Sister Thérèse Bibeau
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Mt. 25, 40)
January 15, 2016, Sister Thérèse Bibeau,
in religion Marie-Olivier
went home to God.
She was 86 years old and had been professed for 68 years.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, she was the oldest of the six children
of Olivier Bibeau and Diana Bussières.
Thérèse was 6 years old when her mother died the day after the birth of her 6th child. Her father, a boat captain, was often away from home. It was the godfathers and godmothers who took the little orphans in. Four years later, when their father remarried, he brought his two little girls back home. Thérèse attended École Marchand, and subsequently Écoles St-Clément, Stadacona and Collège Commercial Archambault.
She later worked in an office for four months after which she entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, with whom she had become acquainted during her studies. She was 17 years old at the time.
Marie-Olivier began her career teaching young boys in first grade at École Marie-Rose in Beauharnois. After 5 years, she began changing schools almost every year. For 30 years, at both the elementary level and the secondary level, she conducted her classes professionally, making an impression on her students through her absolutely authentic and dynamic presence, especially in catechetics, which quickly became her speciality. Several schools in Montreal and Longueuil benefitted from her competence and convictions. She also became involved in the parish, she worked on committees for liturgy, ecumenism, youth centers and drop-in centers for 16-20 year olds.
“Sister Thérèse tirelessly welcomed young people, paying special attention to each one of them.” “She even took time to speak to each one of us to tell us which quality was inherent to each of us. Her influence on my spiritual life is still present; with her, Jesus entered my life” (a pupil from 1957 sent us this). “Her classroom was a place of culture and joy during work.”
After a one-year sabbatical, Sister Thérèse became involved at Maison du Père, a drop-in center for homeless people in Montreal. There she was a counsellor, a key contributor and a member of the Réseau d’aide de Montréal (Montreal Assistance Network). This new apostolate focused on social justice, and her presence to the homeless people, nurtured her life and her passion. In the 1970’s, she lived with small groups of Sisters, moving when necessary so consequently lived in various neighborhoods. A woman of the people, she challenged others by being in solidarity with the homeless. She was in contact with the organization “SDF” (sans domicile fixe) – the homeless.
“The projects which she held dear to her heart were related to social commitments to individuals and families. She prepared a literacy program, helped with the integration of immigrants, led a base community, and intervened with those who were suffering from addiction…”
Sister Thérèse found it difficult to reintegrate into daily community life when her health no longer allowed for her to be “on the street”: – a difficulty she had to accept the last 5 years of her life. From Résidence Marie-Rose-Durocher, Sister Thérèse moved to the infirmary at Maison Jésus-Marie where she lived for less than a year. Subsequent to a fall, and a massive stroke, Thérèse went to meet the One whom she had loved and served with devotion.
The Lord opened his “HOME”, adapted specially for her!