A Year's retreat with

by Louise Finn, CND


Hi, there!

Welcome to this online retreat. I hope it will be as pleasant and helpful an experience for you making it as it has been for me writing it.

God certainly knows how to work through our ordinary days, desires and encounters to move us to places that help us to grow. So, stumbling on this website may well be the beginning of a new phase in your life—who knows?

As you will see, Marguerite showed by her life that she loved people, and she still does! And does God love us too? Talk about a no-brainer! Put all the love you’ve ever had for all the persons you’ve ever loved in one big heap, and it would be like a crumb, a feather, a tiny drop compared to God’s love for you, as you are right now— “warts and all”!

I’ve been a member of Marguerite’s congregation since I was professed back in 1949. (Yes, I’m “up there.”)

Most of these years I’ve been engaged in teaching or administration in various high schools—in CT, NY (Bronx, Staten Island,Schenectady), SD (Pine Ridge Indian Reservation), Cameroon—all full of great experiences, though not always easy. (We use the word “challenging” for such experiences, yes?)

A few years ago I put together a retreat with Marguerite in book form, but it now seemed better to put this one online—for people like you. I’ve tried to make it simple and direct—much shorter than some other really excellent retreats also available online. My hope is that you’ll get to know—really know!—a wonderful woman, Marguerite Bourgeoys, and find in her a mentor and friend.

How do I do this?

  1. Choose a day of the week that you think would work for you each week, and read the material presented.
  2. Ponder the questions suggested, and take brief notes if you wish.
  3. Come back to these thoughts a few times during the week if you can.

Remember, the more you put into this, the more you will get out of it. If your aim is to get to know someone — in this case, an amazing woman, and God as well — even more amazing, God can and will work in us if we give God the time and space to do so.

Remember, you’re not alone as you make this retreat.

1st Month
Mary "Smiles"
on Marguerite Bourgeoys:
Being Attentive

2nd Month
Marguerite Bourgeoys
Joins “the Group”: Deciding

3rd Month
Marguerite Bourgeoys Searches for
God's Dream:

4th Month
Marguerite Bourgeoys
Is Invited to

8th Month
Marguerite Bourgeoys
Receives the
"Filles du Roi":
Reaching Out

7th Month
Marguerite Bourgeoys
Opens her School:

6th Month
Marguerite Bourgeoys's
Early Years in

5th Month
Marguerite Bourgeoys
Travels to

9th Month
Marguerite Bourgeoys
Returns Again
to France:

10th Month
and Other
Growing Pains:

11th Month
Marguerite Bourgeoys's
Darkest Years:
Holding On

12th Month
Marguerite Bourgeoys's
Final Years:
Giving All


The Congregation de Notre-Dame of Montreal is still flourishing, still trying to address these needs, truly a witness to the power of God alive and well in our midst. Between 1932 and 1981, our leaders responded in faith and trust to requests – usually of foreign bishops – to open distant missions. The Congregation has now spread to eight countries on four continents.
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Having embraced the “Filles du Roi” and so many others in Ville-Marie, Marguerite must be delighted that the Associate program is now flourishing too! More than 900 Associates – women and men who wish to share our Visitation spirituality and be part of our outreach to others, now join us in ministering to God’s people in Cameroon, Canada, Central America, France, Japan and the United States. To read more about this program, “Associates” on this website (

All of us are first and foremost Christians, and, as “CNDs,” our way of answering our baptismal call is religious life. In these times of uncertainty and non-acceptance by many, apostolic religious life is exciting and challenging. We are learning in a new way that we are women of the church, called to love that church even though, like ourselves, it is not yet all that Christ is calling us to be. As a pilgrim people on a journey, we are learning wisdom from fellow pilgrims. We are becoming better listeners, grounded in a sense of our humanity, and embracing realistic dialogue about the church and its evolving mission. Like Marguerite, we sometimes have only one answer: compassion!

Society can flourish efficiently and effectively only if its women are happy and healthy. They will then take care of their children, so that they too can flourish. Marguerite knew this, and we, Sisters and Associates, are trying to live her charism, reaching out as Mary did to the needs of our world, living the Good News of Jesus in our time as she lived it in hers. We are doing this especially through all forms of education in faith and justice, as well as through social networking and through nonviolent actions in our own milieu.

However, as in other religious communities, the sisters of the Congregation are now less numerous than they were during the historical anomaly of the post-war high in the United States and Canada. In a church that has opened up many other opportunities for ministry to women, fewer now apply. If you are interested in learning how you might find a home and a fascinating ministry/career within our church and among our members – from Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Trinidad and the U.S., look around this same site (

Happy browsing!

[ ] And if you really want to learn about Marguerite Bourgeoys’s life and legacy

I cannot recommend highly enough the definitive two-volume biography by Patricia Simpson, CND Meticulous research and flowing style – a real page-turner! Even the footnotes are interesting.

Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal: 1640-1665 and Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal: 1665-1700.