Sister Bernadette Sylvain
“Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12)
On February 9, 2023, Sister Bernadette Sylvain,
in religion Michel-de-l’Immaculée,
went home to God
She was 89 years of age, with 68 years as a vowed religious.
Born in Saint-Hippolyte de Kilkenny, in the Laurentians, Québec,
she was the 2nd of the 13 children
born to Armand Sylvain and Marie Sigouin.
Bernadette completed her studies at Saint-Lin Convent, directed by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Equipped with a rich life experience with her 8 brothers and 4 sisters, she entered the SNJM novitiate at 19 years of age. At the ceremony of the taking of the holy habit, she received the name Michel-de-l’Immaculée, a reminder of her birth on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Bernadette was an elementary school teacher, primarily with the boys of Mont-Jésus-Marie, where she taught for more than 30 wonderful years, from 1972 to 2002. During her teaching career, she also taught elsewhere: at Saint-Lin-des-Laurentides, Verchères, Saint-Germain d’Outremont, and Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts.
“In her class, one observed discipline and a certain rigour, but also a sense of mutual warmth and affection. The atmosphere was calm and conducive to working hard and achieving academic success.” Sister Bernadette had a joyful heart and knew how to set aside time for leisure when, as one of her students noted, “We had fun, broke out into laughter, and had a really great time.” Throughout her 42 years of teaching, “several generations of students profited from her know-how and remained grateful.” “Being an excellent pedagogue, she knew how to develop a significant relationship with each one of her students.” A natural innovator, she wrote in the late sixties: “My students often took charge of the organization of the class themselves, calling upon their own initiative, creativity and ingenuity. I am happily surprised by their capacity to discover, to innovate, and to animate their student activities in a climate of fraternity, helpfulness, and mutual trust.”
Upon her retirement, Bernadette became part of the welcoming teams at St. Sauveur and Val-Morin, as needed. Being a pleasant companion, who was happy to serve and readily available, Bernadette took on various tasks, such as housekeeping, receptionist, listener, liturgical animator, and member of a prayer group. Sainte-Émélie and Maison Jésus-Marie appreciated the peace and friendliness she radiated right up to the moment when she welcomed the coming of her Lord, experiencing the words proclaimed by Saint John in his first epistle: “When Christ appears, we will be like Him, because we will see him as He is.” (1 John 3:2).