Blessed Marie Rose Durocher—Champion of Girls’ Education

Kimberly Timmerman

Blessed Marie Rose Durocher—Champion of Girls’ Education

Blessed Marie Rose Durocher was born Eulalie Mélanie Durocher on October 6, 1811 in Quebec, Canada. She was born into a prosperous farming family and was one of eleven children, three of whom died in infancy. Eulalie was a very sickly child. Her mother studied with the Ursulines and formed the children in the Faith, highlighting the importance of prayer in everyday life. Three of her brothers entered the priesthood and one of her sisters entered religious life.

At nineteen, when her mother died, she assumed the role as homemaker and her family moved into the rectory of one of her priest brothers' Parish in Beloeil, Quebec. There she also served as housekeeper and secretary. During the next twelve years, while helping her family and parish, she saw the need for a religious community dedicated to the education of children and a seed was planted in her heart. Although originally attracted to entering the Congregation of Notre Dame with her older sister Seraphine, she eventually attempted to enter the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a French religious order dedicated to the education of youth. This order was asked to establish a community in Canada but was unwilling. The local Bishop then asked Eulalie, along with two of her friends, to found a new religious order dedicated to educating children. They all agreed and entered postulancy on October 28, 1843. Upon entering the Novitiate that next February, Eulalie took the name Sister Marie Rose. The new Community received Diocesan approval and was named the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

Sister Marie Rose was appointed Mother Superior and the Community immediately began their apostolate of teaching. The number of students grew so rapidly that larger spaces were needed to accommodate the demand. Although the Community originally only taught girls, the sisters opened their classrooms to both boys and girls to address the needs of the people. The sisters were able to establish four convents within five years, teaching nearly 500 students in that time.

Sister Marie Rose retained ill health throughout her life. At age 38, she died on her birthday, October 6, 1849. As she died, she prayed, “Jesus, Mary, Joseph! Sweet Jesus, I love you. Jesus, be to me Jesus.” Her cause for canonization was opened in 1927. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

Several miracles have been attributed to her. In 1946, Benjamin Modzell was crushed into a wall after being hit by a truck. Although pronounced dead at the scene, Sister Marie Rose was invoked in prayer and he fully recovered. In 1973, a fire approached a convent and chapel in Spokane, Washington. The sisters nailed Durocher’s image to the trees surrounding the chapel. The flames changed direction and left the chapel untouched. In 1979, a similar miracle occurred. The owner of a Lake resort in Tonasket, Washington saw an uncontrolled wildfire approach his resort. He invoked her prayer and threw her image into the flames and the wind immediately changed direction leaving his entire property unscathed .

Blessed Marie Rose Durocher is a great example for our times. She exemplified unwavering faith amidst a life of physical and emotional suffering. She put aside her desires and answered the Lord’s call as He revealed it. Her miracles regarding wildfires should compel us to ask for her constant intercession, especially for those suffering the recent wildfires that continually devastate the land.

God our Creator, we ask you to manifest the holiness of your faithful servant, Marie-Rose Durocher, by extraordinary signs so that the Church may proclaim her a saint and call upon her as a public witness to Christian life based on the Gospel.

Remember her heroic virtues as the foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, her zeal for Christian education, her love for Jesus and Mary.

Remember her great love for You, O God, and graciously grant the favors we confidently ask through her intercession. Amen.

Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, pray for us.