The birth of our community, the first teaching Congregation of Catholic women religious founded by a Canadian woman (Eulalie Durocher), lessened the gap caused by the absence of schools in the majority of villages of the time and offset the dearth of both general and Christian education in Quebec.
From the beginnings of the SNJM Congregation, our foundress, Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, emphasized an education aimed at the full development of each individual. Along with her companions, she already had the intuition in 1843 that the education of girls would have a positive impact on the evolution of society and on improving the living conditions, health and empowerment of women.
Her dedication to helping the poor and those rejected by society inspired her to develop an ingenious approach for that time in history. Surplus income from boarding schools was in effect redistributed to the nearby SNJM-operated public schools. Mother Marie-Rose also had the principle of working with local people and responding to their needs. The opening of each boarding school, day school, or other SNJM apostolic mission has respected this principle.
From the time of the little Longueuil school (also known as the École de la Fabrique) in the 19th century to the present day, SNJM’s have trained thousands of girls and boys in one-room country schoolhouses, in public schools, in specialized schools such as teacher-training colleges, regional home economics schools, commercial schools, art studios (painting, etc.), the Vincent d’Indy Music School, family training schools (“Instituts de pédagogie familiale”), as well as classical colleges, comprehensive high schools, and various institutions of higher learning.
With the transformation of school structures in Quebec in the 1960’s, the Congregation modified its approach. It kept some private institutions for some twenty years more before handing them over to private secular corporations at the beginning of the 21st century. These were the day school Externat Mont-Jésus-Marie (EMJM), the boarding school Saint-Nom-de-Marie (PSNM), the music school École de musique Vincent-d’Indy (EMVI) and Collège Durocher-Saint-Lambert (CDSL).
Until recently, some Sisters were still teaching in some of these institutions. Our action in this area is now limited to participating in annual general meetings of these institutions, encouraging the transmission of our values, in particular the integral development of each person.