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Our Spiritual Root

History triggers emotions of joy and sadness depending of course on the events that have taken place. It challenges us to either measure up or deviate from the standard set before us. It is also a source of motivation and inspiration which helps us to trace our roots.

Our Congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception was founded in 1847, in Glasgow, by two great Sisters: Sr Adelaide Vaast and Sr Veronica Cordier who came from the Franciscan Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels, Tourcoing, in response to a plea from the Church in Glasgow for Sisters to teach the poor children of their parishes

She was born Catherine Cordier, the youngest of a family of four. She was born at Maulde in the Saint-Armand district of Cambrai in 1821, the daughter of a wealthy farmer. Her mother, Adelaide Monnier, was a cousin of Bishop Monnier of Lydde. She entered the monastery at Tourcoing on the 23rd July 1839, at the age of 18. She was among the novices formed by Sister Adelaide

and she was professed November 1840. Within a year of profession, she too was feeling the pull of the missionary life. Sister Adelaide unknown to her shared the same aspirations and together they both set sail for their new mission in Glasgow.

Still the missionary flame burned deep within her, and still only 36 years of age, she felt she was vigorous and active enough to turn her sights in another direction, and that direction had already been presented to her by Fr. Joseph Howell, a young Jesuit mission in Kingston, Jamaica, who had met mother Veronica during a visit to Glasgow in 1854. Since the meeting, he had repeatedly written to her, begging for sisters to undertake an educational apostolate in his parish.
So it was that on the 3rd October 1857, with the permission and approval of Bishop Murdoch and of the council, Mother Veronica set sail for Kingston, Jamaica accompanied by Sr. M. Paula Charlet, Sr. M. de Sales O'Neil and Sr. Philomena Dalle, their intention being "to found a convent of our Order there". Mother Veronica's last years were spent in the convent at Nechin in Belgius, where the community had moved during an anti-clerical period in France. There she lived to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of her profession, in 1910.

She died on the 13th November 1913 at the age of 92 and in the 73rd year of her profession. A simple cross marks the final resting place, in Nechin, of this incredible woman who, in the space of just fifteen years, gave to the church two missionary congregations and an enduring missionary vision

Little is known about her life. She was born in 1812 in Morville, in the north of France and entered the Monastery at Tourcoing in May 1834 when she was 22 years old. Her apostolate, for the next thirteen years was teaching with remarkable success in the monastery school. She became mistress of novices and sub-prioress of the community-which office she held until she departed for Glasgow.

Over the years, Adelaide had manifested a keen interest in and attraction to the work of the missions and at various times had applied to the Archbishop of Cambrai for permission to transfer to a missionary congregation. The permission was not given, for the simple reason that the prioress had also appealed to the Archbishop to withhold it since the monastery could not afford to lose a good religious and a good teacher.

Despite their missionary zeal, there must have been many sore hearts that day of June 3rd,1847, when the comunity bade farewell to Mother Adelaide and Sister Veronica. They were with the princely sum of 250 francs each - all that the community could afford - but they were not bereft either, for boarding in the monastery at that time was Constance Marchand, a young lady of considerable fortune and quite alone in the world. She volunteered to accompany the two sisters and finance their venture. And so it was a party of three that set out from Ostende, travelling to London to Liver pool.

They worked very hard, and after eighteen months, were beginning to see their way ahead. Then disaster struck. Mother Adelaide became ill of cholera and in the space of a few short days died at the age 37 less than two years after her arrival in Glasgow.


MOTHER VERONICA CORDIER

Mother Veronica Cordier

MOTHER ADELAIDE VAAST