While Catholics in Vermont are quite accustomed to the fact that the entire state is a single Diocese— the Diocese of Burlington — it might be a bit harder to imagine that an entire country was the sole Diocese for all the Catholics living within it. Such was the case, however, with our neighbors to the north; until 1819, a person could travel from coast to coast in Canada and never leave the See of the Catholic Bishop of Quebec.

This was the world into which Eulalie Durocher was born at St. Antoine, Quebec, on Oct. 6, 1811. The 10th of eleven children, Eulalie was raised in a Catholic family and had, by all accounts, a happy childhood. Educated by the Sisters of Notre Dame, she was known as somewhat of a tomboy and had a favorite horse named Caesar. Despite the fact that she could have married well, at the age of 16 Eulalie began to have a desire to enter religious life; however, her health was less than robust, and she was turned away.

When Eulalie was 18, her mother died and her brother, who was a priest, invited her and her father to come live with him in his parish at Boloeil, which was just outside Montreal.  They accepted, and for the next 13 years, Eulalie acted as a housekeeper, hostess and all- around parish worker at St.-Mathieu-de-Beloeil. She quickly acquired a reputation not only for graciousness, but also for her tactfulness and leadership skills, becoming known among the people as “the saint of Boloeil.”

In 1829, Bishop Ignace Bourget found, as did many bishops in largely rural areas at the time, that he suffered from a shortage of priests and religious. And like many bishops in the neighboring United States — including those who were seeking more clergy to minister in Vermont — he appealed to Europe, hoping that some men and women would be willing to come and serve in what amounted to mission territory in Canada.

In the end, however, he discovered that his greatest source of workers was right in front of him. He founded four different religious communities to carry out the work of the Church, one of them being the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. When Eulalie’s name was put forward by her spiritual director as a possible co-foundress of the order, she at first resisted quite strongly. However, in 1843 her reluctance was overcome and she, along with two friends, Melodie Dufresne and Henriette Cere, found themselves in a small home in Longueuil, from which they began their work.  It was at that time that she took the name Marie-Rose.

Although she would only live another six years, Mother Marie-Rose Durocher helped nurture the beginnings of a religious community dedicated to education in the faith which would eventually have a worldwide reach; the order is currently active on three continents.

Marie-Rose was beatified in 1982; her feast day is Oct. 6.

Sources for this article include:

americancatholic.org

catholic.org

“Blessed Marie Rose Durocher,” CatholicSaints.Info. Feb. 4, 2019.

snjm.org.en.aboutus/our-history.foundress

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