" I am not a priest and cannot bless them, but all that the heart of a mother can ask of God for her children, I ask of Him and will never cease to ask Him." ~ Sister Marie
Friday, March 14, 2014
Sister Marie was blessed with many talents and as a teacher she put them all to use on the youth of Smyrna. It was here that she met Father Eugene Poulin, ordained a priest in 1867 and arrived in Smyrna about a year after Sister Marie as a superior, ready to lead the high school and the Mission.
Through her education, Sister Marie became a wonderful artist and shared that in every possible way. Her talents were so many. She could train the choirs and to the extent circumstances would allow, her repertoire comprised of only serious choral compositions on a sacred text without instrumental accompaniment. She used beautiful music, religious canticles worthy of the name.
As a painter, she decorated banners, outer vestments for the celebrant at the Eucharist and vases for the altar. Her needlework was precise; she embroidered with great patience and, with a composite all her own, vestments, copes, canopies and altar frontals. Perhaps her greatest love was to weave traditional, pious emblems as well as beautiful texts from the Holy Scripture.
As a dedicated teacher and mentor of young girls, Sister Marie’s maternal zeal for the youth of Smyrna brought out her emotional side at the close of classes each year. She worried terribly about what might become of the children in that seaside town that possessed every imaginable scandal and vice.
She would say to them, “Don’t forget the lessons of the catechism. Keep holy Sundays and don’t neglect the sacraments because all these things are more necessary to you than ever and the service of God should not be interrupted. The chapel will remain open, take advantage of it. Also, the hearts of the sisters are always open to you and I cannot emphasize enough their regrets at this moment. Come and see them.”
One Sunday evening shortly after Sister Marie became Superior in Smyrna, she asked a visiting Vincentian Father, Eugene Poulin, to choose a spiritual reading for the community during dinner, a custom of the Daughters at that time. Father Poulin unintentionally took down a book that seemed to jut out a little from the others. It was the volume “Life of the Holy Virgin,” which the sisters had been regularly using to read from, and it contained the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, the 38-year-old Augustinian nun who was confined to her bed during the time of the Napoleonic wars.
Anne Catherine had been given a gift of visions of the life and death of Jesus and His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Father Poulin chose to read the passage of the revelation that described the Holy House of Mary at Ephesus.
Father Poulin, C.M., director of the French Sacred Heart College at Smyrna, Superior of the Vincentian Fathers and professor of Classical Languages, sat at the table. He was a rigorous classical scholar and scientist, and disgusted with the priest’s choice since he was opposed to all forms of mysticism.
Father Poulin was born on 4 July 1843 in Montillot, near Vezelay (Yonne). As a young man at the rectory in Chamvres, home of his uncle the Abbot Fournier, Eugene showed the most agreeable disposition toward his studies. The good pastor declared that his nephew would go far and Eugene went farther than even his uncle thought when he was called overseas to become one of the glories of the Lazarists.
Eugene was ordained a priest at Saint-Lazare on 15 June 1867 and kept such
good memories of the seminary at Sens that he sometimes made unfavorable
comparisons with the Mother House. Named to Montpellier where he passed some time in 1887, he left for Smyrna in the capacity of superior.
He was ready to lead at Smyrna, the high school and the Mission which had
just merged into one house. Father Poulin argued that given the debilitating heat of the climate at Smyrna, “I will not last six months!”
He lasted 39 years.
Segment 9: Father Poulin reads for Sister Marie even though he didn’t believe in mystics.
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