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de Mazenod Medal to Sister Louise Dunn, CND

Nelia Palma

On February 27, 2015, during a ceremony in the de Mazenod Chapel, Saint Paul University awarded the 2015 Eugène de Mazenod Medal to Congregation of Notre Dame Sister Louise Dunn, co-founder and director of Serenity Renewal for Families (SRF).

Named in honour of the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Eugène de Mazenod Medal honours individuals who have made a significant contribution to the development of human capital in their community, in their environment or in society as a whole.

In the early 1980’s, Sister Louise Dunn and Alexa Smith, a Congregation of Notre Dame associate, were working in the field of addictions. Both had recognized that there was little or no support for family members of all ages struggling with the destructive effects of addictions or addictive behaviours. It was their shared dream to create a safe, welcoming environment where all family members could find the understanding and support they needed with their struggle. As a result, Serenity Renewal for Families was born October 31, 1983.

But, let us pause for a moment. In Sister Louise’s personal file stored in the Congrégation de Notre-Dame mother house, her hand-written autobiography which she penned as a newly professed sister in the early 1950s contains this phrase: I have learned that there is nothing small in the service of God.

Interestingly, over thirty years later, SRF is recognized as “a small organization making a big difference.”

Their counselling service and workshops attract 2,500 individuals as young as 5 and up to 90 plus. These are couples, children, teens and seniors are directly or indirectly, affected by addictions and mental health issues. It is important to mention that, through the generosity of donors, Serenity Renewal for Families makes the commitment not to turn anyone away due to lack of funds. SRF serves to bridge the perilous gap between rehab and family, school and work life and help to prevent relapse. Over 250 medical professionals, social workers, and community care providers across the region refer clients to their organization with the confidence that they will receive the support and guidance they need to lead healthier and happier lives, hence their motto: Helping Build Happier Healthier Lives.

As a compassionate, grassroots not-for-profit organization and as part of the “continuum of care” in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, it is often the first step to an individual’s recovery or emotional wellbeing. Serenity Renewal for Families offers their clients the tools and guidance, hope and valuable services necessary for change.

Sister Louise has seen the organization she co-founded grow and progress. The Serenity Journey has taken her up and down many winding roads. However, through it all the outcome has been nothing if not positive. In Sister Louise’s own words: Many of you, like myself, have had dreams come true. That is the best way to describe Serenity Renewal for Families.

Congratulations, Sister Louise, and thank you.


References consulted on February 12 – 13, 2015:


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