LEFT: Sister Ida served at the Holy Cross Mission on the Yukon River from 1945 to 1957. In 1950, she posed with a group of children who lived at the mission year-round.
RIGHT: Because she lived in a frontier environment, Sister Ida learned how to handle a rifle and hunt for food.
"Armed with a Rifle
and Unwavering Faith"
This French Canadian sister spent 30 years spreading the Gospel in isolated pockets of southwestern Alaska. In 1944, when she was in her early 20s and working kitchen duty in a convent in Montreal, she was given a missionary vocation. Suddenly, she was off to Alaska, leaving her French language and her country, and learning to live on the American frontier. Before long, Sister Ida, who had grown up in urban Montreal, was learning to use a rifle, and hunting and fishing for food. She even became skilled at butchering caribou, moose and an occasional buffalo. After several years of serving at the Holy Cross Mission on the Yukon River, she was asked by the Archdiocese of Anchorage to create an urban ministry to assist minority groups in Anchorage.
She then expanded this ministry to include rural areas. For many years, she traveled constantly between tiny towns hundreds of miles apart, often flying in a small plane because there were no accessible roads. Although Sister Ida experienced a huge cultural shift in her life at a young age, she never questioned her mission, and her commitment to the Alaskans she served never wavered.
Postscript: Sister Ida Brasseur died in 2011.