Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys
St. Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700) was born in France to a large middle-class Christian family. After having a deep religious experience at the age of 20, Marguerite dedicated her life to God through the Virgin Mary. She then joined an aposolate which served God by educating underprivileged children. When she was 32 the governor of Fort Ville-Marie (now Montreal, Canada), visited Marguerite's town and invited her to be a missionary in the New World as a lay teacher, instructing the children of the colonists and the Native Americans. Marguerite agreed and made the long ocean journey. Realizing the importance of the family in establishing New France, Marguerite mentored young ladies and prepared them for marriage and family life as pioneer women. She signed as a witness on the marriage certificates of many early settlers. As a result of these activities she was affectionately called the “Mother of the Colony.” She also worked to build the first church and the first school. She also founded the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal, which is an active religious order to this day. For her great apostolic and missionary activity she is considered the co-foundress of Montreal. She is also the first woman saint of the Catholic Church in Canada. Her feast day is January 12.