- Date of publication 11-09-2009 Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that a young woman, one of my relatives (Sister Marie-Louise Recton, first provincial of the sisters of Evron in Canada) would have had such a lasting effect on a community.
I spoke to the French immigrants, who consider these pioneer Sisters as part of their history, having been deeply influenced by their example, their inner peace, which helped to lessen the hardship of working on the land in this part of Alberta that is Trochu.
In their conversations they were outspoken and down to earth like all those who live close to the land and remain deeply attached to the French culture of their ancestors and grateful to these early pioneers who shared their sufferings, their difficulties and created lasting links with them.
It was impossible not to be moved by the people of Alberta who have kept alive the name of Sister Marie-Louise and her mission.
Her effigy is painted on a wall in the village of Trochu. This adventurous soul from the village of Aron in Mayenne built St Mary’s hospital in 1909 to nurse and care for her neighbour. This loving and practical woman brought comfort to an isolated population who had no medical structures.
The hospital staff and the associates commemorated her by wearing the blue and yellow T-shirt of St Mary’s. The community of the Sisters of Our Lady of Evron continue her mission in the person of Sister Mary Ellen O’Neill who is the Director. The commemorative plaque is a fitting memorial to the work she accomplished in the hospital. One of the hospital residents still remembers how, when she was only 13, Sister Marie-Louise came each day to visit her mother who was very ill and accompanied her throughout her illness.
Very talented, Sister Marie–Louise drew up the plans for the beautiful Church built not far from the Sisters community in Trochu which still welcomes today the descendants of the first Christians to arrive there. The bishop reminded us of all the work accomplished by the community and the courage they showed when they first settled in the coulée.
The time seemed to stand still as we imagined the Sisters working in the hospital and praying in the chapel.
I want to thank the Frère family for keeping alive all these souvenirs of the beginning of Alberta at St Anne’s Ranch and for allowing me to discover my third generation cousin and to share with the Sisters and the associates from Evron, England, Canada, Ivory Coast the emotion experienced while looking at the photos and the archives. The stone which marks her last resting place witnesses to the devotion she showed to others and is a source of courage and hope.
© Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Evron
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