In Memory

Sister Claire Montcalm

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Ps. 119, 105)

March 10, 2018, Sister Claire Montcalm,
in religion Marie.-Marcelle-Josèphe 
went home to God. 

She was 101 years old and had been professed for 82 years. 
Born in Montreal (Verdun), Quebec, she was the 3rd of the 7 children 
of Joseph Montcalm and Adélina Laberge.  

Shortly after Claire's birth in Montreal, her father settled on a farm in St-Louis-de-Gonzague. Claire attended the local school where her cousin, whom she really liked, taught. After finishing 7th grade, she continued her studies as a boarder at Couvent de St-Louis-de-Gonzague directed by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Upon graduation, at the age of 17, she entered the SNJM novitiate. 

As a junior professed, Sister Marcelle-Josèphe taught Grades 1 to 7 at the primary level, for seven years. Then, for 22 years, she was a culinary arts teacher at the high school level for grades 8 to 12. She was interested in natural sciences, and geography, and was responsible for Cercles de Jeunes naturalistes (Circles of Young Naturalists). Sister Claire adapted easily, liked new experiences, was very clever, and knew how to do just about everything. She enjoyed learning and continued to pursue university courses while teaching. At the age of 98, she said: "I have changed work and residences so often!" In fact, she had lived in twenty-eight community residences: a real record!

When she left teaching, she went to Churchill, Manitoba for a year, taking advantage of her vacation to spend time in the Northwest Territories. Back in Quebec, after a year of doctrinal renewal, she became involved in parish work, handling accounting, sacramental preparation, the sacristy, working with people with AIDS and with seniors, visiting the sick, cooking for parish pastors, and rendering a variety of community services, such as receptionist, etc.

"A very independent woman, she took buses to go everywhere there was some good to be done and this means of transportation provided her with contacts because she spoke with people who would tell her about their experiences." She made friends everywhere. "

Ever appreciative of life, Sister Claire summed it up in this way: "Wherever there were needs, I went. Life was not always rosy, but I experienced many beautiful things."

And that's how Sister Claire, a dedicated woman, left us at 101 years old, to live in the eternal home!

Sister Gilberte Brien

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” (Mt. 25, 40)
March 8, 2018, Sister Gilberte Brien, 
in religion Marie-Élie-du-Carmel
went home to God. 
She was 94 years old and had been professed for 62 years.  
Born in St-Roch-de-l'Achigan, Quebec, she was the 9th of the 14 children 
of Azarie Brien and Rose-de-Lima Poitras. 
Of the eight children born before Gilberte, there were only five left at the time of her birth, the other three having died in early childhood. Gilberte was only seven years old when her 49-year-old father died. She continued her education until she was 17 years old at the Convent in l'Épiphanie, with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. She then dedicated herself to teaching, and subsequently worked in accounting at the Caisse Populaire. When she was 29, she requested to enter the SNJM Congregation.
As a novice on mission, Sister Élie-du-Carmel was named to Côteau-Station to teach Grades 8 and 9.  Following her religious profession, she taught Grade 6 for three years, in Valleyfield. She then returned to the Motherhouse for three more years of formation: juniorate and scholasticate. Upon returning to the classroom, she taught Grade 8 and 9 students as well as children with learning difficulties in Grade 6, in Longueuil, Maskinongé, Beauharnois, St-Chrysostome and Montreal. She later taught French and visual arts to primary level students in schools in the Montreal Catholic School Commission.
"Sister Gilberte taught for twenty-seven years, from pre-kindergarten to high school, including visual arts. She gave herself, body and soul, to teaching and to the education of youth with dedication, a spirit of initiative and creativity."
When she was 60, Sister Gilberte undertook a new service as assistant at the Provincial Secretariat, a service to which she dedicated herself for 10 years. Before being appointed to Ste-Émélie Residence, she lived with a community group at Rouen Residence for 19 years. For nearly 20 years, she helped the local superior and provided community services.
"Sister Gilberte’s French was impeccable; often she edited texts, including that of a doctoral thesis."
"Adept with her hands, Sister Gilberte rendered multiple services. How many dishcloths did she make?" 
"She witnessed to a hardworking and committed lifestyle."
Sadly, when she was 90, Sister Gilberte agreed to go to the Infirmary at Maison Jésus-Marie. Her turn to receive care had come! Still valiant, she would have loved to once again be of service.
May the Lord be blessed for the Sister Gilberte’s life which was tinged with a much-appreciated sense of humor!

Sister Rollande Latour

“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit.
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds alert when he comes.”
(Luke 12: 35-37)

On February 27, 2018, Sister Rollande Latour,
in religion Marie.-Marcel-Armand 
went home to God. 

She was 84 years old and had been professed for 65 years. 
Born in New-Glasgow, Quebec, she was the 15th of 16 children 
of François-Xavier Latour and Florida Brière. 

Rollande grew up in a happy and hard-working family on her parents’ farm: we recited family prayer, the rosary, and prayers to Saint Joseph. In the evenings, the neighbors would come over for card games, dances, and songs which brought joy to everyone. Rollande obtained her Grade 7 diploma at the local school. She was 12 years old when her father died, so she would have had to leave school. A Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, who happened to be in her village, offered to take her to Hochelaga Convent Boarding School where, as a Oiseau bleu (Blue Bird), she could help out with small chores and receive a basic education. Rollande lived there for a year.

When she returned home, she helped her sisters-in-law from time to time, and sometimes worked in a canning plant to earn some money. Secretly, she was contemplating religious life, and although she did not like to study, she enjoyed manual labor. When she was 15, she was being courted by a serious young man. "She told him straight out that one day she would become a religious, and stated this same fact to an SNJM Sister, who helped her to take the necessary steps."

She was 16 years old when she entered the novitiate. She wanted to save souls by offering up her work and her prayer. Accustomed to a large family, community life seemed easy for her. After her years of formation, she began her religious life as a "refectorian" and cook at Mont-Royal Convent and  Sainte-Émélie Convent Boarding Schools. 

Following that, she was assigned "permanently" as a nurses’ aid caring for the sick Sisters at the Motherhouse. For 46 years, she dedicated herself, day or night, with attentiveness, mainly on the 1st floor infirmary. With a prayerful and compassionate presence, she accompanied the Sisters who were dying. She had a three-year mandate as coordinator of the sick, on 4 East. Her presence as an animator was attentive and efficacious through her genuine compassion, love and kindness for each one. 

"Sister Rollande counted neither her time, nor her discomfort, nor her fatigue; she listened only to her immense heart. By her warm welcome, her attentive listening, and her kind attention, she knew how to heal both physical and emotional hurts.  She was a gracious, loving and a friendly companion, with whom it was a pleasure to live. She worked quietly, giving the best of herself to the end of her strength."

When the Motherhouse closed, Sister Rollande moved to Cartierville Residence where she lived for 5 years; followed by another 5 years at Ste-Émélie Residence. She provided community services: receptionist, replacement for nurses as needed, and ministry of prayer. In 2015, she was welcomed into Maison Jésus-Marie, now dedicating her time mainly to the Lord’s presence. Sister Rollande has now met Him whom she had served so well in others.

Sister Louise Rolland

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me;
whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me”
(Mt. 10, 40).

February 23, 2018, Sister Louise Rolland,
in religion Marie- Madeleine-Yvonne, 
went home to God. 

She was 93 years old and had been professed for 72 years. 
Born in Montreal, Quebec, she was the 3rd of the 3 children 
of Ernest Rolland and Yvonne Racine. 

Louise grew up in Montreal, in Paroisse St-Pierre-Claver. She first attended her parochial school and then École Saints-Anges in the neighboring parish, two schools directed by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Her mother died after Louise, who was 13 years old, had completed her elementary school studies.  Pursuing her studies, she attended Hochelaga Convent as a boarder where, after 5 years, she obtained a commercial diploma from that institute. For 2 years, Louise had felt called to religious life with the SNJMs, and at the age of 19, was accepted into the novitiate.

Upon receiving the habit, she was given the name Sister Marie-Madeleine-Yvonne. Her first assignment, teaching children in grades 4, 5 and 6 lasted for 30 years. She left her mark mainly in Longueuil at École Ste-Rose, at Pensionnat de Longueuil and in Beauharnois, at Écoles Notre-Dame and Saint-Paul. She led the Mouvement de la Croisade Eucharistique (Children’s Eucharistic Crusade) with the students from school, "developing in the children the sense of responsibility and commitment".  She was also serving as sacristan in the convent, at that time.

In 1976, Sister Louise had to leave teaching; she was needed in the finance department at the Mother-house and later at the SNJM Quebec Province level. At that time, she was living at the Motherhouse, as a member of the "Ma Maison" group. For 30 years, with faithfulness, courtesy and kindness, Sister Louise carried out the services associated with her work. With a smile and with calmness, “she knew how to put people at ease and how to solve seemingly insoluble problems".

When the Motherhouse closed, Sister Louise spent a year with a community group at Résidence Cartierville, before being welcomed into Maison Jésus-Marie. It was time for community services adapted to her physical limitations and, more and more, to a ministry of prayer. With serenity, she welcomed a last visit from the Lord to whom she had devoted her life. 

"Sister Louise was always committed with generosity, according to her abilities."

Sister Rita St-Onge

"The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want." (Ps. 22, 1)

February 22, 2018, Sister Rita St-Onge,
in religion Marie-Louis-Émile,
went home to God.
She was 98 years old and had been professed for 77 years. 
Born in Ville des Laurentides (St-Lin), Quebec, she was the 4th of 5 children 
of Louis St-Onge and Marie-Louise Pichette. 

Sister Rita's parents were deeply Christian and, in the eyes of their daughter, they were saints. They lost three of their children at a very young age. Since her mother’s health was very frail, Rita, from the time she was 3½-4 years old, was placed in the orphanage at the Sisters of Providence, where her father worked. It was there that she began her schooling, and later continued it with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary at the boarding school in St-Lin, until she was 18 years old.

Every night, Rita went home for supper, allowing her to develop a good relationship with her older brother, Paul-Émile, who introduced her to tennis, checkers, chess and even "baseball". Before returning to the convent for bedtime, Rita recited evening prayer and the rosary with her family.

When she was 18, Rita entered the SNJM Novitiate. "There was such a great desire within me that I wanted to make an effort. Nothing could stop me from moving forward, as I had decided to dedicate myself wholeheartedly.  It was said that I was tenacious and resourceful and I believed it."

Throughout her life as a teacher, spanning nearly 30 years, Sister Louis-Émile devoted herself to boys and girls at the Grade One level. Occasionally she taught in the second and third grades. She was also re-sponsible for the choir and the sacristy. And her greatest joy was "to prepare the little ones for the sacraments of Penance, Eucharist and Confirmation".

Outside of school, Sister Louis-Émile responded to the needs of her Sister companions: repairing small objects, sewing, ironing, taking care of the heating, accompanying the staff members and learning from them. St-Josaphat, Boucher-de-la-Bruere, St-Jean-de-Matha, L'Épiphanie, Charlemagne, Valois, and Howick were all places that benefitted from her work. "Wherever I went, I worked a lot outside the classroom, especially at Charlemagne, where I lived for 11 years.  I gave of myself in service to the Lord, without counting the cost." This was the leitmotif that motivated Sister Rita.

In 1967, Sister Rita arrived at the Motherhouse where she devoted thirty-eight years as a driver and was responsible for coordination of drivers and destinations (appointments etc. for the Sisters).  Availability, competency and meticulousness characterized her. In her free time, she loved to knit for the children and for the poor. The image of the sheep being carried by the Good Shepherd nurtured her relationship with God, whose tenderness she savored. When the Motherhouse closed, Sister Rita enriched the staff at Résidence Marie-Rose-Durocher: she fitted easily into the community group, discreetly witnessing to the authenticity of her gift to the Lord: knitting, reading, prayer time, card games and distributing the mail ... At the age of 94, and still with a very clear mind, she was welcomed into the infirmary in Longueuil.

"It takes the practice of abandonment to be able, at the last moment, to peacefully surrender your spirit into the Father’s hands. Abandonment is not to be taken lightly: it crowns a life of self-giving. It is through repeated acts of trust that this steadfast virtue, which enables our lives to flow into God’s, takes root within our hearts."   Sister Rita went home to God at the age of 98.

Sister Gisèle Daoust

“Come, because you are precious in my sight,
   and honoured, and I love you.” (Is 43, 4)

January 21, 2018, Sister Gisèle Daoust, 
in religion Marie Pierre-de-la-Merci 
went home to God. 

She was 89 years old and had been professed for 62 years. 
Born in Howick, Quebec, she was the 3rd of 5 children 
of Elzéar Daoust and Rose-Alma Parent.

When she was five years old, Gisèle asked her mother: "Will I be a Sister when I grow up?” She already had five aunts who were SNJM Sisters: two of her father’s sisters and three of her mother’s sisters. Her hardworking parents were staunch believers. Her father was involved in the parish, and was the pastor’s “right hand”; he was also involved at the professional level: he successfully participated in various agricultural competitions. “In going on a ‘tour of the land with Papa, and seeing the ripened wheat, I thought about becoming a missionary with the M.I.C. (Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception)”, a Congregation she would enter in 1950 and would leave three years later. 

Gisèle was 6 years old when fire razed all of the buildings on the family farm, but the fire stopped at their home. When her father threw a relic of Mother Marie-Rose into the inferno, the wind changed direction and moved towards the fields which were free of all buildings. At home, she learned respect for priests and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Every month, if they failed to get to church, the family would participate in adoration during the night, from two o’clock to three o’clock in the morning. 

Gisèle attended the local school up until the 7th grade, and then went to the convent in Ste-Martine, before going to the École Normale de Valleyfield. "Following graduation and being very proud of my teaching diploma, I taught for a year and a half at Village St-Pierre, a satellite community of our parish. As expected, I entered the M.I.C. Congregation at Pont-Viau in February, 1950. Concerning my novitiate with the M.I.C., I want to remember only the graces received during those three years: hours of adoration, nightly recitation of the rosary, etc. In retrospect, I admit, it was a grace!"

In 1953, upon returning home, Gisèle taught for two years, and confident of her call to religious life, she entered the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.  There she was reunited with her sister Claire, who had entered before her. She summed up her religious life in this way: "Teaching was fulfilling for me. I loved life, my family, the community, and my students."

Sister Pierre-de-la-Merci was happy and grateful for her 30 years of teaching young people, especially at the Secondary Level where she was a French specialist; for her involvement in the Catechumenate with people who were preparing for Baptism; and for her service at the General Administration doing translations from English to French for close to 20 years. 

In her relationships with others, Sister Gisèle was welcoming, warm, and peaceful; she was readily available to be of service. Proud of her French language, she endeavored to develop in young people a taste for beauty and work well done. Easily distracted she welcomed, with a sense of humor, the results of her lack of attention. Even when she was ill, she continued to show an interest in reading the newspapers.

For the last six years of her life, Sister Gisèle lived in the infirmary, devoting herself to the ministry of prayer: the psalms and the Eucharist nourished her hunger for God. As her health failed, she gradually moved towards the God whom she loved.

Other articles in the section In Memory
Sister Claire Montcalm
Sister Gilberte Brien
Sister Rollande Latour
Sister Louise Rolland
Sister Rita St-Onge
Sister Gisèle Daoust
Sister Pauline Labbé
Sister Jeannine Dargis
Sister Monique Longpré
Sister Thérèse Laramée