"I was on edge before the curtain went up for our appearance. But the music swept me away in spite of myself. It went by so fast ... “said Sister Monique Gendron, one of the ten Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) who enthusiastically participated in their first live television show! She was not the only one who enjoyed this adventure.
Two rehearsals at Maison Jésus-Marie were enough for these former singing teachers and/or members of the SNJM choir to learn the three songs that were requested. However, the experience was just beginning...
Already impressed by the initial contact with the team members during the famous Friday sound tests, it was on day "J", on Saturday that each one got the full impact of this experience.
"I was struck by their accuracy and the need to time things exactly to the second", stressed Sister Suzanne Lavallée. Having to start the performances over again so that everything happens on schedule made us aware just to what extent the producers of this type of television program have to be meticulous.
"The harmony between each member of the team was impressive. No one was shouting, each one spoke softly and communicated through signs. It was a complete lesson in teamwork which could set an example", she added. This corroborated the impression of Sister Monique Gendron who enjoyed seeing all the preparations behind the scenes. "It was incredible and reminded me of little ants, all going about their tasks, without bothering each other. It was like a real family in which each one goes about their work with joy and love."
Sister Gisèle Lizotte, who is 86 years old, completely agreed. "I was amazed at their discipline. Everyone knew where to go, what to do ..." Recalling memories of the “shows” organized in the schools of yesteryear, Sister Gisèle stressed that there was no possible comparison. "I've never seen anything like it. My eyes were not big enough to see everything that was happening, but I now have a clearer understanding of how things are done."
Beyond these discoveries of a new "world", the ten representatives of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary were also showered with love. "Everyone took good care of us," said one of them. "They were extraordinarily kind." said another. They were well taken care of as they were helped to go up and down the staircase that they had to climb a few times, not counting the one that they had to go up to get to the SNJM dressing room!
And yes, they had reserved a dressing room for them to rest in between rehearsals. Water, snacks, supper, make-up if they wanted it and even a hairstylist were among the little extras offered. After their performance, they were invited to watch the rest of the show in a room reserved for that purpose. The welcome and the ongoing follow-up by assistant director Julie Boisvert were as much appreciated, as was the welcoming presence of the host France Beaudoin, who had come to greet and encourage the Sisters before the beginning of the program.
And what can be said about the guests? "I have not seen Sisters up close for a long time," exclaimed one of the artists present. She, like the others, came over to speak to them, to converse and even to share a few jokes!
The members of the audience present at this show have also shared their appreciation. Some have welcomed the idea of having thought to invite the Sisters to sing on this program. Others have expressed their pleasure and joy at having seen them there. And that is without counting the comments received since the show, on Facebook or by email.
In short, it was a rewarding experience for all the Sisters present. They have come to the same conclusion: “We will never again watch TV in the same way." Even though they were not able to speak directly to Julie Snyder on the evening of the show, they will long remember this unforgettable experience.
In preparation for Julie Snyder’s show, the program's researchers had notes on her journey at the SNJM convent in Longueuil. One thing led to another, and the idea surfaced to invite the Sisters to sing the song "Dominique" by Sister Sourire. Better still, in searching through the notes from the guest's questionnaire, to the question "What was the first poster you put on your wall?” Julie Snyder had replied, "None. All I remember having on my wall was a relic of Mother Marie-Rose, the foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.”
Someone contacted Maison Jésus-Marie to see if there were singers among the SNJMs! Obviously, the request quickly landed in the hands of Sister Maryse Moisan, who is responsible for the recreation committee at Maison Jésus-Marie as well as a choir composed of Sisters.
"It was not difficult to recruit Sisters, whether or not they were members of the choir. It took us only two rehearsals before our Friday voice test to master the songs that were requested. With the participation of Sisters as experienced as Marthe-Gisèle Beauchamp and Huguette Désourdy we were ready for anything,” concluded Sister Maryse, equally enthusiastic about her experience.
Here are the names of the participating Sisters with the numbers which refer to the numbers on their bags:
# 1 – Sister Thérèse Deschamps, SP (Sister of Providence)
# 2 – Sister Huguette Désourdy, SNJM
# 3 – Sister Suzanne Lavallée, SNJM
# 4 – Sister Gisèle Lizotte, SNJM
# 5 – Sister Gisèle Lalande, SNJM
# 6 – Sister Maryse Moisan, SNJM
# 7 – Sister Luce Boyer, SNJM
# 8 – Sister Jacqueline Longtin, SNJM
# 9 – Sister Marthe-Gisèle Beauchamp, SNJM
# 10 – Sister Monique Gendron, SNJM
# 11 – Sister Léa Dulude, SNJM
Photo credits– Éric Myre