General Council Visits “Gray Sisters”

Long History Revisited
Wednesday 5 May 2010
by  Ronald Witherup
popularity : 16%

During the recent General Council meeting in Montreal, the Council, accompanied by the Provincial of Canada, Fr. Jacques, D’Arcy, p.s.s., went to the residence of the General Council of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, also known as the “Gray Sisters.” The Superior General of the Sisters, Sr. Jacqueline Saint-Yves, had invited the Sulpicians for the purpose of reconnecting on the level of the two Councils with a long and venerable history of cooperation and ministry.

The Gray Sisters were founded in 1737 by Marguerite d’Youville (1701-1771), with the aid of a Sulpician, Fr. Normant du Faradon, who ten years later helped shaped their Constitutions. Mme. D’Youville had had a Sulpician director by the name of Jean-Gabriel-Marie Le Pape Du Lescöat and was strongly influenced by Sulpician spirituality. She suffered many tragedies in her own life but maintained a burning desire to help those in need, especially the poor and the sick. After the death of her husband, she established this community of Sisters whose work continues today in Canada and the U.S. and in Africa and South America.

Pope John XXIII beatified Marguerite d’Youville in 1959 and called her “Mother of Universal Charity.” She was canonized on December 9, 1990, by Pope John Paul II, so 2010 marks the twentieth anniversary her canonization.

The two General Councils met at the recently restored and renovated house of St. Marguerite on rue Saint-Pierre in downtown Montreal. Sulpician Superior General Ronald D. Witherup, p.s.s., was principal celebrant of the Mass, and the first consultor, Fr. Jean-Louis Rouillier, p.s.s., preached the homily. A festive dinner followed and some words of welcome and gratitude were expressed. Then the two Councils adjourned for a sharing of contemporary challenges facing our respective communities.

At the end of the day, both Councils agreed that the encounter was a rewarding time and a way to reinforce the long history of cooperation between the two communities. This is just one of numerous religious communities of women with whom the Sulpicians have been closely allied.