Discover our storytellers: the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph

This year, the New Brunswick Heritage Week was held from February 14 to 21 and the theme chosen was Discover our storytellers. A question arose instantly. How is it possible to celebrate our heritage in an institution such as Hôtel-Dieu Residence, more or less in confinement because of a pandemic? Easy. The Hôtel-Dieu in Saint-Basile is recognized as a Provincial Heritage Place. No need to leave the building, we can use internal resources here permanently: a Heritage Room (Museum) and the Archives of the Hospitallers of St. Joseph.

Heritage Week invited New Brunswickers to recognize and celebrate their storytellers also known as knowledge holders. They may be elders, grandparents, historical figures, monuments or buildings. The activities organized in Hôtel-Dieu Residence were chosen to put the emphasis on the acknowledgment of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph as storytellers. This title instantly opens the doors to the Sisters’ Museum on the first floor of Hôtel-Dieu Residence. Yes, we do have our own History and stories to tell.

On the afternoon of February 14 and 15, the Residents were invited to visit the Heritage Room that had been closed for almost two years. About fifteen new Residents discovered with interest some of the different aspects of life at Hôtel-Dieu of Saint-Basile between 1873 and 1973: health care, teaching, sisters’ community, religion, services (farm, garden, crafts and others). To stimulate participation, a draw for a door prize had been announced. It was won by Ginette Roussel, a new Resident, who was glad to receive the book Les Religieuses Hospitalières de Saint-Joseph au Madawaska, 1873-1973, written by Sister Georgette Desjardins.

affiche 2 patrimoine2022The second event organized for Heritage Week by the Archivist and her Assistant Linda Thibodeau was the viewing of the documentary film « Sans feu… ni lieu », produced in 1986. This short film shows the works of the Hospitallers in New Brunswick and illustrates many aspects of their charism. Residents gathered in the Grand Salon of Hotel-Dieu Residence were surprised to recognize many sisters interviewed or shown in action, even if they were much younger at the time.

All in all, thanks to the support of the administration of Hotel-Dieu Residence and the participation of the Residents, we can say that the Heritage Week was a success.

Sr. Bertille Beaulieu, archivist for NDA Region