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150th Anniversary of the Arrival of Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph (R.H.S.J.) on the Miramichi

This year, 2019 marks the 150th Anniversary of the arrival of the Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph (RHSJ) on the Miramichi.

To celebrate this occasion, join them in celebration on Wednesday, September 25th, 2019.

Schedule of Events

A Mass will be celebrated at 2 pm at the Saint Michael’s the Archangel Basilica Roman Catholic Church, 10 Howard Street, Miramichi (Chatham)

A Evening Banquet by reservation only will be held at 6 pm at the Rodd Miramichi River Hotel, 1809 Water Street, Miramichi (Chatham).

Please reserve your evening banquet ticket (Just $50. a person) no later than Friday, September 13th, 2019.

For more information and banquet tickets, please contact 1-506-778-5302 or email at: catholichealth@chpchi.com.

This event is sponsored by Catholic Health International – Santé Catholique Internationale and the Mount Saint Joseph Nursing Home.

About the arrival of Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph (R.H.S.J.) on the Miramichi and It’s Founderesses

On Wednesday, July 16, 1869, four nuns of Montréal, Québec, Mother Davignon, Sister McGurty, Sister St.Louis Beauchamp and Sister Vitaline arrived on the Miramichi (Chatham) on board a passenger steamship, “SECRET.”

These four women had been sent from the mother house in response to a plea from Bishop James Rogers for a hospital in the Diocese of Chatham, and they opened the first Hôtel Dieu Hospital soon after their arrival.

During its first year, it was located in the bishop’s former residence; that is, in the two-storey, wood frame building, 25′ x 36′, which currently houses the Saint Michael’s Museum, Genealogical Centre and Book Store directly adjacent to the Saint Michael’s the Archangel Basilica Roman Catholic Church.

It was moved to a new building in 1870. and founded the Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph (RHSJ).

The Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph (RHSJ) on the Miramichi were the ones who started Mount Saint Joseph Nursing Home and the former Hôtel Dieu Hospital in Miramichi (Chatham).

Mother Davignon – Sister Marie Louise Virginie Davignon

Sister Marie Louise Virginie Davignon, of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph; first superior at Chatham, 1869-73;

She was born in St. Mathias, Lower Canada, on Monday, November 17th, 1823, d/o Joseph Davignon and Victoire Vandandaigue; entered religious life, 1842 and died in Saint Basile, New Brunswick on Monday, February 2nd, 1874.

Louise Davignon entered the novitiate of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph in Montréal, Québec in 1842 and took her vows in 1844.

The following year, she was one of the founders of the Hôtel Dieu Hospital at Kingston, Ontario.

She soon had to return to Montréal, Québec due to an illness which would continue to trouble her, also she later occupied responsible positions within the order, mostly in Québec, including a six-year term as a hospital supervisor.

She was a skillful organizer and took a special interest in landscaping, gardening, and other outdoor work.

On 16 July 1869, Davignon and three companions (Sisters McGurty, St. Louis, and Vitaline) arrived on the Miramichi from Montréal, Québec on board a passenger steamship, “SECRET.”

The four had been sent from the mother house in response to a plea from Bishop James Rogers for a hospital in the Diocese of Chatham and they opened the Hôtel Dieu Hospital soon after their arrival.

During its first year, it was located in the bishop’s former residence; that is, in the two-storey, wood frame building, 25′ x 36′, which currently houses Saint Michael’s Museum, Genealogical Centre and Book Store.

It was moved to a new building in 1870.

Nobody on the Miramichi was happier to see the Religious Hospitallers arrive than Dr. Stafford Benson, who had tried unsuccessfully for a long time to have a public hospital in Chatham.

As noted elsewhere, he extended his services to the new institution free of charge.

His credibility as a physician and surgeon, in combination with the expertise and commitment of Davignon and her colleagues, ensured that the hospital got off to a successful start.

After she had been superior for four years, Davignon’s health broke, and she was recalled to Montréal, Québec. She had recovered sufficiently within a few months to be sent back to New Brunswick to found the Hôtel Dieu Hospital at Saint Basile, but she proved to be terminally ill and died four months later, at age fifty.

It was stated in her official obituary that she was a women “prudent and discreet, possessing those admirable traits of character that form holy souls.”

Source: From the Dictionary of Miramichi Biography by W.D. Hamilton (1997)

Sister St. Louis (Beauchamp)

Sister St. Louis came from Hotel Dieu, Montréal, Québec as one of the foundresses of the Hôtel Dieu , Chatham on Wednesday, July 16, 1869.

She held the offices of Assistant Superior and Mistress of Novices.

Recalled to Montréal, Québec in 1877, where she died in the office of Superior in 1884.

Sister Helen McGurty

Sister Helen McGurty of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph was the chief hospitaller at Chatham.

She was born in Ireland on Friday, September 1st, 1837, the daughter of Peter McGurty and Helen Flanagan.

She entered religious life in 1852 and she died in Montréal, Québec on Saturday, February 22nd, 1913.

Helen McGurty was one of the four members of the Religious Hospitallers who arrived in Chatham in 1869 under the leadership of Louise Davignon to establish and conduct the Hôtel Dieu Hospital.

As she was the only native English speaker of the group, it was appropriate for her to be made “chief hospitaller.”

This position required her to be present in the hospital at most times, and it was she with whom the patients and members of the public ordinarily communicated.

McGurty spent thirteen years in Chatham before being recalled to Montréal, Québec.

During that time, she worked in three successive Hôtel Dieu Hospitals.

The first was a makeshift one set up in the bishop’s tiny former residence. In spite of the cramped quarters, sixty patients were admitted during the first year of operation, and 500 outpatients were treated.

The second hospital, which was built in 1870, was spacious enough, but it was cold and sparsely equipped.

The third, which was open in 1876, was an elaborate T-shaped structure, which remained in use as a hospital until 1913.

At the conclusion of McGurty’s service in 1883, admissions were averaging more than 100 patients annually.

In 1993, a plaque honouring McGurty’s memory was placed on the original Hôtel Dieu Hospital building, which now houses the Saint Michael’s Museum, Genealogical Centre and Book Store.

(All Biographies of Foundresses Source by: http://www.saintmichaelsmuseum.com/personalities/davignon.html)



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