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Jeannette Berube

List of deceased Sisters

Date of death 03/07/2015

SMSM Sisters

Sr Jeannette Berube smsm

[Formerly Sr. Mary Irene]

January 23rd 1919 – July 3rd, 2015

Jeannette Berube was born on January 23rd, 1919 in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  She was the daughter of Adelard Berube and Anna Frechette Berube, both of whom were from Canada. She had three brothers and two sisters, including Sr. Imelda Berube smsm, who died in 2001. Another sister, Anna, was a member of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit.

Jeannette entered the Marist Missionary Sisters in Bedford, Massachusetts on August 2nd, 1937 and made her first vows on February 2nd 1940.  She was soon given her mission destination to the Solomon Islands (then called the “South Solomons”) and set sail for Australia in September 1940. She probably never imagined that, because of the Second World War, it would take her eight years to finally reach her destination.

While in Australia, Sr Jeannette prepared for her future ministry in the Solomons by studying to be a licensed practical nurse specializing in obstetrics and infant welfare.  She was also there when Mother Mary Rose was welcoming Sisters who had been evacuated from different areas in the Pacific, and at the end of the war when she received Sisters who had been in a Japanese prisoner of war camp for four years.  Sr Jeannette was present for the opening of the house in Killara, which could accommodate these Sisters and also serve as a hospital for TB patients.  She served as a nurse at the Lourdes Hospital in Killara for two years before finally setting off once more for the Solomon Islands in 1946.   It was a circuitous route.  She spent a year at Aurora Terrace in Wellington, New Zealand, and then went on to Fiji, and to New Caledonia, before arriving in the Solomons on March 15th 1948.

From 1948 until 1971, Sister Jeannette served as a nurse in many of the more isolated places in the Solomon Islands including Avuavu, Malaita, Visale, Tarapaina, Rokera, Takwa, and Tangarare.  She became fluent in the Gari language.

On hearing of her death, Sr. Mary Keegan in Australia shared with us these wonderful memories of Sr. Jeannette during her years in the Solomons:

 …Many years later in 1964 I was to meet her. I too was missioned to the Solomons. My travelling companion was Sr. Imelda               Berube, Sr. Jeannette’s sister who was reassigned from Fiji to the Solomons. What joy they had on our arrival! I was to meet up           with Sr. Jeannette many times, as she was the nurse/midwife at the Visale Station Clinic. She was loved by the expectant mothers and had a wonderful way with the babies who came for their check-ups at her clinic. She gave me the joy of helping her with a delivery and so I came to know the wonder and joy of a human birth. She was nurse/midwife at many of the Mission Clinics from 1948 to 1971. Imagine how many deliveries she had over those years? They were times when medicines and medical professionals were scarce and she had to rely on her own knowledge and judgment. Many long hours and nights she spent sitting with mothers as they brought their babies to birth. She was a happy person to live with and had a most wonderful gift that made her presence invaluable. She knew how to light, and keep the light going, on the kerosene-fed refrigeration. Our fresh food supplies and a cold drink of water were in her hands!!!    

Sr. Jeannette returned to the United States in 1971.  During the following year she studied at Youville Hospital to obtain her U.S. license as a practical nurse.  From 1973 to 1978 she and Sr. Imelda went on compassionate leave to care for their elderly parents in Lawrence.

From 1978 to 2005 Sr. Jeannette lived in Waltham, first at the Grove St. community and then at Newton Street.  During that time she served as a nurse at Maristhill Nursing Home for eight years, and later when she “retired” she often went to volunteer to help the residents there.  She was happy to attend a 3-month spiritual renewal for our senior Sisters, held at Marist House in Framingham during 1984, and later (1992) had the joy of participating in a Pilgrimage/Renewal program that took her to Rome and to the places of Marist origin in France.  She also had the sorrow of parting from her dear sister, Imelda, whom she cared for during her last illness in 2001.

In 2005 Sr. Jeannette moved to the Marillac Residence in Wellesley Hills, where she made new friends among the Sisters of different congregations and also kept up with old friends, including those in a bowling club that she belonged to for many years.  Earlier this year she celebrated her 75th jubilee as an SMSM.   As her health deteriorated she was transferred to Maristhill, this time as a resident.  There she died shortly after midnight on July 3rd.

As Sr. Christina McLean commented at the time of her funeral, “Jeannette served in many places. However what is more important was the way she served. She responded to a personal call from God and nurtured that call throughout her life. … Her faithfulness to her life of prayer was evident to those who lived with her…” 

Jeannette was a compassionate and caring woman, ready to go out of her way to help others. She was not just a “yes” person.  If she thought something was “not right”, you would soon know her indignation.  But these storms would blow over.  Much deeper than the turbulence on the surface were the deep reserves of love and thankfulness that she had towards Jesus and Mary and towards her Sisters, her family and friends and the many people she served over the course of her 96 years.

May she rest in the joy of the Lord.

In Mary,

Sr Claire Rheaume smsm  (Regional Leader)                                                             

Sr Virginia Fornasa smsm (Communications Secretary)