Sister Gabrielle Cossette
“I have carved you in the palm of my hand, because I am Yahweh, your God.” (Is 43, 6).
August 9, 2017, Sister Gabrielle Cossette
in religion Sister Richard-Marie
went home to God.
She was 98 years old and had been professed for 73 years.
Born in Proulxville, Quebec, she was the 7th of the 14 children
of Henri Cossette and Laura Lefebvre.
Gabrielle’s father was an important farmer: vast land, two large mills: a saw mill and a flour mill, situated on the outskirts of the village. “In the evening after school, we would go with dad to the mill, to help him ‘pack’ the shingles and make sure that he was not alone in the mill to grind all the grains of wheat, oats and barley for the local farmers.” said Gabrielle. “It was a lesson in working and in thinking about others.”
“My mother had too much work with the young children, and so when I was 13 years old I stayed home to help her, because my sister Maria had entered the convent. My mother came before my studies.” Gabrielle was hard working and spirited. While other girls had a chance to study – they would become teachers – she followed her father’s advice: “Do not leave your mother alone with the younger children.” Gabrielle was happy within her family where peace, mutual understanding and love reigned.
“Within my heart I always had a deep love, a call to the religious life” she said. When she was 23 years old, she joined her three older sisters and entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Sister Richard-Marie had a special attraction: taking care of the sick. After trying out for a year as a cook at Ste-Émélie Boarding school, she returned to the Motherhouse to assist with the sick in the infirmary and then served as a seamstress for the up-keeping of the clothing for those who were sick. Fifty-eight years went by. She loved her work and knowing that she was providing a service, she was able to fill her life with prayer. Sister Gabrielle was “a significant presence, full of tenderness, listening skills, and respect for others”.
“She served day and night: with those who were gravely ill, recently operated on, suffering, she knew how to be vigilant and counted neither time, pain or fatigue. She listened only to her generous heart. By her warm welcome, her attentive listening, her tactfulness in all situations, she knew how to heal both physical and mental wounds.”
When the Motherhouse closed in 2005, Sister Gabrielle was named to the only “mission” she had ever known: Résidence Ste-Émélie. At the age of 87, she was assigned to community service and the ministry of prayer. When Résidence Ste-Émélie had to close its doors … Sister Gabrielle did not want to leave! Alas, at 98, she was welcomed into Maison Jesus-Mary where she lived for six months!
The God whom she so loved came to get her with “her heart overflowing with compassion and generosity”!
“When I see the love that I had received at home and from those who were ill, it was as if I could hear God saying to me: ‘Come, you are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you.”