Sister Berthe Maheu
“It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.“ Luke 13: 21
December 25 2010, Sister Berthe Maheu
in religion, M.-Pierre-Eugène
went home to God.
She was 93 years old and had been professed for 73 years.
Born in St-Louis-de-Gonzague, Québec, she was the 5th of 13 children
of Pierre Maheu and Valentine Daoust.
Berthe grew up in the midst of her 11 sisters, on her parents’ farm where the last child, a long-awaited boy, died accidentally at the age of 10. There we learned about work, courage, and faith: “My parents were courageous Christians. The day ended by saying the rosary as a family and with evening prayer. My mother assisted my father with the farm work; she would spend her evenings making coats, dresses and undergarments for her daughters.”
Berthe attended the local school and then the parochial convent until she obtained her Superior Teaching Diploma from the Central Office. “At the age of 9, I told my classroom teacher of my dream of one day becoming a religious. She told me that it would be realized. From then on, I never changed my mind and never questioned my vocation.”
A month before turning 17, Berthe went to join her sister Flore, at the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. They were the first two to leave the family home. Sister Pierre-Eugène began her career teaching children in the École Baril where she was very happy. After 7 years, “They asked me if I would agree to teach home economics. I reflected on it and accepted to change direction”.
For 30 years, Sister Berthe took up the challenge and was greatly appreciated by her students, many of whom stayed in touch. While teaching, she studied for her Baccalaureate in Family Pedagogy, an Arts Degree in Hygiene and a Baccalaureate in Pedagogy.
Sister Berthe describes herself as “timid and courageous, with a sense of duty” and admitted to “living with anxiety regarding changes in her life”.
A second career with youth awaited Sister Berthe: assistant librarian for 19 years at Vincent-d’Indy then at ‘Pavillon St-Lambert’; “dedicated, discreet, faithful to the job, always present to the young people, her heart as an educator never seemed to age”. At 75 years of age, after 56 years in education, Sister Berthe retired while still remaining active by helping with community services.
She moved to the Saint-André Pavilion at Maison Jésus-Marie at the age of 88. Was this the end to helping those around her? “Facing the multiple services to be rendered to the sick, helping during “bees”,organizing feast day celebrations, she would very discretely, without imposing herself, turn up to help out at the right moment.”