Posted by: Kathy Krywicki
The following article from page 5 of the Ottawa Citizen July 8, 1952 describes the way of the life for the Sisters of the Precious Blood who lived at 774 Echo Drive.
Precious Blood Sisters Observe Golden Jubilee
Two cloistered nuns – one whom has never seen the City of Ottawa although she has been living here for over 50 years – were feted yesterday on the occasion of their golden jubilee in the orders.
They are Sister Agnes of Mary, Brooklyn, NY, and Sister Mary Gertrude, of Rhode Island. Both took their perpetual vows in 1902 at the Precious Blood Convent, the grey-walled monastery on Echo Drive facing Lansdowne Park.
Relatives and friends headed by his Excellency Archbishop Alexandre Vachon paid tribute to the jubilarians in extraordinary ceremonies at the convent yesterday.
Archbishop Vachon celebrated mass and sermons were delivered in English and in French, by Rev. Francis French, of Blessed Sacrament and Rev. Hubert Six, CSSM [Canadian Special School Mission], of Ottawa.
Attending the sanctuary were Rev. Wilfred Sauve of the convent, and Rev. Oscar Archambault, secretary of the Archbishop. The Precious Blood Sisters’ Choir sang liturgical hymns during the mass.
At communion time, during the mass, the two julibilarians repeated the vows they took fifty years ago. After the ceremony, two golden crowns were placed on their heads, symbolizing their half century in the service of god.
Monday’s celebrations at Precious Blood convent were said to be extraordinary because of the permission granted by Archbishop Vachon to the friends and relatives of the jubilarians to enter and visit the cloister.
Last time such permission was granted was during the Marian Congress of 1947.
The Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood live in almost complete privacy. Most of their day is spent in prayer and such activities as sewing religious garments, making prayer beads, or making religious pictures.
They rise at 5 a.m. and retire at 8:30. At midnight they are aroused for one hour of prayers of reparation. They seldom speak except for during recreation periods once or twice a day. Visitors – even parents – can see the novices only once every three months and the others once a month, for a period of one hour.
Life of Sacrifice
“We live with and for God”, one little sister said. Theirs is a life on complete self sacrifice, divorced from all activities of the outside world. That is the reason why one of the jubilarians has renounced public appearances. She has never left the building since her arrival.
Usually two of the nuns are delegated to answer calls from visitors. Commercial deliveries at the convent are made through a rotating wicket so that the person delivering the goods does not see the sister behind the screened wall, nor does she see the outsider.
Not all the nuns at Precious Blood Convent are cloistered in the strict sense of the word. A few, known as couriers, are permitted to leave the building for various messages on behalf of the order. While the nuns in the convent wear the traditional white and red robes, the couriers are dressed in black garments.
The austere life – “its part of our life to God” – becomes matter of fact for most of the nuns after a few years in the convent. “Even the roaring cheers from the crowds in Lansdowne Park don’t bother us anymore”, the receiving sister said.
The building at 774 Echo Drive now houses the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.