Sister Claire Montcalm
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Ps. 119, 105)
March 10, 2018, Sister Claire Montcalm,
in religion Marie.-Marcelle-Josèphe
went home to God.
She was 101 years old and had been professed for 82 years.
Born in Montreal (Verdun), Quebec, she was the 3rd of the 7 children
of Joseph Montcalm and Adélina Laberge.
Shortly after Claire’s birth in Montreal, her father settled on a farm in St-Louis-de-Gonzague. Claire attended the local school where her cousin, whom she really liked, taught. After finishing 7th grade, she continued her studies as a boarder at Couvent de St-Louis-de-Gonzague directed by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Upon graduation, at the age of 17, she entered the SNJM novitiate.
As a junior professed, Sister Marcelle-Josèphe taught Grades 1 to 7 at the primary level, for seven years. Then, for 22 years, she was a culinary arts teacher at the high school level for grades 8 to 12. She was interested in natural sciences, and geography, and was responsible for Cercles de Jeunes naturalistes (Circles of Young Naturalists). Sister Claire adapted easily, liked new experiences, was very clever, and knew how to do just about everything. She enjoyed learning and continued to pursue university courses while teaching. At the age of 98, she said: “I have changed work and residences so often!” In fact, she had lived in twenty-eight community residences: a real record!
When she left teaching, she went to Churchill, Manitoba for a year, taking advantage of her vacation to spend time in the Northwest Territories. Back in Quebec, after a year of doctrinal renewal, she became involved in parish work, handling accounting, sacramental preparation, the sacristy, working with people with AIDS and with seniors, visiting the sick, cooking for parish pastors, and rendering a variety of community services, such as receptionist, etc.
“A very independent woman, she took buses to go everywhere there was some good to be done and this means of transportation provided her with contacts because she spoke with people who would tell her about their experiences.” She made friends everywhere. “
Ever appreciative of life, Sister Claire summed it up in this way: “Wherever there were needs, I went. Life was not always rosy, but I experienced many beautiful things.”
And that’s how Sister Claire, a dedicated woman, left us at 101 years old, to live in the eternal home!