Always a lively spirit with an infectious joy for living, Sister Thérèse Lemay celebrated her 100th birthday on June 21. This woman from Valleyfield, whose roadmap is far-reaching, was honored during a well-deserved celebration in the chapel at Maison Jésus-Marie.
During her talk, Sister Beverley Wattling, a member of the Provincial Leadership Team, highlighted Sister Thérèse’s ceaseless quest for God, her need to keep her family ties intact and her great care to sustain her friendships. Regarding this matter, Sister Thérèse pointed out to a journalist last year that she still maintained ties with former teachers at École de Montarville and the community of Saint-Bruno.
The last Sister to be principal of École de Montarville, Sister Thérèse Lemay has many good memories. She set up two kindergartens in this free public school and promoted co-educational classes. She had no difficulty maintaining discipline, despite her soft voice. Sister Thérèse happily remembers her discussions with the pupils. She always sought to expand the young people’s horizons so that they could be better and more fulfilled people.
She recalled her joy at meeting a former student who had thanked her warmly. He was proud to tell her that he had continued his studies which led him to a profession that enabled him to earn an honorable living today. This statement was all the more heartwarming for Sister Thérèse because she recalled having to regularly monitor this young man who had shown little interest in school while running into failures and difficulties.
Undertaking Pastoral Ministry
A caring and capable woman, Sister Thérèse agreed in 1970 to leave her position as a school principal, a position which she had assumed for six years, to respond to the call to become involved in pastoral ministry in “Paroisse Saint-Bruno”. She devoted herself wholeheartedly and created very good relationships with the people of this municipality. "I have a lot of friends in Saint-Bruno; my heart is still there," she said.
We now clearly understand Sister Beverley's remarks during her talk in which she emphasized that Sister Thérèse was one of the first Sisters to be employed as a parish pastoral worker. "She said these years were wonderful and that she truly felt like a daughter of the Church and of Mother Marie-Rose ..."
After the celebration, the festivities continued, notably in the afternoon with the presentation of a slideshow. We saw the many places where Sister Thérèse has lived since entering the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary on October 26, 1941. Sister Thérèse completed this presentation by describing her experiences and relating several anecdotes which brought smiles to many faces. Discussion, laughter and sharing completed this festive day.
What better way to conclude this flashback on a wonderful day than by repeating Sister Beverley’s words:
"In your testimony at a provincial meeting in 2012, you talked about the sometimes demanding regime that keeps you fit: Pray, Love, Serve and Smile at Life. May life now smile on you."
To see the PP presentation prepared by Sister Lise Tessier, click on the link to the PDF found below. (in French only)
To read the article published last year, click here. (in French only)