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Sister Mary Eileen Scott, CND

By Patricia Simpson, CND

A Happy Childhood

If it is true that our conception of God is profoundly influenced by our earliest relations with our own parents, the wonder and joy of knowing that God delighted in her surely had its origin in the pride and delight taken by Eileen’s parents in their only child.

On January 27, 1908, in what she described as “the faint light of a stormy winter day” Eileen was born to Michael Scott and Sarah Foley in Montreal. The baby was baptized in Saint Anthony’s Church on a date she later described as “prophetic,” February 2, Feast of the Purification of Our Lady. Both parents had emigrated from Newfoundland, their own ancestors having come to Newfoundland from Ireland at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Eileen was to take great pride in her Irish ancestry and a deep interest in Celtic culture, but the place she was always to love above all others was her own native city of Montreal.

Within her family, she was to experience the love, admiration and cherishing heaped upon a gifted only child (the one other child, a brother, was still-born when Eileen was two). With only one cousin, she was also the object of devotion of several aunts. Sister Helen Brophy who knew Eileen before her seventeenth birthday and was to remain a life-long friend says: “If she was not spoiled beyond redemption it was because of the common-sense attitude of both her parents. They deeply loved their daughter. She was always treated as a person in her own right but it was always well understood that there were limits to that right.”

Eileen’s autobiography written at the end of the novitiate says that she retained no deep impressions from her childhood “save the remembrance of an unmerited reputation for timidity which my later characteristics afterward disproved.” She did once recount the story of her appearance at a fancy dress party dressed as a tomato. The choice of costume was most unconventional for the time but mother and aunts used their ingenuity and a happy tomato rolled off to a party she never forgot. One of these aunts was a milliner, another worked in the establishment of a modiste. Eileen was always to retain a deep respect for those who practice the useful arts.

When, in later years, she noted that Marguerite Bourgeoys described the very texture of the dress worn by our Lady in the early-morning vision that confirmed Marguerite’s vocation to Montreal, Eileen attributed this, in part, to the involvement of Guillemette Garnier’s family with the textile business, perhaps remembering her own interest In her aunts’ profession. Of Eileen’s parents Sister Helen Brophy says: “Both her parents were shrewd, quick-witted and keen and their daughter had to react to them with discernment and skill, and to laugh at herself when she was lured into ineptitudes.”

First Contact with the Congrégation de Notre-Dame

Eileen first encountered the sisters of the Congregation at Saint Antony’s Academy where she completed the first four years of her schooling. She then attended the “Application School” of the Normal School (now the Generalate and Notre Dame Secretarial College) where she completed the eighth grade. She finished high school at the newly-founded classes at the Motherhouse where in 1924 she graduated and began her college courses at Notre Dame Ladies College. Her senior college year was spent entirely at Marguerite Bourgeoys College where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude and won the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal in 1927. In June of that year she also obtained her Quebec Teaching Diploma with highest honours. Eileen’s academic career this far reflects the developing involvement of the Congregation in the higher education of women in Quebec in the earlier years of this century.

The yearbook edited by Eileen the year of her graduation shows how remarkably consistent she was always to be in character and interests. The first essay in the book is by the editor herself; “A Romance of Yore: 1620-1700” is, of course, an account of the life of Marguerite Bourgeoys. In future years, Eileen herself was to reveal the inaccuracy of some of the factual detail she cites here, but her vision of the woman she so much admired was only to deepen with the years.

From the beginning, Eileen saw beyond the sometimes repellent “strong and gentle and joyful.” Essays on Keats and on music reveal the love of beauty that was to characterize Eileen all her life long. On the lighter side, the usual yearbook prophecy displays not only the consistency of Eileen’s character but also the remarkable insight of her friend and co-editor Helen Brophy who wrote in part: “Sparkling at the twilight hour, spirits lack at early dawning, but at noon revive their power… Fond of chocolate fudge and music, lit’rature was e’er her choice…”

The prophecy for the future: triumphs, honours, world-travel, degrees, till she became “cultured to the final word,” then, predicted her friend, “a wondrous change came o’er her, this spoiled child whose every whim, all the world had sought and sated, voiced within her soul a hymn.”

The yearbook also provides a fascinating picture of a world then just coming into being and now almost disappeared, the world of the women’s college. These were truly renaissance women in the making: the curriculum included not only the usual arts and science subjects (with students studying a well-rounded range of both) but other as different as Greek, music and fencing. The effort of C.N.D. professors were supplemented by those of distinguished lay professors – the music instructor, for example, came from l’Opéra de Paris.

Visiting lecturers included such luminaries as Etienne Gilson. The college was also visited by a number of bishops from various English and French-speaking countries, one from as far away as Australia. All wished to observe a Catholic institution for the higher education of women. In their discourses, all impressed on these young women the immense responsibility to the Church and to society for which their education was preparing them.

But there was plenty of fun too, like an impromptu costume parade on an unexpected half-holiday, or a rapidly prepared production of Hamlet when they discovered their English professor was celebrating a silver jubilee (as Polonius, Eileen issued advice concerning deportment that “far surpassed in language and philosophy any of the heights attained by the immortal Shakespeare.”) Quite clearly, these young women perceived themselves as pioneers – one of them explicitly compares the group to the early women colonists in Montreal.

They loved their C.N.D. teachers: until her death Eileen carried in her prayer book the memorial card for Sister Saint Madeline of Sion who was to die young not long after Eileen’s entry. They also display a profound appreciation for the work of teaching. “Next to creating a soul,” one of them quotes Plato as saying, “the divinest thing in life is to educate it aright.”

That these were not empty words is demonstrated not just by such names in the yearbook as Helen Brophy, Charlotte Cadoret, Estelle Perrier and Eileen Scott, all of whom were to contribute so much to the apostolate of education within the Congregation, but also those of lay teachers like Beatrice Curotte who was to spend her teaching years at St. Paul’s Academy.

An Unconventional Novice

Statements made by one of Eileen’s former students now working in Vancouver show not only that she continued to communicate the spirit of her own college years but also that, in some form, it is still being preserved and passed on:

Sister Scott spoke of the convent as one of the only places where a woman could live her life as a scholar. We count among the most positive aspects of our education . . . having been part of a community of women in our formative years. I appreciated only vaguely how important was the opportunity to develop skills, to risk, within the circle of physical and emotional safety provided by a women’s college. It’s an atmosphere I’ve had to fight to recreate three hours a week in the oasis of Women’s Studies at the community where I’ve taught.

Although she had begun to give definite thought to religious life during her senior year, after graduation Eileen continued her studies at McGill University where a year later she obtained her Masters of Arts degree in English with a minor in French literature, writing a thesis on novels of manners by women authors. The following years, she spent one semester teaching English at Marguerite Bourgeoys and the rest of the year as Executive Secretary to the D’Arcy McGee Memorial Campaign. In August 1929, she entered the Congregation.

For one so strikingly unconventional as Eileen, the novitiate must have been a difficult time. Two factors ensured her perseverance. One was her profound faith, that direct and simple faith which was still apparent in her final years of suffering, and which is so moving when encountered in minds of deep intelligence and learning. The other was her Mother Mistress. Until she could speak no more, Eileen spoke of Mother Saint Valerian, Mistress of Novices and later Superior General of the Congregation, with the deepest affection and admiration. This woman was herself possessed of the generosity of mind and heart to see and appreciate the gifts of mind and spirit Eileen brought to the Congregation where a lesser person might have rejected so unconventional an aspirant. In August, 1931, Eileen made profession and went out to begin her work as a sister of the Congregation at her beloved Marguerite Bourgeoys College.

Eileen’s teaching life was to take her to all three of the English-language provinces of the community. From 1931 to 1943 she worked in Montreal at Marguerite Bourgeoys College, at the Pedagogical Institute and at D’Arcy McGee High School. The subjects she taught included not only English, Latin and Canadian history but also public speaking and debating. This first phase of her career ended in 1943 when she went to New York to study for her doctoral degree at Fordham University. The death of her dear mother the previous December, after a long illness that was a harbinger of the one Eileen herself was to suffer, allowed this only child to leave Montreal with more peace of mind than would otherwise have been possible. Eileen remained in Blessed Sacrament Province for four years not only completing studies for her doctoral degree in English, awarded in 1947, but also teaching at Notre Dame College, Staten Island and Saint Jean’s High School, New York.

In September, 1947, she returned to Holy Angels Province where for the next five years she taught at Notre Dame College, Ottawa.

Revealing Marguerite Bourgeoys

At this time she was becoming more and more absorbed in research and writing about Marguerite Bourgeoys and in 1950, the year of the Beatification, her play The Constant Heart was produced as was the Cantata in Honour of Blessed Marguerite Bourgeoys on which she collaborated with Sister Charlotte Cadoret. September 1952 took Eileen to Saint Joseph’s Province where she was to spend the next three years teaching at Mount Saint Bernard. In 1955, she returned to Montreal to take up residence at D’Arcy McGee.

The ensuing years were to be given increasingly to research into the life and times of Marguerite Bourgeoys. Confirmation and encouragement of Eileen in this invaluable work came from the woman who led the Congregation with strength and wisdom from 1952 to 1964, Mother Saint Marie-Consolatrice. Faithful again, Eileen kept beside her a snapshot of this old friend until her own death. The voluminous files compiled by Eileen bear speaking witness to the long, long hours spent in archives, to the painstaking interpretation of handwritten documents from the seventeenth century, to the elusive quest for authenticity. The fruit of this work alone is of inestimable worth to the Congregation and to the study of Marguerite Bourgeoys. But research in Canada alone was not sufficient and in 1959 Eileen made contact with Monsieur Alfred Morin, archivist and deputy librarian at the Municipal Library in Troyes.

The correspondence between these two which was to continue until shortly before Eileen’s death makes fascinating reading. Both were intensely interested in the research they shared, both excited by the questions she raised and to which he was sometimes able to find answers, both exhilarated when a new fact was discovered. In addition, the letters reveal the development of what became a warm friendship on both sides, a friendship that was strengthened when Eileen was at last able to visit Troyes in person on a trip to Europe that also enabled her to see the Greece whose classical drama she had long delighted to teach and, of course, Ireland, her ancestral home.

For the next two decades Eileen was engaged not only in building up a body of research on Marguerite Bourgeoys, but also in sharing the results of her work with the Congregation and with the general public. She travelled to each of the English-language provinces to speak to the sisters of a Marguerite Bourgeoys whom they could admire and love and in whom they could find inspiration for the difficult times into which the Congregation was now moving. Always interested in the young, she took special pleasure in working with the novices in the various provinces. She spoke to outside groups, in person, and through articles in newspapers, through radio and television. At the same time she continued to teach, at Marianopolis where, as the college expanded she became the first head of the English department, and at the Thomas More Institute where she found her colleagues and the adult students an unceasing source of stimulation.

One of the principal events of this period of Eileen’s life was the part she played in the restoration to the light of day, to the Congregation, and to the world, of the true portrait of Marguerite Bourgeoys painted at her death in 1700 by Pierre Le Ber. Eileen had long been convinced that the portrait venerated in the Congregation as the authentic Le Ber portrait could not in fact be such because it was not painted in the style of the period. In 1963 she persuaded Mother Saint Marie-Consolatrice to have the work examined by an expert, Edward O Korany, an artist-restorer in New York. The results are well-known – beneath the likeness of Marguerite Bourgeoys so familiar in the Congregation for a century and a half lay another that so moved the restorer that when he looked on it for the first time, he phrased his reaction in one word, “Compassion!” This was the very quality that Eileen herself had become convinced was the dominant note in Marguerite’s character.

A Time of Transition

The late 1960s were a time of great change not only in the Congregation but also in the educational world of Quebec. Eileen, graduate of the first Catholic women’s college in the province was also active in planning courses for the newly created Cegep programme. Her ideas reflect her unfailing concern for the welfare of the students and her unfailing love for Montreal: “Anxiety and Hope,” a genre course, was to help the students understand the complex problems of their own time and discover positive responses to them, “The Mountain and the River” was to show them the literature of their own city. (She was much concerned as, in the late 60s, developers destroyed and altered Montreal at an unprecedented pace, “Soon,” she wrote to M. Morin, “we shall see neither the mountain nor the river.”)

Eileen was always open to new ideas and new ways of acting though she was no faddist but a heeder of Saint Paul’s advice to test all things and hold fast that which is good. She was a gifted innovator because she possessed that without which innovation risks being shallow, ill-judged and destructive: a thorough grounding in, and appreciation of, tradition. Her openness extended not only to new ideas but also to new technologies. With what a glee would this enthusiast of the microfilm reader and the Xerox machine have approached the word-processor and the fax machine!

Of course, there were many personal griefs and difficulties during these years. The trip to Europe was possible in 1962 only because her father had died in the autumn of 1961, for she had written previously to M. Morin that, as an only child, she could not consider a trip to France during her father’s illness. Like Marguerite, she knew the consolation of remaining close to a beloved parent during his last illness, but his death was a great grief to her. She had also experienced the onset of the disease that was to be a growing handicap in the later years of her life, the deafness that was to deprive her first of the music she loved so much, then of the stimulating conversation she so enjoyed, and finally of all sounds from the outside world.

Because she had seen the effects of the disease on her father she was under no illusion as to what awaited her, but after a few tears, she did not complain again. It was characteristic of Eileen that, though trifles could cause her immense irritation, she uttered no complaint before the really great suffering she was to face in her later years. In addition to the gradually increasing deafness, she also was hospitalized for several weeks as the result of an encounter with a bus and, later, underwent an operation for cancer and another for arthritis.

In the following passage written in the early 1970s Eileen reflected upon her work and her times:

Will revolution kill the memory of Marguerite Bourgeoys, a memory now three hundred years old? She came to an abandoned stable in Montreal to teach young people how to grow up – and now no one grows up. Born in a city of a hundred churches, she built a pilgrimage church on the waterfront – and now hardly anyone goes to church, and no one makes pilgrimages. Pilgrimages are for sailors, who flit in and out like birds. What an ambiguous word this has become, like so many other words. Marguerite’s successors are – this is a try for relevance – trying to teach “the birds.” I am one of them – a member of both groups. At first glance this seems easy.
She not only talked about but lived love. She gave away her bedding on a Canadian winter night: she lived poor with the poor, identifying with them in their problems; she shunned patronage; she held authority without arrogance, helping others to obey through love rather than through constraint; she saw Christ in everyone, giving in to the exploiter that he might be turned back to the way of friendship. She summed it up this way: “God is not satisfied to have us live in charity with our neighbour: we must keep our neighbour in that same attitude of love in his relationship to us.” And so every time a young person slams a door in my face, pushes me out of the way on a stairway, tramples on my foot in the rush to the lounge for that ten-minute break, I try to love the young hoodlums Sister Bourgeoys came to teach – I try. But how do I put them in an attitude of love toward me?

It would be an inadequate portrait of Eileen that did not mention the lighter side of her activities at this time. Originally opposed to the loss of the habit, she later gave careful attention to the acquisition and alteration of clothes that she considered suitable. Casual clothes did not meet favour in her eyes, the etymology of elegant is “and with gloves” she said, and many were the hats brought home to be tried and retained, or not.

She greatly enjoyed the comics, especially “Peanuts” and, besides keeping up to date in both theology and literature, she spent many of her leisure hours in the perusal of the mystery stories she was generous in lending to those who would take pleasure in them. She also loved little children and children’s books and occupied herself in knitting children’s sweaters from intricate and amusing designs even creating some of her own. Above all, her sense of humour never failed her and her wry and often self-deprecating wit never deserted her. This poem by John Thomas Carlisle and copied among her papers appealed to her. The title is “Busybody:”

He was a man of prayer
Negatively speaking…
frequently he
took time
to take God
to task.

But now the years were closing in. With the removal of Marianopolis from Peel Street imminent, she went in 1974 to live at the MacGregor Residence. Though no longer teaching at Marianopolis she kept up her contacts both there and at Thomas More, and she tried to set herself to writing the life of Marguerite Bourgeoys towards which she had been working for so long. She recovered from a first slight stroke in May, 1979, but as a result of subsequent strokes and declining health she moved to Villa Marguerite in Pierrefonds in 1981, soon after the celebration of her golden jubilee.

At Villa Marguerite, her files were organized and a pleasant office set up nearby. However, her failing health and consequently waning powers limited her activities more and more. It was only with the greatest difficulty that she was able to record a reflection to accompany the viewing of the Le Ber portrait at the time of the celebration of the canonization of Marguerite Bourgeoys in 1982. Her last piece of sustained writing shows that even in sickness and in the isolation that was the result of her failing powers, she expressed concerns which were not to become general until several years later:

Lord God my Father, thank you for the beautiful earth which men have contrived to ruin and make hostile and threatening. Thank you for the glory of red and the deep freshness of green, for the warmth of brown and the royalty of blue, for gold and silver shimmering, and every metal that upholds our dwelling and works to our directions, foolish as they sometimes are, and sometimes, too, destructive. Help us to return to sanity and moderation and give us the grace to lay aside our usurpation of your role as creator.
We are in dire need of a recreating hand and an intelligent eye and a loving heart to reach out to all your creatures, human and animal, that we may once again experience paradisal peace and the calm that was ours before we shattered it by the Fall. Our intrusive insertion into the function which is yours alone has made the universe a place of fear and we are surrounded by the death of all we touch. Help us to a new realization that we are your children, we who have turned love into hatred and despoiled all that you so generously gave, so that salvation seems far off in time and space and we are hardly moved by the sight of beauty and loving-kindness which you so liberally offer us through every moment of time and eternity.
Alleluia and Amen.

In her courses in medieval drama Eileen frequently taught Everyman, greatest of all the morality plays, which dramatizes the stripping away of all that has sustained us in this life as we move closer and close to death. “Kindred” was gone already – on a community document she had written the word “none” against the request for the name of next of kin – many old friends were gone and she had been especially grieved by the sudden death of her dear friend Eric O’Connor, S.J. of the Thomas More Institute just before Christmas, 1980. But now came the desertion of the internal supports of strength, beauty, five wits – only faith remained.

One of her best-loved friends in the Congregation who came to visit Eileen could think only of those lines from the “Hound of Heaven:” “Designer infinite! - /Ah! Must thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?” At Villa Marguerite, Eileen was near some of her oldest and dearest friends and was cared for with tenderness and devotion. But in the final years she was totally deaf, her sight had failed, she could no longer read, rarely spoke, and suffered other pains she was unable to articulate. But she prayed. Perhaps she remembered some of the lines she had put into the mouth of Marguerite in The Constant Heart:

The time of exile is now…
I am alone with the deep loneliness of the soul.
I have severed all the ties which still held me from you…
In this restless night of darkness
Only Our Lady’s light I know…
My God, my rocky fastness, my high tower
Uphold me in this hour of darkness
When no light is anywhere…

Perhaps she could only emulate the character in a Hasidic story she loved who “repeated over and over the letters of the alphabet beseeching God to arrange them into a suitable prayer.” Until the final days she would go to the chapel, with help, there to bow before the altar and try to repeat the Jesus prayer. Toward the end of October, 1987, she contracted pneumonia and in her days was constantly attended by those who loved her, sisters of the Congregation and Charlotte Tansey, her former student, colleague and faithful friend. She died peacefully early on the morning of November 10. Her funeral was celebrated at the “new” Motherhouse, the former Marguerite Bourgeoys College, on November 12, thirty-seven years after the Beatification whose meaning she had done so much to translate into beauty. She was buried in the Congregation plot high on the side of the Mountain, looking toward the River.

Mutual Love

Wherever Mary Eileen Scott loved, she loved wholeheartedly and her loves were generous and many. She loved her family, and later she loved her friends. Once bestowed, her friendship was given irrevocably: there was no trouble to which she would not go for a friend and her small acts of consideration were frequent. There were aspects of her character that sometimes made her difficult to live with, but none of them had anything to do with meanness or pettiness of spirit. They were due rather to inadvertence and would be abandoned or laughed at if she could be made aware of them.

She loved teaching, and her abilities as a teacher were exceptional. Students were frequently over-awed, or at least bemused, by their first encounters with “Mother Saint Miriam.” But their initial feelings always gave way to something else – wonder, admiration, gratitude, respect, and usually, affection.

One student wrote:

Sister was unique. She demanded the best from herself and from those around her. Her relentless search for the truth gave her a realistic approach and it followed that she was a superior teacher who made a lasting impact on her students, and, indeed, on all who were privileged to know her. . . . Our revered former professor will long be remembered for her teaching, her writings, her abiding concern for people and social issues and above all for her deep love of God.

Another wrote:

Mother Saint Miriam’s unique teaching methods sparked my continuing interest in theatre, an interest constant through my metamorphoses from actor through videoproducer, occasional reviewer to fledgling documentary scriptwriter. I’ve studied many subjects with many teachers since, but never has anyone moved me so far so fast. Sister mercilessly dispelled clichés and challenged shaky intellectual frameworks.

That this quality of Sister Scott as an educator had deep roots is revealed by a comment from Helen Brophy:

As a student Eileen . . . loved to ask questions and debate theories. Sister Saint Eliza, Father Pineault, Sister Saint Madeline of Sion, Monsieur Dombrowski, Doctor Atherton, and even Mother Saint Anne Marie, at times, encouraged her to cross swords and expound deduction s while we, the remainder of the class, waited in blissful gratitude!

But, if Eileen holds a permanent place in the memory of her students, neither did she ever forget them: to the end she remained concerned on their behalf. In the early 1980s, she wrote to a young colleague at Marianopolis and the Thomas More Institute lamenting the number of failed marriages among her former students and wondering what she could have done differently to help them. Her attention, however, did not remain focussed on the unchangeable past but moved on to what could be done for the students of the present as she communicated her excitement about the recent article in America which suggested imaginative solutions to be tried. The letter also contains an expression of her deep regret at having felt obliged, finally, to give up teaching: “I resigned out of deep respect for the members of the Thomas More Institute,” she wrote, “I did not have the conviction I could do a good job.”

Of her love for Marguerite Bourgeoys, Eileen has left ample demonstration, even if she did not produce the anticipated biography. Helen Brophy who showed so much insight into Eileen when they were both girls of twenty shows no less nearly sixty years later:

Like many a talented man or woman, Eileen was impatient with mediocrity, with carelessness and with imperfect work. She sought out perfection and this was her strength and her downfall. She helped so many to accomplish the well-nigh impossible that people expected greater things from her. She might satisfy them, but she could never satisfy herself! Her work was never finished because it could always be improved upon. In a sense, her Book was never begun. There was always something more to investigate, something more to ascertain. In the meantime it grew and flourished in her mind and in her heart and in beautiful monographs till God said “Enough! Let others complete the task – you have given it its soul.”

Marguerite's Compassion

The beautiful monographs and lectures offered to the Congregation by Eileen include:

  • A Spirituality of Compassion
  • Mother Bourgeoys on Porverty
  • Mother Bourgeoys and some Contemporary Notions of Obedience
  • More About Mother Bourgeoys’s Spirit : the Ecclesial Dimension
  • Spirit, Purpose and Some Charisms of Mother Bourgeoys
  • Sister Bourgeoys a Charismatic Personality
  • Compassion – Prophetism – Mission – Three Converging Concepts

Eileen was a teacher and teaching was, for her, like the Visitation which inspired Marguerite Bourgeoys, a mystery of communication between persons. It was above all through speaking to her sisters face-to-face that she communicated her vision of Marguerite Bourgeoys. It would not be an overstatement to say that Sister Eileen Scott, through her words, accomplished the same feat as the expert who removed the layers of grime and paint from the Le Ber portrait: she restored to us the wise and compassionate face of Marguerite Bourgeoys.

Loving Marguerite Bourgeoys as she did, she also loved Marguerite’s Congregation. Eileen knew the Congregation well, both in its past and in its present: she had taught in each of the English-language provinces and also in the French-language sector of the community and maintained a lively interest in the work of the Congregation on the missions in Japan and Latin America. Her last action at Marianopolis was the organization of a bazaar to help the missions in Latin America. Wherever she went, she learned and she made friends with whom she remained in contact. Her work on Marguerite Bourgeoys was done for the Congregation. She was deeply grieved by the many departures and by the decline in vocations in the later years of her life. In one of her last conversations, she expressed hope that she had done something to increase respect for learning, for the life of the mind, and for the value of good teaching in the Congregation. She was very grateful in her last illness for the loving care with which her sisters surrounded her.

Someone once objected to one of Eileen’s talks on Marguerite Bourgeoys on the grounds that the speaker did not herself exemplify to any marked degree the quality described. Had Eileen known of the complaint, she would have been taken aback by the implication that she made any such claim. No one was more aware of her shortcomings than Eileen herself, and no one more aware of the error warned against at the Congregation Congress in 1988: that words should not be confused with reality. Once, when she realized that she had upset another sister, she promptly sent her a “Peanuts” cartoon with the caption, “I’m great on paper!” And she wrote this haiku:

This is irony:
When those who talk about love
Cannot be taught it.

Perhaps, had she been called to compare herself with Marguerite, she might have drawn an image from the Writing and said she was like her foundress only as a snowflake is like a star. But from start to finish her life bears testimony to the fact that, like Marguerite, Eileen too was granted a constant heart. At the end of her 1931 autobiography, Eileen wrote:

In how many ways our Blessed Mother has watched over me during the years before and after I entered religion she alone knows. Even the many visible proofs of her unfailing protection are far too numerous to find a place here. – May she guide my heart and my hand in my future work of education in her beloved Congregation.

Our Lady’s answer to that prayer was a gift not only to Eileen but to the Congrégation de Notre-Dame.


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