Sister Madeleine Paquin
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.
I will sing and make melody!“ Ps. 57, 8
December 17, 2010, Sister Madeleine Paquin,
in religion Marie-Pauline-Marguerite, went home to God.
She was 98 years old and had been professed for 76 years.
Born in Maskinongé, Quebec, she was the 10th of 14 children
of Joseph Paquin and Amanda de Carufel.
Madeleine grew up on the family farm,and attended the local school before becoming a boarder in Maskinongé. Like her mother, she loved culture, and learned to play the piano and sing. As a family, they prayed fervently, happily shared chores, and developed their talents. Their mother taught them that“you must be at your best, whether in the kitchen or in the parlor.”
Madeleine’s religious vocation came quite simply from the family atmosphere and from “her mother’s spirit of faith. Her mother had once said, “From among my 6 daughters, I hope that I will have one nun,” and Madeleine added: “Her wish was granted, God chose two.” In fact, her sister Marguerite (Sr.Madeleine Amanda) also became an SNJM.
Adapting to her new life was easy for Sister Pauline-Marguerite. She continued her studies in music at École Vincent-d’Indy, taught piano for 38 years in our schools and boarding schools and directed parish choirs, particularly in Sainte-Martine for 17 years.
Sister Madeleine loved what she was doing and conveyed a taste for what was beautiful to her students, young or old. This woman, competent in music, was also gifted with creativity which was expressed primarily in sewing. Happy to be of service, she helped her religious companions with skill and grace.
The transition from teaching to community service took place after she took courses in gerontology. For almost 10 years she worked at Berthiaume-du-Tremblay, a seniors’ residence and then in our infirmary.
At the age of 60, and for the next ten years, she assumed responsibility for supervising the students at Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie as they practiced their music.
“They considered you as a pleasant grandmother. And because you yourself were a musician, you could intervene at the right time to give an explanation or to remind them of their duty”, pointed out a witness.
Upon returning to the Motherhouse, Sister Madeleine continued to grow old gracefully and to be of service as postmistress and as receptionist. “I had wind in my sails: I love life, I am happy to be of service, I love all that is beautiful, I love reading which makes me a better person, and which helps me to pray.”
Her entry into the infirmary at the age of 91 was marked by continuity in her spiritual life: Thérèse of Lisieux was her model as she wrote about her, “love and mercy in the little every-day things.”
The Holy Spirit was the guide to whom she fervently prayed so as to be better prepared to meet her Lord. It would seem that, at 98 years old, the masterpiece was finished and God could take her with him!