135 years of compassion in the Archdiocese of Boston

At Bachand Hall, the Sisters welcome young women who have aged out of foster care. Sister Cecile Cloutier, SCO the administrator of the residence, and Keisha Enagbore, one of the residents chat at Bachand Hall overlooking the Merrimack River. Photo courtesy/Tory Germann

The Sisters of Charity of Ottawa, Grey Nuns of the Cross, are daughters of Elisabeth Bruyere who, in 1845, came from Montreal to the logging camp of Bytown, later to become the capital city of Canada (Ottawa) to provide education, health care and service to those in need. She was 26 years of age and the superior of the group of four sisters and two candidates. She had professed her religious vows in the congregation founded by St. Marguerite d'Youville in 1737 in Montreal. Little did she know at that time that she would become the Superior General of this new branch of Grey Nuns and serve in that capacity until her death in 1876.

Elisabeth wasted no time in reaching out to French-Canadian immigrants in the United States and opened the first mission in Buffalo, New York, in 1857. Lowell's textile mills drew many French-Canadian families with dreams of a better life, and so the Sisters were invited to provide education for their children. In 1880, seven Sisters arrived to staff the Immaculate Conception School. In 1883, they opened St. Joseph School where, on the first school day in September, over 500 children arrived to enroll. In 1888, some Sisters went to Haverhill to open a school which still flourishes today under lay leadership. Two other schools were established in Lowell, Notre Dame de Lourdes and St. Jeanne d'Arc which still enjoys the Sisters' presence today after 105 years. The year 1928 saw the birth of St. Joseph High School for Girls, which is now one of the legacy schools of Lowell Catholic High School.

In 1930, an abandoned wooden hospital, built originally to care for the mill workers, would be revived to become the second Catholic Hospital in Lowell under the patronage of St. Joseph. Again, the Sisters responded.

Care of the elderly became a concern in the 1950s when Medicare still had not seen the light of day. Seventy-five acres of abandoned farm land on the outskirts of Lowell were purchased with trust that God would show the way. Today, D'Youville Life and Wellness Community, initially know as D'Youville Manor, caring for several hundred seniors in a continuum of care from independent housing to hospice care, as well as a short-term rehabilitation center, an adult day care center, and an accredited health-care education center round out that dream.

With the merger of the three hospitals in Lowell over the past two decades, the former residence of the Sisters who staffed St. Joseph Hospital needed a new mission. Since 2005, in collaboration with the Department of Children and Families, the Sisters welcome into their home young women who have aged out of foster care but still need a supportive environment before launching out on their own. The young woman come either as students at the nearby University of Massachusetts-Lowell or at Middlesex Community College or in a career training program; these women journey toward their independence.

St. Jeanne d'Arc School continues to excel in providing quality Catholic education to close to 400 students from pre-K to Grade Eight in a challenging and nurturing environment. It has been recognized for its excellence by the United States Department of Education in 2010 as a Blue Ribbon School and continues to draw students from over 20 communities around Greater-Lowell.

The spirituality of the congregation has always been based on trust in God's Divine Providence and the Sisters have sought to incarnate this Divine Presence in the service they offer to those in need, not only in Massachusetts, but also in Canada, Brazil, Cameroon, Zambia, Malawi, the Republic of South Africa, Lesotho, Japan and Thailand, reaching out to the abandoned and neglected in society. In the words of Elisabeth Bruyere, "The day we lose our love for the poor, we lose the very reason for our existence."

Sister Pauline Leblanc, SCO is local contact for the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa; St. Joseph Residence, 977 Varnum Ave., Lowell, MA 01854-1913, prleblanc2@comcast.net. Website: www.soeursdelachariteottawa.com (site is in French and English).

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...