Sister Hélène Fournier
“If anyone loves me, my Father will love them. We will come to them and make our home with them.“ Jn 14:23
December 28, 2010, Sister Hélène Fournier,
in religion M.-Jean-du-St-Sacrement,
went home to God.
She was 88 years old and had been professed for 65 years.
Born in Stanstead, Quebec, she was the 9th of 11 children
of Mathias Fournier and Lydia Tanguay.
Hélène’s mother died following surgery: her maternal grandmother came to take her daughter’s place in the orphan’s lives. Hélène was 4½ years old. “After two years of grieving and sadness, we welcomed a stepmother. We were very fortunate to live with this new mother who was animated by deep piety. She truly adopted us into her heart,” stated Sister Hélène.
A religious vocation was growing in suitable ground: school run by religious, daily Mass, Eucharistic Crusade, family games. Each night, we prayed for perseverance and the health of the 3rd of the daughters, Marcelle, who became an SNJM and whom Hélène greatly admired. When she was about 15 years old, her parents agreed that she would become a boarder at Ste-Émélie de Viauville; despite some difficulties, Hélène experienced the joy of being close to the religious and felt the call to follow in the footsteps of her older sister.
Having entered at 21, and being a postulant for a few months, Hélène had to cope with the trial of losing her sister, a victim of a fatal accident. A period of deep solitude followed “moments of great darkness” she wrote; “the only refuge: prayer and the sisterly love of my companions”. Upon taking her habit, Hélène received the cherished name of the sister whom she had just lost: “Jean-du-St-Sacrement”. “My half hours of adoration in the chapel gave me back my courage and serenity.” The name I had received took on its full meaning! In spite of delicate health, our young sister was happy in educating youth. For 23 years, she gave the best of herself with vitality and understanding, while already suffering from weakness in her bones.
After three years of being superior of a local community, a time which was tested by frequent illness, Sister Hélène combined the services of chauffeur and giving private lessons to the poor, which was a source of great joy for her. After living in our larger houses, we find her in a small group at St-François-d’Assise, followed then at St-Antoine-sur-le-Richelieu. She remained a lively, pleasant and much appreciated companion; a woman well-organized, resourceful, simple and easy to live with and get along with.
The people in the birthplace of our foundress, rejoiced at the pastoral presence, welcoming and reassuring of our three sisters, one of whom was Sister Hélène who managed with ease, for some years now, in her motorized wheelchair. In this way she was able to compensate for her weakened legs. Sister Hélène’s last 5 years were spent in our infirmary in Longueuil. There we recognized her radiant interior joy, her fraternal love ever strengthened and nourished by the Gospel. She was already open to the Life of the Trinity!