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Mary Fabienne St. Onge

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 21/06/2013

Sr Mary Fabienne St Onge smsm

9 May 1924 – 21 June 2013

Sr Mary Fabienne St Onge was born in 1924 in Brunswick Maine to Alice and Omer St Onge, one of four children, three of whom became Religious. Her sister, Sr Mary Agnes OSM, and her brother, Fr Omer St Onge SM went home to the Lord before her. Her surviving brother, Remi St Onge, who has been so devoted to his siblings, joined us for the funeral, which was a celebration of Sr Mary Fabienne’s long life and joyful spirit.

Before she entered the Marist Missionary Sisters in Bedford on February 11th, 1947, Sr Fabienne had learned typing and shorthand at Bliss Business College – skills that she put to good use for many years. After she made her first vows on August 15th, 1949, she was sent to St Joseph’s College to obtain her Teacher’s Certificate. Her first mission assignment, in 1953, was to the Kingdom of Tonga, where she taught and was Principal of several schools in Mu’a, Ha’apai, Vava’u and Mau’fanga over the next 14 years. When she returned to the USA in 1967 for her Second Novitiate, she stayed and completed her BA degree at St Joseph’s College in Wyndham, Maine. She returned to Tonga in 1971 and continued teaching there. Her love for the people of Tonga remained throughout her life and she delighted in the Tongan language, music, and dancing whenever she met Sisters or visitors from the Islands.

In 1972 Sr Fabienne received a new mission: to Peru. No doubt her facility at languages was a help as she adapted to a very different mission and began teaching at various schools in Callao, Tamshiyacu, and Huaraz. In 1976 she became the Regional Superior for the Sisters in Peru. After her term she went on compassionate leave to care for her elderly mother in Brunswick, Maine. And taught catechetics in the parish while she was there from 1979 to 1986.

In 1987, Sr Fabienne was ready to return to Latin America, and was assigned to a new mission in Bogota, Colombia. She was not there long when ill health forced her to return to the USA. The following year she went for a spiritual renewal at the “Galilee Program” in Ontario, Canada. She was still keen to do missionary work among Spanish speaking people, and a Sister she met invited her to come to a small, former gold mining, town called Trinidad, in Colorado. She was granted permission to do this and she taught there during the school years of ’89-’90 and ’91-‘92. During the year in between she was called to Rome to give service at the Generalate and to France to help with an Enlarged General Council Meeting. Her language and secretarial skills were highly valued, and her ability to tell jokes in three languages lightened the atmosphere during recreation times at those meetings.

Returning to Massachusetts, Sr Fabienne joined the Belmont community, where she taught English to immigrants, and also served as receptionist at Maristhill Nursing Home on Saturdays. In 1994 she moved to the Newton Street community and continued the same ministries, later assisting with the RCIA program in the parish.

By 2003 Sr Fabienne was beginning to suffer memory loss, and in 2005 she was missioned to Bethany Health Care Center in Framingham. Eventually she entered their specialized memory- loss unit, where she received excellent care as her disease progressed. In recent years, though she may not have recognized visitors, her gracious and loving presence often shone through.

Sr Mary Fabienne was an inspiring Marist Missionary Sister – from her early days of entering into new challenges with enthusiasm, to her outgoing, joyful nature, to her love for people in many places, to her always seeking new ways to serve, despite setbacks, and finally through the very particular suffering of her later years. She lived the words of our Constitutions:

Called to live the paschal mystery
In times of suffering, sickness and old age
As well as in times of success, health and activity,
We always share in the mission of the congregation.
(Const. 24)

Sr Fabienne died peacefully in the early morning of June 21st 2013. May she enter fully into the joy of the Kingdom, interceding for all of us who follow her, for that grace of fidelity to the wonderful gift we have been given in our Marist, Missionary and Religious vocation.

In Mary’s Name,

Sr Claire Rheaume smsm Sr Virginia Fornasa smsm
Mission District, North America