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Secrets of life in community

We have chosen to walk the path of holiness, 
but we remain human and imperfect. 
And this imperfection sometimes gives rise to
funny situations...

Our secret: laughter!

As consecrated women, our greatest joy is of course that of living the gospel, of following Christ, of loving him and serving him. Every day we give our best in the realization of our mission.


Everything does not always happen as we expect or as we would like. If we wanted to publish the following examples on our website, it is first of all to share the good humor that these situations generate most of the time, but also to present ourselves, in all humility, as we are.

An anecdote with our foundress

Mother Marie-Léonie laughed out loud after she came to the kitchen to ask for a molasses toast. The nun who answered her was quick to serve her snack on the most beautiful porcelain plate she could find, decorated with roses. What she didn't know was that the toast was for the mare!

Do you want more?

We hope that you will enjoy reading these few real-life facts as much as we enjoyed writing them.

But don't forget, this is just between us...


Anecdotes from our superiors

A nun, newly assigned as local superior, unknowingly plugged her tape recorder into a 220-volt electrical outlet. Obviously, this created a short circuit and broke her machine. So she said to the sister who was with her, "If you had done that, it would have been my duty to reprimand you. But now I have to reprimand myself!"

A patient, sensitive, empathetic and resourceful nun was appointed superior of a group of 83 sisters at the General House. Needless to say, it was a demanding task. At first, when asked how things were going, she replied, "They are going very, very well." Two weeks later, when asked the same question again, she would reply, "You can take one 'very' off."

Anecdotes from our cooks

It was at the Apostolic Nunciature. One day, when the cook and her collaborator had to leave, three substitutes took on the task of preparing dinner for the Nuncio. Not being experienced cooks, they decided to make a boiled dinner, thinking that it would be rather easy. They chose the most beautiful piece of meat and took care that it was neither overcooked nor undercooked. When it came time to assemble the plate for the nuncio, they were surprised to find a potato knife in the broth, which fell in without them noticing. The Nuncio found his meal delicious, but he never knew that a secret ingredient had been added during cooking...

When there was pizza for dinner in this seminary, it was rare that there were any leftovers. One of the seminarians, who was still hungry after finishing his plate, asked a nun if he could have some more. Luckily, she was able to find him a piece. He was so happy that, to thank her, he told her he would lend her a movie for the evening. She asked him the title, he replied, holding his pizza as if it were a precious object: "Looooooooove story."

A young collaborator was learning the profession of cook from an experienced companion in a major seminary. One day the latter had a hundred chickens slaughtered and asked her apprentice to pluck them and then scald them. The young nun caught the first chicken and began to remove the feathers, but the bird escaped, landed on the table and began to dance. Not knowing what to do, the nun had no choice but to go get the cook, who quickly put an end to the chicken's dance...

It was in the kitchen of a mission in Honduras, where Canadian women were working with Honduran girls. The Canadian nuns were not used to the Honduran cuisine and the young people who were there to help them lacked experience.


One day when they wanted to fry tortillas, one of the young women overheated the oil. When she put the tortillas in, the fryer overflowed and the boiling oil spilled all over the floor.


The rest of the morning was spent cleaning up rather than preparing the meal...

Cuisine hondurienne

A nun in the kitchen wanted to know what was in a bucket that was on a very high shelf. With her fingertips, she managed to get it close to the edge of the shelf, from where it fell. She found herself covered in ketchup from head to toe. Her entire religious habit turned from black to red. At least she knew what was in the bucket!


A cook was about to play a trick on her companion with the Franciscan-style salt and pepper shakers. She changed her mind when she saw her superior enter the kitchen with a priest. Her reflex was to hide the condiments in the oven. Unfortunately, her companion opened the door and the priest saw that the salt and pepper shakers were there. Then he said, "Is this how you treat Franciscans?"

Anecdotes from our pastry cooks

A nun once wanted to make the "can't miss" fudge recipe that her fellow cook had given her. She gathered the ingredients, put them on the stove, and then started to stir the mixture. No matter how many times she stirred, it wouldn't set. She added paraffin, thinking it would help, but it still wouldn't set. She added it a second time, but it wasn't any better. The cook realized that something was wrong, so she came to interfere. She took the nun's place and started stirring vigorously. She was very strong. She stirred and stirred, finally the spoon broke in half! And the fudge never set.

The pastry cook had prepared cookies for the seminarians' dessert. The one who served them gave them each one. They were tall boys with good appetites, for whom a single cookie was barely one or two bites.

Then, in the queue, one said to the one in front of him: "Go on, go on. Heaven and earth will pass, but the cookies will not!"


The pastry cook sister had asked for help to prepare apple pies for a meal to which several guests were invited. She liked the filling to spill out of the pie, she used to say it was better. Of course, it was also spilling into the oven, from which a dense smoke was coming out. Seeing the many pies to be baked and thinking of all the smoke that would accumulate, the lady who worked with the small group of nuns was a little uneasy. So the pastry cook reassured her by saying, "When a fire is set in the kitchen, it means the food is well cooked!"

A postulant was learning to make porridge. The lid that went on the pot was very old, it had an iron handle with a slot about an inch wide. While waiting for the water to boil, she put her hand into the slot in the handle. And she got stuck! Someone advised putting oil on it, but it was useless. A companion was appointed to accompany her to the carpentry shop. When the postulant took her arm out of her coat to show it to the carpenter, she looked like Goliath! Her companion couldn't help but laugh. And neither could the carpenter! The poor postulant, who was afraid of the reaction of the cook in charge when she heard this, did not laugh at all. With an iron saw, the carpenter cut off half the handle of the lid, then had to take a break. He was laughing too hard! In the end, the cook in charge did not comment on the postulant. Instead, she concluded by saying,

"It's no big deal, it was just an old lid."

Anecdotes from our nurses

When teaching the nuns who worked with the sick sisters, the head nurse warned them that the oxygen tanks on wheels were very powerful and that if they were not set up properly, they could "go off like a rocket and break a wall". When one of the night caregivers first had the opportunity to use one of these tanks, she was concerned. She set up the machine next to her patient, taking care to follow the instructions given to her by the nurse. As she turned on the machine, she heard what she thought was an unusual noise. She screamed, certain that she was going to break a wall! As it turned out, it was just the hum of the machine running. Everything went very well and no walls were damaged.

A nurse accompanied a nun to a pre-operative appointment with the surgeon. The nurse was taking note of the risks of the procedure. When the doctor said his patient would not be able to have children, the nurse laughed. For a nun of almost 90 years, this consequence was not very constraining...

An anecdote from one of our local treasurers

The term "local treasurer" in the General House refers to the nun who was responsible, among other things, for the maintenance of the building. She was therefore required to circulate throughout the house. One day, there was a breakdown of equipment in the room where the deceased sisters were embalmed. The local treasurer at that time, who was known for her fear of the dead, did not want to go there, but her duty required her to do so. It took everything to get her to go through the door. When she finished her work, she ran out! Some nuns say that since that day, the embalming of our deceased sisters has been entrusted to a funeral home...

We suspect the reason!

An anecdote from one of our receptionists

One day a couple came to the General House saying they were coming to see Sister Léonie. In front of them, the receptionist called Sister Léonie Turgeon to inform her that there were people for her at the reception desk. Both uncomfortable and surprised, the lady cried out, "But... Sister Léonie is dead!" Then the receptionist realized that the visitors had come to see Mother Léonie at the oratory. They had a good laugh, including Sister Léonie Turgeon, who was so proud to bear the name of her foundress...


Anecdotes of nuns in cultural adaptation

Once, in Honduras...

A Canadian nun, who was not yet fluent in Spanish, asked a Honduran co-worker to go get some fish. Instead of saying "pescado" (fish), she said "pecado" (sin). Needless to say, the young Honduran refused!

Once, in Chile...

A Canadian nun was looking for eggs and could not find any. She wanted to ask a Chilean employee, but she didn't speak Spanish and the other didn't understand a word of French. They were used to communicating by signs. So the Canadian Sister started to imitate the chicken in the kitchen, in front of everyone! And they understood each other!

Once, in Canada...

A Honduran nun came to Canada to visit at the General House. The night after her arrival, a good amount of snow had accumulated on the ground. Because she had never seen a Canadian winter, she had quite a surprise. She put on what some of her companions lent her: a coat, hat, scarf, mittens and boots. Not being used to wearing all these clothes, she was obviously not very comfortable. When she stepped outside and her foot sank into the snow, she gasped. She thought it was hard, but it wasn't! So she started walking like an astronaut in the strange, unstable substance that covered the entire ground.


Once, in the United States...

The sisters in this mission were used to riding bicycles. They wanted to take a newly arrived companion to visit a beautiful shrine, but she had never been on a bicycle. She really wanted to see the Blessed Virgin in this place of worship, so she decided to go. She picked up her black dress as best she could, climbed on the bike and tried to pedal. Of course, her first fall came within moments. The poor sister ended up in the hedge. When she finally arrived at the shrine, her dress torn and dirty, she thanked the Blessed Virgin for sparing her stockings!


Once, in Canada...

Two French-speaking nuns went shopping in a store in Ottawa. They were looking for a clock radio but could not find one. They approached a salesperson who spoke only English. To make herself understood, one of the two nuns pointed to her watch and imitated the sound of a clock radio in the middle of the store: DRRRRING! DRRRRING!

Once, in Honduras...

It was Christmas time. Canadian nuns had invested a lot of time and love in preparing meat pies (tourtières) to please the missionaries from Québec. Since they did not have access to refrigerators, they put them in a gas cooler. That evening, the cooler broke. The seven large pies were covered in water and smelled strongly of gasoline.


The next day, the sisters rolled up their sleeves and used what flour they had left to start over. Unfortunately, someone had made the mistake of putting sugar in the salt shaker. Imagine the taste of the meat pies... Having no flour and not being able to go out and buy some, they had no choice but to try to make up for it by re-cooking and adding garlic. Since it was Saturday, the day of the Blessed Virgin, they asked the good Mother to help them.


When the priests ate the meat pies, they were happy to find this dish that reminded them of their origins, but some of them noticed that there was "a little something" in the taste. The sisters told them that it was the little touch of the Blessed Virgin!

Once, in Honduras...

Some Canadian nuns had the pleasure of spending a day at the ocean. They bought bathing suits like lay people and enjoyed the swim. What do you think happened to their delicate Québec skin, always protected from the sun under their religious habit? Yes, they burned! Red as a lobster! It took them three days to recover.


Once, in Rome...

When the General Council decides to withdraw the services of the Institute from one of its missions, it is the responsibility of the last remaining nuns at that location to vacate the space they have occupied. For example, certain documents must be destroyed on site. In this mission, the sisters, not having a shredder, thought it best to burn the confidential papers. In order not to attract attention, they proceeded on a beautiful summer evening, far from the public eye. As they watched the fire take hold of the letters from the General House, they watched the smoke rise, saying, "How many sublime words go up in smoke, the holy writings of our mothers..."


Back inside, under the light, they realized that they were covered with these "sublime writings." The smoke had completely soiled their clothes! They had to undergo a good cleaning that evening. One of them exclaimed: "The words fly away, but the writings remain... And it is not easy to get rid of them!"

Once, in Rome...

A cardinal, who was very satisfied with the service rendered by the nuns, took advantage of an opportunity that arose for them to meet the Pope. He asked the Holy Father to grant the sisters some "time off". It is important to know that for the sisters, "taking time off" meant a permission to talk during a time of silence. The Pope, who associated these words with a free day, was happy to give the Sisters time off, adding that a dinner in a restaurant would be well deserved. With wine! As it was a request from the Pope, the nuns did not hesitate to do so!

Sang du Christ

Anecdotes from our elderly sisters

During a community meeting, an elderly nun wanted to hold the attention of her companions for a moment to make this announcement: "I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw that there was a crease here [when touching her cheek]!"  At 90 years old, she was nevertheless the envy of many others who had been accumulating "creases" for a long time!

An elderly nun with a strong character and little restraint in her words had put a sign on her door that read, "Enter at your own risk."

The Archbishop was visiting the General House. He met a 100-year-old nun in the infirmary and asked her for the trick to longevity. She told him that every day she prayed, "Sacred Heart of Jesus, model of the 'toughs', help me to 'tough'."

An elderly nun received test results, which revealed that she did not have the disease that the doctor suspected from her symptoms. So she said to him, "Does that mean I'm going to die healthy, doctor?"

A nurse thought the nun she was caring for was unpleasant that day. When she mentioned it to her, the sister replied, "At 101, it's about time I start being so!"

An elderly nun, who had always been very thin and short, was trying in every way to gain some weight. When a companion asked her why, she replied, "The community buys us a nice casket, I wish I had something to put in it!"

Anecdotes that happened in a chapel

It had not been long since the black habit had been replaced by white and the two-piece model had been accepted. One morning, a nun who always liked to look good, put on her new two-piece habit for the first time. She took the time to take care of her presentation before going to Mass. Except that... When she got to the chapel, some companions pointed out to her that she had forgotten to put on her skirt, she was wearing only a slip!

We pay special attention to each prayer intention that is entrusted to us. However, it happens that people express themselves surprisingly, like the time when a lady asked us to pray first for her pig, then for her husband!

Many nuns are accustomed to go to prayer after dinner, when their morning work is done. But let's face it: after a good meal, it's easy to get sleepy... So it happens that some sisters fall asleep in the chapel. Once, a nun had brought a small ball of yarn. She waited for the companion in front of her to fall asleep at her individual prie-dieu, then she threw the ball to wake her up. The sister was startled, let out a scream, and the prie-dieu fell in front of her and she fell on top of it. After that, everyone in the chapel was wide awake!


Anecdotes that happened while relaxing

The nuns of a community group wanted to give their superior a Christmas gift, but she had been in office for a long time and it was becoming difficult to find something original and different from years past. So the sisters asked themselves: what does she like? The answer was: potatoes. On Christmas evening, they lined up in front of their superior to give her, each in turn, a gift bag that contained... a potato. They laughed a lot!

The superior got involved in their game. On New Year's Day, she gave each sister in her group a giftbag containing a roll of toilet paper!

A nun was preparing to go on vacation with her family. She wanted to get a summer outfit for the occasion. Because she had a large waist, she had difficulty finding a dress that fit her well. When she returned from vacation, some of her companions asked her if she had received any compliments on her dress. She replied, "They mostly noticed that it's a maternity dress!"

A group of nuns on mission at the Apostolic Nunciature were enjoying a day off at the water's edge with the Nuncio. They boarded the boat to go around the lake. The Nuncio, who was on board with them, wanted to row. A nun who was used to it handed him her oar, explaining that all he had to do was to plunge it deep into the water and force it a little. She gave him her place and went to the back of the boat. The Nuncio plunged the oar in and began to force. And he pushed. And he kept on forcing. Yet the boat did not take off. The nun kept telling him that he had to force it, but he couldn't. How was it possible that this sister was able to do it and he was not? He couldn't understand. After telling him once again that he wasn't pushing hard enough, she showed him that she was holding back the boat by hanging on to a tree lind on shore! Everyone laughed... Even the Nuncio, who didn't hesitate to give the nun a good shower with his oar!


As you can see, there is humor within the Little Sisters of the Holy Family. This not only creates a pleasant atmosphere, but also helps to build friendships among us. As nuns, we are first and foremost witnesses to the joy of living the Gospel and we believe that this is manifested through prayer and work, but also in the happiness of living together on a daily basis. This is what our foundress taught us through her example as a woman fully consecrated to the Lord.

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