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When Approaching the 175th Anniversary of Foundation

Historical Events to Recall... When Approaching the 175th Anniversary of Foundation

“The more you recall Mother Gamelin, The more you will experience her spirit.” Bishop Bourget to the Sisters of Providence, September 4, 1876

Did you know that?

In the spring of 1838, Madame Gamelin was exhausted by her work with the elderly and the visits to prisoners and she became seriously ill. Her physicians diagnosed she suffered from typhoid fever; most thought her last hour had come and she received the last rites.

On March 2, 1838, she signed her will and designated Olivier Berthelet as executor […] a hundred masses were to be celebrated to her intention […] and at the end, she guaranteed security for Magdeleine Durand, who had been working with her for a few years, by requesting that “she never be dismissed from the Asile, unless she agreed to leave1.”

In her Retreat Notes, Mother Gamelin wrote ten years later (April 1848):

“In this meditation, I recalled the vision that I saw while at the point of death in 1838. I saw the place which was prepared for me in heaven; the Holy Virgin showed it to me and told me that I would not die of that sickness, but that my crown had hardly any diamonds; and this good Mother sent me back, telling me that I had to correct my impatience and anger, that I lacked charity and gentleness, with regard to my old women – charity and gentleness, and more humility in my conduct. This thought encouraged me to work with new courage to my perfection. Assuredly, I have a place in heaven, but it is necessary for me to earn it2.”

What happened on March 1830?

We know that after the death of her husband and her last child, Emilie discovered the path on which the Providence was calling her. She was not to remarry; from that moment, her husband and her children became all the poor that she met. “In her regular visits to the poor in their homes, she became aware that such occasional help did not meet the needs of aged and infirm women. She welcomed several of them into her own home on St-Antoine Street.

It soon became necessary for Émilie to look for a bigger place to house her protégées. The new parish priest of Notre-Dame, Father Claude Fay, gave her permission to use the lower floor of a building in Faubourg St-Laurent, at the south-west corner of St-Laurent and Ste-Catherine Streets. The Sulpicians were already on the premises, where they had entrusted the direction of a school to Mademoiselle Marguerite Desève.

The refuge was opened on March 4, 1830. Madame Gamelin saw to the installation of Madame St-Onge, a widow who was 102 years old. Madame Ouellette, a widow, came to live there with her two children, and helped with the upkeep of the house which could accommodate about 10 persons.

Twice a day, Madame Gamelin traveled from her home in Faubourg St-Antoine to the house on St-Laurent Street to take care of her protégées1.”

 “Emilie, you talk to our hearts!”

Sources: Émilie-Tavernier-Gamelin, by Denise Robillard pages124; 101-102 and Retreat Notes of Mother Emilie Gamelin, Retreat of April 1848, 2nd day, p. 44.

Sr. Yvette Demers, SP Vice Postulator Emilie Gamelin Cause