July 16, 1894: First Sisters of St. Martha Arrived in Antigonish
This Saturday marks the day when a group of women responded to a call from Bishop John Cameron of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, in 1894. They were to be part of an auxiliary congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Halifax. From the website of the Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish (“The Marthas”):
The journey began with a community committed to the ministry for which Bishop Cameron had called them forth. At the College, the sisters saw themselves as collaborators in the Christian education of youth and in the training of young men for priesthood. Here, with nothing more than their faith, skill and generosity, they made a home for the students and priests of the struggling college. Concern for those who were sick in the neighbourhood quickly expanded the sisters’ service beyond the College. As word of the spirit of the sisters spread throughout the home diocese and beyond, other women were inspired to commit themselves to the Martha way of life, enabling the charitable works of the sisters to grow and develop.
And from the website of St. Francis Xavier University:
The Marthas were created as a Roman Catholic domestic service congregation intended for a household management mission at St.F.X. University. The active, service-orientation of the Marthas, and their reputation for professionalism, hospitality and caring, quickly led to new missions and operations across the Maritimes and eventually Canada.
In my research of The Marthas, I discovered interesting information about The Antigonish Movement, which is described as “A ‘homegrown’ response to the socio-economic problems of the time [which] arose out of a unique confluence of elements existing in Cape Breton and eastern Nova Scotia.” The Marthas were involved in this movement which “arose out of a search for solutions to chronic socio-economic problems that plagued the Maritime Provinces from the late 1880’s onwards.”
For further reading, check out these links: