Sister Rachel Primeau
“Jesus, my Rock in whom I take shelter, I trust in You, I am not afraid.”
November 17, 2014, Sister Rachel Primeau,
in religion Sister Marie-Antoinette-du-Calvaire
went home to God.
She was 92 years old and had been professed for 71 years.
Born in Beauharnois, Quebec,
she was the second of the six children
of Joseph Primeau and Antoinette Laplante.
Rachel grew up in modest surroundings where joy reigned, especially during “the Christmas season” and family gatherings, which were always well celebrated in keeping with the customs of that era. Her father, a carpenter by profession, and her mother “a cordon bleu cook and an excellent seamstress”, cultivated skills in her which would be highly appreciated during her years of religious life.
Rachel attended primary school in the parochial school located on the fourth floor of the Beauharnois Boarding School run by the SNJM Sisters, and continued her studies up until the eleventh grade at the Boarding School. Two Sisters had a profound influence on her: Sister Vincent-de-St-Joseph and Sister Bertille-de-France. “It seems to me that the Lord wants you in his service”, Sister Vincent said to her one day. “I often recalled those words and they had me questioning myself”, wrote Sister Rachel.
On December 8, 1936, when she was fourteen years old, she was admitted into the Sodality of the Children of Mary. On that day, she had the interior certainty that she would become a Sister and this decision was confirmed for her during a closed retreat at the end of her eleventh grade.
On the twenty-fourth of January, 1941, at the age of eighteen, Rachel entered the SNJM Novitiate at the Motherhouse in Outremont. The first months of the postulate were rather difficult for her, but from the time she was entrusted with the task of helping out in the novitiate infirmary, she regained her serenity and joy.
In 1944-45 she registered for a year of study and obtained a first certificate in Family Education from the Ste-Martine Family Institute. While teaching, she continued her studies at the Pedagogical Institute, and in 1957, she obtained a superior diploma in Family Education, then an attestation of studies in Fine Arts and Crafts from Victoriaville College and in 1970, a Certificate in Fine Arts from the Université du Québec in Three Rivers.
For twenty-four years she was a Home Economics teacher and for fifteen years, she taught Fine Arts and Crafts. With a touch of humour, Sister Rachel wrote: “When I was eighteen, I refused to study at the Family Institute in Ste-Martine, because I didn’t want to teach cooking and sewing!”
Highly energetic and always on the go, Sister Rachel became the organizer for leisure activities and physical exercise in the convents in which she lived. This was greatly appreciated by her companions. In 1984-85, she continued her activities at the Motherhouse with our sick sisters. She wrote: “It is good for their morale and also for mine.”
When the move from the Motherhouse took place in 2005, she, along with some companions, went to live for three years, with the Sisters of Providence in Boucherville. In 2008, she was admitted into Maison Jésus-Marie where she dedicated herself to the ministry of prayer. Sister Rachel’s spirituality was quite simple: To be present to Jesus, Mary and to others.
“I am sure, that Christ will share my sufferings
by taking them upon Himself and transforming them”.