Feast of Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis (May 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sherbrooke, Quebec, 1889

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIE-LÉONIE PARADIS (MAY 12, 1840-MAY 3, 1912)

Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family

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Our mission in the Church is to help the priest on the temporal and spiritual planes.  But what it really demands as a supreme witness is for us to love one another and to love all people, not with just any love, but with the love that God wants to give them.  We must therefore repeat without tiring that our principal work is to give love.

–Blessed Marie-Léonie Paradis

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Alodie-Virginie Paradis, also known informally as Élodie, came from a devout Roman Catholic family.  He, born at L’Acadie, Quebec, on May 12, 1840, was the only daughter and the third of six children, four of whom survived to adulthood.  Her parents, Joseph Paradis and Émilie Grégoire Paradis, were two of the rural working poor.

The Church educated our saint, who became an educator.  At the age of nine years she entered a boarding school (at Laprairie) of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame.  Five years later Paradis became a novice in the Congregation of the Holy Cross.  The renamed Sister Marie of Sainte Léonie taught in Varennes, Ville Saint-Laurent, and Saint-Martin de Laval.  Then, in 1862, the order transferred her to New York City, where it had recently accepted responsibility for an orphanage.  Eight years later the order sent Paradis to its novitiate in Indiana.  There she taught French and needlework.  After a brief stay in Lake Linder, Michigan, our saint transferred to Memramcook College in New Brunswick in 1874.  The director of the college was Father Camille Lefebvre, an old family friend who had become a Holy Cross priest.  Our saint’s job was to direct novices and postulants.

On May 31, 1880, the Holy Cross Fathers recognized the new Little Sisters of the Holy Family, focused on the education and spiritual formation of impoverished and illiterate girls.  Paradis led the new order, which Paul LaRocque, Bishop of Sherbrooke, Quebec, approved as an autonomous religious community in 1896.  When Paradis died, not quite 72 years old, at Sherbrooke, on May 3, 1912, the order had 38 foundations in Canada and the United States.

Paradis was a warm-hearted woman who recognized God in everyone she met.  She helped the poor, visited the sick, and emphasized the importance of helping priests.

Pope John Paul II declared our saint a Venerable in 1981 then a Blessed in 1984.

Paradis is the patron saint of the Archdiocese of Sherbrooke.

To affirm the dignity of every human being as a bearer of the image of God verbally is easy.  To do so as fully as possible via deeds is challenging, however.  One complicating factor is the reality of disagreements about how best to live that principle; tactics are perhaps the most controversial matter once people have agreed on the purpose.  Sometimes one’s tactics defeat one’s noble intentions.  May we, by grace, have the proper words and deeds.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS THOMAS JOHNSON, JOHN DAVY, AND THEIR COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CHALMERS SMITH, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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