Our Foundress, Blessed Anne Marie Rivier….
In 1768, Marie Rivier was born in Montpezat, France. A bad fall left her crippled. Her mother carried her frequently to the statue of the Pieta (Our Lady of Mercy) in a nearby chapel. Marie believed: “The Blessed Virgin will cure me and I shall gather little ones to tell them to love her!” Four years later, Marie was healed!
These years of schooling at the feet of the statue of Mary marked Marie’s life forever. God’s merciful love filled her heart. Thereafter, she gathered children for “catechism,” and befriended the poor. By the age of 18, Marie devoted herself entirely to the evangelization and the care of the poor.
Thus, the vocation and the mission of Marie Rivier were rooted in the contemplation of Our Lady of Mercy (Pieta) and found their complete fulfillment in the two mysteries of the Presentation of Jesus and Mary. Vocation and mission were incarnated in a deep interior life and an ardent zeal to make Jesus Christ known and loved. The prolonged meditation of these mysteries reproduced in her the attitudes that were intensely lived by Jesus and Mary: adoration, offering and compassion.
S. April Mireau’s Reflection on Marie Rivier
During the tumultuous times of the French Revolution where any religious action was considered suspicious, risking death and persecution, Marie founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. On November 21st, 1796 on the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, Marie and four companions consecrated themselves to God.
The new community grew quickly despite great poverty. Through prayer, deep faith and love; they obtained everything from God through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. There was nothing to eat, but wheat multiplied and fresh oil appeared! Despite poor health, physical disability and political danger, Marie was unwavering in her mission: “To make Jesus Christ known and loved.” Marie Rivier died on February 3rd, 1838. Her boundless zeal led Pope Pius IX to call her The Woman Apostle. Marie Rivier, “a prophet of our time,” was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 23rd, 1982.
Sisters in farmers field, Wakaw, SK , 1942
She had predicted: “My daughters will sail the oceans!” This prediction came true in 1853 when the sisters arrived in St. Hyacinthe, Québec. Today, the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary serve in 19 countries around the world.
The sisters have been serving in Western Canada the “Rivier way” since 1903. In the next century more than twenty missions were opened, with the majority of the sisters teaching the faith in schools. Today, we have fewer sisters teaching in the schools. However, we are still called to teach the faith in parishes, on the First Nations reserves, as health professionals, counsellors, spiritual directors, in inner city ministry, with immigrants and wherever there is need to make Jesus Christ known and loved.
Sister Leona Fortier teaching catechism, Winnipeg, MB , 1942
Marie Rivier’s famous Quotes…
“Speaking of God is happiness for me!” Marie Rivier
“I feel such zeal to work for the glory of God.”
“I expect everything from prayer.”
“We were nothing, we had nothing, we could do nothing. And after that, could you doubt that it was God, who led things to the point where you see them today, who founded, increased and strengthened this community?”
The PM sisters have missions in 19 countries of the world.