For further information about the founder, visit the virtual exhibition at: https://www.histoiresdecheznous.ca/virtual-exhibits/exhibit/sur-les-traces-dune-fondatrice/
The founding Mother accepts in a letter to the Bishop. Painting by Sister Évelyne Breault (Saint-Victor), 1992. @Centre historique SNDBC
Françoise Simard (Sister Marie-du-Bon-Conseil) was born on January 18, 1851, in the village of Saint-Alphonse de Bagotville (La Baie), Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. She was the fourth child of 13 raised by Mr. Hypolite Simard and Mrs. Dosithée Simard. Originally from Charlevoix, they were regional pioneers. They cleared a parcel of land and built one of the first houses in Rang Saint-Joseph.
She headed the religious community for 24 years, from its foundation until 1918. She died in 1937, after 43 years of religious life. Today, her memory and example are still guiding lights for the Sisters and their mission.
A series of discreet letters between Mgr. Michel-Thomas Labrecque and Françoise Simard, written before the Congregation was founded, highlight the doubts she had regarding her ability to take on such a challenging task.
Correspondence: Answer from Françoise Simard to Mgr. Labrecque, October 15, 1894. SNDBC Archives Transcription: The project Your Grace has formulated for me is prodigious: I do not consider myself worthy of such high consideration. However, I accept this request, hoping that God in his goodness will afford me the graces I need to fulfill His command. Therefore, I remain, with the greatest of respects to Mgr., Your Grace, the very humble and obedient girl, Françoise Simard, Sainte-Anne de Chicoutimi, October 15, 1894
Correspondence: Reply from Mgr. Labrecque, October 16, 1894. SNDBC Archives Transcription: It is today, what Jesus Christ our Lord demands of you through my ministration: 1- He asks you to renounce yourself, whatever the cost, to surrender not to His will, but to the will of God. That is the foundation of religious life. 2- He asks you to accept your Cross; whatever it may be. He, Himself, prepares it, but in His mercy, he also sees your heavenly graces, to lessen the weight of that Cross. 3- He exhorts you to follow Him, He who is the way, the truth, and life. What path has He chosen for you, to guide your way to heaven? It is through your surrender to the canon that is asked of you.