Sr. Leonne Valois

September 14, 1923 – April 22, 2008

Sister Léonne Valois (Sr. Marie Philéas) died peacefully, surrounded by S.N.J.M. companions and a long-time friend, on April 22, 2008 at Riverview Health Centre. She was predeceased by her parents, two brothers, Gilles and Gérard (Adélina), and one sister, Jeannine, S.G.M. Two sisters, Denise Langhan and Dolorosa Vermette (Charlemagne), a brother, Marcel (Florence), a sister-in-law, Antoinette, nieces and nephews, members of her religious community and many friends remain to mourn her loss.

Léonne was born the second youngest in her family on September 14, 1923, in St. Pierre-Jolys, Manitoba, to Philéas Valois and Dolorosa Robidoux. Her mother died when she was two years old. At that time, she and her younger sister were removed from their home to be raised by cousins, Hilaire and Victorine Robidoux. Léonne went to school in Otterburne until grade VII and then attended St. Pierre-Jolys School where she became acquainted with the Sisters of the Holy Names. She decided to embrace religious life and in 1944, entered the Novitiate in Montréal.
Upon her return to Winnipeg in 1946 as Sr. Marie-Philéas, her teaching career began. She taught at St. Ignatius School, St. Mary’s School, école Sacré-Coeur, St. Joseph’s Academy, and Ste. Agathe School. In 1962, Sr. Philéas answered God’s call to become a missionary. She left for Brazil as part of a team of women and men religious missioned by the St. Boniface Diocese. In Sao Paulo, she received training in pastoral counseling and theology, while ministering to the poor.

Upon her return to Manitoba in 1969, Sr. Léonne launched into studies, over the next five years earning a B.A. and a B.Ed in Psychology, a Masters with a Major in Family Studies, at the University of Manitoba. She then began doctoral studies in Kansas and in 1975, reached a much coveted goal, becoming Dr. Valois, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology. From 1975 until 1985, she worked as a therapist in private practice in Winnipeg. In 1978, she accepted an invitation from Southdown, in Toronto, where her services as a therapist were much appreciated. In 1985, suffering from Ménière’s Disease, Sr. Léonne sought help from Dr. Tomatis, renowned for his unique treatment of hearing disorders. After a series of sessions on an electronic ear, her dizziness, depression and fatigue were gone. This experience prompted her to seek training in the Tomatis method, and to open a Centre of Audio Phonology in Winnipeg.

Always ready to embrace new experiences, Sr. Léonne lived at the cutting edge both professionally and personally. Over the years, she spent many summers at Queen’s House of Retreats in Saskatoon offering sessions on Progoff Intensive Journalling and Myers-Briggs. She facilitated discernment processes for religious communities and offered courses at St. Benedict’s. Sr. Léonne was a warm and welcoming person, a good listener who put people at ease. She spoke of love as a creative, life-giving energy that we must nurture. She had an amazing capacity to claim life, accepting only to be semi-retired when she moved to Résidence Despins in 2005. Sr. Léonne faced hip surgery and cancer surgery with courage, but despite her resilience, the cancer spread to new locations. She was constant in her expressions of gratitude to the many friends who stood by her as her condition worsened and death became imminent.