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Sœur Simone Chatelier

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 20/09/2020

SMSM SistersSr Simone Chatelier smsm

18 October 1933 – 20 September 2020


I will praise you with the harp

For your faithfulness, O my God

I will sing praise to you with the lyre.”

Ps 71:22


Simone was born 18 October 1933, in Clisson, France. She was the eldest of 6 children of René Chatelier and Simone Joyaux. She worked with her father in the family business before studying nursing. She kept a very strong bond with her family, always happy to be reunited with them. Family gatherings brought her great joy. She entered the postulate of the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon in September 1959. On entering the novitiate, she took the name "S. M. Jean Michel" in honor of her brothers. She made profession on 9 March 1962.

In November, she left for her first mission assignment in Algeria, at the clinic of Rivet - now Meftah - in the Mitidja. The sisters in Pikine, a suburb of Dakar, welcomed her in September 1964. Together with S. M. Raphaella (Nunzia Leonetti) and S. M. Christiana (Lucette Pépin), they opened the second SMSM community in Senegal, near Thiès, in the village of Fandène, where S. Simone set up the new clinic on 16 October. When they arrived, what a surprise!  Everyone was there to welcome them, even the Vicar General. The bells rang with joy finally to have sisters, a dispensary and a new class where girls could be welcomed!  The first evening, as the construction of the sisters' house was not finished, they stayed in a building intended for the women’s centre.  Curtains separated the three beds, but the door remained open and the toads settled in for the night too.  Imagine Simone!  As well as that, she did not like noise, but she had to get used to the toads croaking in the swamp, the neighing of the donkeys, and the early morning cock crow.  S. Simone was a very good nurse, conscientious, keen to train in tropical medicine, not hesitating to go out at night to a village to see a child whose condition worried her. She trusted the helpers she had chosen to work with her and gave them a thorough training.

In 1966, S. Simone was appointed to the clinic in Pikine. In October 1972, she returned to France for a family visit and ongoing formation which concluded in 1974 with the Second Novitiate. She returned to Pikine until 1 January 1979, when she was appointed Provincial Superior. She accepted this responsibility effectively and tenaciously. She was direct, firm, open, gifted in building, welcoming the ideas of others, not afraid to give her opinion, knowing how to combine pleasure with work ( e.g. a bar of chocolate during meetings!)

On 1 January1985, her term as Provincial ended. On 6 March, she went to England to study English. On 15 October, she returned to Pikine.  She was Secretary General of the Association of Catholic Private Health Centres of Senegal, established in 1969 with the aim of coordinating the activities of the 70 dispensaries in the country.  Its first objective was the training of staff. For nine years, S. Simone gave her all to this service.

 In May 1995, the Minister of National Education presented her with the decoration of Knight of the National Order of the Lion, in the presence of Cardinal Thiandoum and the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio. Sr. M. Luc Valdelorge, of the Congregation of St Thomas de Villeneuve, and her collaborator, said that what struck her about S. Simone was her determination to achieve her goal: to work with the government and health services in the implementation of primary health care, keeping our own character as a Church service, attentive to the poorest.

Sister Simone then returned to France and replaced S. M. Georges at the Procure, which she transferred from Paris to Sainte-Foy. We can thank God for all that she achieved in this service.  In 2009, medical examinations revealed the progression of her illness. She was aware of this but continued her activities, well supported by S. Colette Nicaise. She enjoyed their outings in Lyon and their aqua-gym sessions. She wanted beautiful liturgies. Having learned to play the zither, she accompanied the psalms during community prayer.

Gradually, she ceased her activities. Soon, she had to accept a greater dependence on others. She suffered from not being able to talk. But she had good hearing and enjoyed listening to beautiful music, to follow conversations, and events. She communicated with a look, a smile, a mimic.

On 16 August 2020, S. Simone was admitted to hospital with pneumonia, with no suspicion of Covid-19. Later, the sisters went in turn to help her eat at noon. She returned to the community on 8 September but her condition deteriorated rapidly. On Thursday, 17 September, Fr. Bernard, Missionary of Africa, gave her the sacrament of the sick, inviting us to lay our hands gently on her.  S. Simone seemed to be present. S. Malekalita Moefana was with S. Simone during the night of Saturday19-Sunday 20 September, and was with her when she passed quietly at 4 a.m.

Simone, during your farewell to the Association of Catholic Private Health Centres of Senegal, the sisters of the Dakar Region composed a song for you. We're happy to share it with you again :

Sister Simone, you're leaving, but you're not leaving us.

You are going to other horizons where the Lord calls you.

But your feminine and sisterly presence - so very sisterly –

that you leave here, will bathe us for a long time in its light.

What we will always remember about you

 - which is the best of yourself

is that gift, freely given, determined and tenacious, brave and firm...                          

 a reflection of the secret of your life.


On 8 September we read Article 49 of our Constitutions: It suits you perfectly:     

   In responding to a gracious choice

            we, too, have become members of the family of Mary,

            and we know this choice commits us

            to a personal relationship with her.

            Bearing her name,

            we keep Mary ever before our eyes

            learning to think

                         to speak

                         to act like her

            and to live, as it were, her life.


Sisters of the smsm community, 41 rue du Signal, Ste-Foy-les-Lyon