Margaret Bourgeoys: Challenging church authorities

A determined and pioneering French woman in her 30s, grasped the opportunity in 1653 to become a schoolmistress in the newly founded colony of Ville-Marie in Canada (now the great city of Montreal).

Margaret Bourgeoys is our woman saint for today (feast day January 12th).

On arriving in Canada she worked as a carer for children, a hospital nurse and in 1658 arranged for a stone stable to be converted into a school. She had the vision to see future growth and so returned to France and recruited more women helpers. More women joined her and she sought to begin a religious order for women. The church authorities, led by men, disapproved. They wanted the women to be enclosed nuns. Margaret’s community of women were abjectly poor but also determined.

Their mission to educate flourished, despite church opposition. Margaret was an indomitable and pioneering figure who challenged the church authorities of the day with a different outlook and vision. She was a woman of great courage and devotion to her work. Her biographer comments ‘her best praise is the record of her deeds’

Today churches are called to look at the needs of society and to respond with courage and determination, come what may, as Margaret did. Church authority should rightly be challenged, and ecclesiastical authority needs women of spirit to do this.

Remember Margaret’s work.

Pray that God may raise up women of spirit and determination, like Margaret, to challenge the complacency of authority wherever it may be found – in church and society.

Act: – support by volunteering, or financially, work, such as our language classes at St Chrysostom’s, which helps educate those in great need around us. Praise, in conversation, a woman of determination and spirit working for God’s kingdom.

There are far too few women saints honoured in the calendars of the churches. In a modern calendar of saints and holy ones of the Church of England 80% of those honoured are men. (Click here for more on this) This is one of a series of posts currently being posted on our blog on women saints who do not appear in the Church Of England’s calendar.

About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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