Feast day: October 6
Beatified: May 23, 1982
Venerated: July 13, 1979
Many of our greatest saints and holy people knew that they could raise others up by helping to educate them. Eulalie Durocher was one such person. Born on October 6, 1811, at Saint Antoine-sur-Richelieu in Quebec, Canada, she was the youngest of 10 children. Her parents valued education, and her mother, who had studied with the Ursuline Sisters in Quebec City, taught all of her children. Eventually young Eulalie attending a boarding school with the Notre Dame Sisters and began to dream of becoming a nun. She had always been a teenager who did not hesitate to visit the sick and poor in her village and spent much time in prayer at the local church. But poor health and the death of her mother when Eulalie was 18 seemed to mean that a vocation might not be possible. She stepped into her mother’s role, leading the household as best she could.
Her brother, who was a priest, asked Eulalie and their father to come live with him in his rectory so that Eulalie could be a housekeeper for the both of them. For 12 years she served in this role and also taught religion to the parish children, continued to help the poor and organized many volunteer activities in the parish. She saw how important education was for the people of Canada and finally, when the local bishop announced he was bringing a group of nuns over from France to live in their area, Eulalie made plans to join the congregation.
But the Sisters of Marseilles were unable to come to Canada. Knowing of her hopes, Montreal Bishop Ignace Bourget asked Eulalie Durocher to found a community of nuns herself in 1843. She and her friends, Melodie Dufresne and Henriette Cere did so in Longueuil, beginning the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Under the name Mother Marie-Rose, Eulalie recruited nearly a dozen women for their community in the first year. The group was committed to teaching, and did so in both English and French so that students spoke both languages. They built four convents and boarding schools with a free day school attached so that all children could receive the same education, regardless of their family’s income. By 1849, they had 44 nuns in their group.
Mother Marie-Rose worked hard to make the schools and the congregation a success. Her hard work made her already poor health even more at rush, and at the very young age of 38 she died. Her legacy lived on; by the 1960s, her congregation has more than 277 convents in Canada, the United States, Africa and South America, where they continue to teach today. Mother Marie-Rose was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II on May 23, 1982.