A tribute to the Hospitalières de St-Joseph to mark the 135th anniversary of their arrival in Tracadie.
On the occasion of the 135th anniversary festivities of the arrival of the Hospitalière de Saint-Joseph in Tracadie in 2003, Father Zoel Saulnier published this tribute to those devoted nuns who came to rescue the people of our community:
«With this time of the seasons, when the harvest brings joy to many, our region wishes to celebrate on this September 21, the 135th anniversary of the arrival of the Religieuses Hospitalières de Saint-Joseph as the best harvest ever. We want to celebrate the arrival of those women who wrote the most beautiful page of our history by taking care of the lepers. They were six nuns who initiated the care of lepers and who made of those sick people the miraculously cured of our history. By leaving Montreal in 1868, Mother Pagé, the nuns, Viger known as St-Jean-de-Goto, Quesnel, Breault, Bonin, and Fournier, known as Lumina, took on the leprosy plague that could have completely wiped out a population. Like their founder, Jérôme LeRoyer de la Dauversière, a man of prayer and actions, those six nuns, «those heavenly sent women», as they were referred to by the vicar- general of the era, started in the care of lepers in our midst, hospital care that expanded throughout the Maritimes. They awakened in the sick the Christian sense of accepted sufferance, deeply rooted in the mystery of Easter. Thanks to those nuns, experiencing the mystery of the love of God through those rejects of society, the lepers would no longer be the objects of curiosity, but persons to love, to accompany and to cure. Those women, armed above all with the skills of the heart, brought back those marginalized beings on the road of human and Christian dignity.
With gratitude, this 135th anniversary will allow us to exorcize our memories of that fear and shame that haunted us for too long, humans that we are, as well as our region. With our friends, the Religieuses Hospitalières de Saint-Joseph, let us celebrate this event of great compassion that marked the victory of unselfish and daring love over leprosy. May this 135th anniversary be liberating and also a source of engaging motivation for generations to come. »