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Education of Young Women: At the Heart of the SNJM Mission

2019-2020 SNJM Archival Exhibition

Last year, as a team of archivists, we illustrated in our Educate to Liberate exhibition various ways of being an SNJM educator.  This year we have focused on the founding mission of the Congregation: access to education for girls.

We have gathered together significant elements to demonstrate Mother Marie-Rose's inspiration to provide a well-rounded education. This beautiful adventure made us aware of the ingenuity of the SNJM Sisters whose patience, audacity, and determination helped them to surmount numerous difficulties!

Thus, with this new exhibition, we illustrate how the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) established schools to overcome the lack of such institutions at a time when there was no structured system of education.

Our research enabled us to highlight the initiative of the Sisters in helping young girls to develop their full potential and to satisfy their thirst for knowledge at a time when girls were offered few or no such opportunities.

  •  Young students searching to deepen their knowledge and talents in music, the arts, or science came to rely on SNJM’s to develop programs of study.
  •  At the request of those who wanted to become teachers, SNJM’s opened teacher training colleges.
  •  SNJM’s developed home economics courses to meet the needs of families who wanted future housewives to have an appropriate, but well-rounded education.
  •  In response to the demands of the work world, which gradually included the presence of more and more women, SNJM’s prepared courses in stenography and typing, followed by a complete commercial formation.
  •  To promote women's access to higher education, including university, SNJM’s became affiliated with these institutions. They advertised the training given to young people and / or opened universities themselves.

The new archival exhibit illustrates the groundbreaking approach of the SNJM’s who dared, over time, to fill in the gaps in education by developing diverse curricula and establishing institutions, from elementary schools to universities. They thus favored the autonomy of women so that they could actively contribute to the development of their community.

Source: Geneviève Noël, Director of the SNJM Central Archives Department

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