Sister Élisabeth Maheu

“Come, you are very dear to me, you are precious in my eyes, and I love you” (Is. 43, 4)

On the 12th of January 2020, Sister Élisabeth Maheu,
in religion Marie-Valentine,
went home to God.

She was 99 years of age, with 72 years of religious profession.
Born in St-Louis-de-Gonzague, Quebec, she was the 7th of the 13 children
of Pierre Maheu and Valentine Daoust.

In Élisabeth’s family there were 12 girls and one boy who died at 10 years of age. “My parents were farmers, not rich, but we never lacked what was necessary. They willingly made sacrifices in order to send each of us to boarding school for at least two or three years.”

Élisabeth went to public school before she went, as a boarder, to the convent school in her village. Then, after completing the 8th grade, she became a boarder at the convent in Ste-Martine where the Sisters of the Holy Names directed a Home Economics school. Élizabeth remained there for four years.

“I received my first call to religious life when I was 12 years of age, at the time when my sister Flore entered our community.  My vocation grew gradually, particularly during my years in Ste-Martine.  I entered the Congregation when I was 19 years old”.

Sister Marie-Valentine was well prepared to teach sewing in our Home Economics Institutes. Assigned to Sainte-Martine, she was a sewing teacher for 12 years, followed by five years at the St. Lambert Institut Familial; then seven years in our Home Economics Teachers’ College in Outremont. With the education reform following the Dumont Report in the 1960’s, the home economics institutes disappeared and were replaced by CEGEP’s (general and vocational colleges offering a two or three-year program). Assigned to Verchères, Sister Elisabeth was in charge of the students at Marie-Rose High School, taught plastic arts and also oversaw the audio-visual services.

“A true, discreet, and organized educator and companion, who was pleasant to be with, Sister Elisabeth witnessed to Gospel values in unassuming ways.“She was attentive to people, listening more than speaking. With excellent interpersonal skills, she easily cultivated friendships.”

Starting in 1975, Sister Élizabeth lived 20 years with a group dedicated to various aspects of pastoral animation: the choir; catechetical initiation; the group for senior citizens, of which she assumed the leadership; and the parish council. At the same time, she continued helping out in the Motherhouse sewing room. In 1995, Sister Élisabeth, then 75 years of age, joined the Marie-Rose Durocher community. She served as receptionist and became involved in St. Alphonse-d’Youville Parish, all the while helping out at the Motherhouse.  In 2013, already in her 90’s and suffering from diminished hearing, she moved to the infirmary at Maison Jésus-Marie.

Even in the infirmary, Sister Élisabeth kept a structured daily schedule to which she was accustomed. The deafness from which she suffered made communication almost impossible. However, she remained a woman of prayer, open to God’s tender care and therefore ready for the Great Encounter.