“My heart is steadfast, O God. I will sing and make melody.” (Psalm 57, 8)
April 1, 2017, Sister Denise-Andrée Pepin
in religion Marie-Natalie
went home to God.
She was 88 years old and had been professed for 66 years.
Born in Boston, U.S.A., she was the last of the three children
of Rodolphe Pepin and Édith Phaneuf.
In Denise-Andrée's family setting, her musical talents would flourish: her father, an organist, studied with famous professors in Paris and her mother was a singer and pianist. Until the age of sixteen, she received her musical formation from her father. At the academic level, she studied at St. Joseph's Convent in Lowell, Massachusetts, and then continued at Mission High School in Boston, Massachusetts.
She completed her High School with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary at Hochelaga Convent in Montreal. She returned to Boston for a year of study toward her Bachelor of Arts degree at Emmanuel College. The following year, when Denise-Andrée was 19 years old, she entered the SNJM novitiate in Outremont, Montreal.
After her profession, while teaching music, Sister Marie-Natalie pursued her university studies in music: a Baccalaureate, a Master’s Degree at the l'Université de Montréal and a Doctorate at Boston University. She shared community life for thirty years in Beauharnois, at Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie, Outremont, but lived mainly at Résidence Édouard-Montpetit before being welcomed into the infirmary in Longueuil.
Beginning in the 1980’s, Sister Marie-Natalie taught full-time at the Université de Montréal and part-time at l'École de musique Vincent-d'Indy. At the Université de Montréal, she was head of the piano department, a member of the pedagogical committee, and director of research at the higher education level. She was called upon to give pedagogical conferences and Master classes throughout Canada, in New England, in Texas and in Italy. When she retired, after 20 years of teaching, she was declared Professor Emeritus by the Université de Montréal.
At the Université de Montréal, Sister Marie-Natalie stated that music “is an extraordinary openness to beauty, allowing us to develop the imagination. Music enables a direct and accessible expression of everything that we are experiencing and encourages us to seek greater artistic perfection.”
When she was 68 years old, retirement made it possible for Sister Natalie to diversify her activities: French and English conversation courses for immigrants, private piano lessons, supporting and driving elderly people to appointments and weekly shopping as well as being an adjudicator at piano competitions and a member of various administrative committees...
During the last three years, as her health was declining, Sister Marie-Natalie devoted herself to a ministry of prayer at the SNJM infirmary in Longueuil. She who had wanted to direct others "toward the Good and the Beautiful" was ready to contemplate the never-ending unfolding of Beauty!