Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis, 1840 – 1912
Elodie Paradis was born in the village of L’Acadie in Quebec, Canada. It was May 12, 1840. Her parents were poor but devout Catholics. They loved their little girl. When Elodie was nine, her parents decided to send her to a boarding school. They wanted her to have an excellent education. The Sisters of Notre Dame warmly received the new student. But Elodie and her family missed each other very much.
Mr. Paradis worked hard running a mill. But times were bad, and the mill did not produce enough to support his wife and children. He heard wonderful reports of the gold rush in California. He was so desperate that he decided to go. In California, Mr. Paradis did not find the wealth he hoped for. When he returned to L’Acadie, he was shocked to find that his Elodie had joined the convent. She had entered the Holy Cross congregation on February 21, 1854. Mr. Paradis went to the convent. He begged his daughter to return home, but she chose to remain. Finally, her father accepted it. She pronounced her vows in 1857. Blessed Marie-Leonie taught school in different cities. She prayed and lived her life joyfully. As time went on, Sister Marie-Leonie was led by Jesus to begin a new religious order in the Church. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family were begun in 1880. These loving sisters are devoted to the priesthood. They serve priests in the household care so important to their ministry. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family now have sixty-seven convents in Canada, the United States, Rome and Honduras.
Mother Marie Leonie worked for her sisters until the last few hours of her life. She was always frail and often ill. But she never stopped caring for God’s people. She put the last corrections on the pages of the book of rules she had written. She had it sent to the print shop. That book would give her sisters the guidance they would need for their life. It was Friday, May 3, 1912. Mother Marie-Leonie said she felt very tired. She went to rest and died a few hours later. She was seventy-one years old.