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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
The Missionary

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Sisters belonging to many different religious orders have worked in the region of present-day Alberta over the past 150 years. These are but a few of these orders. 

The Sisters of Charity of Montreal (Grey Nuns)

Grey NunsThe Grey Nuns were founded in Canada in 1737 by the Venerable Marguerite d'Youville. The sisters took charge of the General Hospital in Montreal, which was in great need. The Grey Nuns were the first order of women to travel to Western Canada, initially to St. Boniface in 1844 and in 1859 to the new mission at Lac Ste. Anne.

The original mission of Marguerite d'Youville was to provide charity to the needyMarguerite d'Youville without reservation or judgment. For her efforts she was given the title of "Mother of Universal Charity." Today the Grey Nuns continue to work in five different locations in Alberta-Lac Ste. Anne, St. Albert, at Stand-Off on the Kainai (Blood) Reserve, Calgary and Edmonton. Their goal remains to provide universal charity to the marginalized and the poor.

Sisters of Providence

Providence Grave GrouardThe Sisters of Providence trace their beginnings to Montreal in 1843 and the inspiration of Mother Emilie Tavernier Gamelin, who, after she was widowed, sought to provide help to the poor and oppressed (she herself was poor and had to rely on the providence of God to fulfill her mission). The Sisters of Providence first moved West in 1886 when they started St. Mary's Hospital in New Westminster, British Columbia. Since then they expanded through the Prairie Provinces and into the Yukon.

Today the Sisters of Providence working in Western Canada have their headquarters in Edmonton. They continue to provide care to the needy as well as addressing the root causes of the poverty and oppression by promoting social change. In Alberta they work through the Providence Renewal Centre, Father Lacombe Nursing Home and ministries such as Wings of Providence.

The Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus

FCJ DrawThe Venerable Marie Madelaine de Bonnault d'Hoüet, founder of the Faithful Companions of Jesus, established a society of women who received their inspiration from Mary, Mother of Jesus and the women in the Gospel who accompanied Jesus throughout his ministry. Marie Madelaine was herself influenced by the deep spirituality of the members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). She adopted, likewise, for the new order of women the rule of St. Ignatius. The charism of the sisters, companionship, is expressed as they devote themselves to education and to bringing God's love to all people. Today, they have houses in many countries around the world.

FCJ TestimentThey first arrived in Canada in 1883 at the invitation of Bishop Grandin to come to his diocese of Prince Albert. They travelled by boat from France to Canada, by train from Montreal to Qu'Apelle, and by covered wagon from Qu'Apelle west-first to St. Laurent, later to Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge. Today the Faithful Companions of Jesus continue to maintain a presence in those cities, operating the Christian Life Centre in Calgary and in Edmonton they support a safe house for women, connected to Catholic Social Services.

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