Friends of Mother Marie-Leonie

 Let us give thanks to God for the canonization
of Saint Marie-Léonie Paradis
(Alodie Virginie Paradis)

On January 24, 2024, Pope Francis signed Mother Marie-Léonie's decree of canonization.
Thank you for sharing the immense joy of the entire community of
Les Petites Soeurs de la Sainte-Famille.

What a personal and collective grace for all those who entrust themselves to her!
Let's not hesitate to recommend our mostimportant requests to her...

More information to follow...


Dear Friends of Mother Marie-Leonie,

Let us continue to be inspired by the life of Mother Marie-Leonie. This meditation is on the death of Mother Marie-Leonie and her radiance. Follow your own personal story...

The year 2024 is already in our daily lives, and the same intentions preoccupy us as in previous years: peace in the world, welcoming and respecting differences, sharing with the less fortunate, justice and safeguarding the reputation of others. Since the raison d'être of our prayer group is to pray for priests, let's redouble our efforts to support them in their ministry. Let's participate according to our talents in parish gatherings, so that each Christian community is a place where all the above-mentioned values are lived out.

I found this reflection on the Internet that I'd like to share with you:

RESPECT is much more than a word. Respect cannot be pronounced; it must be demonstrated. Respect is sincerity, consistency and loyalty. It's looking at others as you would look at yourself, in the same way. If you've suffered and you know what that means, don't make others suffer. If you've been disappointed, don't disappoint. If you've been hurt, don't hurt...

It's a good reflection to extend during the Lenten season to actualize in each of our lives these values that will increase our self-esteem, change our view of others and make us like what Christ Jesus lived and taught.

In the holy season of Lent, let us stand in solidarity with Christ in the Pascal ascent. May Christ's resurrection be a light in our lives, giving us strength, courage, patience and self-sacrifice in our physical and moral health problems.

May the Risen Christ be our joy, our reason for living together.

Rachel Lemieux, p.s.s.f.           February 2024

 Important information

A major renovation project is underway at St. Michael’s Basilica-Cathedral. The entire interior is in need of repair and repainting, which will brighten up the Basilica-Cathedral.

As a result, the reception desk, the museum and access to Mother Marie-Leonie's shrine are currently closed until May 2024. I'll let you know at the next mailing whether the deadline has been met.

However, our office will be open from Monday to Friday inclusive, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., to take your calls and answer your letters by Internet and by mail.


 For those who would like to make a donation, Mass offering or lamp, you can now do so in 3 ways.

  1. Online: with a credit card
  2. By Interact transfer
  3. In person: at the reception desk of the Centre Marie-Leonie Paradis in cash, debit or credit card.

ONLINE:

Go to our website on this page:

https://www.centremarie-leonieparadis.com/fr/dons-et-services-en-ligne/index.php

INTERACT TRANSFER:

- For mass fees and lamp offerings:

It is essential to e-mail us the details of your order and your intentions. Send to: centre.marie-leonie@videotron.ca

- For donations with tax receipt:

It is essential to e-mail us your full postal address, as for all donations received during the current year, we issue an annual tax receipt in February of the following year.

Send to: centre.marie-leonie@videotron.ca

Once you've sent us your e-mail with your requests, we'll send you the information you need to make the Interac transfer.

SERVICES OFFERED

(no tax receipt, as the money does not stay at the Centre Marie-Leonie Paradis). 

- Masses announced with their intention: $10

- Masses read with intention: $5

- Large lamp offering with intention: $5

- Small lamp offering with intention: $1

*The Centre Marie-Leonie Paradis sends the money for the Masses and the intention to missionary priests. It is impossible to have a mass celebrated on a fixed date.

*The Centre Marie-Leonie Paradis will light your lamp for you, along with your intention, at Saint-Michel’s Cathedral in Sherbrooke. The lamp will burn for 6 days or for one day (depending on the size) with Mother Marie-Leonie.


The Charism of Marie-Leonie Paradis


Dear Friends of Mother Marie-Leonie,

The animation in this second year on the life of Mother Marie-Leonie is for the months of March, April and May 2024. These pages are for your reflection to reinforce the values that have challenged you in Mother Marie-Leonie Paradis in order to live more intensely as “Friends of Mother Marie-Leonie”.

This meditation continues on the death of Mother Marie-Leonie and her influence.  Continue your personal story...

It was six fifteen in the evening, after a day like so many others, when, without any advance warning or any time spent in the infirmary, Mother Marie‑Leonie suddenly left this world.  Her death caught everyone by surprise... for she was not sick, at least not more seriously than usual.

That morning, she had risen as usual, participated in the Eucharist and eaten breakfast with the community.  At nine o'clock, she had chaired a meeting of her General Council and signed for two new foundations, at the Archbishop's residence and at the Seminary of Saint Boniface.  With her Secretary, she had then proceeded with the final correction of the book of Rules of the community.

Of course, at lunch time, she seemed a little more tired than usual. Her companions advised her to go and rest a while, which she did.

After finishing the correction of the book of Rules, at around three o'clock in the afternoon, she had it taken to the sister in charge of printing, for she absolutely wanted to give a copy to each of the Sisters at the next annual retreat. Then, as this was the first Friday of the month and the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, she went to the chapel for a tête‑à‑tête with her Lord, as she had been accustomed to do for such a long time.

Having spent quite a while in adoration, she then went to the infirmary to visit the sick sisters, as she did every day. One of them left this testimonial: “A short time before the death of our venerated Mother Foundress, I had been put in a cast because of a spine injury.  I was, therefore, bedridden and I occupied a room in the infirmary.  Towards the end of the afternoon of May 3rd, our beloved Mother Leonie visited the sick.  She came to see me and inquired whether I suffered a lot; then she came near me, held my head tight in her hands and said to me: ‘Always, always be good!’ She stepped back a little and, as she was about to leave the room, she bid me farewell in these words: ‘Good bye! See you in heaven!’ I tend to believe she had a premonition of her death.”

Following this, she went to eat supper with her Sisters. After her meal, she went up again to her room along with her two secretaries.  This is when these sisters noticed in Mother Leonie an unusual fatigue.  One of them said to her right then: “Mother, you seem tired, you should not have gone down to the refectory... Tomorrow morning, Mother, you will not go down, the stairs are too tiring for you; we shall eat breakfast with you in your room, do you agree?”

She responded to the suggestion with a mocking little grin and went into her room.  “I am going to bed right now,” she said, “I am sleepy.”  The two Sisters then helped her to settle down so that she might rest until the time of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  But she had scarcely lied down when the two Sisters noticed she was turning pale.  They quickly notified the Assistant and the nurse who were close by; the physician was called at once, but he could only say: “Hurry, hurry, a priest, have the last Sacraments given to her, she is dying.”  The Chaplain was called immediately; he gave her absolution, and while he was anointing her, the Servant of God breathed her last.

She was 72 years old and had been a professed religious for 55 years.  This was May 3rd, 1912.

The death of any person is a tragedy in itself.  Does your faith in God the Creator sustain you in this circumstance?  What place does this person take in you after this physical absence?  What legacy of their being do you take on?

A person is truly dead when no one thinks of him or her anymore.

Sister Léontine Béchard gave the following testimony: “Some time before her death, she had written the act of resignation to death as an offering of supreme adoration; this act was found on her chest when she died.”  It reads as follows:

“Death is the last thing I shall be able to offer You, my God.  I shall perhaps not be conscious or in full possession of myself at the moment when I would want to express to You what I may not be able to tell You then.  I am writing it, O my God, so that You may take it into account at that great moment by accepting all the feelings which I declare herein as if I stated them at my final hour.

“I wish my death to be the act of the most perfect adoration and submission a wretched creature can possibly render to her Creator.  Yes, my God, let my death adore You, let my willful, free and loving acceptance of it be pleasing to you.

“I want to die in obedience to You and because You died for me...”

In fact, the whole life of the Servant of God was a preparation for death.  She wrote to one of her Sisters on April 4, 1906: “Life is so short that at the hour of our death, we shall be happy to get to Heaven with our hands filled with virtues.”

In the year 1911, she often repeated in her letters: “Be good religious, all of you, so that if death should surprise you, it may find you ready to die.”

Do you think that one day your life will end?  What are you doing now to prepare yourself for this return to God?

That same year, in the course of a spiritual reading, she had also said to her Sisters: “You pray that I may be with you for a long time yet.  This makes me happy, because for my part, my dear little daughters, I do not wish to leave you, I love you so much; but you see, I gave myself totally to the Blessed Virgin and she is free to come for me whenever God wishes.”

She even added, one day: “God will play a trick on you,” meaning that she would die quickly.  And this is what happened...

During her last trip, in Ottawa, she even bade farewell to her room: “Dear little room, good bye, I shall not see you again.”

She was ready to go, and she passed away in sweetness and in peace.

While her death caught everyone by surprise, it was the occasion of a great manifestation of love towards her.  Father Arsène Goyette related the following: “In the evening of her death, her mortal remains were laid in state in the Chapter room.  All night and in the days that followed, the Sisters took turns keeping watch over her venerated remains, praying and weeping.”

Her Little Sisters were not the only ones who wept.  Father Goyette added: "However, the sad news quickly spread beyond the walls of the convent, and people came from all directions to pray for the Mother who was so well known and loved.  Convinced of Mother Leonie's high degree of perfection, people touched her with religious objects, such as rosaries, medals, etc., which they brought home as precious souvenirs.  Many kissed her hands, and it was noticed, when the dear deceased was placed in her coffin, that more than one visitor had taken pieces of her religious habit as relics.”

The funeral service followed, attended by an immense crowd made up of little people, humble people..., but also high‑ranking people of this world.

What feelings do you have when a loved one dies, a relative, a friend and also unknown people during an accident, a disaster?  Take the time to write them...

Let us, once again, listen to Father Goyette tell us about the event.  “On May 6, a first funeral Mass was sung in the chapel of the Mother House by Bishop Paul LaRocque.  This service was the Foundress's farewell to her convent.  But the most grandiose religious ceremony took place the following day in the old cathedral of Sherbrooke.  It was really a grand finale!

“On this, the seventh day of the month of Mary, from the morning Angelus until the time of the service, the bells of the cathedral and of the convent mournfully tolled for the death of the venerated departed one.”

The coffin containing the remains of Mother Leonie left the mortuary chamber accompanied by a huge procession marching towards the cathedral: the procession included around one hundred Little Sisters, two Sisters of Holy Cross of Saint‑ Laurent, representatives of the Grey Nuns, of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, and of the Sisters of Charity of the Sacred Heart...

The funeral Mass was sung by Bishop Paul LaRocque.  Several bishops and priests were in the sanctuary, having come to honor the one who had worked so hard for priests and communities.

“After the funeral,” continued Father Goyette, “the immense attending crowd slowly streamed out; it was an impressive sight.  Then the hearse, followed by the multitude of friends of the community, went towards the Saint‑Michel Cemetery, where the mortal remains of the beloved Mother were placed in the enclosed plot reserved for the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.”

But as Mother Leonie already enjoyed a reputation for holiness and it was hoped that, one day, she would be solemnly glorified, Bishop LaRocque wanted her burial place to be somewhat special: she was interred “in a steel casket duly sealed, so that her remains could be easily found,” said Sister Léontine Béchard.  Her grave was surrounded by a brick wall.

On the very day of the funeral, Bishop LaRocque addressed the community of Mother Leonie in the following words, which were faithfully preserved.  “We can say that the dedication of Mother Marie‑Leonie lasted as long as her life.  She spent all her life giving herself.  I witnessed this almost daily for seventeen years.  And see: she barely saved the last quarter of an hour for herself...”

For his part, one of the bishops who attended the funeral, Bishop Joseph‑Médard Émard, then Bishop of Valleyfield, gave the following testimonial.  “This morning, I saw the funeral cortege accompanying the mortal remains which are certainly those of a great saint.  What a triumph!  No greater demonstration was ever seen in the city of Sherbrooke.  I am returning home a better man after attending such an exaltation of humility.  We often have opportunities, as bishops, to take part in various ceremonies...  The one that took place this morning left in my heart a deep impression, a remembrance that will never, never fade from my memory...  I saw her only two or three times while she was alive, but it was enough...  Mother Leonie is gone; she is not dead, because saints do not die...”

In leaving this world, she left behind a considerable achievement.  On her arrival in Sherbrooke in 1895, there were only 91 Little Sisters of the Holy Family; when Mother Leonie died, in 1912, there were 635 of them, serving in 40 houses of the clergy.

In 1935, because of the increasing need, the Little Sisters of the Holy Family decided to open a new cemetery for the community near the present-day Mother House.  They took this opportunity to have the bodies of 172 Sisters who had been buried in the Saint‑Michel Cemetery of Sherbrooke since 1895, exhumed and transferred to the new cemetery.

This transferring of the bodies began on October 1st, 1935.  Among them was that of Mother Leonie, who had died 23 years earlier.

Her exhumation took place on October 4, at three o'clock in the afternoon, in the presence of four priests especially appointed by Bishop A.O. Gagnon of Sherbrooke, two physicians, the General Council of the community, as well as a good number of senior Sisters.

On opening the coffin, they found her bones completely preserved, part of her religious clothing, some hair, her crucifix, her rosary, and the lead plaque placed in the tomb at the time of interment, stating that this was indeed the body of Mother Leonie.

But they also found her heart!  This heart which had loved God and neighbor so dearly, was still there, preserved, 23 years later, “almost without corruption” as was declared on the official certificate of exhumation.  The coffin was then closed again and brought to the Mother House, where it was first placed in the mortuary of the new cemetery.

A few days later, October 5 to 12, the process of bone disinfection and embalmment was carried out according to the Egyptian method.  A plaster remodeling of the skull was done, which was then covered with wax.  The body of Mother Leonie was clothed with a new religious habit and placed in a new double casket made of steel, the inner one closed by a full-length glass, and the outer one closed airtight over it.

The heart of Mother Leonie was placed in a sealed glass container.  Then, a phalanx from her right hand, her hair, and the 69 stones they found in her gallbladder were laid separately.

On October 13, 1935, they transported the body to the Mother House.  Mother Leonie was once again among her Daughters.  They opened the casket and the Little Sisters were able to view the embalmed body of their Mother.

In the community chronicles of that period, one can read:

“Sunday, October 20.  At the tomb of Mother Leonie.  Since we have in our midst the precious remains of our Venerated Mother Foundress, we counted each day an average of two hundred people who came to visit her tomb.

“But today, between 2 and 6 o'clock, the time set for the crowd to come and contemplate our ‘rich treasure,’ they came in the thousands; the mass of people became so compact that we had to call the police to maintain order.  The number of people who came to Mont Sainte‑Famille this afternoon was estimated at fifteen thousand.”

Every person's life experience leaves a legacy.  His or her values, faith, dedication, joy of living can inspire and stimulate you.  What legacy does Mother Marie-Leonie leave you and how do you show your filial memory of her?

The reconstituted body of Mother Leonie was thus visible from October 1935 to the end of January 1941.  Bishop Philippe Desranleau then required the outer casket to be closed “so that we may not later be reproached with having prematurely exposed these mortal remains.”

On April 30, 1972, the 60th anniversary of the death of Mother Leonie, Archbishop J.-M. Fortier of Sherbrooke allowed the tomb to be reopened and it remained so for a month.

No, saints do not die!  Mother Leonie is more alive and powerful for us than ever, because she shares in the beatitude of God.  And the Church has officially recognized her:

- On June 13, 1966, her cause for beatification was introduced in Rome.
- On January 31, 1981, she was declared “Venerable”.
- On September 11, 1984, Pope John Paul II proclaimed her “Blessed” during his visit to Montreal.

 How does Mother Marie-Leonie live in your life?

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Here are several words of Mother Marie-Leonie speaking of abandonment to the will of God

“Go to God as to your father; love him as the most tender of fathers; throw yourself into his arms, as a child into his father's arms and abandon yourself to him.”

“If we really know how to abandon ourselves in the good Lord, he himself will take care of us.”

“With the perfect conformity of our will to that of God, there are no unfortunate events, because everything comes from God who surely only wants our greatest good.”

“Yes, my God!  What you want and how you want it.  Your holy will in everything and everywhere.”

“God is too good to send us only trials; his paternal heart will know how to show us his gentleness in different ways, but that on condition that you are always submitted to his will, always attentive to do everything in order to please him; this is the only secret of happiness.”

“Pray much and be in the peace of the Lord, by putting yourselves under his most holy will in everything; this good Father knows better than we do what we need, what is important is to serve him well.  Pray and trust in God our good Father!”

“I have never had recourse in vain to your divine Heart...  If you wish, sweet Jesus, I would be so relieved, but your will first.”

“I am very strong in character and God in His infinite mercy has granted me such a great grace; being totally submitted to his holy will.”

“I came here to Memramcook against my will, purely to obey you and God has blessed me for it, for I have found here calm and peace of soul.”

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