Sister Claire Lachance

“Abide in Me as I abide in you”  (John 15:4)

April 2, 2015, Sister Claire Lachance,
in religion Marie Rita
went home to God.

She was 83 years old
and had been professed for 63 years.

Born in Montreal, Quebec,
she was the 3rd and only surviving child of the four children
of James Edmund Lachance and Blanche Yvonne Poirier.  

Claire was two years old when her mother died after giving birth to a little sister who also died. Her father, with his only child, Claire, then went back to live with his mother, who had only been widowed for a month. “From her youth, Claire was drawn to a loving God as she followed in the footsteps of her grandmother.”  It was from this woman, an Irish woman with a deep faith that the child, surrounded by attention, learned to pray and to conscientiously attend the parish church. When she began school at Saint Aloysius, she already knew all her prayers. Sister Claire maintained grateful memories of each of her teachers, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary: “They were always very kind to me, perhaps because I did not have a mother?”

Looking at the Sisters who taught her and whom she admired, Claire dreamed of becoming a Sister: she was sixteen years old at the time. She then decided to continue her classical studies at Hochelaga Convent. Assisted by Sister Mary Raphaeldis, she prepared her trousseau and entered the novitiate two years later.  There she received the name of Sister Marie-Rita.

For 38 years, Sister Marie-Rita taught from grades 3 to 10 in our schools and boarding schools, particularly at: Outremont, St. Aloysius, Holy Names High, South Shore Catholic High, Marie-Rose… while continuing to study for a Bachelor of Arts, and specializing in mathematics. At Vincent Massey High School, she was head of the Mathematics Department. During her last five years of teaching, Sister Claire taught English as a second language. She had also made herself available as a driver for her Sisters at Résidence Marie-Rose Durocher, and then at Résidence Ste-Émélie, a service which she provided for 27 years, right up until she went into the infirmary, nearly four years ago.

“Sister Claire was cheerful by nature, pleasant, and very compassionate. She was loved by her students, dedicated to her sisters, interested in life, approachable, fun-loving, a little naive, but always generous and devout.”  “Sister Claire sought to grow intellectually and spiritually; she considered it a privilege to be part of a faith-sharing group which met one weekend a year for over ten years.”

Her sojourn in the infirmary would be marked by a gradual loss of her lucidity and her cherished independence. A short prayer, often used by Sister Claire was:

“Holy Spirit, make us one in love”.