Pope John Paul II on Sunday canonized Marguerite d'Youville, an 18th century widow-turned-nun who is Canada's first native saint.
Her Sisters of Charity, the order she founded in 1737, operates in Canada and the United States within schools, hospitals and other social service agencies. It also is known for its work at D'Youville College in Buffalo.
Nuns from the order or its branches also serve in Haiti, Brazil, Japan and Africa.
A friend of the Buffalo college was instrumental in eight of its nuns attending the canonization rite.
Dr. J. Warren Perry, a Presbyterian and an emeritus member of the college council, organized a fund-raiser, and the number of sisters scheduled to attend the ceremony rose from two or three to eight.
For 18 other Grey Nuns who work in the Buffalo area and were not attending the service, a Mass of Thanksgiving was offered Sunday in Holy Angels Church, 348 Porter Ave. Holy Angels was the parish the Grey Nuns joined when they first came to Buffalo in 1857.
In his homily during the canonization Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope said that the new saint's life showed how one can be holy every day and how one can make the "charity and justice of God" triumph in daily existence.
In April, he signed a decree attributing the cure of a patient suffering from leukemia to the intercession of Sister d'Youville. Lisa Normand of Gatineau, Quebec, was cured in 1983. A certified miracle is required for saints who were not martyrs.
The saint's 70 years were marked by suffering and hardship.
She was born Marguerite Dufrost in Varennes, Quebec. Her father died when she was 7. At 21, she married Francois d'Youville, who y pope
frequently was away from home selling liquor.
Four of her six children died in infancy. One, a newborn, died a few days after her husband in 1730, leaving her a widow at 29.
When her two sons entered the seminary in 1737, she and three other women founded the Institute of the Sisters of Charity, consecrating themselves to the service of God, the sick and the forgotten poor.
In Montreal, the occasion was dampened by protests Sunday against the church for honoring a slave-owner.
Sister d'Youville, born in Quebec in 1701, inherited about a dozen slaves from her husband and bought and sold dozens of others, they said.
Most of the slaves were Pawnee Indians, brought from Missouri by fur traders, but some were blacks from Haiti and Louisiana. Slaves in the then-French colony had a life expectancy of 17 years.