Last child in a family of ten, Eulalie Durocher was born in Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu on October 6, 1811. When she reached the required age, she went to the boarding school of Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu, run by the religious of the Congregation of Notre Dame. But health problems made it impossible for her to continue her studies, and her hidden dream of religious life was compromised.
At age 20, she became housekeeper in the Beloeil presbytery, where her brother Théophile was parish priest. She was the hostess there for 12 years, until 1843. She welcomed resting priests, became involved in the parish, visited the destitute, supported families in difficulty, taught catechism to children and organized liturgical celebrations, like a pastoral worker ahead of time. However, this stay in Beloeil made her aware of the poor level of religious instruction and the lack of schools, particularly for girls in rural areas.
A large-scale project
Answering God’s call expressed by the voice of her bishop, Ignace Bourget of Montreal, she travelled to Longueuil to found a new religious community with two companions. The community was called Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
Initiation into religious life and starting a new education project in parishes brought many challenges. The pioneer women faced opposition, criticism, lack of understanding. But their love for young people, deep faith and sense of justice gave them the strength and courage needed to bring to fulfilment the founding of the community.
They needed to recruit candidates to religious life who would then start schools in rural areas. Under the name Mother Marie-Rose, Eulalie recruited talented women and provided them with excellent pedagogical preparation with the assistance of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
The Oblates of Mary Immaculate also contributed by helping them to foster the development of each person’s gifts. During the lifetime of the foundress, the convents in Longueuil, Beloeil, Saint-Lin, and Saint-Timothée were established.
Spirituality and mission
The spirituality of the new community was inspired by the motto of the Oblates, “Evangelize the poor.” Fidelity to the Gospel, sustained by St. Ignatius of Loyola’s method of prayer and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, flows from the spiritual heritage left by Mother Marie-Rose, whose motto was “Jesus and Mary, my strength and my glory.” She died on her birthday, October 6, 1849, at the age of 38.
Even today, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary continue this indispensable education work, always remembering to give priority to the destitute. Several new services have been developed in the areas of parish pastoral care, faith education, accompaniment of persons, welcoming of different cultures, health care and community services. They are also committed to justice and peace by cooperating with various organizations, including Development and Peace.
Mother Marie-Rose was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 23, 1982. The Church recognized her as an apostolic woman, a forerunner of new times.