It is not every day that someone is 100 years old. What an adventure it is for us! For a few weeks now, the sisters at Maison Jésus Marie have been humming this refrain.
Our Sister Laurette Leduc, also known as Sister René-de-Jésus, has just celebrated her 100th birthday. Who would have guessed that this little girl born in Saint-Timothée, in the diocese of Valleyfield on June 10, 1912, would be granted the pleasure of living an entire century?
After a happy childhood where she grew up in the midst of a family of eight children, she answered the Lord’s call inviting her to religious life in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
This initial call would open Sister Laurette to God’s master plan which would lead to her many “YES’s" to her God. She was always present to her SNJM community, to her family, the church, the world… and even to sports.
Faithful to the charism of the Congregation, Sister Laurette first dedicated several years to the education of young people at the primary and secondary levels. Adept in everything, she moved to the “École de Pédagogie Familiale”. She excelled in the art of teaching young girls to prepare delicious meals, but above all impressed on them the importance of acquiring a solid Christian formation.
The years passed, and obediences (being sent to different convents and ministries) followed one after another. Sister Laurette was entrusted with community ministries: provincial bookkeeping, maintenance, and all types of supervision.
Then came the unforgettable Sainte-Martine, and finally Maison Jésus-Marie where prayer ministry occupies the better part of her days. Sister Laurette looks very well, is aging gracefully, seems to be in good health, and is happy to be of service to her companions.
It was all of this that we celebrated on this 10th day of June 2012. The festivities began with a Eucharistic celebration, to the strains from the little organ on which Sister Thérèse Laramée skilfully created harmonies which inspired us to pray. The choir did its part magnificently as did our chaplain.
Father Gilles Fontaine showered our dear centenarian with special attention: Communion under the species of both bread and wine, kind words of congratulations, good wishes, and tributes. Thunderous applause resounded throughout.
From the chapel we moved into the dining room. At the entrance was a photo of our centenarian on an artistically decorated bulletin board by Sister Jocelyne Labbé and some of the Sisters, which greeted us with a welcoming smile. Multiple colored roses adorned the tables in the refectory where we had taken our places, to joyfully share with Sister Laurette in this celebration of gratitude.
Our local superior, Sister Marthe Carmel, on behalf of all the Sisters, offered good wishes for health, happiness and many more years. Applause followed the singing of a special song to Sister Laurette. Our centenarian had the pleasure of sharing an evening meal with several members of her family. A large table set up in the center of the refectory enhanced the solemnity of the meal.
For Sister Laurette and for all the Sisters of Saint-André, it was a day filled with joy and gratitude. 100 years! This accomplishment continues to animate our conversations which are tinged with admiration for our beloved centenarian.
Charlotte Leduc, S.N.J.M.