DUSSAUS, MARIE-ANGÉLIQUE (she also signed Dussaust and Dussaut), hospital nun and assistant to the superior of the Sisters of Charity of the Hôpital Général of Montreal (Grey Nuns); b. 20 June 1737 in the parish of Saint-Joseph (Lauzon, Que.), daughter of Jean Dussaus and Marie-Angélique Huard; d. 7 June 1809 in Montreal, Lower Canada.
On 14 Aug. 1756 Marie-Angélique Dussaus joined the community of Grey Nuns, founded in 1737 by Mme d’Youville [Dufrost*]. In choosing to enter the Hôpital Général of Montreal, rather than a community in the region of Quebec, she may have been influenced by Charles-Marie-Madeleine d’Youville*, the son of the founder, who had been parish priest of Saint-Joseph since 1754. On 12 Dec. 1759 Marie-Angélique took vows as a domestic nun, a subordinate class devised by Mme d’Youville, who was anxious to enlarge the community but was unable to do so because a clause in the letters patent of 1753 limited the number of directors to 12.
In 1754 Mme d’Youville had begun to take in a few foundlings, and by 1760 she was able to accept them all. At that point she called on Sister Dussaus to take charge of them. According to Mother Élisabeth McMullen, superior of the community from 1843 to 1848, Sister Dussaus had great personal gifts, and from the beginning of her life in religion her enthusiasm for work and her exemplary devotion had attracted attention. During the 36 years she consecrated to foundlings, the Hôpital Général admitted 954 of them. Some were placed with families; the others stayed at the hospital, where they remained until the age of 18 and rendered some services. In addition to giving the children a great deal of care, Sister Dussaus had to exercise great ingenuity to find means of meeting their needs, since the hospital received no financial assistance from the government for this work.
Marie-Angélique Dussaus carried out her task well, and the community considered her worthy to replace Marie-Josephe Benard as assistant to the superior, Thérèse-Geneviève Coutlée*. The directors – Sister Dussaus had been one since 1778 – elected her to this office with a majority of votes on 28 Jan. 1796. Catherine Papin, dit Barolette, took charge of the foundlings in her place. Flexible, pious, capable of self-denial, blessed with great discretion and good sense, according to Mother McMullen, Sister Dussaus showed much skill in performing the sensitive tasks her community had entrusted to her.
Marie-Angélique Dussaus died suddenly on 7 June 1809, having devoted most of her career to caring for unfortunate children. Her funeral took place on 8 June at the Hôpital Général, and she was buried in the institution’s church.
Arch. des sœurs grises (Montréal), Dossier de sœur Marie-Angélique Dussaus; Mémoire de sœur Julie Casgrain-Baby, 57–60; Notices biographiques (1741–1848); Reg. des baptêmes et sépultures de l’Hôpital Général de Montréal, IV; Reg. des minutes du Conseil général; Reg. des professes perpétuelles, 3; Reg. pour les enfants trouvés; C.-M.-M. d’Youville, “La vie de madame Youville, fondatrice des Sœurs de la charité à Montréal.” Allaire, Dictionnaire, 1: 543. [É.-M. Faillon], Vie de Mme d’Youville, fondatrice des Sœurs de la charité de Villemarie dans l’île de Montréal, en Canada (Villemarie [Montréal], 1852), 185–92.