A Tribute to Sr. Sylvette Marie/ Sr. Marie de l’Assomption
A tribute from Sr.Gracy Plathottam
It is a great privilege for me to say a few words on this occasion when we have gathered here to bid a final goodbye to Sr. Sylvette Marie, a person who has impacted my life and the life of many people present here. It is difficult to put into words all the feelings that well up in my heart about a person who was like a mother to me. In the name of the sisters here and the rest of the Congregation I want to welcome each one of you, especially her beloved family members, her Sister Evette Bonnin, nephew Frederick, his wife and other family members, and friends from far and near who have comme to show your respect to her.
First of all I want to thank God for the gift of her as a person to her family, and our Congregation. She possessed qualities of goodness, warmth, friendliness, generosity and courage and lived her religious vocation with ardour and faithfulness. Her confidence and trust in the Lord helped her to handle many hard realities of life with equanimity and patience.
Sr. Sylvette Marie was born on 1st January 1924 in Saujon, to her dear parents Eugene and Georgette Orge. She is the second girl in a family of three sisters. Like the rest of her sisters, she too received a good education as well as the gift of faith in a family that valued and cared for each other.
She entered religious life quite early in life at the age of 19, in 1943 and made her first vows on 8th December 1944 and final vows on 17th September 1949.
She was trained as a teacher of French and Art and over the course of years she taught French, Spanish English, Catechism, and Religion, to children of various levels up to sixth form. We can say that one of the many qualities Sr. Sylvette possessed was the ability to communicate to all those whose lives she touched. She has travelled widely and absorbed the goodness in other cultures which widened her outlook and capacity to accommodate many people into her life.
Immediately after her profession, as a young sister she had spent three years in Spain and more than 14 years in teaching in England from 1951 to 1965, and then again as superior from 1968 to 1975. While in England, she was entrusted with the care of the apostolic school and accompaniment of students. As a vibrant, young sister she has had a very positive impact on the life and vocation of several pupils and has continued to accompany them throughout their life, taking a real interest in them.
After returning from England in 1975 she was appointed as superior of Cognac from 1976 to 1982, during which time she did a professional study of Iconography in Paris.
From 1982 till 2014 she was in La Rochelle and supervised the canteen for 20 years as well being the superior of the community for 9 years. After the closure of the community in La Rochelle, she along with two other sisters came to Saintes and has been in the community here till she suddenly took seriously ill and died on 26th August.
During her time in Alton she was also the Junior mistress of young sisters of my batch. As young sisters under her guidance, we found her firm and kind, sincere and with a deep understanding of spiritual life. Her non-judgemental attitude and open hearty laugh won the hearts of many of us. She helped us to grow in faith and in our prayer life sharing with us her experiences of mystics like St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Elisabeth of the Trinity who remained her favourites till the end. Her prayer life was guided by their deep spirituality and contemplation of the Holy Trinity.
She was a person of relationships and valued people, remained close to them and never stopped loving them even when people changed. She gave more than she took. She would take any step to maintain a relationship she valued. I have been a witness to her faithfulness. Her interest in people and in the good of the Congregation can be seen in the way she was ready to reach out anytime to help the sisters and past pupils in Alton and elsewhere with her presence, advice, her good humour and compassion. As she grew older, she became even more mellowed and sweeter, loving everyone with a peaceful and tranquil acceptance.
Her eye for details, beauty and feelings are seen in her beautiful paintings of the icons which fascinated her and to which she gave a lot of time from 1982.
Sr. Sylvette Marie loved life and brought life wherever she was. She made others happy by doing little things for them. Her infectious laughter, energy and understanding attracted young people to trust her and find in her a sure friend and support. She loved children and enjoyed being with them even in her old age that she was sad to leave La Rochelle. A few weeks ago she told me that it was always easier for her to relate to young people. She had a knack for knowing them and she was the one that many people contacted when they really wanted to share their sorrows. Sr. Sylvette will be missed by many. She is already badly missed by all of us who knew and loved her here. She has left a space that is filled with her memories.
She always knew what she wanted and God has been pleased to grant her many of her desires. She loved to be independent and active till the end and God has allowed her to live a full life without becoming over dependent on others. On the day before her fatal hemorrhage she had gone out alone in the car to do some necessary shopping for the community.
I really want to say a big thanks to you dear Sr. Sylvette for what you have meant to me and to all of us in the Congregation over the years. You were loved and all of us have been dear to you. Thank you for teaching us to trust the Lord in times of darkness. We ask you to continue to accompany us on our life journey.
Mother House, Saintes