My name in religion is Sister Mary. I was Elizabeth Clarisse Lange born about 1784. My date of birth and early years are quite fuzzy due to the turmoil of L’Ouverture Revolution. In the early 19th century, my father booked passage for me on a ship bound for America. Accompanied by a friend, Rosine Boegue, we met challenges of a new life and culture. Yet we felt confidence in God’s providential care.
We docked at a port in Baltimore, Maryland--Fells Point in the early 1800’s. We carried letters of introduction and sufficient money, from my father, until we could become gainfully employed. Both Rosine and I had enjoyed the best education; we anticipated serving as tutors.
In Cuba, we knew and admired a few religious women, but the turmoil of Haiti and Cuba distracted any personal consideration. I longed to devote myself entirely to God. The longing was so strong it was the first thought in the morning and the last at night. The desire possessed me. I never tired of pictures of missionaries serving with total dedication. On the transport to America two nuns traveling with us fanned the spark of hope that maybe I, too, could be a nun.
The first few years were devoted to getting settled in Baltimore. Monsignors DuBourg and Tessier were appointed directors and confessors to the French speaking Haitian immigrants. My heart soared; perhaps I could reveal my soul’s desire.
The opportunity came one day from a priest I did not know. He taught religious instruction to colored children, but was looking for teachers that might help them remember their lessons. Glory to God, he asked my heart‘s question, “Have you ever thought of being a sister?” “Ah, mon Pere,” what could I say, “Ah, my Father, this I have desired for ten years.”