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Providence Spirituality

Mk 1: 12-15

At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

“I have prayed that you may always love the poor and that peace and union may ever be preserved among you.” Emilie Tavernier Gamelin, September 1851 

…During this year of 2018, we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Congregation. In order to have a common tool of contemplation specific to our Congregation, we would like to present you the Sunday Gospels – February 18.


On this first Sunday of Lent, St. Mark in his Gospel (1:12-15) reminds us that after his baptism, Jesus was driven out into the desert by the Spirit.

Before beginning his “public life”, Jesus needed silence; he needed to be heart to heart with his Father who would ask him later to sacrifice his life to “heal” humanity.

Any human life gets moments of doubt, hours of anxiety, misunderstanding, and only a deep FAITH, the certainty of following in Jesus’ footsteps, will bring light and give enough strength to keep going on until the end.

175 years ago, a woman let herself be driven by the Spirit without knowing exactly where it would take her. Her name was Emilie Tavernier Gamelin and she was born on February 19, 1800, in Montreal.

Wife and mother of three, in less than five years, she lost her most precious treasures: her husband and her three sons. She was only 28 years old. Why these losses? In prayer and reflection at the foot of the Cross with our Mother of Sorrows, she found her way: her husband and her children would be all those who are oppressed by misery. She went into action with no further delay.

For fifteen years, this woman responded to the charism that our Provident God had confided to her. With a group of “ladies of charity”, she criss-crossed the city of Montreal, reaching out to meet the many needs of the people of that time. But Monsignor Bourget, Bishop of Montreal, in order to ensure the permanence of this charitable work, wished to entrust it to a religious congregation. Emilie was at a crossroads. What would she do? Would she hand over to the Bishop her work, which had just received approval as a civil corporation on September 18, 1841. Prayer and reflection were again her reference points… And, always attentive and faithful to grace, she would continue to serve the poor for the rest of her life, under the authority of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity who were soon to arrive from France. She trusted her Bishop and she began to help him prepare for the arrival of the French sisters.

However, “God’s plans are not our plans.” Mgr. Bourget was notified that the Daughters of Charity would not be able to come. Having reached an impasse, he invited Mrs. Gamelin to pray with him. After praying together for an hour, it was decided that Bishop Bourget would invite young women to form a new Canadian congregation. This new congregation was established on March 25, 1843.

Then it was that Emilie felt the Spirit calling her to dedicate her entire self to God through religious life. She shared this desire with Mgr. Bourget who hesitated at first. She repeated her desire, she prayed and she received a positive response from the Bishop. This response confirmed for her that her desire was God’s will. She became a Daughter of Charity, Servant of the Poor, Sister of Providence.

Yvette Demers, s.p., Vice Postulator – Emilie Gamelin Cause