by ill health, Mother Marie Rose died October 6, 1849, at the age of 38. Bishop Ignace Bourget presided over her funeral which was held the same day. Her remains rest in the Chapelle Marie-Rose in the Co-cathedral of St. Anthony of Padua in Longueuil, Quebec. Blessed Marie Rose Durocher was beatified on May 23, 1982 by Pope John Paul II. She is the patron for protection against bodily ills, loss of parents, illness and frail health. Lord, who enkindled in the heart of Blessed Marie Rose Durocher the flame of ardent charity and a great desire to cooperate in the mission of the Church as a teacher, grant us that same active love, so that, in responding to the needs of the world today, we may lead our brothers and sisters to the joy of eternal life. Blessed Marie Rose, pray for us.

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