Marie - Josephte Fitzbach
Marie-Josephte Fitzbach was born on October 16, 1806, in the village of St-Vallier de Bellechasse, Quebec. Though she did not attend school in childhood, she was a bright and quick-witted young lady. At the age of 13, she left home because of family need and became a domestic servant in Quebec City. At the time, the Lower Town was a place of misery and questionable customs. Marie quickly became aware of the distress and misfortunes surrounding her.
Young woman, spouse and mother
Employed by a merchant in Upper Town Quebec, Mr. François-Xavier Roy, Marie took care of his home, his two children and his sick wife. To catch up on her schooling, she paid a student at the Seminary who taught her reading, writing and accounting. Since she had long dreamt of religious life, Marie sought to enter some communities but met only with refusals because her health seemed frail. Following the death of his wife, Mr. Roy asked for Marie’s hand in marriage. After serious reflection she accepted his proposal, and their wedding was celebrated on April 17, 1828, in Cap-Santé, Quebec. They had three daughters, and Marie taught them charity and respect for the poor.
In 1833 Mr. Roy died, leaving a widow aged of 26 with 5 children. When the two children of his first marriage were entrusted to their maternal grandparents, young Mrs. Roy remained alone to care for the needs of her three daughters. She provided selflessly for their education. The death of her youngest daughter in 1846 affected her deeply.
In 1849, fulfilling their mother’s youthful dream, the two daughters of Mrs. Roy became the first postulants of the Sisters of Charity of Quebec. As her 43rd birthday approached, Mrs. Roy became a resident at the Hospice of Charity to be closer to her daughters and to live the rest of her life away from the world, in silence and prayer. But some weeks later, she was invited to take charge of a shelter for women released from jail. After praying and consulting her daughters, she went in person to give her consent to Bishop Pierre-Flavien Turgeon, on December 31, 1849. In this way, she felt she was putting herself in God’s service.
Mrs. Roy and a companion therefore opened St. Magdalen’s Refuge (Asile de Ste-Madeleine) in Quebec City, on January 11, 1850. Mrs. Roy’s approach was marked by tenderness and respect, and an extraordinary goodness permeated her every action.
On February 2, 1856, when the Good Shepherd of Quebec was established as a religious community, Mrs. Roy took the name of Mother Mary of the Sacred Heart. She became the first superior of the Institute on the following February 7th, with a three-year mandate. The Foundress of the Good Shepherd Congregation of Quebec returned to the Father on September 1st, 1885, leaving to her sisters the memory of her dedication and valuable teachings.
Since 1997, the Cause of Beatification of Marie-Josephte Fitzbach is being studied in Rome.