Sister Bernadette Madiot, MSC
Sister Bernadette Madiot, MSC
1921 - 2013
Marie-Louise Madiot was born on September 15, 1921, in Livré in Mayenne. Four brothers and one sister would increase the size of the family. Following Mr. Madiot’s death, the family moved to La Roe, a small village where Marie Louise, being the eldest child, became her mother’s chief helper. She grew up assisting others in the village and also animating the parish youth group who loved her dynamism and her gaiety. Together these youngsters deepened their faith with the reflections suggested by the JAC (Christian Rural Youth).
Marie-Louise entered the postulancy of the Marianites of Holy Cross at Précigné on November 25, 1939. At her reception of the habit on June 24, 1940, she was given the name Sister Marie-Bernadette. Sister pronounced her first vows on May 27, 1942, and remained at the motherhouse as a student. She made perpetual profession on August 10, 1945.
Sister Bernadette began her ministry life as a teacher at Saint Denis d’Orques in the primary school of Notre Dame du Parc where she taught from 1943 to 1945. In 1945 she went briefly to St. Jeanne d’Arc School in Lyon where she gave such a powerful witness that several of her students sent their condolences when she died more than sixty years later! From 1946 to 1948, Sister was the directress of the school at St. Denis d’Orques and from 1948 to 1954, she directed St. Joseph School at Précigné and later St. Marthe in Le Mans.
In 1954, Sister left for Haiti to join the Marianites who were already in Cap-Haitien, having been called there by Msgr. Cousineau for service in the school of the Fathers of Holy Cross. Sister Bernadette took the direction and organization of a new school, Our Lady of Lourdes, in Carenage. She remained there for ten years, during which time she trained teachers and devoted herself entirely to the good functioning of this establishment.
Little by little, the care of the sick became her focus and a dispensary was created for the poor of the neighborhood. Sister Bernadette also got involved in the Cathedral parish where she animated the liturgy and celebrations for the students of Carenage whom she also initiated into the various movements of children and youth which existed in the city. Joy, dynamism and laughter were brought alive in these children whom she taught to live happily despite their poor economic and family conditions.
On her return to France, Sister animated the technical school at Laval for two years while serving at the same time as Assistant General of the Marianites. In 1966 she spent a year in Rome studying formation for her responsibility with the younger sisters. From 1967 to 1969, Sister Bernadette was mistress of the temporary professed and assistant general at the Marianite Motherhouse in Le Mans.
A new option presented itself in 1969 when she went to St. Pierre Fourrier Clinic in Epinal. There Sister completed her studies to earn a state diploma in nursing. She also did additional studies in tropical medicine at Paris in 1972.
From 1973 to 1977, Sister Bernadette was at the Clinic in Vire as nurse and local superior of the community. During these years she was also part of both the formation team and the provincial council. In 1977 Sister became the directress of the nursing home in Annoville in Normandy where she soon found herself engaged with the youth of the parish. In every one of her obediences, Sister Bernadette gave herself completely and with generosity. After 1984, she took turns as director of Foyer Marie Immaculée in Laval and as pastoral minister in Andouillé.
Sister Bernadette participated in all the general chapters of the Congregation and was again elected as assistant general in 1989. In 2001, she spent a year in Parcé-sur-Sarthe where she visited the residents of the nursing home and participated in the parish choir. Returning to Annoville where the sisters lived following the closing of the nursing home, Sister Bernadette was stricken by the illness which left her severely handicapped. She was first hospitalized at Coutances and then transferred to the Charles Drouet Center at Allonnes in Le Mans. Accepting her illness was extremely difficult, but following a pilgrimage to Lourdes and her return to the Solitude in the midst of her sisters, she found once again serenity and patience. The sisters who surrounded and cared for her bore witness to her gentleness and marveled that such a dynamic individual could accept what had befallen her...
Sister Bernadette’s life had been a true pilgrimage on earth, and everywhere she was active, joyous, and attentive to children, teaching them to pray with attention and song. She loved to laugh, to sing, to whistle, to crochet, to embroider and to listen to music. During her final years at the Solitude, she was for both the personnel and the sisters a source of great admiration. For a long time she desired to go home to God and to sing with the angels. They came to bring her home on October 21, 2013 while one of the sisters was praying the morning office and holding her hand. Sister Bernadette left us quietly after a third “Hail Mary.” The beauty of her life was celebrated in the Solitude chapel on October 23, 2013. Present were the sisters, several members of her family and friends from her various places of ministry. Sister Bernadette’s body reposes in Holy Cross cemetery in Le Mans.
May our dear Sister Bernadette be at peace as she rests in the arms of her Lord, and may she continue to sing her joy through all eternity!