Sister Barthélèmy Pasque, MSC
1919 – 2016
Georgette Pasqué was born November 22, 1919, in Paris, France. She spent her early childhood with her mother and her grandmother. She rarely met her cousins who lived in Ball and La Bazoge in the Department of the Sarthe.
While still a child, Georgette worked as a maid for a Ballon family to whom she became very close. She always maintained a faithful relationship with Elizabeth, the child of the family whom she watched grow up. Elizabeth visited her often at the Solitude and was present (along with cousins from Ballon) for her jubilee and other community celebrations.
On August 14, 1945, Georgette entered the Congregation of the Marianites of Holy Cross at the community motherhouse in Précigné. When she completed her postulate, Georgette received the holy habit and the name Sr. Mary of St. Bartholomew on March 16, 1946. She followed all her novitiate training and made temporary vows in 1947. At this point in her life, she was already working in the motherhouse kitchen at Précigné.
From 1946 until 1953, Berty (as she was affectionately known) was assigned successively to minister in the kitchens of the Marianite motherhouse in Précigné, Our Lady of the Park School at St. Denis d’Orques, the priest house at Holy Cross, Le Mans, the Préventorium at Précigné, the orphanage at Andouillé, and St. Joan of Arc School in Lyon.
In all these places, Berty was very happy since she loved children, and conversely, the children appreciated her good humor, her availability, and her joyful, even malicious, presence.
In 1954, Sister received her obedience for the Solitude in Le Mans, an assignment that she would fulfill for the rest of her earthly life. All members of the family of Holy Cross from the entire world who came to the Solitude knew Berty! Over the years, she would take care of the house, of the garden, of the “yard” which at the time was actually a small farm! Berty cared for and loved the animals (pigs and cows) of the property.
She spent a lot of time working the garden, cultivating the rosebushes and the forget-me-nots, but never neglecting the personnel and the rest of the garden. Even into her eighties and nineties, she worked until late hours and the sisters might find her at 10 or 11 p.m. in the park, the garden, or the little woods.
Berty’s great joy was the little attentions she had for all, like providing a rose she had picked in the morning dew for someone’s party. The children of the employees at the Solitude referred to her as “Sister Bob”. She was always dressed soberly with her cap on her head. In times of rain, snow, bright sunshine, moonlight or total obscurity, Berty had her cap on her head.
Always busy, Berty continued her conversations with God all day long, often forgetting to be prudent: climbing the cemetery wall, perching on shaky ladders, falling often but getting up in spite of bumps and bruises. Then one day Berty fell in the laundry room and could not get up. After being hospitalized for a few days, she returned to the Solitude with joy. Now a bit disabled, she was forced to begin using a walker.
In 2013, Berty fell again, a fall which aggravated her handicap and little by little, she lost the use of speech and could no longer talk. She also had to accept being in a wheelchair. One can imagine the trial this was for Berty who was always active, willful, and inventive.
In the dining room, Berty still recognized everyone and followed the comings and goings of everyone with an evident complicity. Berty agreed to be dependent and not to speak for years, but she still loved being taken for walks in the garden. She remained faithful to community prayers and meetings. Berty was the gift that God gave to us!
We borrow from a prayer which Berty herself passed on to us:
Each day I thank the Lord for everything that springs from the earth!
I love the land, to see the plants and flowers that God has made.
I know that it’s God who fructifies all that we have planted.
If we leave the land fallow, there will be no life.
God has put us here to grow.
Don’t close your eyes, your ears, your heart.
Prune the garden, gather the stones; weather the storms.
Wake up your courage; continue your work.
Your well-plowed field will survive,
and the Lord will cause the grain to ripen.
The Lord took Berty home to heaven on June 27, 2016. On June 30, Berty’s funeral took place in the Solitude chapel. The Mass was celebrated by Fathers John de Riso and Dufour, CSC. One of the intercessory prayers was: “For all the work of our Sister Berty and the heart that she put into each of her days, for her courage, her joy in the garden, the flowers she lovingly cultivated, the animals she tended,.. for all of that we thank you, Lord.”
The sisters, all the personnel of the house, friends that had loved her for years, accompanied Berty with songs and prayers to her final resting place in Holy Cross Cemetery. Now that she is with God and our sisters who preceded her, Paradise has become her garden, her recompense, and her happiness forever.
May God continue to shower on Berty his Peace and his Joy.