Click HERE for a fun take-home activity page about St. Marguerite Bourgeoys.
When Marguerite set out on a three-month trip across the ocean, she wasn’t sure what she would find. She had been born and lived in France, but had been recruited as a teacher in the French settlement that would become the city of Montreal in Canada. The settlement was only a few years old, and the area was still a wilderness. But Marguerite knew that God would be with her.
Teaching in Montreal
When she arrived in the settlement, Marguerite got right to work. Only a few families from France had begun settling there, so she started teaching children of the native people. In 1658 she opened Montreal’s first school in a stable with 12 students. She shared her love of learning with the children and helped them learn to have faith in God. She also reached out to help the families of the children in any way she could.
Marguerite was known as the Mother of the Colony. She was a person of courage in this new land. She followed the example of Mary who took the Good News about Jesus to her cousin Elizabeth. Marguerite was a person of faith who lived the gospel in her life. Because life in the wilderness was difficult, she is the patron saint against poverty.
Founding an Order
Marguerite started a Catholic religious order called the Congregation of Notre Dame. In French, Notre Dame means Our Lady and refers to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Today her religious order has spread to nine countries on four continents.
Trusting in God
Marguerite had many struggles in her life. In France she tried to enter two different religious orders but was not accepted. In Montreal she founded her own religious order, but it took 20 years to be approved. She trusted in God always and made a difference in the lives of others because she did not give up.
What Can We Do?
* Let’s read one of Marguerite’s favorite Bible stories: the visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45). Elizabeth says to Mary, “Blessed are you who believed.” How can we let God work through us?
* Let’s think of something special we can do for our families. Marguerite knew that families are important. We can read to a younger child, make a handmade card for a relative, pray for someone, or listen when a person is sad or happy and wants to talk to us.
* Let’s talk about disappointment. Sometimes we don’t get what we want. But we have to keep trying and trust in God as Marguerite did. How was this true in Marguerite’s life? Is God always with us in difficult times?
* Let’s look at a map of Canada and find Montreal. It was a long way for Marguerite to travel from France. Montreal is in the province of Quebec. Let’s find the names of the other Canadian provinces.
God of All, we celebrate the example of the faith of St. Marguerite and how she cared about children and families. Give us the strength to go where we are needed. Help us to make a difference in the lives of others just as she did. May we live the gospel each day. Amen.
Patricia Mathson has many years experience in faith formation as a DRE and holds a Master of Religious Education degree. She is currently the children’s ministry coordinator at Hope Family Center in Des Moines, IA. She is the author of ten books, including 70 Sacrament Starters for Children (Twenty-Third Publications).
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, December 2009.
Image Credit: Public domain