To close the 175th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the Sisters of Providence, Archbishop Christian Lépine presided a Mass of thanksgiving at the congregation’s motherhouse.
On March 29, 1844, Bishop Bourget canonically erected the Congregation. Seven novices, including Madame Gamelin, pronounced the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and to serve the poor, in the chapel of the Providence Asile. Emilie Tavernier Gamelin, who was then called Sister Gamelin, was elected superior of the community, a position she occupied until her death on September 23, 1851.
175 years later, during a Mass of Thanksgiving presided by Archbishop Christian Lépine, many people came to give thanks for all those years of service to the suffering and the poor.
Among the participants, there were representatives from the social services of Quebec, as well as the borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, religious communities, priests and deacons, many community organizations and of course numerous sisters from many of the community’s different provinces throughout the world.
Live streamed on the community’s Facebook page, the celebration strove to represent the international presence of the congregation. The entrance procession included some Sisters of Providence who come from 9 countries where the community is active: Canada, the United States, Chili, Argentina, Egypt, Cameroun, Haiti, the Philippines and El Salvador.
Sister Karin Dufault, superior general, spoke some words of welcome.
“Throughout this whole year, we have deepened our understanding and our appreciation for the way in which Providence has blessed our congregation for 175 years, and has worked through the people of Providence. For 175 years, we have met the needs of those who are poor and suffering.
When we look ahead to the years to come, we are grateful. We can quote Henri Lacordaire, and say: What I know about tomorrow, is that Providence will rise with the sun.”
In his homily, the Archbishop spoke about how much the mission of the community is as relevant as it is important for our society today: “Blessed Mother Gamelin saw herself at the foot of the Cross with Mary. She saw herself with Our Lady of Sorrows, caring for Jesus Christ and the most vulnerable. This mission was important 175 years ago, but it is also important today, just as it will still be important tomorrow.”
For Serena Chappell, a postulant of the community who traveled from Calgary to attend this historic event, this Mass of Thanksgiving was memorable: “It was simply marvelous! I believe that this celebration allowed us to really understand the heritage that the community leaves to our society, and I hope that it will continue for another 175 years!”
When asked in which way the work of Mother Gamelin is still pertinent in this day and age, Serena Chappell explained that “the needs of the poor have not changed: certain ways of helping them have changed, but the poor still exist today, and will unfortunately always exist.”
Invigorated by an inspired and inspiring choir (Ensemble Vocal Épiphanie), the assembly then left to attend a banquet hosted by the Sisters of Providence.
“O Providence, most gentle, whose bounteous hands bestow upon us in abundance all good things”