Sister Pauline Rémi
“Hail Mary… ” (Luke 1: 28)
On August 12, 2022, Pauline Rémi,
went home to God
She was 94 years old, with 71 years as a vowed religious.
Born in Montreal, Québec, she was the older of the two children
of Joseph Rémi et de Florence Lemieux.
When Pauline was born, her mother was 25 and her father was 55. He was a veteran of the Boer War in Africa (1899) and worked as a decorative painter for the Canadian Pacific Railway, at the Angus Shops. Pauline was three years old and her brother two, when their mother died.
“Dad became a widower with two babies but he never wanted my godmother to take me. We had a nanny in the house right up until the time I entered the postulate. Dad often talked about my mother and, every time he did so, there were tears in his eyes. Every summer my brother and I spent our vacation in the country with our mother’s parents. It was there that I experienced prayer as a family, including the rosary and even Mass at home, since one of my uncles, who was a priest and secretary to the bishop, spent the whole summer in the country, helping his brother on the farm.”
Pauline studied at Nativity School and at Stadacona, where she chose the commercial course. That is how she met the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. She was lively and mischievous in class, yet succeeded with good marks. After completing her studies, Pauline worked in the payroll department of an American company. Facing her future, she experienced an inner struggle; her confessor told her she needed to decide. And so, after much reflection and prayer, on September 8, the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Pauline, at the age of 20, decided to join the SNJM Sisters. When she left her family home, her 75-year-old father, disabled, could not accompany her.
At her ceremony of reception of the Holy Habit, Pauline received the name Sister Marie-de-la-Nativité. After teaching in primary school for a few years, she was missioned to teach high school commercial subjects, in keeping with her training. Schools in Montreal and the surrounding area benefitted from her competence and her students appreciated their dynamic, understanding, yet strict teacher. She noted: “I loved those years.” However, the community needed her in their finance departments, first at the Motherhouse, then at the Generalate and local convents. She was in charge of insurances and worked as treasurer or accountant for 30 years, always serving with precision, good humour, and discretion. In addition to living at the Motherhouse, Pauline also shared in community life at the following smaller residences: Saint-Pierre-Claver, Saint-Jacques, Duhamel, Saint-André, Albani and Sainte-Martine.
In her spare time, Sister Pauline liked to read biographies and history books. She wrote: “I always liked to have a spiritual book for meditation. I found knitting, sewing, drawing, and working with clay very relaxing. I belonged to choirs for many years and participated in many concerts. I appreciate the letters of Paul, the writings of the Little Flower (St. Thérèse of Lisieux) and everything written about Mary. My three patrons are Mary, Thérèse and Paul (-ine).” When she retired, Maison Jésus-Marie welcomed Pauline. Soon after, she was confirmed in her ministry of prayer and suffering as she continued to commend her life to the One whom she had always desired to serve so faithfully.