The Life and Times of Delia

This house, Delia’s birthplace, sand at 523, rang du Ruisseau Barré in Sainte-Marie-de-Monnoir, now Marieville, in the heart of Montérégie. Delia was born there on February 4, 1865.

The Sainte-Marie-de-Monnoir, now Marieville, parish church where Delia was baptized on February 5, 1865.

Célina Ponton (1832-1867) Délia's mother

Alexis Tétreault (1830-1904) Délia's father

Délia’s adoptive parents Jean Alix (1823-1910) and Julie Ponton (1825-1900)

Delia, her sister Célina and her brother Joseph

Délia age 3

The home of Mr. and Mrs Jean Alix. When she was two and a half years old, Délia was adopted by her uncle jean and her aunt Julie. She came to live in their Marieville home from 1867 to 1889.

Délia Tétreault at 18

Born in France in 1843, Almire Pichon joined the Jesuits in 1868. Appointed to Canada in 1884, he became an ardent missionary as well as a prominent retreat master and spiritual guide. Délia worked in Béthanie, the community centre founded by Father Pichon in one of Montreal’s poorer neighbourhoods. She spent 10 years there helping immigrants.

The Béthanie community centre on Saint-Urbain Street. First located on Saint-Philippe Street, it later moved to Saint-Urbain Street.

Born in Longueuil in 1850, Alphonse-Marie Daignault joined the Jesuits when he was 20. Ordained as a priest in 1881, he was appointed to the Zambeze mission in South Africa three years later. Around 1893, during a brief stay in Quebec, Father Daignault met Délia Tétreault, who had always dreamed of becoming a missionary. After returning to Africa he frequently wrote Délia, giving her precious advice, and became a significant figure in her life.

Josephine Montmarquet was born in Montreal in 1864. A great friend of Délia, she also closely collaborated with her on the foundation of the Missionary Training Centre, which was to become the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception Society. This highly cultivated and profoundly spiritual woman, later known by her religious name Sister Saint-Gustave, greatly contributed to the life of the community.

Born in Montebello in 1860, Gustave Bourassa was the brother of Henri Bourassa, founder of the Quebec newspaper Le Devoir. He was ordained as a priest in 1884. A renowned writer, speaker and Dean of University Laval’s Faculty of Literature, he was appointed Secretary at the University in 1896. It was around this time that he became a guide for Délia’s nascent community, even offering financial support. Thanks to his generous help, Delia’s project took shape. Gustave Bourassa was a major figure in Délia’s life; his accidental death in 1904 filled her with great sadness.

Born in Saint-Paul d’Abbotsford in 1861, Marie-Aveline Bengle who was a pioneer in the fight for higher education rights for women of Quebec.  In 1880 she joined the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame as Sister saint-Anne-Marie, and in 1908 founded the first classical college for young francophone women. In 1926, she established an institute that offered in-service training courses for women teachers. She was introduced to Délia in 1901, sharing with her newfound friend invaluable advice for the development of her project.

Paul Bruchési, born in Montreal in 1855, was well known for his keen intelligence, his open-mindedness, his eloquence and his love for the church. As the Archbishop of Montreal he recognized the importance of Délia’s project. With his help, Délia was able to lay the groundwork for a training centre for young women interested in the missionary life. He forever remained a loyal mentor and great supporter of the community.

In response to Father Paul Bruchési’s request concerning Délia’s project, Pope Pius X answered : “All blessings will go to this new institute. You will name it the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.” The date was November 30, 1904. And so it is to the Pope that the community owes its existence.

Louis-Adelmar Lapierre was the parish priest of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Montreal. One day, after a long walk, he stopped at the Mother house to rest. Délia Tétreault welcomed him in, offering him a fresh cup of coffee. They discussed the possibility of having a seminary for the Canadian missions. Father Lapierre was fascinated by this project, as he had always wanted to become a missionary ever since his ordination. This encounter yielded many concrete projects for the foundation of the Foreign Missions Society, of whom father Lapierre became the first member. He later left for Manchuria, and served as a bishop in the diocese of Szepingkai.

Délia age 57