Sister Agnès Bertrand
“Our heart is glad in the Lord, because we trust in His holy name.”
Ps. 33, 21
March 4, 2013, Sister Agnès Bertrand,
in religion Marie-Cécile-Henriette
went home to God.
She was 88 years old and had been professed for 66 years.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, she was the 17th of 21 children of
Jean-Baptiste Routhier-Bertrand and Henrica Boës.
Agnès’ father was in charge of the chapel at Saint-Jean-de-la-Croix Parish. She attended the parochial school run by the Sisters of Sainte-Anne, and later by the Sisters of Holy Cross. She was about 8 years old when her father died. Her home life was deeply religious and very well organized.
”We prayed as a family, we sang, played the piano with the oldest ones teaching the youngest, each one complying to a practice schedule, and we also listened to a lot of classical music. Agnès was remarkably gifted at the piano: she played by ear.”
When she was 13, Agnès began to take music lessons with the Sisters of Holy Cross. She completed the 6th grade in this art. She was also bilingual, because at home they spoke English with their mother. When she finished her 9th grade, Agnes worked in the office of Drouin Genealogists.
From a very young age, Agnès wanted to give herself to the Lord as a contemplative. But when she was old enough, her health did not allow for it. She spent 3 months with the Sisters of Holy Cross but could not continue.
Sister Marie-Stéphane, directress of the Vincent-d’Indy Superior School of Music, heard about Agnès’ musical talent and suggested that she take piano lessons in the evening. When she was 19, Agnès followed in the footsteps of one of her older sisters, Sister Rose-Cécile, and entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
Despite fragile health throughout her entire life, Sister Cécile-Henriette, who was passionate about music, taught piano for 37 years, in Ontario: Windsor and Rivières-aux-Canards; in Quebec: Viauville, Sainte-Martine, Valleyfield and Vincent-d’Indy .
At the age of 57, Sister Agnès had to give up teaching and, to the extent of her capabilities, provided invaluable service as a telephone operator and receptionist.
Her last 8 years were devoted to the ministry of prayer. Sister Agnès took comfort in praying the Breviary.
“Serious, meditative, and very quiet, she endured her prolonged illness by repeating wholeheartedly ‘I give myself, I abandon myself…’ or: ‘One day at a time, one hour at a time…’, and was happy to be able to frequently visit the chapel.”