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Marie Antoinette COLLARD

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 20/03/2009

Sister Marie Antoinette was born into a Christian family, and had a brother to whom she was especially attached. Right to the end her family held an important place in her life and particularly in her prayer.

From a very young age she thought of religious missionary life and began her postulancy at Ste Foy on 16 January 1933, at the age of 17½. Unfortunately poor health forced her to leave in July of the same year. She then spent six months as a postulant in the Sisters of Compassion in Lyon. Not finding what she desired, she asked to return to the postulancy of the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary. She made her novitiate at Estrablin (l’Isère) and on 08 September 1949 she made profession.

On 30 November 1949 she left for New Caledonia on the Sagitaire and was appointed to teach at Hienghène, then in 1952 at Bourail, in 1954 at Fayaoué-Ouvéa, in 1957 at Thio.

In 1959, an association was begun to meet the needs of the young women going to work in Nouméa. Sr M. Antoinette was asked to begin and organise a hostel. She loved this social work and put herself into it totally. She made the Foyer Massabielle a very welcoming place.

In 1964, she returned to France for her Second Novitiate and was then named Regional of Wallis and Futuna, arriving there in August 1965 and living at Sofala. In faith she accepted this difficult service asked of her by the Congregation. She did not know Wallis and Futuna, but settled into the task with courage. She achieved much among other things, to improve the physical life of the sisters: restoring the buildings, constructing a large water tank, gardens, etc.

In 1969 she began, and directed until 1971, a domestic science course at Sofala for the young girls. In 1972, She returned to New Caledonia and was appointed to Saint Joseph, Ouvéa. When one of the sisters heard of her death she wrote the following: “I began my missionary life with her in Ouvea. We were both fortunate to have in common a brother priest and often we prayed for this intention. Her passion and her tenacity for the MISSION were a great help to me in the beginning... May the Lord give us more vocations of this type!”

From 1973 to 1974, she was superior of the House of prayer at Mont-Mou and then went to France on holiday. Returning in 1975, she was named the Regional Econome in Nouméa, a service she engaged in with competence. She was to have a lot of work in searching for a new regional house and then supervising its construction in the “Quartier Latin”.

In 1981, she returned to France for her holiday and health care. On her return she went to La Foa then to Ile des Pins, and was a participant in a month of renewal for Senior sisters at Mont Mou in New Caledonia.

After her holiday in France in 1990 while in the community of Vallée du Génie, she began visiting the women in prison at Nouville. She loved this work even though getting around became difficult. She continued this work till her departure from New Caledonia.

In 1996 she went on holiday to France and participated in a renewal for Senior sisters in Rome. Returning she went back to her community and to her ministry in the prison.

By 2000, her health was deteriorating and she went to live in the community for senior sisters at Saint Louis until her return to France in 2003.

Sister Marie Antoinette had great faith, she prayed a lot and was a member of the prayer group at the Cathedral where she had true friends. She also had a network of faithful friends whom she supported in prayer.

She was also a practical woman who knew how to use her fingers and who loved passing on what she knew.
In her last months she became completely dependant and died at the hospital of Sainte Foy on 20 March. Her funeral was held on 24 March with many of her family members able to be present.

Her family gave the following testimony: “We would like to thank you simply, with a profound affection for the attention you always gave to each of us, to your family, your friends in prayer but also in listening, in your regular correspondence and your closeness in spite of the distance that separated Oceania from France.”

I would like to thank her family and her numerous friends who have supported her during these last difficult months. I would also like to thank the nurses and staff of the house and the community for having surrounded her with love and devotion.

May the Lord keep her in love.

Sister Marie-José de Préville, smsm