Segments in this Video

Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur Congregation (06:23)


At its founding, the Sisters of the Charity of the Immaculate Conception included 72 descendants of the French settlers of Quebec. They wanted to preserve their language and culture, but all of the orders, instruction, and religious practices were in English. In 1924, Mother Marie-Anne and 52 Acadian sisters broke from the order.

The Congregation's Activism (05:34)

The motherhouse is still a gathering place and home for the sisters of Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur. Many of the sisters are in their 90s but continue to participate in the congregation's work and activism. Sister Aurea Cormier explains the orders devotion to social justice for Acadians and how it cannot be obtained with charity.

The Congregation's Belief (04:38)

The congregation does not have one dominant ideology because it would hinder individual ideas and thoughts. The order spread and opened convents, or family homes, wherever the need was greatest. One house in New Brunswick is dedicated to helping community members with developmental disabilities.

The Congregation's Future (03:23)

Some of the sisters are worried about what lies ahead for their programs as the congregation's population ages. Many of the sisters were attracted to the congregation as children after seeing how happy the young nuns were with their life and work.

The Congregation's Education (05:31)

Before 1943, Acadian women had to leave New Brunswick to pursue higher education in French. Mother Jeanne faced push back about her idea to start a women's college in the area and the decision was ultimately decided by the Vatican. Notre-Dame-d'Acadie opened in 1946 and those in the convent had the opportunity to attend.

The Congregation's Personal Growth (08:15)

Many sisters were able to find their strengths after joining the congregation. Students of Notre-Dame-d'Acadie and sisters at local high schools remember the encouragement the sisters provided them.

The Congregation's Arts Programs (02:55)

Notre-Dame-d'Acadie was known for its choir, led by Sister Lucienne, which won the award for best Canadian choir six times. Sister Antonine Maillet often put on classical plays at the school. In the first 20 years, more than 140 women received Bachelor of Arts degrees.

The Congregation's Decline (05:15)

In 1965, a decree from the Vatican and a change a higher education in Canada began to decrease the congregation's control of Notre-Dame-d'Acadie. By 1980, a growing feeling of uselessness forced 76 sisters to leave the religious life. Everyone who left found Mother Juliette accepting and understanding about their decision.

The Congregation's Modern Views (09:38)

Many of the sisters find the current views of the Catholic Church too rigid and understand why younger people are discouraged from joining the religious life. Many want the church to be more inclusive and encourage everyone to live better lives. They believe women should have a more important role within church leadership.

Credits: For the Cause (01:07)

Credits: For the Cause

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For the Cause

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The history of the Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur Congregation begins with a split-up. In 1924, 53 French-speaking nuns separated from their unilingual English community for cultural reasons, forming a new religious community that immediately began to campaign for the preservation of Acadian language, faith, and culture. Convinced that education was essential for Acadian women, in 1943 the Congregation founded Collège Notre-Dame d'Acadie, where young women were able to study in French for the first time in New Brunswick. Director Rodolphe Caron gives a voice to a group of strong-willed women who take issue with the stereotype of nuns submitting blindly to authority. With their great zest for life, thirst for justice and surprising outspokenness, they demonstrate a unique vision of their mission. They advocate equally for the rights of the poor and a greater role for women in the Catholic Church.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: FMK190474

Copyright date: ©2011

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