Sister Gilberte Desrochers
“Greetings, favored one!” (Luke 1: 28)
August 30, 2013, Sister Gilberte Desrochers,
in religion Marie-Stella
went home to God.
She was 80 years old and had been professed for 59 years.
Born in Montreal, she was the last of 11 children of
Narcisse Desrochers and Stella Hamel.
Gilberte was 2½ when she was stricken with meningitis which left her in a coma for 16 hours. As a child, she grew up beside the old church of St-François-d ’Assise, near the Saint Lawrence River. Every evening, the family went to see the “bateau blanc” (white boat) going by and listened to the music which filled the river banks. Living close to the church facilitated attending daily Mass. Their mother was never known to miss Mass or the afternoon Way of the Cross. At night, the family prayed together.
Gilberte attended parochial school until the 5th grade and got to know her teachers: the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. She left school upon her doctor’s advice, but the seed of a religious vocation had already been planted: “When I thought about my brother, a Trappist priest, I would say: I too would like to enter a religious community. I was drawn by the life of prayer.”
When she was 19 years old, Gilberte fulfilled her desire by entering the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Two years later, she took the name Marie-Stella at her religious profession.
For 30 years, her various nominations led her to serve in the refectory, the laundry or in the kitchen in various houses, especially at Institut Jésus-Marie, Marie-Rose Boarding School, and houses at Frontenac and Wurtele. Her work was complemented by her spirit of prayer, which was tangible, spontaneous and trusting.
“Cooking always made me nervous. When I was making sucre à la crème (fudge), I would pray: ‘Good Holy Virgin, I think I am not able to do this. Remove my hand when you think it is done. (I would always succeed.) Thank you, you helped me again.”
Sister Gilberte was later named to the Motherhouse where for 20 years her service to her community kept her busy taking care of the laundry in our infirmary, right up until the time of the closing of this large house on Mount Royal.
Sister Gilberte was then welcomed at Résidence Ste-Émélie, where she continued to serve her community, according to her physical capabilities, until she moved to Maison Jésus-Marie in Longueuil where the Lord would come to take the one who so desired Him.
In her words:
At Mass, “after the elevation, when we sing, ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again’, I get chills. I say to myself: it is true that He is on the altar even though I cannot always recognize Him in people.”
From her daily life of faith, Sister Gilberte has now moved on into the Vision of the God of Love!