Sister Denise Desjardins
“My heart is steadfast, O God. I will sing and make melody!” (Ps 57, 8)
December 12, 2013, Sister Denise Desjardins,
in religion Marie-de-la-Providence
went home to God.
She was 81 years old and had been professed for 57 years.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, she was the youngest of 8 children
of Lionel Desjardins and Béatrice Jacques.
Following the lead of her older brothers and sisters and her parents, Denise loved to sing. To her regular studies, she added music and singing lessons. She first attended Ste-Eulalie School and then the Eulalie-Durocher Normal School and subsequently the Vincent-d’Indy School of Music.
After completing these courses with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and following a year and a half of teaching, Denise entered the SNJM Novitiate in Outremont where she received the name Marie-de-la-Providence. She was 22 years old.
Sister Marie-de-la-Providence’s life would be dedicated to the vocal arts in their various forms. For nearly 25 years, she taught music and singing in our boarding schools: Marie-Rose, St-Nom-de-Marie, Hochelaga, Valleyfield and at the secondary level in St-Lambert. “Sister Denise had the gift of enabling her students to love participating in a choir.”
Without completely giving up musical education, Sister Denise agreed to serve as an assistant for liturgy services for the St-Jean-Longueuil Diocese. “During a period of great liturgical change, she visited numerous parishes in the diocese to enable those in charge to become familiar with the current liturgical changes. She inspired confidence and she knew how to listen.”
Then followed an appointment by her Provincial Superior and the Episcopal Commission of Liturgy for Canada: “For a year, the National Council of Music in Liturgy has benefitted from the competent collaboration and volunteer work of Sister Denise Desjardins, SNJM. (…) Her presence, one day a week, allowed us to move forward in the liturgical music renewal in French Canada”, stated the Director of the National Liturgy Office, Jean-Bernard Allard, P.S.S. in July 1979.
After these 7 years of service, Sister Denise motivated by the concern which she always had for the sick, specialized in music therapy. At the same time, she remained as president of “l’Inter-Liturgie” in Montreal, and continued to teach music and singing.
When she was 60, Sister Denise accepted to serve as the local animator at Résidence Édouard-Montpetit. “As an excellent organizer, she knew how to support the sick and her Sisters during times of difficulty.” Deeply dedicated, enterprising and competent, she put her music therapy to good use in our infirmaries at the Motherhouse, in Valleyfield and in some other medical centers. These experiences led her to publish a book in 2001: “Vivre et revivre avec la musique “.
For some years, Sister Denise’s health had been declining. When she was 80, she withdrew to Maison Jésus-Marie where she continued to serve the community, according to her strength. Her entire life was a song of praise to the God of talents!