Sister Mariette Sylvestre
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.” (Matthew 25: 40)
On October 24, 2022, Sister Mariette Sylvestre,
in religion M.-Rose-Françoise,
went home to God.
She was 92 years old, with 73 years of religious profession.
Born in Saint-Norbert (Québec), she was the eighth of the ten children
of Bernardin Sylvestre and Alda Vincent.
Mariette’s parents were hospitable, devoted, and profoundly Christian farmers. They regularly decorated the roadside cross that kept guard over their property. After supper, the family knelt for evening prayer. Three brothers died before Mariette was born. She would have loved to have known them! Two other brothers were born after her. She confided that she took care of them “like a little mother”. Since the family lived far from the village and the local school, Mariette was taught first grade by her mother.
After the family moved to Montreal, Mariette attended Stadacona School until grade 11. There she got to know the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, who were her teachers, and her desire to become a religious Sister deepened. During her adolescence, Mariette worked in a hat factory during the summer and at Canada Post during the Christmas vacation.
She entered the SNJM novitiate in 1947, at the age of seventeen. Her first nomination brought Sister Rose-Françoise (her new name) to Holy Angels Academy in St. Lambert, where she taught a class of 47 students in grade 4. It was love at first sight! While persuing her studies Sister Mariette happily taught in schools in Montreal and on the South Shore. For 45 years, she gave the best of herself to youth, with particular attention to the disadvantaged and those suffering in body and spirit, ministering first as a teacher and then, for twenty years as principal of Gérard-Filion High School and then a private high school in Saint-Lambert.
At the age of 65, Sister Mariette volunteered as an animator of a small group of Sisters in the infirmary. She continued to practice the advice of the prophet Micah, “to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God”, and she added, “Little everyday joys keep me smiling.” She served each of her Sisters with devotion and generosity in a climate of calm and of openness. She radiated sisterly warmth and her compassionate listening skills were much appreciated.
Twenty-five years later, it was Mariette’s turn to be served. Her health had highs and lows, and Sister Mariette realized that her Lord was coming to take her home. She gently handed herself over to the Divine Will, under the protection of Mary.