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Marie François d'Assise Grandjean

List of deceased Sisters

Date of death 16/05/2012


Sister Marie François d’Assise (Marie Joséphine Jeanne Grandjean)
1912 – 2012


Marie Josephine Jeanne was born in Annonay on December 28th 1912 to Joseph Grandjean and Marie Rose Blanchard. She was baptized the next day. Her father was a metal worker in the town. In 1920 he came to Lyon to a textile weaving business. His wife helped him in this work, as did little Marie also. At times she carried heavy loads of silk, which weakened her spine.

Her grandmother, who was deeply religious, passed on the faith to her and she fervently prepared for her confirmation on May 15th 1923.
After completing her school-leaving certificate, she learned stenography and studied music at the conservatory of Lyon. She sang opera, and that gained her the joy of several voyages, one of which was to Morocco.

She and her only sister amused themselves by a change of name. She took the name “Maryse”. In her youth, she wasn’t too concerned with the Christian faith. But one day she encountered Marthe Robin. Her bond with the stigmatic of Châteauneuf-de-Galaure was a profound friendship for which she was eternally grateful. She never stopped speaking of it and of what she had heard her say: “Pass beyond the things that pass, look only towards heaven. Nothing is good except what one does for love” She got to know her through Father Finet – the cousin of Sr M. François de Sales - who “sent her” to the SMSM. She arrived at “Signal” in March 1937, and received the name “Sr Marie François d’Assise” upon entering the novitiate on September 7th. She made her profession in that chapel on September 8th 1939.

Two days later she set sail from Marseille. That would be the last voyage to Oceania before the war. The ship was followed by a German submarine and she attributed to the Virgin Mary the arrival of the passengers, safe and sound. The news in 1940 sees her at Bourail where, except for one school year at La Foa in 1952, she remained until January 1964, the date of her first return to France. After her holiday, her students at Bourail had her again for lessons in singing, dancing, gymnastics, and stenography.

Here are some of the things written by her former students at Bourail, on receiving the news of her death: “She prepared us, among other things, for the 50 meter race for the Certificate for Primary Studies, along the dirt road leading to the cemetery and when we didn’t have sports shoes, she said: ‘Ah well, my daughter, the Lord gave you feet, use them!’
Another added: “I remember especially some ballets in black light that she made us prepare for months in advance for the performance at the end of the year ‘prize-giving’.
I was able to see her again in June 2010. She was still walking, in the garden at Sainte Foy, fingering her rosary… I offer my respect to these women teachers who were so devoted.”

In 1967, she spent several months in Australia for medical care. From May 22nd to June 17th 1968, she made a thirty-day retreat at Mont Mou. In 1971, she was appointed to the hostel at La Foa until her holiday in France at the end of 1972. On her return to New Caledonia, she organized the archives at the provincial house. In 1975, she began four years of catechetical ministry. In 1981 a visit to France was offered to her. When she returned to New Caledonia, she was assigned to the house of hospitality at Mont Mou.

She returned definitively to France on June 7th 1989. The following year, she was transferred to the Province of Eurafrica and she didn’t leave “Signal” again except for the Spring of 1996 when she participated in a six-month renewal for senior sisters in Rome. From June 1996 she went regularly to “la Croix-Rousse” to take care of her widowed sister who died in 2003. During these years at Sainte-Foy, she took part in community service and also some outside activities, like the homeless shelter where, for the first in her life, she encountered Muslims, who made a deep impression on her.

Sr Marie François d’Assise had a joyful and optimistic temperament. I do not think that she ever intended to hurt anyone. She knew how to ask pardon and to give forgiveness. Her great joy was to teach music theory and to sing to the young sisters; one of her pastimes was to arrange the sheet music from “Let us Pray in the Church”. And her pleasure was to sing. When, in the end, her voice betrayed her and she could no longer sing well, she suffered a lot. She loved playing games. Until 2010, every Sunday night she took part in the traditional game of “belotte”. And until her 99th birthday, she continued to play scrabble every day after siesta. She also loved to read and devoured the novels of Agatha Christie given by her nephews. Until the day when she decided that her reading time would be devoted to prayer. Then she didn’t say just one “chaplet” but the entire rosary each day. In 2005, in a letter to the Provincial Superior, she wrote: “Tell the young ones that I pray a lot for them, that they persevere and are faithful.” Her great devotion to Mary was never diminished and she never stopped saying her rosary. Lately, she often asked us, “What mystery should I say?”

Sr Marie François d’Assise was very sociable and loved all the Sisters very much. She was particularly concerned with the sick and every Sunday afternoon she accompanied Sr. Male to the Pierre Garraud Hospital or to Fourvière to visit any SMSM who were in the hospital.
It was on the eve of the Ascension, Wednesday, May 16th at 3:00 pm that the Lord came for her. She passed away peacefully, Without suffering or showing any sign of distress, she who always wanted to have the company of one or another sister.

May the Virgin Mary, to whom she prayed so often, lead her to her Son.