Sr. Maria Prenovault

May 11, 1909 – December 6, 2006

On December 6, 2006, Sister Maria Prenovault (Sr. M. Eugène-Avila) died peacefully at Taché Centre, St. Boniface. She was predeceased by her sister Annette Pelletier; her brother Gérard, and sister-in-law Germaine (Robert). She leaves to mourn her passing her brother Denis; her sisters-in-law, Germaine and Marie-Jeanne, and nieces and nephews of whom she was very proud.

Born in St. Boniface on May 11, 1909, daughter of Eugénie (Kéroack) and Joseph Prenovault, Maria was the eldest of four children. She was deeply rooted in St. Boniface where she spent the major part of her life and she is very proud of the bilingual heritage with which she was richly endowed. A graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy, Maria liked to recall that she was a contemporary of the famous author, Gabrielle Roy; in fact, there often was scholarly competition between the two. After receiving a teacher’s certificate from the Winnipeg Normal School in 1930, Maria entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, in Outremont, Québec.

Upon her return to Manitoba, Sister Eugène-Avila taught for 30 years, 28 of which were in her much loved Alma Mater. Her favourite subject was the teaching of religion in which she excelled, and in directing Catholic extracurricular activities wherein religion played a significant part. Sister spent the year 1954 to 1955 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where her main work was preparing, in both French and English, correspondence courses in religion and producing a weekly religious program for the French radio station. Exuberant and full of enthusiasm, Sister Eugène-Avila, in addition to her teaching and her post-secondary education, spent a great deal of time in a new extracurricular activity, that of viewing films with students and discussing their content. For 10 years she was the animator of Ciné-Club and Ciné-Lab. As she herself states, “this was the beginning of a great adventure and little did I suspect where it would lead me!” This new adventure included many training sessions, workshops and conferences.

Sister Maria attended the University of St. Paul, in Ottawa, Montreal University and Fordham University, New York. She participated actively in many colloquiums and conferences, both nationally and internationally. In 1982, Sister was the contact person in Rome for the beatification of Mother Marie-Rose, foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names. As enthusiastic and determined as ever, she became most active and proficient in her Mass Media and Social Communications ministry. In October 1968, at the request of Archbishop Maurice Baudoux, Sister Maria established and assumed the direction of a Mass Media and Social Communications Bilingual Office for the archdiocese of St. Boniface, a position she held until 1986. As Sister comments: “it has been very demanding work, but I think it has been apostolic work that has responded to the needs of the church.” For her very special work, Sister Maria was granted several awards, one being the Medal of Merit from the national Social Communications Office of Radio-Canada in 1991. In 1994, this same Office recognized her 40 years of service to audio-visual and social communications ministry in Western Canada by welcoming her as an honorary member.