Go back to the list
17 August

Blessed Marie-Élisabeth Turgeon, RSR

Try to become good and worthy religious and you will be excellent teachers.

Elisabeth Turgeon was born on February 7, 1840, in Beaumont (Quebec), the fifth of a family of ten children. A gifted student, she would have liked to continue her education, but the death of her father when she is only fifteen, leads her to help her mother bringing up her four younger sisters. When she is twenty years old, Elisabeth is allowed to go to the Ecole Normale in Laval to prepare to become a teacher. She obtains her diploma and in 1863 becomes the principal of a school near her family home. Her bad health forces her to quit at the end of the school year, in 1872. She then opens a private class in Saint Roch, but once again is unable to continue.

She therefore turns to Saint Anne and promises to teach for free if Saint Anne heals her. As she fulfills this promise, Father Langevin, who was named Bishop of Rimouski, asks her to direct the small community of teachers that was being formed in his diocese. She hesitates because of her poor health, but ends up accepting because she believes it is God’s will for her to enter religious life. With other young women she forms the first group of the “Soeurs des Petites Ecoles”, dedicated to the education of the poor children of the surrounding countryside. On September 12, 1879, Elisabeth and twelve other sisters take their vows. Marie-Elisabeth is made superior and commits herself to establish the community of sisters and regularize its status (civil charter, constitutions, rule). She founds the community’s first mission on January 2, 1880 and two others the following September, in outlying and poor parts of the Diocese of Rimouski. Then she opens a private school in Rimouski, where the novices could have their first teaching experience.

Charity is the unifying principle in Elisabeth’s life. She offers love to everyone, especially to her sisters, by being very attentive with them and always filled with goodness. Despite her poor health, she shows extraordinary strength: she works day and night and overcomes difficulties with patience and joy. She dies on August 17, 1881, when she is only 41 years old. She was beatified on April 26, 2015.

LINK: www.soeursdusaintrosaire.org