Sister Françoise Bastien
“Wisdom is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of the goodness of God.” Wisdom 7: 26.
February 12, 2012, Sister Françoise Bastien,
in religion, Marie-Jeanne Cordélia,
went home to God.
She was 99 years old and had been professed for 76 years.
Born in St-Léonard-de-Port-Maurice, Quebec, she was the 8th of 10 children of Wilfrid Bastien and Cordélia Delorme.
Françoise attended the primary school of her parish and then began her secondary studies at the Mont-Royal Boarding School where, at the age of 17, attained her “diplôme supérieur” at St-Roch de l’Achigan. Returning home, she helped her mother with household duties and when needed, worked as a secretary for her father, the mayor of St-Léonard. She did not forget her teachers; and at the age of 21 she asked to enter their Congregation.
Sister Jeanne-Cordélia had an austere outward appearance because of her stature and prominent eyebrows. As an SNJM teaching Sister, she was dedicated and conscientious. Her entire active life was marked by an ease in communicating, attention to the poor, and an all-inclusive kindness. Her remarkable discretion led her to be trusted by others and enabled the growth of her pupils, as well as that of her religious companions.
After having taught for 7 years at the primary level, she moved to Collège Jésus-Marie in Outremont where she taught classical courses, facilitated Catholic Action groups continued her studies toward receiving a “Licence ès Lettres”.
“We would love to visit Aunt Françoise because the visit was always lively; she would take an interest in us, would speak effortlessly and easily, and her charisma always enriched us.”
She was 53 years old when she was asked to serve as the Provincial Superior of the Maisonneuve Province. When this 6-year mandate ended, Sister Françoise returned to work with youth as a substitute teacher at the CECM (Montreal Catholic School Commission).
At the age of 64, she gave up teaching permanently to dedicate herself to services within the community. She would do all types of work: local superior, telephone operator, assistant bookkeeper, cafeteria maintenance, medical secretary, assistant provincial bursar, folding clothes, in charge of recycling…For this woman who was tactful, humble, dedicated and resourceful, no task was beneath her.
“Sister Françoise did not allow herself to judge others; on the contrary, she saw the goodness in people. In positions of authority, her common sense and broadmindedness allowed her to adapt to situations and contributed to the happiness of each one.”
When Sister Françoise was 88 years old she retired, and the following year she was admitted to the infirmary for good. A loss of memory affected her ability to take care of basic needs which necessitated supervision of her daily activities. Sister Françoise never complained and continued to be attentive and sensitive to others and interested her surroundings. Prayer, spiritual reading and intimacy with God cultivated a wisdom open to Eternity.