“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23: 46)
August 16, 2015, Sister Anne-Marie Léveillé,
in religion Marie.-Antoinette-Alma
went home to God.
She was 97 years old and had been professed for 78 years.
Born in Lachine, Quebec, she was the 4th of the 5 children of
Théodore Léveillé and Alma Renaud.
After the birth of Anne-Marie, the family moved from Lachine to Rosemont, in Montreal, where her father had found work as a carpenter. Anne-Marie was 19 months old when her mother died. To lessen the strain on her father, a great- uncle, his wife and their 23 year old daughter, who was already widowed, welcomed her into their home. She grew up among these three adults.
"The memory that remains with me of this great-uncle is that he was an angel of kindness. I often found comfort from him in the face of my adoptive mother’s strictness. Later, when people spoke to me about the Father’s kindness, I recalled the gentleness and affability of the one who had opened his home to me with such generosity. I also remember his profound piety which, with no great display, guided his life."
When she was four and a half, Anne-Marie made her First Communion after being prepared by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. At the age of seven, she became a boarder in Lachine with the Sisters of Saint Anne, and then at Couvent Marie-Rose with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
"As a teenager, I suffered due to my mother’s absence. It was a void, a wound which I felt throughout my entire life (…). My vocation gradually took root in response to a desire for God, and affirmed through contact with a teacher and my adoptive family." I was faithful to prayer "and attentive to those who were in need."
Anne-Marie was 17 years old when she entered the SNJM Novitiate. Sister Antoinette-Alma’s entire life was marked by an intellectual and spiritual hunger which led her to read extensively, studying the classics as well as the writings of many theologians. She loved teaching and ardently dedicated herself to it for 30 years. Sister Antoinette taught everywhere, from the SNJM Boarding Schools to Collège Jésus-Marie - from Grade 6 at the elementary level and college level classes where she was a biology teacher. Her competence, creativity and commitment knew no bounds. She was recognized for having "awakened in young people a love of study, culture and enthusiasm for learning".
Following three years as director of the “Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie” in Outremont, Sister Anne-Marie left teaching for community service geared towards research, secretarial work, financial planning and accounting to which she added a variety of voluntary services with the CINR (Centre d'information sur les nouvelles religions – information Centre on new religions), the "Mini-prix" Project (clothing room for the poor), with our sisters in the infirmaries along with the welcoming of university students to the “Rose-Eulalie" Project.
Notes left by Sister Anne-Marie, mention that: "Having lived at the time of the Vatican II Council brought me a fresh breath of life for a new spirituality and an interior freedom which enabled me to have an adult faith".
Sister Anne-Marie’s last ten years were spent in "a peaceful retirement enriched by her chosen and fruitful readings. She remains in our memories as a discrete, generous and committed companion".