Sister Élisabeth Gravel
“I am with you always, until the end of time.” Mt. 28:20
July 22, 2014, Sister Élisabeth Gravel,
in religion Marie-Ange-Pauline
went home to God.
She was 77 years old and had been professed for 53 years.
Born in Baie-des-Ouines, in the village of Maskinongé, Quebec,
she was the fourth of five children of
Alide Gravel and Marie-Ange Béland.
Living happily with her family, and “cherished by her parents, especially her father”, Élisabeth attended school at Petit-Bois, about a mile and a half from her home, a distance which she walked during her first three years of school. Following that, she continued her studies, until the eleventh grade inclusively, as a boarder at the convent in Maskinongé which was run by the SNJM Sisters. While studying there, she also obtained a Grade 5 Piano Certificate.
Élisabeth wrote: “My vocation was inspired through the influence of Sister Marie-Béatrice.” In 1956, at the Ste-Ursule de Maskinongé Normal School, she received her Class C certificate in Teaching. She then taught at the school in Petit-Bois where her qualities as a teacher were already beginning to show. For three years, in spite of her small stature, she taught with great authority and influence over her thirty-one students from Grades 4 to 7. On July twenty-fourth, 1959, when she was twenty-two years old, she entered the SNJM Novitiate in Outremont.
In 1961-62, as a young professed, Sister Élisabeth received her Class B certificate at the Scholasticate at the Motherhouse. She was then appointed to teach at École Marie-Rose in St-Sauveur-des-Monts. In 1965-66, she returned to the Motherhouse for her Juniorate year where, in addition to formation more focused on religious life, she continued to study for a Class A certificate in Teaching and a Baccalaureate in Music from École Vincent d’Indy.
The following year, she returned to St-Sauveur where she would live for more than fifty years and would teach at École Marie-Rose for thirty-three of those years. In 1971, she founded the “Chorale des Jeunes” (a youth choir) and in 2011, she celebrated the fortieth anniversary of her choir. On the occasion of her death, the newspaper from the Pays d’en-Haut, “La Vallée”, wrote: “Sister Élisabeth Gravel’s smile and her zest for life will remain engraved in the memories of several generations of people in Saint Sauveur.”
In fragile health, she suffered a stroke in 1994 and required a lengthy stay in the infirmary at the Motherhouse in Outremont. But her love for the young people and her apostolate in St-Sauveur provided her with the energy necessary for intensive and rather surprising rehabilitation. In 1995, she returned to St-Sauveur for another “twenty years of happiness”.
In April 2014, she was admitted into the infirmary at Maison Jésus-Marie in Longueuil, where she died in July of that same year. Based on her writings, the certainty of Jesus’ presence and the Blessed Virgin’s help were her support. From now on, heavenly music will accompany Sister Élisabeth for all eternity.