Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Advisor

Jacques Ferland

Second Committee Member

Mazie Hough

Third Committee Member

Scott See

Abstract

This thesis examines the experiences of a single French-Canadian congregation of women religious as they expanded their work into New England at the turn of the twentieth century. The Servantes du Cœur Immaculé de Marie (SCIM), popularly known as the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec, were founded in mid-nineteenth century Quebec with the goal of providing aid to women in need. However, as large numbers of French Canadians immigrated to New England during the last half of the century, they found themselves called upon to establish missions in the United States and run parish schools in the name of la survivance.

A study of the inner workings of the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec’s establishment in Biddeford, Maine reveals that the motivations and loyalties of French-Canadian and Franco-American women religious are more complex than most history texts would suggest. Although they were moved by appeals to la survivance, SCIM’s leaders weighed the decision to expand into the United States in terms of how it would affect their collective congregation. Faced with inexorable pressure to continuously provide more resources for the schools, SCIM’s leaders were reluctant to allow education to overtake service to women in need as the order’s primary vocation. Maintaining their unique sense of identity and vocation with the demands of working in the United States proved to be an extremely challenging experience that almost divided the congregation.

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