Sister Suzanne Leclaire
“Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your soul.” (Mt. 11: 29)
On November 1, 2021,
Sister Suzanne Leclaire, in religion Pauline-de-Notre Dame,
went home to God.
She was 85 years of age, with 61 years of religious profession.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, she was the 2nd of the five children
born to Paul-Émile Leclaire and Julie Girard.
Suzanne was a student in many schools in Montreal: Sainte-Bibiane, Sainte-Philomène, Sainte-Lucie, Madeleine-de-Verchères and Marie-Immaculée. It was probably in the two latter schools that she got to know the Sisters of the holy Names of Jesus and Mary. After she finished her grade 11, she went to Eulalie-Durocher Teachers’ College and obtained her superior diploma. She was a teacher for three years before entering the SNJM novitiate at the age of 21.
After receiving the Holy Habit, she was given the name of her sister, Pauline-de-Notre-Dame. For 20 years, she taught high school girls in the following boarding schools: Saint-Lin, Marie-Rose and Saint-Lambert. Fair, calm, and kind, Suzanne was attentive to each of her students no matter what abilities they possessed; all were safe in her presence. While teaching, she continued her own studies in pedagogy so as to be the best teacher she could be.
In 1981, Sister Suzanne left teaching to be director of finance at Saint Lambert High School. Attracted to the area of finance, she developed to her full potential. Indeed she thrived in this career for 25 years as provincial treasurer in the provinces of Longueuil, Saint-Laurent and Quebec; as person in charge of administrative services; as a member of the board of directors of Saint-Nom-de-Marie Convent and the Bishop Gerard-Marie Coderre Foundation; and as a member of various other committees. Wherever she ministered, Suzanne gave of herself wholeheartedly. “To assume her responsibilities right to the end” seemed to be her motto, complemented by a great sensitivity. She wrote: “I love my community and I love to be involved. I love to be at the heart of our life.”
Her community life was spent mostly in small groups: at Quinn and Notre-Dame Residences for 12 years, and Emmanuel for 22 years. As a companion, she was pleasant, discreet, self-effaced yet present to all, and she did her full share of community tasks, “seeking the greater good of the community and of each person as well”. She wrote in a pre-Chapter survey: “We are called to redefine ourselves, to rethink our vows so that they become meaningful for both us and the world of today, and to let go of the barriers that separate us from those we are sent to serve. We need to be converted, to draw closer to God, to nourish ourselves with His Word and the Eucharistic bread, and to get close to the little ones and to the disadvantaged.”
In her simplicity and honesty, Sister Suzanne was close to people. Being sensitive, tears came easily and Suzanne overflowed with gratitude, especially during her time in the infirmary when she needed a lot of care. It was on her birthday that she slipped into eternal life, into the welcoming arms and heart of her loving God.