Sister Françoise Laberge
“Those who live in me and I in them will bear much fruit.” (John 15:5)
On August 31, 2023, Sister Françoise Laberge,
whose religious name was Sister Marie-Jacinthe,
went home to God.
She was 103 years old, with 73 years of religious profession.
Born in Sainte-Martine, Québec, she was the 7th of the 8 children
of Joseph-Édouard Laberge and Maria Giroux.
Françoise grew up on the family farm. Her father, suffering from poor health, was unable to adequately provide for the family, so they lived in economic deprivation. Despite this, her mother, “showed exceptional generosity, always ready to help those in need.” Even from her childhood, Françoise, who had a nostalgic personality, talked about her longing for heaven, and she was “willing to walk to the ends of the earth” to attain it. She was happy to start school and she wanted her younger sister Marie-Marthe, who had special needs, to succeed there too.
Françoise continued her studies in Sainte Martine and obtained her diploma in home economics. She was immediately offered a teaching post in a country school in the town of Saint-Telesphore, then a post working with adults in Arvida. However, after four years, she felt obliged to return home to help her family. During those years at home, she felt called to religious life. She consulted her bishop, Mgr. Paul-Émile Léger, and at 28 years of age, she decided to enter the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
Françoise’s novitiate was a positive experience and she rejoiced in the name she was given, Sister Marie-Jacinthe. Immediately following her first profession of vows, she began a career of teaching home economics for 27 years, in various schools: Baril, Sainte-Véronique, Marie-Immaculée, Jeanne-Mance and Marie-Rose. At the age of 57, Sister Marie-Jacinthe again faced urgent problems in her family, with a severely disabled sister and an aging mother. Faced with these problems, she obtained permission to assist her family full time. Those difficult years led to her needing time to rest upon returning to community life.
Back at Marie-Rose-Durocher, Sister Françoise, with a lightened load of responsibilities, participated wholeheartedly in the daily community schedule. She radiated her love for God and for her Sisters. In the year 2000, Françoise was missioned to the Motherhouse, and after three years, she entered the infirmary.
Sister Françoise spent the last twenty years of her life in an ever-deeper relationship with God. She also multiplied her caring attention for her family, continued to marvel at nature, and cultivated her loving presence to those around her. Up to and including her last week of life, Sister Françoise astounded us with her lucidity, her daily fidelity, and her gratefulness. She wanted her funeral to be marked by joy, thanksgiving, and music, a wish that was joyfully and gratefully fulfilled.