Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 4th: Feast day of Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis - A Life of Dedication to the Priesthood.

My son (7) and I were looking up who's feast day it was today in the Saints for Young Readers for Every Day Vol 1 book and I discovered that it was Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis's feast day. She was a nun who founded a religious order devoted to the priesthood particularly within their household care and supporting priests in their educational work.
Here are some details I discovered about this humble saintly nun:

Elodie Paradis was a very young entrant into the world of a religious sister, entering as a novice at 13/14 years of age and taking her final vows at the young age of 17 in the order of The Sisters of the Holy Cross.
Her father after leaving the family in the small village of L'Acadie in Quebec Canada to try and find wealth in the Gold Fields in California was not happy on his return to find his Elodie had joined the convent. He went to the convent and begged her to return home with him but she decided to stay. He eventually accepted her decision and was resigned for God take his daughter as His bride.
She eventually started a new religious order inspired by Martha in the Gospel, The Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, a community dedicated to serving the clergy.

Martha and Mary with Jesus

(Father, your Son honoured St. Martha by coming to her home as a guest. By her prayers may we serve Christ in our brothers and sisters and be welcomed by you into heaven, our true home. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.)

I came across this blog today by Father Anthony Ho while searching for information on Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis, here is an excerpt from his article:

"In this Year for Priests it is very appropriate to recall Blessed Marie Leonie’s special love for priests.

  Little Sisters of the Holy Family

Blessed Marie Leonie was born in 1840. At the age of 13 she joined the Holy Cross Sisters. After serving as a teacher for 20 years she was entrusted with domestic work at St. Joseph’s College in New Brunswick.

Believing in the dignity and greatness of the priesthood, Blessed Marie Leonie decided to dedicate her life to the service of priests through humble domestic work. Many young women were willing to join her, so in 1880 Blessed Marie Leonie decided to form a new religious community to serve priests: The Little Sisters of the Holy Family.
The sisters were involved mainly in domestic work. They worked in kitchens, laundries, and sacristies of colleges, seminaries, rectories, and bishops’ residences. Later on the Sisters also started to serve priests as secretaries, receptionists, and accountants. They imitated the example of the holy women in the Gospel who ministered to Jesus and the apostles as they travelled throughout Galilee and Judea.

The Holy Women from the Gospel

One of the sisters summed up their spirituality and evangelical mission as follows:

“Our God is the Eucharistic God, our principle work is charity, our mission is service to the priesthood exclusively, our spirit is the spirit of the Holy Family of Nazareth, our motto is ‘piety and dedication,’ and our duty is to accomplish more than others.”

By their service, the Little Sisters bear witness to the dignity and greatness of the holy priesthood. It is the hope of the sisters that, by their fidelity and faith in the priesthood, priests themselves will be inspired and encouraged to remain faithful to their promises and their mission.

Blessed Marie Leonie died on May 3, 1912. Hers was the first beatification ceremony on Canadian soil."

Pope John Paul II beatification Sister Marie-Léonie Paradis, here is an excerpt from his homily at Jarry Park, Montreal on 11 September 1984:

"Today, to this living record of the saints and the blessed which has been in this land for centuries, a new name is being added, that of Sister Marie-Léonie Paradis.

This woman is one of you, humble among the humble, and today she takes her place among those whom God has lifted up to glory. I am happy that for the first time, this beatification is taking place in Canada, her homeland.

Born of simple, poor and virtuous parents, she soon grasped the beauty of religious life and committed herself to it through her vows with the Marist Order of the Holy Cross. She never once questioned that gift to God, not even during the difficult periods of community life in New York and in Indiana. When she was appointed to serve in a college in Memramcook in Acadia, the richness of her religious life drew young women to her who also wanted to dedicate their life, to God. With them and thanks to the understanding of Bishop Larocque of Sherbrooke, she founded the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family which is still thriving and is still very much appreciated.

Never doubting her call, she often asked: "Lord, show me your ways", so that she would know the concrete form of her service in the Church. She found and proposed to her spiritual daughters a special kind of commitment: the service of educational institutions, seminaries and priests' homes. She never shied away from the various forms of manual work which is the lot of so many people today and which held a special place in the Holy Family and in the life of Jesus of Nazareth himself. It is there that she saw the will of God for her life. It was in carrying out these tasks that she found God. In the sacrifices which were required and which she offered in love, she experienced a profound joy and peace. She knew that she was one with Christ's fundamental attitude: he had "come not to be served, but to serve". She was filled with the greatness of the eucharist and with the greatness of the priesthood at the service of the eucharist. That is one of the secrets of her spiritual motivation.

Yes, God looked upon the holiness of his humble servant, Marie-Leonie, who had been inspired by Mary's openness and receptivity. And henceforth, from age to age, her Congregation and the Church will call her blessed (cf. Lk 1, 4-8)".

Prayer for Priests and Religious

O Jesus, our great High Priest, hear my humble prayers on behalf of your servants. Give them a deep faith, a bright and firm hope, and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of their life. In their loneliness, comfort them. In their sorrows, strengthen them. In their frustrations, point out to them that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show them that they are needed by the Church; they are needed by souls; they are needed for the work of redemption.

O Loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests and religious, take to your heart your children who are close to you because of the power which they have received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs them so much. Be their comfort, be their joy, be their strength, and especially help them to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.


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