Louise Thomas was born at Locmaria, in Belle-Ile-en-Mer, in the department of Morbihan on July 21, 1933. The oldest of ten children, she very quickly learned to help her mother around the house. There was much to do on the family farm and hard work was not lacking. The land of the European continent was far away and the sea isolated the island community from communication. When Louise began asking herself what her future would hold, she sought the “meaning” of her life on this isolated land.
Then one day, a family friend from Le Mans who had connections on the island visited and understood the situation of this young woman. After reflection and discussions with her family, the friend proposed taking Louise to Le Mans with her and found her a job at the Marianite Clinic. Louise was delighted with this opportunity.
There she observed the life of the community, and it was due to the witness of the sisters that Louise decided to answer the Lord’s call. In one of her journals, she wrote, “‘The new believers, through the witness of the first disciples were able to finally meet Christ.’ We also need this chain of witnesses who have preceded us and who are familiar figures for us: those of our Father Founder, our Mother Mary of the Seven Dolors, our elderly sisters and our sister companions.”
Louise entered the postulancy of the Marianites at the Solitude on September 4, 1957, at the age of 24. On June 12, 1958, she received the Marianite habit and the name Sister Mary Anne. On June 14, 1960, she made temporary profession and returned to the Clinique to work in the office. Sister pronounced her perpetual vows on June 14, 1963; she continued her ministry in the office of the Marianite Clinic until 1973.
Sister, along with so many other Marianites, lived all the changes that occurred when the clinic moved up the hill of the Solitude and became Clinique Ste Croix across the street from the motherhouse. The new organization and methods of work were difficult for her. At this time, she was put in charge of and made responsible for the welcome office and the admission of patients. In 1978, she was also given the charge of the secretary’s office. In fact, she worked with a well-formed and well-motivated team in this position.
From 1990 through 1993, Marie-Anne assumed the responsibility of the Clinique’s Marianite community with much care and attention to the needs of the sisters, while at the same time continuing her work in the office. During all these years of devoted and attentive service, Sister made many acquaintances and friends. She was highly esteemed and was recognized as the “little sister in the office” by many residents of the Sarthe who were faithful to the Clinique.
Like the good Samaritan of the gospel, Marie-Anne followed the needs of the newly-arrived patients at the Clinique. By her simplicity and her gentle welcome, she knew how to give them confidence and to calm their fears. She handled the assigning of rooms and worked hard to please the patients and their families. Nevertheless this was not always an easy task, as Père Pascal mentioned in his homily at Sister’s funeral Mass.
In September of 1998, Sister left her active life at the Clinique and joined the Marianite community at the Tilleuls. In continuing her spirit of hospitality, she volunteered at l’Etoile (the diocesan center) where she worked every Thursday morning in the welcome office, a task she enjoyed until December of 2008.
The state of her health then obliged Sister to live at Notre Dame de la Solitude until 2011. It was then that she was admitted to “La Souvenance”, a brand-new establishment with a specific Alzheimer’s unit; she remained there until her death.
Sister Marie-Anne died very peacefully on July 21, 2011, at the age of 78 in the 54th year of her religious life. The funeral celebration took place in the Solitude chapel on July 25, 2011. Members of her family were there, along with several of her former colleagues from Clinique Ste Croix and some of her very faithful friends. Her body rests in Holy Cross Cemetery in Le Mans, France.
May the Lord grant her his peace and his joy.