The Mission in Colombia
In December 1977, Father Pierre Primeau, a Priest of Saint-Sulpice, who had been living in Colombia for more than fifteen years, forwarded a request to The Grey Nuns of Montreal for Sisters to work at FANA (Fundacion para la Adopcion de la Ninez Abandonada [Foundation for the Adoption of Abandoned Children]) founded in 1972 by Señora Mercedes Rosario de Martinez. After an exploratory visit, the Provincial Superior of Saint Joseph Province sent three Sisters, who arrived in Bogota on 1 December 1978.
During the following 17 years, four more Sisters joined the foundresses to help their Sisters and to replace those who left Colombia. In addition to being directly involved in the work of FANA by providing nursing care, teaching the children, and visiting the poor, they participated in the administration of the work. In 1979, they collaborated in the founding of the Hogar Marguerite house, a refuge where single mothers could benefit from health care, group support, and job seeking assistance. Over the years, FANA became increasingly well organized and laypeople took on more and more responsibilities. Thus, the Grey Nuns were able to withdraw from the organization at the end of February 1996.
In 1988, a new charity was opened by the Grey Nuns at the request of the bishop of Cucutá, Colombia. It was a social services house in La Parada, a very poor area on the border between Colombia and Venezuela. The Sisters visited the families, distributed clothing and milk every week, taught English to Seminarians, and opened a school for children who, for various reasons, were not able to attend the existing schools. This school—El Centro Margarita—closed in 1999, and the centre subsequently served for various pastoral ministry activities, especially with young people, in which the Sisters participated.
A welcome centre was opened in 1997 in Quinta Paredes, Bogota, to accommodate young Sisters who were studying and companions who were travelling or in need of a period of rest, etc. From there, the Sisters moved in 2001 to the Nicolás de Federman Residence, which is still in existence in 2012. A novitiate was opened in 2001 in the barrio Benjamin Herrera, in Bogota, from which several vocations emerged. After it was closed in 2006, two Sisters—one Canadian and one Colombian—moved into the barrio Paraiso Quiba de Ciudad Bolivar to carry out there the mission of charity of Saint Marguerite d'Youville. This apostolic journey ended in 2011.
On 31 December 2013, the mission in Columbia was permanently closed. Today, the youvillian misson is continued by Associates of Saint Marguerite d'Youville.