“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your Word.” (Luke 38:1)
April 23, 2017, Sister Jeanne d’Arc Marquis,
in religion Marie-Cécile-Émilia
went home to God.
She was 95 years old and had been professed for 61 years.
Born in Île-Verte, Quebec, she was the 10th of 15 children
of Luc Marquis and Émilia Lévesque.
When Jeanne-d'Arc was born, in the parish of St-Jean-Baptiste, five girls and four boys had already preceded her, the third child having died at 6 months old. She was quickly followed by three more girls and two boys. Her father was a farmer, and she grew up in an honest and devoutly Catholic setting, in which they all were able to benefit from each other’s talents. The countryside was beautiful, on the banks of the Lower St. Lawrence, as is evidenced at present by tourists:
"At Île Verte we were told about the sea, the blue sea in summer, the turquoise sea in the autumn, the icy sea in winter, the sea bathed in the light of the moon or of the sunset."
When, in turn, the children left the family nest, Jeanne-d'Arc remained at home to take care of her mother who was ill, even though she had felt the call to religious life when she was very young. To her household duties, she added that of sewing. After the death of her mother, when she was 33 years old, she asked to enter the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, where two of her sisters had preceded her. When she took the habit, she received the name of her sister who had entered the Sisters of the Holy Rosary and that of her mother: Cécile-Émilia.
For 16 years, after having been named to the black sewing room (for black habits and other black material) at the Motherhouse, Sister Cécile-Émilia made an impression on the novices by her hospitality, her warmth, and her light-hearted mood. She was then named to the convent in Ste-Martine where she remained for 37 years. While there she provided joyful, peaceful, attentive and generous services to her sisters as a seamstress, hairdresser and driver.
Thinking back on these years, Sister Jeanne-d'Arc confided: "I opened my heart wide by lavishing my care upon all my sisters. I liked living in the countryside a lot. The wonderful river and the beautiful sunsets made me happy. I praise the Lord for so many blessings. So often we were inclined to sing: 'How beautiful your works are, how great your works are, O Lord! You fill us with joy!' It is my favorite hymn!"
When she was 88 years old, Sister Jeanne-d'Arc was welcomed into Maison Jésus-Marie where her older sister, Juliette, was bedridden. Lucid almost to the end, she accepted her condition, fostered by a renewed confidence of the Lord’s presence. Sister Jeanne-d'Arc can now see the Lord, and be permeated with the beauty of her God!