The Life of a Sister of Charity, Marie Louise Jodoin

Throughout the 19th century, the women of Ottawa preferred to devote their lives entirely to religion, lead a monastic life and serve the poor. The monastic lifestyle was quite popular in the 19th and 20th centuries. The nuns of the past were truly selfless, extraordinarily kind and charitable. Among such 19th-century nuns was Marie Louise Jodoin. She led a monastic lifestyle from the age of 16. Marie Louise Jodoin devoted 75 years to being a nun, praying every day until her last breath. Learn more at

Religion in Marie Louise’s life 

Marie Louise Jodoin was born in 1862, in Quebec Province, near the Ottawa River. Throughout her childhood and adolescence, she attended a school for nuns, where the teachers were the famous Sisters of Charity, AKA the Grey Nuns.

In the early 1870s, the whole Jodoin family moved to Hull, but young Marie Louise remained in her hometown in a boarding school until a new school was opened in Hull. Moreover, in 1970, Marie Louise’s mother died. The girl was only eight years old. Such a tragedy undoubtedly affected her mind. In 1971, Marie Louise’s father found a new companion and created a new family. Marie Louise Jodoin found her solace in music at this time. To her, playing the piano became a true passion. She attended piano and singing lessons for a long time. Marie Louise showed extraordinary talent in music.

When Marie Louise Jodoin turned sixteen, she decided to relate her future destiny to religion. In 1878 she moved to Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, where she joined the community of Grey Nuns, which was located on Bruyère Street. The Community of Sisters of Charity or Grey Nuns has been serving in Ottawa since as far back as 1845. That was when a new Congregation, the Sisters of Charity in Bytown, came into existence. It was founded on the initiative of the Montreal Grey Nuns under the sensitive leadership of Sister Élisabeth Bruyère.

From that moment, for 75 years, Marie Louise Jodoin recited daily prayers and was selfless, as well as continuing to be active in piano playing and singing. In particular, she was involved in teaching music in a religious society. On top of this, Marie Louise gave 37 years of her life to serving and caring for people in hospitals, as well as teaching in schools.

Sister Jodoin, along with the Grey Nuns, dedicated her life to compassionate service and ongoing support of vulnerable social strata. Throughout the 19th century and early 20th century, Nun Marie Louise Jodoin carried out all of these activities through charitable foundations, various long-term care facilities, city hospitals, recreation centers and local schools. 

The last years of Sister Jodoin’s life

In 1940, Marie Louise returned to her native convent, where most of her life was spent. In 1942, she celebrated her 80th anniversary with the entire religious community.

Sister Jodoin devoted a significant amount of time to prayer in her last years. Until her last breath, she corresponded with all her acquaintances, relatives and friends. Marie Louise was a very generous and kind person. She was an extraordinarily intelligent and remarkable woman who was incredibly talented in music. Everything Marie Louise Jodoin undertook always turned out perfectly. She flourished in absolutely all spheres. Her heart stopped beating at age 91 in her 75th year of religious life.

Over the years, the number of Grey Nuns in Ottawa has decreased significantly. It is increasingly rare to find such dedicated nuns as Marie Louise Jodoin. Also, most of the institutions operated by Sisters of Charity in the 21st century are being taken over by local and provincial administrations.