“Do not fear, for I am with you.” Is. 43:5
February 19, 2013, Sister Florence Gariépy,
in religion Florida-Marie
went home to God.
She was 100 years old and had been professed for 76 years.
Born in Grouard, Alberta,
she was the youngest of the three children of Omer Gariépy and Florida Boulanger.
Florence’s early childhood was spent in Grouard where her father owned a general store. She was five years old when her family returned to Montreal, Quebec, to the Villeray district. Her uncle, Donat Gariepy, S.J. was being ordained a priest and expressed the desire that at his first Mass, a child from each family make her/his First Communion. Despite her young age, Florence was prepared by the Sisters of Holy Cross: “I remember being happy to receive Jesus.”
The following year, to assure having a job, the father brought his family back to Alberta, this time to Morinville where, for 5 years, Florence attended a school run by the Daughters of Jesus. To facilitate the boys’ studies, they moved to Edmonton where they attended the Jesuit College and Florence attended the “Separate School” run by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
When the Sisters of the Assumption opened a school, Florence became one of their students, allowing her to learn a little bit more French. She completed her 8th grade there and then helped out in her father’s general store for 2 years. Florence got to know many religious congregations amid frequent moves!
Florence was 18 years old when her family permanently returned to Quebec, and settled in St-Lin. Courageously, Florence wanted to get a teaching diploma from the Central Office and so enrolled at the convent of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, ready to repeat her 8th grade and continue with 9th grade. While there, she discovered her vocation but out of respect for her mother, she waited a year before entering the novitiate. She was 21 years old.
Sister Florida-Marie, holding a bilingual teaching diploma, and after having been a French teacher for several years, continued her teaching career at Saint Aloysius School for the next 25 wonderful years. “Adored by her students, she created a climate of trust, peace and understanding there.”
The other schools which benefitted from the competent dedication of Sister Florence were St. John Fisher, St. Dominic and Eulalie-Durocher, totalling 35 years in youth education.
Sister Florence retired from teaching, so as to ensure a quality presence at Résidence Berthiaume-du-Tremblay where, for five years, she met the diverse needs of both the personnel and the elderly residents. “Your spirit of collaboration was noticed by all and your kind-heartedness was a source of comfort to many”, said the director general, Mr. Jean-Paul Ramsay.
Retiring to the Motherhouse in Outremont, Sister Florence animated a group of sisters while always maintaining her gift of attentiveness for each one. When she moved to Maison Jésus-Marie in Longueuil, she continued to be of service to her companions. “We went to her for translating correspondence." She loved reading, visitors and a daily walk in the fresh air.
Sister Florence's long life, nourished by the Word of God and her devotion to Mary, was filled with hope; she also requested that we pray the “Salve Regina” with her:
“Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!”