Sister Gabrielle Bourassa
“The Kingdom of God is like leaven which a woman took and hid
in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” Lk 13: 20, 21
On October 23, 2009, Sister Gabrielle Bourassa,
her religious name M.-Jeanne-Madeleine,
went home to the Father.
She was 95 years of age, with 69 years of religious profession.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, she was the 5th of the11 children
of Alexandre Bourassa and Émérentienne Bleau.
Gabrielle was born into a family where religious vocations flourished abundantly: among her relatives, she counted 37 members in 17 different Congregations! At 18 years of age, she committed herself, by private vow, because as she wrote, “My heart is completely given to God.”
She taught household arts in the CECM (Montreal Catholic School Commission) to 625 students, was committed to the newly inaugurated JIC (Jeunesse indépendente catholique) as federal leader, found time to participate in a study group, was a member of the parish choir and also worked for a local newspaper.
These were six years of full-time involvement before she entered the SNJM Congregation with whom she had studied and where she had developed a special devotion to Mother Marie-Rose.
Should we be surprised that community commitments varied throughout the years, for this woman of multiple talents! The family institutions of Quebec, their professors and diverse religious congregations, all benefited from her competence: years of schooling, summer courses, writing and editing courses on nutrition and food chemistry. The student boarders, future professors or university students flourished in the discovery of this very feminine and committed woman.
Youth movements and adults JEC (Jeunesse Étudiante Catholique), Congrégation mariale (similar to the Sodality of Our Lady), liturgy, alumni, needy people, CRC-Q (Canadian Religious Conference – Quebec region), Diocese of Montreal, were a few of the areas that benefited greatly from her devotedness and experience. Sister Gabrielle loved to commit herself and to persevere right to the end. Her giving of herself to God and to others was immeasurable.
She also lived through hours of darkness and rejection . . . with much magnanimity.
At the age of 64, she became the leader of her local community and for 18 years, she was attentive to needs of the Sisters and concerned with their continued formation. As the years slowed her down, Sister Gabrielle led guided tours of our Motherhouse, composed documents, and devoted herself to the ministry of prayer.
Retired to Saint Charles Pavilion at Maison Jésus-Marie, Longueuil, for the last three years, she could say, “My soul is ready, Lord.” To the great surprise of everyone, she left us very quickly. The Master of the Harvest came to get the mustard seed which had grown so well and had become the tallest of trees.