Sister Simone St-James
“You received without payment; give without payment.” (Mt. 10, 8)
September 18, 2016, Sister Simone St-James,
in religion Herman-de-Marie,
went home to God.
She was 93 years old and had been professed for 73 years.
Born in Notre-Dame-des-Bois, Quebec, she was the 2nd of the 9 children
of Herman St-James and Alma Turgeon.
Simone was only a few months old when her two and a half year old sister died. She thus became the eldest child in the family. She grew up in the beautiful region of Mont Mégantic, the only “international starry sky reserve”. Dating back to the time of her First Communion, Simone wanted to be a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary; she attended the rural school until 7th grade, and carefully kept a relic of Mother Marie-Rose with her. Accustomed to helping her mother, she was also involved in doing domestic work outside of her own home. When she was 18 years old, motivated by a firm decision she had made, Simone left home for the novitiate.
Described here is the classic departure from the family home:
Her father accompanied her to the City of Sherbrooke, where she took a bus for Montreal, carrying with her the address of the Motherhouse. It was up to her to work out how to manage in a city that she did not know. Simone confided: “My guardian angel led me with the help of the Blessed Virgin”; this supernatural help materialized through the assistance of a lady who invited her to get into a taxi that was going to the downtown area, right to the stop for the 119 bus which would bring her to the Motherhouse.
For Sister Herman-de-Marie, the time of formation went by very quickly. She proved to be an excellent cook. For sixty years she dedicated herself to this work especially in large convents: Valleyfield, Épiphanie, St-Lambert, Hochelaga, Institut Jésus-Marie, Pensionnat Mont-Royal, the Motherhouse, Collège Durocher. She also used her cooking skills at Maison St-Paul and at the Lacolle Presbytery.
Of these years, it was said:
“The secret to her passion for cooking: she felt useful to the Sisters and students. She put all her strength and talents into varying the menus and presenting attractive dishes.” “A competent woman, she was always on top of the situation. All of these years bear the imprint of goodness, of a love imbued with authentic charity towards the Sisters, the employees and the students.”
In everyday life, Sister Simone was a woman who listened to and respected others; her joy was contagious, radiant. She drew her strength from the Bible. An active member of Cursillo for twenty years, she summed up her experience in this way: “a spiritual renewal, an extraordinary grace!” Upon entering Maison Jésus-Marie, she devoted herself to a ministry of prayer, ready to be welcomed by the One who had given the Bread of Life to the world.