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The Congregation takes root on the shores of the Saguenay River

Painting of a woman dressed in blue. Her hair is parted in the middle.

Portrait of Ms. Françoise Simard painted by Sister Évelyne Breault (Saint-Victor) in 1985.

Françoise Simard, as a child, is a very good pupil, but her health is poor and she has to abandon her general education at the age of 13. This is when faith intervenes and the future founder finds solace and a goal in life. Twice she tries to join a community, first with the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec City, and then with the Montreal Sisters of Charity. But when her health issues persist, she is forced to move back home with her parents.

 

 

Portrait of a man in his forties wearing a bishop’s habit.

Mgr. Michel-Thomas Labrecque, 3rd Bishop of the Chicoutimi Diocese, 1895.

She later spends about ten years working with Reverend Pierre-Hubert Beaudet, Saint-Alphonse and later Baie-Saint-Paul Parish Priest; but when the Reverend passes away, she returns home to her family and teaches school at Saint-Fulgence. The quality of her work is soon noted, and Mgr. Michel-Thomas Labrecque, Bishop of the Chicoutimi Diocese, approaches Françoise Simard and asks her to take part in the foundation of a religious community dedicated to teaching. Heartened by her deep convictions, she accepts this great summons that God has placed in her path.

A religious community created to educate children in remote parishes, the Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil Congregation took root on the rocky capes overlooking the Saguenay River in 1894. While some turned to missionary work in Africa and Chile, many of the Sisters assumed teaching duties in the Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean, Côte-Nord and Charlevoix regions, from Val-Jalbert to Natashquan. The dedicated nuns provided learning opportunities for numerous women through the creation of a Teacher-training School and Family Institute. They were also involved in several social organisations.