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Obituary: Sister of Providence Lorraine Boyer

WINOOSKI--Sister of Providence Lorraine Boyer, 96, died Nov. 18 at Our Lady Providence Residence.
She was born in St. Andre, Quebec, on Oct. 8, 1920, to Rosa Hayes and Donat Boyer. One of 11 children, her mother died when she was 7, and two years later, her father remarried bringing five more children into the family.
She attended the parish school in St. Andre Avellin where the Sisters of Providence taught her. After the death of her mother, she and her younger sister were boarders at the school for two years. She entered the postulate of the Sisters of Providence in Montreal on Nov. 17, 1939, and pronounced her temporary vows on Nov. 19, 1941.
Sister Boyer began her life ministry in the United States on Nov. 20, 1941. She was assigned to the care of small children at St. Joseph Orphanage in Burlington, and she continued in that work for the next nine years. In 1944, she pronounced her perpetual vows as a Sister of Providence.
In 1950, she was transferred to Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, Ill., where for the next 14 years, she was responsible for the care of boys and girls who came from separated families.
In 1964, Sister Boyer returned to Burlington where she dedicated herself to the care of children from separated families and, at the same time, assumed the role of superior for the local community of Sisters of Providence.
Pursuing her love of nursing, in 1970, she went to St. Ann Nursing Home in Jersey City, N.J., and, after a year of studies, earned her diploma as a licensed practical nurse.
In 1971, she assumed the role of administrator at St. Vincent De Paul Nursing Home in Berlin, N.H., and continued in this role until 1994. She also fulfilled the role of superior for the local community of Sisters of Providence from 1991-1994. In 1979, she took a year's leave to pursue religious studies in theology at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.
After serving for 25 years at St. Vincent de Paul Nursing Home in Berlin, in 1995 she returned to Vermont where she continued to dedicate herself to the care of the elderly at Our Lady of Providence in Winooski. For the next 10 years, she served, at various times, as director of nursing, as local superior, as a local councilor and as a driver.
Sister Boyer is survived by her brothers Paul, M. Germain, Andre Jean and Richard Boyer and her sister, Estelle) Cousineau.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. at Our Lady of Providence Residence, 47 West Spring St., Winooski. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. until time of the Mass. Burial will follow in the Sisters of Providence plot of St. Francis Xavier Cemetery. 
  • Published in Diocesan

Religious congregations address changing needs of those they serve

Education. Healthcare. Childcare.

Members of some religious congregations came to the Diocese of Burlington in the 19th century to tend to the needs of the times.

Prison ministry. Parish work. Care of the Earth. Spiritual direction.

These are some of the areas in which, having discerned the changing needs of Vermont Catholics and non-Catholics alike, religious sisters and brothers and members of secular institutes are ministering today in the Green Mountain State.

And they too are experiencing changes – decreasing membership, property sales, new living situations and mergers, to name a few.

"All religious congregations are engaged in some form or another" in the challenges of adapting to the needs of the times, said Sister Irene Duchesneau, a Religious Hospitaller of St. Joseph. "Partnerships, collaborative endeavors and especially an active foundation are what we see going forward in our diocese. These realities are not losses but a compelling call to pursue our mission and heritage with the gifts of a committed laity."

Those who live a consecrated life – members of religious orders and secular institutes – do God's work and help to build the Kingdom of God in Vermont, working in collaboration with the priests, parishioners and other people of the diocese.

Though membership in religious orders has dwindled in Vermont, their presence is no less valuable and important to the people to whom they minister. Some communities – like the Society of St. Edmund – continue to be about the Lord's work with fewer members. But some once-Vermont-based orders – like the Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of St. Joseph – have joined together with sister communities.

The Sisters of St. Joseph that were once part of the Rutland-based congregation, now number only 15 within the larger Springfield, Mass.-based order.

Other congregations are represented in the state by one or two members, some are new to the diocese, and others have left Vermont. Some have invited laypersons to join them in mission as associates and agrégées.

But the impact of those living consecrated life continues to be felt throughout the statewide diocese from Isle LaMotte to Bennington, Derby Line to Brattleboro and Rutland to White River Junction.

Those that remain in the Diocese of Burlington minister in meaningful ways whether "actively" involved in parish, school or civic community life or retired and engaged in a ministry of prayer.

In many cases, those in consecrated life pass on their congregation's charisms through their ministries. For example, the Sisters of Mercy – now part of The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – ensure board members of their ministries and partners in ministry understand and carry on the spirit of the community. The Sisters of St. Joseph – once heavily engaged in education – help school staff members to understand their ministry to youth.

At one time members of religious communities focused on the ministries of their own community; there is more and more collaboration among them now.

For example, members of women's religious communities have assisted the Edmundite Fathers and Brothers in their Southern Missions. That cooperation has been "essential," said Edmundite Brother Thomas Berube.

Some, like the Sisters of Providence in Winooski, have opened their convent to members of other orders. Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph and Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa live at the convent, creating a multi-order community there.

"It helps each community to live to their utmost," said Sister of Providence Carmen Proulx.

Brother Berube acknowledges that the Church is not as dependent on members of consecrated life as it once was because non-members have joined their ministerial efforts. "It has to be the baptized that are going to move the Church forward," he said. "Religious communities can be there to support and help and educate them to do that … . This is the age of the laity, and I think that is wonderful … . We're all in this … together with our gifts and our blessings and our drawbacks."

In many ways, religious congregations have been the first to address needs and then move into other areas once non-members can take over. That's what the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa have done in Africa, said Sister Arlene Gates: "We are the initiators, and we know the lasting work has to be done by Africans."

Even as they plan for the continuation of their ministries, members of consecrated life are – as they have done historically – looking at needs and seeking ways to address them. These areas include helping persons who suffer from drug addition, women who have been trafficked and new immigrants.

Sister of Mercy Jeannine Mercure emphasized the need to "make systemic changes in society," while noting that the sisters' work in education continues "but in a completely different way."

Through the order's Mercy Connections, immigrants receive tutoring and help in gaining citizenship, women are assisted in establishing small businesses and women who were incarcerated are helped to be reintegrated with family and society.

The sisters' mission at Mercy Farm in Benson includes helping people learn about gardening and sustainable use of the land and offering "women deprived of quiet" an opportunity to be connected to creation.

Care of the environment is a "critical concern" for the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Mercure said, as well as for other congregations.

In addition, the Society of St. Edmund continues its long history of ecumenical and interfaith endeavors and embraces the immigrant population with "charity and acceptance," Brother Berube said.

Through it all, the Eucharist is central, said Sister of St. Joseph Mary Harvey: "Daily Mass is integral to our lives."

And so is prayer.

But not only are members of consecrated life engaged in praying for others, they often offer opportunities to others for prayer. Silent prayer, prayer groups and retreats are part of Our Lady of Life, a secular institute to which Teresa Hawes belongs. "We are on that journey (to sainthood) together," she said.

"If we don't have a foundation in prayer – a real awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in everything we do – there is a danger for us becoming just social workers," Brother Berube said, emphasizing the importance of all social workers.

The diocese has, over the years, welcomed contemplative and cloistered religious orders as well as those involved in ministries like education and healthcare.

"While our monastic community is not an apostolic community with a direct ministry outside the monastery, from our monastic life we offer hospitality to many people who are searching for God and life in the Church and the world today," noted Benedictine Brother Richard Iaquinto, prior of Weston Priory. "We offer a haven of prayer and support to those religious and lay persons who are working formally or informally in ministry and the apostolates here in Vermont and beyond."

Benedictine Sister Laurence A.M. Couture, prioress of Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westfield, quoted the testimony of the abbesses and prioresses of the Benedictine Congregation of Solesmes on papal enclosure. In part: "At first sight, one could believe that the enclosure of the nuns does not allow them to reach the 'existential and geographical peripheries' (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 20) to which Pope Francis is sending forth all the Church in mission following Jesus. In reality the nun sees in it one of the most incisive and efficacious means to reach the most inaccessible peripheries, those where no one can penetrate: the heart of man often shut up in sin."

During the Year of Mercy, members of consecrated life pondered just what mercy means to them.

"Mercy is incarnating in action charity," Brother Berube said.

"It is living out the tenderness and justice of love, of Jesus," commented Sister Yvette Rainville, a Daughter of the Holy Spirit.

Sister of Notre Dame Karen Pozniak said mercy is a "sense of being there for others, having a compassionate heart that is willing to help others."

Those living consecrated have been and still are doing just that.
  • Published in Diocesan

Obituary - Sister Anastasia Mary Tierney (Mary Bridget)

WINOOSKI – Sister of Providence Mary Bridget Tierney, 88, died May 31 at Our Lady of Providence Residence.

Anastasia Mary Tierney was born Sept. 6, 1927, in Burlington and was adopted.

When Anastasia was 11, the family broke up, and she was placed in St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington. She entered the postulate of the Sisters of Providence in Montreal in 1947 and pronounced her temporary vows in 1949, receiving the name of Sister Mary Bridget and pronounced her perpetual vows on in 1952.

Her ministerial life began in 1949 when she arrived at Maryville Academy in Des Plains, Ill., where she taught for the next six years in secondary school. From 1955-1957, she was a student at the College of Great Falls in Great Falls, Mont., where she earned a bachelor's degree in science.

In 1957, Sister Tierney returned to Maryville Academy where she resumed her ministry of secondary education. After nine years, she came to Vermont where she taught a year at St. Francis Xavier School Winooski and then, in 1967, returned to secondary education at Maryville Academy. In 1970, she returned to Winooski, and enrolled in university courses in science and biology at the University of Vermont. By 1971, she was teaching sciences at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington.

In 1977, issues with her health required time for convalescence. She later took responsibility for the care and management of the printers at the diocesan headquarters in Burlington, and she established procedures for the mail, served in the reception area and supervised the Religious Education Library.

In 2005, Sister Tierney became responsible for the reorganization of the library at Our Lady of Providence in Winooski.

She is survived by her brother and his wife, Charles and Lucy Hagget, nieces Shirley Hagget and Debby and Kehl Berry, and her cousins Betty Preston and Ruth Stewart.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on June 7 at Our Lady of Providence Residence with Father Paul Houde presiding. Internment followed in the Sisters of Providence plot at St. Francis Xavier Cemetery.

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