Sister Rachel Fréchette
“I have come to cast fire on the earth. Oh, how I wish it were already kindled.” (Luke 12:49)
On July 15, 2023, Sister Rachel Fréchette,
in religion Sister M. Louis-de-France,
went home to God.
She was 87 years old, with 64 years as a professed religious.
Born in East-Angus, Québec, she was the youngest of the seven children born to Armand Fréchette and Laura Lachance.
Sister Rachel did not leave us notes about her family. She studied at the convent in East-Angus and at Eulalie-Durocher Teachers’ College in St. Lambert, institutions directed by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. She obtained her 8th year laureate in piano and, throughout her life, Rachel never lost her fondness for singing and piano. At the age of 21, she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary whom she knew well and where she received the name of her home parish: Sister Louis-de-France.
She spent her first ten years of teaching at the high school and college levels, interspersed with three years of study in religious education, pastoral theology, and pastoral animation for schools. Later, Sister Rachel studied psychology at the University of Sherbrooke. After obtaining her master’s degree, she worked at Durocher College and held positions as assistant director, and then director, of ongoing formation in the diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil. As time went by, Rachel’s commitments multiplied: co-foundress of the School of Formation for the laity, consultant to pastoral teams and to the major superiors, counselor for men preparing for the priesthood, animator for formation sessions in many religious communities and parishes, as well as animator for many provincial and general chapters.
At the age of 50, Rachel was finally able to devote herself to her favorite ministry as a psychologist with a private practice, while continuing as an animator for sessions and as a university teacher.
As for her community life, Rachel lived at Durocher College for 14 years, then at Saint André A Residence and the Congregational House for 20 years. She accepted to serve as coordinator for the Quebec SNJM province for a 5-year mandate, while also giving time to disadvantaged people. Rachel was appreciated for “her frank simplicity, her good humour, her empathy, and her lively and easily communicated spirituality.” She visited the sick at the SNJM infirmary until she herself joined them in 2012.
Illness advanced progressively, rendering Sister Rachel dependent on many services. Inspired by the disciples of Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), she once wrote: “If, in my daily life, I take seriously the presence of the Lord in me and me in him, a door will open to welcome me into the House of God.” On July 15, 2023, her heavenly Father responded to Rachel’s profound conviction and deepest longing.