A Story of Faith in Action

What does it take to make a difference?

St. Marguerite d’Youville, Foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, first answered this question in 1737 when she founded the Congregation affectionately known as the Grey Nuns. Subsequently, generations of women have been inspired by this strong, creative woman; a risk taker and powerful advocate for the poor.

Marguerite’s life was a series of tragedies and her brave, generous response was what made the difference.

In the face of prejudice, persecution and misunderstanding, she pursued her vision of universal charity, a vision born of contemplative prayer and reflection of the human person as the image of God. That Marguerite made a difference is confirmed by the fact that her spirit is alive today. The Grey Nuns, their lay colleagues, Associates and volunteers continue her mission.

In 1855, the Grey Nuns were called to Toledo, Ohio, to care for the sick and orphaned in the swamp infected area where many were suffering from cholera. This was the beginning of ministries in the United States that have shown millions of people what it takes to make a difference. From Ohio to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, and eventually to Africa and South America, the spirit of Marguerite has taken root.

In 1996 the time came for the Grey Nuns to evaluate the continuing sponsorship of their health care facilities in the United States. It was their trust in Divine Providence that enabled them to take a heroic step in order to make a difference. They transferred sponsorship to Covenant Health Systems, thus assuring the growth of Catholic healthcare in the spirit of St. Marguerite d’Youville.

The challenge that faces the Grey Nuns today is to continue Marguerite’s vision of universal charity in today’s world. Their prayer is that those yearning to make a difference will want to learn more about their mission.

The Grey Nuns ask you to “Join with us!” “Together, we are summoned to be vibrant and compassionate signs of hope in our broken world,” a world not unlike the one that Marguerite knew as she went about showing compassion for all. Joining with us in whatever way you wish can answer the question, What does it take to make a difference?