October 30, 1909 – January 13, 2004
On October 30, 2003, Sister Thérèse-Alice (Jeanne Lavoie) celebrated her 94th anniversary. Prior to this event she had been rather quiet but on this occasion she was most happy and revelled in all the attention she was getting. How energetically she blew out the candles on her birthday cake! However, just a few days ago she confided to a Sister that she was ready to meet her Lord who seemed to have forgotten her. He did remember her as she passed away suddenly on the morning of January 13, 2004.
Born in Quebec in October 1909, daughter of Alice (Bard) and Joseph Lavoie, she was the third in a family of four girls and four boys. She completed her elementary studies in Quebec. At a very early age she began musical studies which she continued for many years. These studies would be a very deciding factor in the choice of a career which she pursued for 66 years! Jeanne was 14 years old when she left the province of Quebec. The family, whose father was an army officer (Major Lavoie), settled on Kitson Street in St. Boniface. Throughout her life Jeanne had a vivid memory of the time she spent there and during her last years as a patient in the infirmary, every now and then, she wanted to leave to go to her home on Kitson Street.
In July 1927 Jeanne entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names in Outremont, QC, where she was given the name Sister Thérèse-Alice in honour of one of her sisters and her mother. After her religious commitment in July 1929, Sister remained in Quebec for a few years and taught piano in Holy Names schools. Upon her return to Manitoba in 1932, Sister Thérèse-Alice continued to teach music in several Holy Names Convents and at St. Mary’s Academy from 1970 until her retirement in 1993.
Sister was always deeply engrossed in her work. Her enthusiasm, her unrelenting energy, her love for beauty in various forms, her attachment to each of her numerous pupils led to many of their successes in piano and in theoretical subjects. She was particularly fond of her beginners as they were also of their piano teacher. They were normally attracted to her whose delicate and small stature made them feel so much at ease. With her more advanced students, Sister took time to teach them how to play the organ, an activity which she dearly would have wanted to engage in had her short legs allowed her to touch the pedals!
During the summer holidays Sister Thérèse-Alice kept busy but oh how she found them long and how she was eager for September when she could begin anew full days of teaching. When her superiors thought it was time for her to enjoy a well-deserved rest (she was over 80 years old!), they actually had to coax her to retire. Confined to the Résidence Jesus-Marie infirmary since 1996, it was pleasant to deal with her. She even spent some time at the piano where she played some of the beautiful pieces she had taught. Sister Thérèse-Alice is predeceased by her three sisters, Marie-Anne, Lucie (Sister Joseph-Carmel, SNJM) and Thérèse (Greene) her four brothers, Edouard, Paul-Emile, Victor (Marguerite) and Louis (Marguerite). She leaves to mourn her passing a few nephews and nieces and members of her religious Order.