Sister Marie-Béatrice (Antonia Lamarche)
“I was full of joy when I set out for the house of the Lord”. Ps 121
February 1, 2013, Sister Antonia Lamarche
in religion Marie-Béatrice
went home to God.
She was 90 years old and had been professed for 70 years.
Born in St-Lin, Quebec, she was the last of 14 children of Josaphat Lamarche and Albina Trudel.
Preceded by two boys, little Antonia learned how to assert herself when she was young. She was very successful in school. She finished Grade 11 at the Convent in St-Lin when she was 17 years old, and entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary that summer. A spiritual experience she had had, greatly impacted her vocation:
“During my 7th grade, around the month of March, I had decided to leave the convent school, but when I was up in the attic, I found the book: The Story of a Soul. I came upon the picture in which Saint Theresa was praying for a sinner. This sinner was me. That day, I had such an experience of God that at that very moment I decided to return to the convent and become a nun. I was 13 years old, and I never again doubted my vocation.”
After three years of teaching, Sister Marie-Béatrice became the “mistress of discipline” and, for 18 years, was in charge of the well-being and spare-time activities of our boarders and day students at: Maskinongé Convent, St-Lambert Boarding School and Institut Jésus-Marie.
This was followed by 22 years as a missionary in Brazil where Sister Béatrice exercised her pastoral action with families of grass-root communities. “We did adult catechesis which was very rewarding – everything was based on the Gospel, speaking about God and leading others to love him…“ Not fearing travelling great distances on the dusty roads of Brazil, she was able to share in the suffering of those who were poor, sick and isolated.
“I experienced difficulties upon my return from the mission: I was lost in a world where everything had changed; I had left in 1966 and I returned in 1987. We were no longer on the same wavelength since we had not lived through the same events.”
Upon her return from Brazil, at the age of 65, Sister Marie-Béatrice worked as a secretary and driver at the Mission Sector. Whenever she was able, she did volunteer work. When she was 83, she retired to Maison Jésus-Marie; “she toiled away with a light hand, sewing and knitting and continued even when she was admitted to the infirmary.”
What energized Sister Beatrice:
“From the time of my call to religious life, I always tried to live in the presence of God without ever achieving it. I experienced the profound love of God as that of a Father full of tenderness.”
Testimony about her:
“Marie-Béatrice was a compassionate and spiritual woman, courageous, gifted, discerning, wise, community-oriented and full of unwavering hope.”