Sister Gisèle Bériault
“Those who have taught many people to do what is right,
will shine as bright as the stars for all eternity.” Dan 12:3
January 29, 2010, Sister Gisèle Bériault
in religion, Marie-Ghislaine
went home to God.
She was 91 years old and had been professed for 61 years.
Born in Sainte-Justine de Newton, Quebec, she was the 3rd of 9 children
of Wilfrid Bériault and Blanche Proulx.
Having graduated from the “École Normale de Valleyfield” (Teachers’ College), and after having made a 3-day silent retreat, Gisèle Bériault began thinking about entering the SNJM Community. Her mother and five sisters had always considered teaching to be a vocation and so Gisèle had not previously thought about religious life.
At the age of 27, she had already taught for 9 years at a school near her home parish and had also worked for a year, at the head office of the Banque Nationale in Montreal.
When she was 80 years old, Sister Gisèle reflected back on her novitiate experience and the importance that had been given to the interior life. “I prayed a lot and I swam in consolations. Think about it: a rest from classes, from students, no responsibility. I was, as the expression says, ‘as free as the birds!’(…) No surprises, except that I was hampered by the large skirt; I who had always gotten around on my bicycle and on skis. I loved the silence. In the postulate, I was drawn to the deepening of the interior life and the spirit of recollection. I had already loved solitude and, with delight, I just dove right into it each time I had the chance; and it was there that I met God.
These days, although recollection is more difficult, I am still happy. I feel close to “Him” in a different way; and this tells me that I am getting closer to meeting Him.”
Throughout her life, Marie-Ghislaine lived in Montreal, Saint Lambert (Collège Durocher), Outremont and finally in Longueuil. Her successful teaching career, mainly at the high school level, spanned 21 years, at nine of our schools in the Montreal area.
At the age of 50, she took on a variety of tasks: secretary, archivist and librarian for the Community (18 years). Then she went to Africa and worked as a pastoral worker in the Cameroons and taught in Niger (9 years). When she returned to Montreal, she worked for three years at “PROMIS”, a Centre for immigrants.
At the age of 79, Sister Gisèle retired and moved to the Motherhouse in Outremont. In 2005, she moved to Maison Jésus-Marie, in Longueuil, where she spent long hours in solitude. She always received visitors with a smile but kept a quiet reserve, speaking very little. She had always preferred reading to conversation.
In her well-prepared moment of death, she quietly went to meet the Lord.