Sister Augustine Bougie

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10, 10)

November 7, 2015, Sister Augustine Bougie , 
in religion Sister Gaston-Marie 
went home to God. 

She was 107 years old and had been professed for 79 years. 
Born in St-Stanislas-de-Kostka, Quebec, she was the 7th of the 16 children 
of Emery Bougie and Parmélia Courville.

Augustine was baptized on Christmas day: what a great joy! From her parents she learned a sense of duty, the value of education, of sharing, and of welcoming the poor. Since her father, a man who was ahead of his times, was an electrician (remember it was but the very beginning of electrification in Quebec), he was able to have his daughters educated. And so, Augustine studied as a day student until the 8th grade at the boarding school in Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, where the family was living. At home, life was pleasant and we warmly welcomed many people: we greatly enjoyed music and dancing.

As each one grew up, the Bougie sisters left home while the next one in line would take over helping their mother. However, Augustine skipped her turn because the school inspector requested her presence at the local school to replace a teacher who had gotten married. Augustine left the village and returned only on weekends.

At the age of 26, she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. After her religious profession, and having previous teaching experience, Sister Gaston-Marie devoted herself for the next 29 years to teaching children at the primary level, especially grades one, two and three.  Among other places, she used her enthusiasm and her creativity at Ste-Jeanne-d’Arc, St-Louis-de-Gonzague, St-Chrysostome…

When she was 57 years old, a new appointment awaited her: assistant for community services, which she did for 30 years: general assistance, receptionist, sacristan at the cathedral in Valleyfield and at École Vincent-d’Indy where she also undertook the supervision of students and continued to be passionate and dynamic. Upon retiring, she once again found ways of being of service by accompanying those who were sick and as a telephone operator. Sister Augustine’s prayer life was marked “by pious practices from her childhood. She did nothing to draw attention to herself but her spirit of piety filtered through.” At the age of 97, Sister Augustine was welcomed into the Infirmary at St-Charles Pavilion in Longueuil.

Sister Augustine’s gratitude was expressed especially through the text which she wrote, five years before her death, with the day of her funeral in mind: “Before leaving this earth, I want to give thanks for all the blessings received.” Then followed a list of “Thank you’s”   adapted to each one: God, her family, her Congregation, the leaders, her companions, the nurses and other personnel in the infirmary.

“Sister Augustine experienced life as a wonderful gift and that life is always fruitful when we live to love.”