Sr. Germaine Loiselle, SNDdeN

Obituary of Sr. Germaine Loiselle, SNDdeN

Sr. Germaine Loiselle, SNDdeN, went peacefully home to her Good God on July 6, 2020, supported in prayer by her devoted Sisters in Community at the Notre Dame Convent at Ipswich, MA; by the dedicated staff of the St. Julie Billiart Residential Care Center; and by her loving family and friends. She was born Doris Simone Loiselle on June 24, 1922, in the Pawtucketville neighborhood of Lowell, MA, the area known as “Little France”. She was the youngest of three children born to her father Herve` of Lowell, and her mother Germaine (Mitron), of Montreal, Canada. Both parents worked hard to instill traditional values in each of their children, including her brothers Herve` Jr. and Lucien, who later became a Catholic priest. After graduating from Notre Dame Academy in Tyngsboro, Sr. Germaine entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at Waltham in August of 1940, making her perpetual vows in 1948. She began by teaching elementary students in West Newton and Cambridge, before being missioned to teach in Notre Dame high schools in South Boston, Peabody, Waltham, and Hingham, teaching French, English, and Religious Studies. As much as her high school students loved and respected her, Sister always said that her greatest joy was teaching First Communion classes to the first and second graders. Her students remember her as firm, fair, unfailingly kind, and always with a twinkle in her eye. An avid student herself, Sister Germaine earned her BA at Emmanuel College, as well as an MA in French from Assumption College and a second MA from Emmanuel in Religious Studies. All her life she was a tremendous reader of books on Spirituality, which broadened her own deep and prayerful life of faith, while expanding her theological horizons. After teaching at Notre Dame Academy at Hingham, Sr. Germaine applied to be missioned to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1972. She served in Africa for twenty-two years, as teacher and principal of girls’ schools in Mpese, Ngidinge, and Kitende. Her colleagues marveled that even when Sr. Germaine would come back to New England for rare and well-earned vacations, she would spend most of her free time sewing school uniforms and gathering supplies to bring back to her students. Her gifts as a seamstress were just as generously bestowed on the Sisters of Notre Dame at Ipswich when Sr. Germaine retired there in 1994. She set up a sewing room; soon everyone in the house knew she would be only too willing to do any type of tailoring, alterations, or repairs. Rather than looking for any thanks for herself, Sr. Germaine began another ministry: writing thank-you notes to all and sundry, for even the smallest gift or favor. She always made it a point to compliment and magnify the works of others. Her heart overflowed with love and gratitude. Her favorite word, and highest compliment, was “Beautiful!” Sr. Germaine’s faithful heart extended to those Sisters in Community who left Ipswich to take up residence at the Notre Dame Long-Term Care Facility at Worcester. She was the founder and most dedicated member of the Sunshine Circle, unfailingly sending cards and prayers every month, and for every holiday, to all the former residents of Ipswich who missed living with their community. Sister Germaine had a great love and appreciation for beauty of any kind, including her beloved jig-saw puzzles. She carefully tended her plants and gardens, and always admired great art and design, though she lived very simply and humbly herself. She combined these traits in her ministry as Sacristan of Our Lady Grace Chapel at Ipswich. For years, it was Sr. Germaine who silently swept and polished the sanctuary and sacristies; who faithfully cleaned and ironed the altar cloths and vestments; who quietly dressed the altars with candles and flowers for each liturgical celebration. Not content to rest on her laurels, in her eighties Sr. Germaine took up drawing and painting. She studied under Sr. Janet Mullen, patiently taking correction and learning to find her own style. Many of her lovely pictures graced the walls at Ipswich, including a portrait of The Blessed Mother with her own mother’s face. She also created a wonderful self-portrait using charcoal and white chalk – particularly apt, since she remained a faithful wearer of the black skirt, white blouse, and short black veil until the end of her life. Well into her nineties, Sr. Germaine conducted French lessons for Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur working in international ministries. From her earliest students to her last and dearest friends, Sr. Germaine was known as a prayerful, gentle, highly principled woman: a Sister of deep faith who quietly served as a shining example to everyone she met. She wished to be remembered as a “good and faithful servant” of the founder of the Sisters of Notre Dame, St. Julie Billiart. And that she certainly was to the end. To her own family, Sr. Germaine was known as Aunt Doris, admired for her strong will, independence and determination. As a missionary, she truly had a “heart as wide as the world.” They marveled at the courage it must have taken for her to leave the life she had known in the cities and towns of New England, to serve for so long in the villages of Africa. Her relatives knew how much she had sacrificed by doing so. She loved and missed her favorite things: their family gatherings, banana splits, and sunflowers – one of the symbols of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Sr. Germaine Loiselle was pre-deceased by her parents, Herve` J. Loiselle Sr., and Germaine (Mitron) Loiselle; by her two brothers, Rev. Lucien H. Loiselle and Herve` J. Loiselle Jr., and her sister-in-law Estelle C. Loiselle. She will be greatly missed by her niece Monique and her husband Allen Garrell of Pelham, NH; her nephew Pierre Loiselle of Winston-Salem, NC; her two grandnieces, Kristen and Elizabeth Loiselle, and a special grandnephew, Daniel Bishop of Manchester, CT. Sr. Germaine also leaves her loving “extended family”: Brenda DeLappe, Alesia and Jason Theriault, and Jordon Murdoch. Also her present and former Sisters in Community, the wider Notre Dame Community, and generations of former students, here and abroad. Funeral arrangements will be private, followed by burial in the Notre Dame cemetery at Ipswich. Memorial Donations to the Sisters of Notre Dame, 30 Jeffreys Neck Road, Ipswich, MA 01938.
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