Sister Denise Cloutier
“The Lord will be your everlasting light.” (Is. 60:19)
On October 2, 2023, Sister Denise Cloutier,
in religion, Sister Blanche-de-Marie,
went home to God.
She was 92 years old, with 69 years as a vowed religious.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, she was the 6th of the seven daughters
of Émile Cloutier and Blanche Desjardins.
Denise grew up in Rosemont, a quiet neighborhood in Montreal. Her father was a good Christian man, a pastry chef full of wisdom regarding human relations and very capable with his hands. Her mother was an excellent housekeeper and also someone who created harmony around her. Every night, the family united to pray the rosary with Cardinal Léger on the radio. Denise attended Saint-Nom-de-Jésus School and Saint-Émélie Convent, two institutions directed by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. After completing her high school, she worked in the office of an insurance company.
“I experienced the Lord’s call intensely during a retreat based on the three vocations (single, married or religious). I had a thirst for the infinite. I was twenty-one when I entered the SNJM community in Outremont, happy to give my life to the One whom I would love forever.
After her novitiate, Sister Blanche-de-Marie (Denise) taught the younger children in elementary schools in Maskinongé, Saint-Jean-de-Matha, and Saint-Lambert. She was also in charge of boarders in Valleyfield and at Mont-Jésus-Marie. A four-year experience as a nurse’s aid helped her discover her gifts of patience and listening. Then she returned to Mont-Jésus-Marie to be in charge of students for nineteen more years. She was happy there and so were the children.: “The children gave me so much ‘joie de vivre’ and an eternal youthfulness.”
The 33 years in education went by quickly for Sister Denise. When the time to retire came, she kept busy serving as the person responsible for hospitality at the general administration of the Congregation. Being a welcoming, discreet, thoughtful person, she contributed greatly to the well-being of the visitors. During the last 30 years of her life, Denise also helped in the secretariat, in the sacristy, and in the laundry; and, added to that, she volunteered at the Manoir-Trinité Shelter and visited the sick at the SNJM community infirmary. She was known for her courage despite a cancer that sapped her strength.
With the closing of the Congregational House, Denise and her companions moved to Maison Jésus-Marie. Barely a year had passed when Denise, according to her custom, made another retreat in Rougemont, a place of “great spiritual moments of grace and of accompaniment, of being touched by the Holy Spirit in my struggles. My happiness and joy is to be a daughter of Mother Marie-Rose and to belong to the One whom my heart loves. He seduced me. He is my eternal light.” A few weeks later, a fall precipitated the moment of Denise’s great departure: she was ready for full union with God!