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Sister Ida-de-Jésus, the poultry farming nun

Sister Ida-de-Jésus (Marie-Luce Néron), daughter of a Charlevoix farmer, was born with a marked love of nature. She loved working on the family farm, but heard God’s calling at a very young age. She joined the Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil de Chicoutimi Congregation on August 2, 1934. Having little aptitude for housekeeping duties and limited education, she was assigned other chores within the religious community.

Black and white photo of a nun wearing a veil, cross, and apron, feeding chicks.

Sister Ida-de-Jésus (Marie-Luce Néron) feeding chicks, c.1940.

In 1939, Sister Ida-de-Jésus is given a very special role to play in the Congregation; she is to be the designated poultry farmer. Devoted, patient, responsible, and available, she takes care of the henhouse for nearly 20 years.

Black and white photo of a nun with a large metal basket filled with eggs.

Sister Ida-de-Jésus (Marie-Luce Néron) gathering eggs, c. 1940.

Painting of a two-storey wood building surrounded by hens.

The convent henhouse, 1935.

In the very early days of the Congregation, a small henhouse had been arranged for a few hens. Starting in 1939, there were now two henhouses, one near the convent and the other at Saint-Joseph farm. Sister Ida-de-Jésus fed the hens, cleaned the henhouses, cared for the chicks, gathered eggs, and slaughtered poultry. She also cared for the rabbits, ducks, geese, and pheasants. It was a demanding task that she had to accomplish both on the farm and at the convent.

Black and white photo of three small fenced cabins.

The henhouse, pigeon loft, and pigsty at Saint-Joseph farm, 1939.

In 1949, the farm henhouse is expanded to accommodate between 6,000 and 8,000 hens. At that time, all of the Barred Plymouth Rock hens are moved to the farm. The poultry-farming Sister has to travel back and forth, morning and evening, to collect the eggs. In 1954, Sister Ida-de-Jésus is part of the first group of Sisters to live permanently at the Saint-Joseph farmhouse. She is put in charge of the winged residents.

In 1956, she is called back to the convent to fulfill a very special duty as the nighttime supervisor at the convent’s infirmary; caretaker of the sick and receptionist. She is highly appreciated for everything she does. At the farm, she is replaced by Lucien Boily, the newly assigned poultry farmer.

Listen to Sister Ida-de-Jésus (Marie-Luce Néron) talk about her work on the farm:

Listen to the audio clip with transcription: Sister Ida-de-Jésus (Marie-Luce Néron)