October 6: Blessed Rose Marie Durocher, Virgin (U.S.A.)

Optional Memorial; Liturgical Color: White
Invoked against the loss of parents


<<<      When the call came, she was prepared to say “Yes”      >>>

The story of today’s Blessed is largely one of waiting for the hammer to strike. Years of quiet, humble, and faithful generosity to family, the Church, and students prepared Eulalie (her baptismal name) for the moment when she was asked to sacrifice her entire life, eliciting from her a full throated “Yes.”

Eulalie was born into a successful Quebecois family of eleven children, where sharing, sacrifice, and service were not extraordinary but simply the way things were. Three of her brothers became priests, and a sister became a nun. At the age of twelve, Eulalie entered the convent boarding school where her sister was a novice. But poor health impeded her acceptance into Montreal’s Congregation of Notre Dame. Her boarding school classmates noted Eulalie’s sterling character, charm, meekness, and delicate attentiveness to the will of God.

When her mother died prematurely in 1830, Eulalie took on a maternal role, caring for her siblings and making the family’s house a home. A year later she, her father, and the family moved onto the premises of a parish where her brother was the priest. For twelve years, Eulalie served as the parish secretary and housekeeper, all the while keenly noting the desperate need for a religious congregation to educate the mass of rich and poor children of Quebec who remained ignorant for lack of schools.

In 1841, the great Bishop Eugene de Mazenod of Marseilles, France, the founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, was coordinating with a Canadian priest to send a teaching order of sisters to Quebec. Eulalie learned of the effort and committed herself in advance. But it was not God’s will and the plan failed. Along with her earlier non-acceptance by the convent, this was the second great disappointment of Eulalie’s life. The Church was not yet ready to accept her “Yes.” Her long engagement with Christ

would again be delayed before the two could be permanently bonded at the altar.

When he realized his French-based missionary plan would fail, Bishop Mazenod recommended to the Bishop of Montreal that he start his own local congregation of teaching sisters. After the usual steps had been completed, in 1843 Eulalie’s dream came true. When the hammer finally struck and she was asked to become a sister, Eulalie’s powder was dry, her aim true, and her life ready to hit its target. The Bishop of Montreal, moreover, not only asked her to join the new Congregation but to lead it! Two other women trained with Eulalie under the guidance of an Oblate priest. In 1844 the three took vows and received the religious habit, with Eulalie taking the religious name Marie-Rose. The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary were born, with Sister Marie-Rose Durocher as the Mother Superior.

The services of the new Congregation were in intense demand, and the sisters responded with due generosity. The number of students exploded, new convents were established, and vocations flourished. In just five years, by 1849, there were four convents of the Holy Names’ Sisters educating hundreds of boys and girls in both French and English. Our Blessed, though, had never conquered her poor health, and the non-stop work of the new Congregation weakened her already fragile frame. Sister Marie-Rose died in 1849 at the age of thirty-eight. Her marriage to Christ was late but not long.

In 1927 the local effort to investigate her heroic virtue commenced, leading to her beatification by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1982. With one more verified miracle, our Blessed will be canonized a saint. Blessed Marie-Rose lived a mostly quiet life of service to others, observing and absorbing where her spiritual and practical skills could most fruitfully be utilized. She was ready through long practice when the call to generosity finally came.

Blessed Marie-Rose, inspire all educators to dedicate themselves fully to the needs of the young so in need of religious instruction. May your example lead Catholic teachers to see their work as a vocation in service to Christ more than a mere profession in service to the world. Amen.

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