Bringing some of life’s essential truths to a wider audience was a key motivator for Sister Lucille Durocher in her decision to devote a large portion of her adult years to pro-life education and communication.
Durocher, president of St. Joseph’s Workers for Life and Family, and the former director of Human Life International-Canada, died Sept. 22 at the Ottawa General Hospital. She was 77 years old.
A member of the Congregation of St. Joseph religious community, Durocher was born in Waltham, Que. and was raised near Ottawa. After a number of years in teaching and pastoral work, she determined to make up for what she perceived as a serious gap in pro-life, pro-family information resources.
Her immediate road to more active pro-life work occurred in 1984 when she invited Human Life International founder, Fr. Paul Marx, to speak to students at her Montreal-area high school. Although the subject of Marx’s address was chastity and abstinence, school officials objected to the address and asked Durocher to refrain from further right-to-life presentations.
Disappointed by the growing secularization of Quebec’s schools, she resigned after a 12-year teaching career, and set about establishing Human Life International in Canada. She outlined the decision to author Grace Petrasek in her 1991 book, Silhouettes Against the Snow: “Having been a witness to the unchallenged lies being spread to our young people about sex and abortion, I can stay in the school system no longer. I feel my mission is to spread the truth on these issues to as many young people as possible and the only way to accomplish this would be to travel across the country as a pro-life missionary.”
Durocher served as head of HLI-Canada from 1984 until 1992. The end would not come without controversy, however, when a new executive at HLI-Canada requested and received her resignation.
Undaunted by the change in leadership at HLI-Canada, in 1993 she turned to publishing and disseminating faith-based information through St. Joseph’s Workers for Life and Family. In a 1992 interview, Durocher said the new organization was a response to a clear void in pro-life, pro-family information. “(I) was aware of an immense need within Canada in helping beleaguered Canadian families obtain information not readily available to them from any other source,” she said. “SJW’s primary purpose was to publicize, compile and disseminate informational and educational material regarding the social, economic, and moral teaching of the Roman Catholic church with particular emphasis on marriage, the family, and education, all in accordance with the magisterium (teaching authority) of the church.”
In her work with St. Joseph’s Workers, she quietly supported other pro-life publishing efforts, and became a key part of the right-to-life community’s information network.
Mary Ellen Douglas, national co-ordinator for Campaign Life Coalition, said that Durocher’s contribution to pro-life ideals was significant. “She was a great pro-lifer who will be missed in the pro-life community,” Douglas said. “She was dedicated and her spiritual life shone through her work. We will still be looking for her prayerful help, along with the army of pro-life veterans who have gone before us.”
Her comments were echoed by Fr. Jim Whalen, national director of Priests for Life Canada. “Sr. Lucille Durocher was a courageous woman, one-of-a-kind, and outstanding in the pro-life service,” Whalen told The Interim. “She never swayed from her priorities in service to God, neighbour and life. In spite of many obstacles, she persevered to the end in her calling with St. Joseph Workers for Life and Family.”
Donna O’Connor-Hunnisett, an official with St. Joseph’s Workers for Life and Family, said the organization will carry on despite Durocher’s passing.
“It was (Durocher’s) dying wish that her work and St. Joseph’s Workers for Life and Family continue, and with the help and prayers of her supporters, it will,” she said.