Sister Héloïse Déry
“Blessed be the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary now and forevermore”
December 28, 2009, Sister Héloïse Déry,
in religion, Marie-Ferdinand,
went home to God at the age of 89.
She had been professed for 66 years.
She was the 5th of 12 children
of Donat Déry and Ferdinande Thiffault.
At the age of ten, Héloïse was the sole survivor of a terrible tragedy when a rowboat, holding several family members, capsized. The two oldest sisters and the youngest, along with four cousins, drowned that day. She said that she had the sensation of being placed on top of the overturned rowboat and had been protected by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Now, being the eldest, she discontinued her studies to stay home and help her mother. She held a special memory of her older sister who had wanted to become a Carmelite and who had introduced the idea of making sacrifices for the love of Jesus. She helped the youngest children with their studies. She also aspired to enter a religious community. Knowing Sister Marie-Barnabé, who was soon leaving for Basutoland, she wrote to the Community asking if all SNJM’s had to go to the far-away missions. She certainly did not want to go there. Meanwhile, she had some very good friends, one in particular. . .but she also wanted to discern her religious vocation. Teaching attracted her, but her brother who was a teaching Brother of Saint-Gabriel reminded Héloïse that she had already lost four years of schooling.
At the age of 21, with lots of experience in homemaking skills, she entered the lay Sisters’ novitiate, and was very happy there. At times she received letters from a good friend that caused her inner tension… so she intensified her prayer and re-affirmed her decision to persevere. Sister Marie-Fernande then made her religious profession. She worked as refectorian for 34 years in our various boarding schools. She also lived at the Motherhouse for 28 years, doing many things, especially preparing the meal trays for the infirmary. She was always pleasantly and discretely available for whatever service she could render. She exemplified a life of interior recollection. In 2005, the Sisters at Ste-Émélie Residence warmly welcomed this 85 year old “treasure” who continued to be of service in spite of her failing health.
A friend wrote that when the Lord came to get his bride, two years after she was admitted into the infirmary at Maison Jésus-Marie in Longueuil, He recognized in her, “A true woman of prayer ”.