S. Florence Ouellette
List of deceased Sisters
Date of death 19/02/2017
Sister Florence Ouellette, smsm
(Formerly: Sister Mary Leona smsm)
September 12th, 1928 – February 19th, 2017
Sister Florence Ouellette was born on September 12th, 1928 in Chisholm, Maine, one of three daughters
and nine sons of John B. Ouellette and Laura Groleau Ouellette. Among her siblings were two other
Marists who predeceased her: Father Leo Ouellette SM, and Sister Mary Leo smsm.
Florence entered the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary on July 31st, 1949 at Bedford,
Massachusetts, and made her first vows on February 2nd, 1952. After profession she studied at Boston
College and obtained her B.Sc. in Education in 1957. That same year she was missioned to
Bougainville and taught at the parish school in Hantoa.
In 1961 she was asked to temporarily replace the novice directress of the local congregation, the
Congregation of the Sisters of Nazareth at Chabai. Then, from 1962 to 1965 she taught at the Teacher
Training College at Asitavi. In 1966 she returned to the USA for her home leave and “Second
Returning to Bougainville in 1967, she was asked to serve as the Superior General of the Congregation
of the Sisters of Nazareth, which she did until 1969.
In 1970 Sr. Florence travelled to East New Britain, PNG, and taught at the Teacher-Training College of
the Sisters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH).
Of these early years of mission, Florence would later write: “Working with Sr. Catherine (Emma
Martinuzzi, from Australia) to build Teacher Training throughout Bougainville and even New Britain
was a joy. She was an organizer par excellence. I was Supervisor, and, as such, observed the teachers
in their rural schools. This was elementary level, and truly did not seem like ‘work’…Gradually
teachers were trained from Asitavi. The Marist Brothers (FMS) were doing the same with the young
men. It was a time of new beginnings and expanding the development of the people of Bougainville.”
From 1971 to 1976 Sr. Florence served as Assistant Provincial of the Australian Province and was based
in Sydney. Afterwards she was transferred to the North American Province and served in various roles
of leadership and of community service in Lexington and Waltham over the next few years. She was a
Provincial Councilor from 1978-81.
In 1981, Sr. Florence went to St Foy, in Lyons, France where she gave service as a cook for one year.
Returning to Waltham in the USA, she worked in the Activities department at Maristhill Nursing Home.
From 1985 to 1988 she served as a member of the coordinating team at our residence at 62 Newton St,
which in those years often housed 40 senior Sisters who had returned from overseas mission areas. Later
she was coordinator of the Grove Street community, and also served in Pastoral Ministry at Maristhill
Nursing Home. In 1990 she returned to Newton Street to give service.
When, in 1997, an opportunity arose to be sent once again to the Pacific, Sr. Florence travelled to Port
Vila, Vanuatu, where she lived at Montmartre and taught English at the Marist Brothers School, and
catechetics in the parish on the weekends.
Returning to the USA in 1999, a year later Sr. Florence was ready to set out again on mission – this time
to open a new community in San Leandro, California, where a new vocation office was set up, and the
Sisters did pastoral ministry in the local area.
In 2002, Sr. Florence was once again called to be coordinator of the team at 62 Newton Street. Of her
many years of service to the senior Sisters at “62”, Sr. Florence wrote: “Since I was a little girl, I was
attracted to old people. So, when I was assigned to 62 Newton St. to care with and for elder SMSM I
was very happy to do so. At the time I made it “home”, a changeover from institutional living, and
showed interest in each person…It was a time when some became ill and needed more specific health
care. That was done by a nurse, Anne Ryan, who organized the unit on the second floor. I admired and
encouraged Anne, as the house became filled with returning missionaries. We also hired cooks. Up to
this time we Sisters had done all the domestic chores. Eventually, someone to clean and nursing
assistants were needed and hired. I really loved it there and heard many ‘mission stories’.”
In 2004 Sr. Florence completed her term as Coordinator at Newton Street and moved to the Arlington
community. After just 3 months her health began to fail and she came back to Waltham for
recuperation. In March 2005 she moved to the Marillac Residence in Wellesley Hills. She was happy to
be with Sr. Jacqueline Bilodeau, as they had worked together for many years at “62” and also in
In June 2010 Sr. Florence moved to St Patrick’s Manor in Framingham. There she became well known
for her gentle and welcoming presence, as well as for the long hours she spent praying in the chapel.
Sr. Florence was known to be drawn deeply into the contemplative dimension of our life, and in the
1980’s she had twice received permission to spend a month at the Trappistine Monastery in Wrentham,
MA. At the same time she was constantly available to be of service in whatever way was needed. And
she prepared herself for new ministries, e.g. in doing courses in pastoral care, both in Australia and
when she returned to the USA. She loved her Marist vocation and lived it well. Unassuming in manner,
she gave great attention to each person she encountered. She had a delightful sense of humor and a
peaceful spirit that put people at ease.
Sr. Florence will be greatly missed by her Sisters, friends, and the many family members who came to
her funeral in Waltham. We are sure she will continue to intercede for all of us. We have been blessed
to have known her.
Gratefully in Mary,
Sister Mary Jane Kenney, smsm (Regional Leader)
Sister Virginia Fornasa, smsm (Communications Secretary)