In 2017, the first World Day of the Poor was established on the initiative of Pope Francis, who wanted to give a “concrete sign of Christ’s charity for those most in need.”
Attention to the poor is not new for the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM). As early as 1847, four years after the foundation of the congregation, Mother Marie-Rose showed great charity and compassion by welcoming three Irish orphans. At a time when typhus had orphaned a good number of Irish children, the young congregation of “weak means” hastened to respond to the call of Bishop Ignace Bourget.
An excerpt from the Great Chronicles of the Mother House, dated September 10, 1847, speaks of the adoption of the Mullen girls.
“Two of our sisters went yesterday to Pointe-Saint-Charles to choose three children. They brought us three little sisters named Mullen. Mary, the eldest, is fifteen years old; Rose-Anna, the second, is thirteen, and the youngest, Bridget, is nine. All three have been affected by the terrible plague. Sickness, hunger and poverty have reduced them to a truly pitiful state. They are covered in rags and eaten by vermin. We keep them out of sight of our other students until good care has made them look better. They will be entrusted to Mother Marie-Agnès. Their father and mother are still lying on miserable grabats where typhus has nailed them. This disease claims new victims every day. Let us hope that the public prayers that have been made throughout the diocese to obtain from heaven the cessation of the epidemic will not be long in being answered.”
The commitments of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) to vulnerable people have taken many forms over time. In Quebec, Canada, the United States and elsewhere in the world, there has been an increasing number of actions within organizations to help the homeless, immigrants, refugees, women and children, particularly through literacy activities, demonstrations to counter injustices, the animation of grassroots communities and the creation and/or collaboration of numerous self-help organizations.
Even today, welcoming and helping others is at the heart of the concerns of the congregation founded by Eulalie Durocher. Along with other religious congregations, the SNJM is involved in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to defend causes that are close to their hearts. They work with:
– UNANIMA International
– Transformation Resources Centre of Lesotho
– Development and Peace
On the occasion of this 7th edition, the Pope invites us not to “turn our eyes away” from all those who are experiencing hardship by not being able to make ends meet, for example, in situations of homelessness, being exploited at work and in situations of migration to leave war zones or simply to flee deplorable living conditions. Discover the Pope’s message, available in several languages.