Strawberry Day Celebrated in Union with California Sisters

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How would you like to celebrate the arrival of strawberries on a May 10?

The Sisters of Maison Jésus-Marie (MJM) celebrated their first Strawberry Day on May 10, in union with the SNJM Sisters in California, who have made it a traditional annual event.

Sr. Florence Vinet in conversation with the SNJM Sisters in California.

The atmosphere was festive as the strawberry candies were distributed to the Sisters in each Pavilion. Strawberry ice cream was offered to those who were unable to eat the candies. It was an experience of sheer delight as indicated by the happy faces.

While enjoying these little sweets, the Sisters of St. André, who were able, participated in a virtual meeting with three SNJM’s from California. Michelle Garlinski, took the opportunity to share their experience of this traditional celebration. For the first time, the SNJM Sisters from Quebec were able to be in union with their Sisters in California and experience this day of celebration. It was a great way to complete their discovery of California which had been initiated some time ago by Sr. Mary Haupt, with the help of Google Earth.

A brief history

The founders of the mission in Oakland, California.

The origin of this Strawberry Day goes back to the foundation of the SNJM mission in Oakland, California. The six SNJM Sisters from Quebec arrived in San Francisco at 5 a.m. on May 10, following a grueling journey of several days. They were welcomed by the Sisters of Mercy at Saint Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco.

In the afternoon, Sr. Baptiste Russell, superior of that Congregation, prepared a special dessert of strawberries for them! This was a surprise and a comfort for the Quebec SNJMs who greatly appreciated the gesture. This event is the origin of Strawberry Day, celebrated annually on May 10 by the SNJM Sisters in California.

Let us recall that the six Sisters left Quebec in April 1868 bound for Oakland on the American west coast, in order to open a school. At that time, it was a quite an expedition! In the circumstances, Mother Theresa of Jesus and Sr. Ignatius of Loyola accompanied these missionaries as far as the city of New York.

After this first stage of the trip, the six Sisters boarded the “Ocean Queen” which took them to Aspinwall, on the Isthmus of Panama. They then took a train to Panama City before getting on a smaller boat to continue their journey to San Francisco.

Their stop at the Sisters of Mercy in that city was beneficial in many ways. A few days later, they crossed the San Francisco Bay accompanied by four Sisters of Mercy to reach their destination in Oakland.

Photos credit: Sr. Hélène Harvey, snjm