Sister Jeanne Gamache
“A woman who reveres the Lord is to be praised.” (Prov.31, 30)
April 12, 2017, Sister Jeanne Gamache,
in religion Marie-Jean-Viateur
went home to God.
She was 94 years old and had been professed for 73 years.
Born in St-Joachim-la-Plaine, Quebec,
she was the 7th of the 11 children
of Abondius Gamache and Émilia Courtemanche.
Jeanne began her studies at the local school in St. Joachim and continued them at the St. Lin Convent which was directed by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. She was 13 years old when her mother died. She already had within her heart the desire to become a Sister. When she was 19, she entered the SNJM novitiate where three of her sisters had already preceded her.
Sister Jean-Viateur’s first appointments were “Directress of Discipline” at the Boarding Schools in St-Lambert and in Valleyfield, and at Athanase Forget, a private school for primary school children.
“Sister Jeanne untiringly welcomed the young people and kept an attentive eye on them. She gave the best of herself to promote the growth of the students and the teachers.”
Sister Jeanne then went to the Institut Familial de St-Lambert as a sewing teacher, and later taught at the boarding schools in Verchères and Beloeil. When she was 49, she accepted to go to Cameroon, Africa, to teach pattern design and sewing.
During the years that followed, Sister Jeanne returned to Beloeil and then was sent to Haiti where she worked for eleven years: she founded the Centre d’Arts Ménagers (Center for Domestic Science) in Gonaïves, to teach young girls who could not attend school because of poverty in their family environment. Through her actions, these young people succeeded in obtaining certification after three years of study. It was an impressive missionary experience that caused her to say “I saw that when you are lacking everything, you can still smile and share the little you have.”
Upon returning home, Sister Jeanne rendered various services within the community. She also dedicated days or nights to working with AIDS patients, mainly at Hébergements de l’Envol. For 20 years she lived at Maison Albani and shared in the tasks there, and also helped with community services at Résidence Ste-Émélie and in the infirmary at the Motherhouse.
Years passed and Sister Jeanne, who was now 89 years old, was welcomed into Maison Jésus-Marie. For the last five years she again dedicated herself, particularly in the sewing room, as well as to the Sisters who were dying. She also spent more time in prayer.
Through her ease with which she got along with others, her simplicity of life, her openness to the needs of society and the gift of herself, Sister Jeanne’s life was a gift from the heavenly Father. May she now enjoy eternal rest with Him.