Sister Bertha Bleau
“In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us …” 1 Jn. 4, 10
December 24, 2012, Sister Bertha Bleau,
in religion Marie-Damien,
went home to God.
She was 101 years old and had been professed for 80 years.
Born in Épiphanie, Quebec, she was eldest of the 9 children
of Hermas Bleau and Éva Ricard.
Bertha studied as a day student at the l’Épiphanie Boarding School. She was studious and diligent, and did very well. At home, she provided valuable assistance to her mother. When she was 18, she worked as a typist for a year, before entering the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
For 36 years, Sister Marie-Damien taught grades 1 to 5 at the primary level in our schools and boarding schools both on the South Shore and in Montreal: de la Nativité, Jeannotte, St-Josaphat, Ste-Rose, Bonsecours Schools…; Marie-Rose, St-Lambert, Hochelaga Boarding Schools… As a teacher, she did her utmost to ensure that her students succeeded.
When she was 59 years old, and for the next 31 years, Sister Bertha, with her great determination, rendered service at the Motherhouse: maintenance, nursing, cafeteria.
She used this time to express her devotion to the Sacred Heart, a large statue of whom reigned in the old novitiate. During her comings and goings, she greeted him with piety and reaffirmed her love: “You know how deeply devoted I am to you!”.
Sister Bertha’s last 12 years were spent in the infirmary at the Motherhouse and then at Maison Jésus-Marie in Longueuil.
“Sister Bertha still loved chocolate and search-a-word puzzles”. “From the window of her room, she was able to appreciate the beauty of nature which surrounded her and gave thanks to the Creator.” “Her piety was nourished by the Eucharist.”
The closed-circuit television, through which she could visit the tabernacle, provided her with a way of living in the presence of her Lord. The suffering during her final days helped her prepare to meet the God to whom she had dedicated her 101 years of life!