Thursday, August 27, 2009
Philippine Duchesne arrives at Grand Coteau
Mother Duchesne's picture; she is now St. Philippine Duchesne and so loved by all.
I thought you would like to hear how she met Mary Ann Hardey.
It was the last day of school at Grand Coteau before the two-week vacation between terms. To the great surprise and joy of all, Mother Duchesne arrives with two young nuns. One had just made her first vows and the other was still a novice. All three had been frightened by the Indians that had passed their canoe but were overjoyed to arrive at Grand Coteau after weeks of travel.
Mother Aude (I hope my readers know that there should be an accent on Aude but my computer does not allow me to put it each time) wanted the children to make a good impression and hastily arranged a reception for Mother Duchesne. There were seventeen students now, but who would represent them best to read the address in French? Although only at the boarding school for three months and not in the highest class, Mary Ann was chosen. Mother Williams describes this so well: "A rustle, a murmur. Mother Duchesne was in her place. Mary Ann rose and stepped before her. She curtseyed and read the French address impeccably. At appropriate intervals her grey eyes rose to meet the steady, penetrating gaze that rested upon her. If the hands of the clock could have folded together at that hour and the significance of the past and future been revealed in the unity of the present, what would it have meant for Mother Duchesne to know what this child would be, to know what a large part of the harvest that she herself could not see while still in the toil of the planting, would be reaped by those young hands, reaped and scattered as fresh grain in fields lying the length of an ocean from Halifax to Cuba?"
After the address, Mother Duchesne called the children to her. They would remember that evening even in the excitement of leaving the next morning for their vacation.