Sister Marie-Thérèse Côté
“Whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (John 8, 12)
October 16, 2017, Sister Marie-Thérèse Côté,
in religion Marie.-Hélène-Alma,
went home to God.
She was 93 years old and had been professed for 70 years.
Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, she was the 3rd of the 6 children
of Émile Côté and Alma Berthiaume.
Marie-Thérèse attended École Ste-Thérèse d’Avila in Sherbrooke, directed by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame for her primary grades. She then became a boarder at Couvent Maplewood in Waterloo for the Arts-Sciences Course. It was there that she became closely acquainted with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. After graduation, she took a commercial course and worked in a store for two years before entering the SNJM Novitiate when she was 22 years old.
Sister Hélène-Alma, an unassuming woman, offered little in terms of providing information about her own history: she attentively listened to others! As a teacher at the primary level, she quickly became familiar with several levels of education at several schools: seven in ten years. Following École familiale de Disraéli, where she taught in the 8th and 9th grades, she went to École Normale Notre-Dame-des-Anges in Viauville, where she taught and was also directress of discipline.
For several years, she was the Directress of Postulants at the Novitiate in the Motherhouse. Upon returning to teaching, she also became the principal at École de Garthby in the Eastern Townships.
Sister Marie-Thérèse assumed management of the Beloeil Retreat House, before being asked to become secretary for the General Leadership Team in Pierrefonds, where she would serve for nine years. During the last 17 years of her active life she shared community life at Ste-Émélie Convent, providing various support services: assisting the provincial administration, as a receptionist, accompaniment of the sick, as a sacristan, as a driver, taking charge of ‘Cercle Eulalie’, welcoming visitors … Sister Marie-Thérèse spread joy with her smile, the quality of her welcome, her spirit of service and her discretion.
“In the service of education, with love and tenderness, Sister Marie-Thérèse worked hard to nurture minds and hearts.” “A deeply spiritual woman, at Beloeil’s Retreat House, she was able to create a climate conducive to prayer and contemplation.” “Training the postulants, with kindness, she channeled their energy and transmitted the SNJM values.”
When her illness progressed, Sister Marie-Thérèse at the age of 83 was welcomed into the infirmary in Longueuil. Ten years went by during which Sister Marie-Thérèse devoted herself to the ministry of prayer. Until the end, she took pleasure in reading and she dedicated ” her heart and her arms to the evangelical message with benevolence and in a very personal way.” She was ready to meet Jesus!