Translated, from the CONSTITUTION of the CONGREGATION, by Lorrie Charpentier
Born in Haiti in 1916, Elda Saint Louis' early years were secured in the love of her home. Her father, however, died when she was seven years old and her mother died when she was thirteen. Her brother tried desperately to take care of her, but was forced to place her in an orphanage (Sisters of St. Joseph). The transition was very difficult, but she became a "SURVIVOR". She received an excellent education and good training. After five years, she entered their novitiate to join their rank. She was a teacher for the next 20 years. Her years at "JACMEL", one of the poorest sections of Haiti at that time, brought her life much turmoil. She was very upset at the way young girls were forced into prostitution at a very early age, in order to earn a living. No training or schooling was available to them and this was their only way to survive. She was tormented with this for three years and wrote to the local Bishop asking to discuss the matter. Her request for a meeting was denied. He advised her to write to the Superior General of the Order. That request was also denied. She talked to "Pere L. Charles". He did answer her and advised her to request a one year leave of absence, during which time she could come and work with him in his work with the young people. If after one year, she still felt the same way, he would attempt to help her follow her call. After the allotted time, her Superior again denied her! She obeyed, trusted and prayed. At the end of the third year, she was invited to Paris to the Mother House and the Mother General of the Order told her to write to Rome and put her request to the Pope. There, she was relieved from her vows with the Sisters of Saint Joseph. She then entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Theresa, thinking that this would allow her the liberty to do the work she desperately wanted to pursue. Three more years elapsed and the torment came back to her life again and again. Once more, she approached the Bishop. After reviewing her efforts of the past six years, he greatly admired her patience and told her that it was time to start her "Mission".
On January 6, 1971, Sister Elda Saint Louis, along with young Sister Gibbs and one student became the new order of The Daughters of Mary Queen Immaculate of Haiti. The local Bishop rented a large house for them and thus started the "SHELTER", taking in female orphans and "street-girls". For 2 years, the girls received Christian teachings along with cooking, sewing lessons and the skills they needed to become "housekeepers" to Haiti's wealthy upper class or public institutions such as hospitals. Early on, they acquired a good reputation and thus were in high demand and received the best wages for that type of work. Their wage of $24.00 per month requires them to work 6-1/2 days a week with time off to attend church.
During these years, Mother Monique saw to the construction of a novitiate in Canapé Vert, along with a school of over 1,300 students in downtown Port au Prince. She also set up a clinic in the back country of Roche a Bateau. It is manned by two nurse's aides. Also, in that same town, is the St. Joseph School. This school burned on Thanksgiving of 1997 and was rebuilt and re-opened in 2000 by the efforts of the Haitian Outreach of Leominster, Mass. There are now other schools in Les Cayes diocese, Des Coteaux and Damassin. In Port au Prince diocese there is Saut d'Eau and Croix des Bouquets and Lilavois. All of these schools are in very poor, remote areas. A few years before her death, Mother Monique purchased a piece of land on the outskirt of Port au Prince. Her vision was that someday this land would provide a good food supply and financial support. The Lilavois fish farm, with four working basins, harvested their first catch of tilapias on 6/23/01. This was due to the efforts of a group from Martha's Vineyard. The Haitian Outreach painted the elementary school both inside and outside in January of 2001. The school opened in September of that year. The Haitian Outreach also financed a 4 room school house in Roche a Bateau in 2002 which now has 125 students. In 2002, we started to raise funds to build a small commercial bakery at the girls' Shelter in Canapé Vert. This is a long term project with no estimate of completion time yet. We need to provide reliable power and are working to provide solar panels. We are in need of an engineer who will guide us to completion of this project.
The manner in which all these projects were completed in truly miraculous! Mother Monique died in October, 1997 and her last wish was that her Sisters not be abandoned and that caring people would continue the work by sharing her vision and completing her projects. The Sisters are an all-Haitian Community and outside help and guidance is desperately needed. Their education background and technical knowledge is limited. Only one Sister speaks English and they are not allowed to leave the Island, making it difficult to spread the word of their extensive projects.
One Person Can Make a Difference
Ecclesiastic approval and IRS Exemption
If you are interested in furthering Mother Monique's dream, please contact Norman & Gloria Charpentier, 84 Crisci St., Leominster, MA 01453 - Telephone 978-537-0852. E-mail nhcgrl[at]yahoo[dot]com