Sister Bérengère Champagne
“My beloved is mine and I am his.” Canticles 2, 16
December 11, 2014, Sister Bérengère Champagne,
in religion Sister Marie-Noëlline
went home to God.
She was 91 years old and had been professed for 73 years.
Born in Contrecoeur (Verchères) in Quebec,
on December fifteenth, 1922,
she was the fifth of the six children
of Georges Champagne and Anoria Janson.
Bérengère grew up in a very fervent family in which two children would become religious: her brother Ange-Aimé (Brother Émile) F.E.C. (Brothers of the Christian Schools) and Bérangère with the SNJM’s.
She studied at the local school in the town in which she was born, until the seventh grade. On July twenty-fourth, 1939, when she was sixteen years old, she entered the novitiate at the SNJM Motherhouse in Outremont.
At the time of her religious profession, she was named refectorian in the boarding schools which had high student enrolments: Mont-Royal and Valleyfield, and then, when she made her perpetual vows, she was named cook at the Motherhouse up until 1946.
That same year, when she was twenty-four years old, Sister Bérengère was assigned to the farm in Dorval. She was in charge of the garden and the stable. The team in the house was comprised of four or five Sisters who were assisted by two or three lay people. The Sisters took care of the upkeep of the house and formed a regular local community. Their work was focused mainly on the farm: In addition to sales on site throughout the years, the Sisters “were concerned with the needs of the Motherhouse which was newly constructed and was expanding. They sent goods and recipes there.”
In 1954, at the time of the sale of the land in Dorval for the building of an airport, the farm was moved to Lachenaie and Sister Bérangère remained there until 1968. In 1960, she put her energy into a special project: “the farm’s participation in the competition for the Order of Agricultural Merit of Quebec”. The farm won the silver medal. In 1968, she returned to the Motherhouse where she worked as the cook, as well as cooking in Pierrefonds, our new farm.
In 1971, she took a course in social culture in Val Morin with the Brothers of the Christian Schools and in 1980, she studied at Cap-de-la-Madeleine.
A woman of many talents, Sister Bérengère, who was now at Collège Durocher, began a second career: bookbinding, which she put to good use in the libraries in our educational institutions for eighteen years. In 2003, during the time of extensive construction on the land in Longueuil, she lived with the Sisters of Providence, in Cartierville. She was then named to Résidence Ste-Émélie, to carry out community service. In 2011, due to health problems, she was welcomed into Maison Jésus-Marie where she exercised a ministry of prayer.
Throughout her whole life, Sister Bérengère was a woman of service, warm, welcoming and serene, with multiple talents. The Lord most certainly welcomed her with open arms: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master”. Matthew 25, 23