We celebrate the courage of these women who sacrificed their lives for the realisation of Catholic education in Red Deer.
Through the years, Bishop Legal insisted that religious teachers in his diocese be as well qualified as their counterparts in the public schools. This was only fair to the parents supporting separate schools.
During the months of July and August the sisters were busy. In the early years children came from the country to the convent for a couple of weeks to prepare for first holy communion. Sometimes the DW teachers went to summer school, and came home just in time for the annual retreat.
For the Sisters who stayed at home jobs were plentifully : curtains and bed spreads were laundered ; coifs were starched and ironed ; the grey habits were taken apart, washed, mended and resewn ; sometimes quilts or mattresses were remade. If the garden was productive there were beans, peas and corn to can. No deep freezer in those days ! A good wild fruit season meant berry picking expeditions that gave the sisters an outing, and filled the pantry shelves with preserves.
The west wing was added in the summer of 1912, and classes opened there in September. Except for the basement, the new wing was exclusively for the boarders and remained their domain for fifty years.
During the Second World War the convent was filled to capacity as the number of boarders increased.
To accommodate the junior and senior high school pupils the Separate School Board rented the empty River Glen School. Seven Sisters went down to the barrack school to teach with lay staff. The Board provided a bus for the boarders and the Sisters, and a hot lunch was transported from the convent to the school for the girls and the Sisters.
St. Thomas was opened in September 1962 and the teachers and students moved from the barracks to a brand new school. The sisters, at that time, felt that they could no longer accommodate boarders and transport them and their noonday meal the three miles to St. Thomas. Also, with the bussing of rural pupils to larger school, the boarding school in Red Deer was no longer filling the need of earlier times. Accordingly, it was closed in June 1962.
Bereavement processes follow a natural cycle in our lives. It is significant that we celebrate our Centennial on All Saints Day and the Commemoration of the Dead. Like a seed that is planted and that needs to die ... So, new life is given through the letting go we experience in our lives and through the continual offering of ourselves to Christ.
I am truly humbled to be the witness for our Congregation in thanksgiving for our Sisters’ courage and accomplishments throughout these one hundred years !
Word of gratitude
To Harriet and to her team who collaborated to make this great moment happen.
To you all present here today ! You have come to celebrate and to remember those Daughters of Wisdom who loved you, who touched your lives, and who sacrificed everything to follow Christ-Wisdom here in Red Deer.
To our Wisdom God who walked with our Sisters and with the People of God here in Red Deer during these one hundred years.
With words that Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary of the United Nations many years ago, taught us, I say :
“For all that has been Thank you !
For all that is Thank you !
For all that will be Yes !”
The Daughters of Wisdom of Canada pray that the seeds of Love - Compassion - Hope sown here in Red deer these 100 years blossom in your lives.
Blessings on your journeys.
Jocelyne Fallu, DW