ELISABETH TURGEON, AN INSPIRATION FOR CATECHISTS
Last August 17, the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary celebrated the 130th anniversary of the death of their foundress, Elisabeth Turgeon. How can this woman, who walked the soil of Rimouski more than 130 years ago, be a source of inspiration for catechists of the 21st century? In a letter she wrote to the Sisters of Saint-Gabriel (village on the outskirts of Rimouski) in 1880, she stated: "My only ambition is to know Jesus". Do these words of vision not touch the priority of the formation to Christian life which hopes to help people as they search for God? To know Jesus, is more than acquiring a lot of knowledge or receiving the Sacraments of Christian initiation. We are in a search that is never ending; an ongoing process which brings us to an existential choice of evangelical values and the contemplation of the One who has come before us and who gives meaning to our lives. To know Jesus, is to be in communion with the Living God, it is to experience his presence which maintains interior liberty and peace of heart.
Lead Children Deliciously to Jesus
Elisabeth came to Rimouski in answer to a request by Bishop Jean Langevin, first bishop of our diocese, who was preoccupied with the education of children. Elisabeth understood her mission as one leading youngsters to Jesus. Catechesis was a way of learning to "know Jesus" and the way had to be a pedagogical method that would be delicious. We don't go to Jesus unless we are fascinated by him, attracted to his message, understanding that we are seaching for him as what is best in life. All catechists who have followed Elisabeth's example wished that children be attracted to the knowledge of Jesus as one who goes with them and offers them meaning as they go through life. As did Elisabeth, we hope to encourage a fundamental experience of Jesus for those with whom we live. She remains a model for us. One who captivates us through her great liberty, faithful to her ambition and giving meaning to basic values: tender loving care, faith, hope, daring, service, goodness, authenticity, simplicity, courage, coherence in being, peace, wisdom, joy.
Since the time of Elisabeth, the modalities of expression and the mentalities in our diocese have greatly changed, but the search for understanding is always the same. Following the example of Elisabeth, hundreds of catechists recognize that the Formation to Christian Life remains an unavoidable call to commitment to the Good News. Our prayer is that with Elisabeth Turgeon, men, women and children in our local Church find guides to lead them deliciously towards a place of lasting trust.
The French phrase.......
Sr. Gabrielle Côté, R.S.R.