Sister Gisèle Daoust

“Come, because you are precious in my sight,
   and honoured, and I love you.” (Is 43, 4)

January 21, 2018, Sister Gisèle Daoust, 
in religion Marie Pierre-de-la-Merci 
went home to God. 

She was 89 years old and had been professed for 62 years. 
Born in Howick, Quebec, she was the 3rd of 5 children 
of Elzéar Daoust and Rose-Alma Parent.

When she was five years old, Gisèle asked her mother: “Will I be a Sister when I grow up?” She already had five aunts who were SNJM Sisters: two of her father’s sisters and three of her mother’s sisters. Her hardworking parents were staunch believers. Her father was involved in the parish, and was the pastor’s “right hand”; he was also involved at the professional level: he successfully participated in various agricultural competitions. “In going on a ‘tour of the land with Papa, and seeing the ripened wheat, I thought about becoming a missionary with the M.I.C. (Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception)”, a Congregation she would enter in 1950 and would leave three years later. 

Gisèle was 6 years old when fire razed all of the buildings on the family farm, but the fire stopped at their home. When her father threw a relic of Mother Marie-Rose into the inferno, the wind changed direction and moved towards the fields which were free of all buildings. At home, she learned respect for priests and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Every month, if they failed to get to church, the family would participate in adoration during the night, from two o’clock to three o’clock in the morning. 

Gisèle attended the local school up until the 7th grade, and then went to the convent in Ste-Martine, before going to the École Normale de Valleyfield. “Following graduation and being very proud of my teaching diploma, I taught for a year and a half at Village St-Pierre, a satellite community of our parish. As expected, I entered the M.I.C. Congregation at Pont-Viau in February, 1950. Concerning my novitiate with the M.I.C., I want to remember only the graces received during those three years: hours of adoration, nightly recitation of the rosary, etc. In retrospect, I admit, it was a grace!”

In 1953, upon returning home, Gisèle taught for two years, and confident of her call to religious life, she entered the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.  There she was reunited with her sister Claire, who had entered before her. She summed up her religious life in this way: “Teaching was fulfilling for me. I loved life, my family, the community, and my students.”

Sister Pierre-de-la-Merci was happy and grateful for her 30 years of teaching young people, especially at the Secondary Level where she was a French specialist; for her involvement in the Catechumenate with people who were preparing for Baptism; and for her service at the General Administration doing translations from English to French for close to 20 years. 

In her relationships with others, Sister Gisèle was welcoming, warm, and peaceful; she was readily available to be of service. Proud of her French language, she endeavored to develop in young people a taste for beauty and work well done. Easily distracted she welcomed, with a sense of humor, the results of her lack of attention. Even when she was ill, she continued to show an interest in reading the newspapers.

For the last six years of her life, Sister Gisèle lived in the infirmary, devoting herself to the ministry of prayer: the psalms and the Eucharist nourished her hunger for God. As her health failed, she gradually moved towards the God whom she loved.