Maison Jésus-Marie celebrated a new centenarian on July 12th. Sister Gertrude Charlebois, with family members and Sisters from the house, was treated to a day of festivities that began with a Eucharistic celebration in the chapel.
During the Mass, Sister Beverley Wattling, a member of the Provincial Leadership Team, highlighted the journey of a committed woman who "lived in 27 of our missions throughout Quebec."
She recalled that Sister Gertrude never ceased to learn during her 33 years of teaching and even afterwards. For example, she completed a science degree, obtained a teaching certificate, a bachelor's degree in pedagogy, and a degree in French and in catechesis, as well as a diploma in pastoral theology.
Following her teaching career, she became involved at Paroisse Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (Montreal) and did social work with the poor, mainly at the Escale organization and the socio-cultural community center known as Place Vermeil, for those 50 years and over.
"Even though Gertrude loved all her ministries, her preference was always teaching. She rejoiced in the education of her students and at seeing them excel. And that is precisely what Sister Gertrude herself has done with her life," said Sister Beverley who, with emotion, thanked her "for your love for young people and for your great desire to make life more beautiful for all those who are suffering."
The daughter of an Aboriginal mother from the Mohawk Nation and orphaned from early childhood, Sister Gertrude cherished the wish to be loved for who she truly was. There is no doubt that her wish was granted when it was said that she was "the heart" or "soul" of the 3rd floor at Maison Jésus-Marie. As Sister Beverley mentioned, today is a "wonderful tribute to the courageous woman that you are!"
The rejoicing continued with light refreshments, time for discussion and a slide presentation describing some aspects of Sister Gertrude's career. Having made her vows in 1938, the slide show highlighted some of her teaching assignments in several schools, including at Marie-Rose Convent, Saint-Roch-de-l'Achigan Convent and the school in Lachenaie.
During this joyful celebration, Sister Jacqueline Longtin addressed the centenarian, congratulating her on her journey. "A life full of energy that has flourished; that has produced a variety of abundant fruit, in keeping with the seasons”, she said before concluding with words of gratitude. “Thank you, Sister Gertrude for your faithfulness to life, to the Community, for your shining faith, for the variety of your commitments and especially for your courage in the face of reality consisting of times of darkness and light.”
Despite her physical limitations, Sister Gertrude showed her sincere joy at being surrounded by so many who shared these beautiful moments with her. See the photo album - Photo credits: Sister Gisèle Lalande
To see the Power Point presentation created by Sister Lise Tessier, click on the link to the PDF found below (in French only).