Soeurs de Sainte-Croix




History of the congregation of the Holy Cross in Renfrew

Renfrew Mercury
By Sr. Margaret Joan Pecore, Holy Cross Sisters

The family of Holy Cross, Priests, Brothers, Sisters and associates were present in Mans, France, on Sept. 15, 2007, to celebrate the beatification of their founder, Father Basile, Antoine, and Marie Moreau.

Since the founding of the order in 1847, the members have spread to every continent in the world, preaching, teaching, working with all classes of people, especially the poor, the young and the sick.

Basile MoreauThe Holy Cross Sisters first came to Renfrew in 1887, the second English mission in Ontario,
 ( Alexandria was first ), after their arrival in Saint-Laurent, Quebec in 1847.

At the request of the Pastor Rev. R.P. Rougier, and Bishop N.Z. Lorraine, four sisters arrived at their new home, St. Ann’s Convent, located at the corner of Quarry and Barr Street.  The first floor held three classrooms; the second floor was a chapel and a large music/auditorium room; the third floor was the living quarters for the sisters.

As enrolment increased, so did the need for more sisters to teach, and the curriculum also expanded to include music, French, and home economics.  Even a secondary department was begun, but closed after 10 years because of insufficient funds.

By 1902, the school was co-ed with another smaller school for boys on Lochiel Street.  By 1905, the original convent, convent school and Lochiel School were too small for the town’s growing population.  It was decided to demolish the Lochiel Street school and build a larger one ( the old St. Francis school ).  Also the convent was sold to M. J. O’Brien and a new residence was built on Bonnechere Street beside the new school.

A marble slab was inscribed and erected which read, “Roman Catholic School 1911.”  Eleven sisters now lived at the new residence.

By 1925, the Bonnechere Street Convent was again too small to accommodate the growing number of sisters needed for the school.  In 1926, M. J. O’Brien purchased the residence of Dr. James Mann at 270 Argyle and presented it as a gift to the sisters.  This would be their home for some 50 years until the decreasing number of vocations obliged the sisters of Holy Cross to move again to the white house at 292 Argyle Street.

Today, two sisters of Holy Cross still live in Renfrew, at 317 Lynn St., participating in church and community life: Sr. Brenda Kavanagh (a music teacher in Renfrew for many years) and Sr. Margaret Joan Pecore still actively teaching music in the two Catholic schools of Renfrew, giving private lessons and directing the Renfrew children/youth chorus, a choir she began in 1989.

 Our story in Renfrew is a long, convoluted one.  During the past years, influenced by the care and kindness of the sisters, some 30 young women from Renfrew entered the Holy Cross Community.

May God grant that many more young women may follow our steps to keep the spirit of our founder, Father Moreau alive.



Soeurs de Sainte-Croix



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