Sr. Florence Fillion

Sr. M. Bernadette

Born::  St. Boniface, Manitoba, 1/12/1933
Postulancy::Longueuil, Quebec, 15/8/1951
Novitiate:: Longueuil, Quebec, 15/8/1952
1st Profession:: Longueuil, Quebec, 8/9/1954
Final Vows::Brandon, Manitoba, 8/9/1960
Died:: Winnipeg, Manitoba 10/1/2014

Sister Florence was the sixth child of the French Canadian family of Napoleon Fillion and Marie Anna Berard.  Of the thirteen children, two of her brothers died as children.  Florence was the first of the remaining eleven siblings to enter eternal life.
 
Florence grew up on a family farm in southern Manitoba.  Everyone in the family was expected to share in the work as each was able.  With her brothers and sisters she attended a one-room country school until she was ready to begin secondary school.  Then she went as a boarder to the Convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions and attended the village school in St. Joseph, Manitoba, where the Sisters taught.  

At seventeen, Florence left for the Province of Quebec to enter the French-speaking novitiate in Longueuil.  After First Profession, Florence taught school in the Province of Quebec, in the parishes of Saint-Blaise, Fatima and Longueuil.  In 1960 she came back to Manitoba to make her Perpetual Vows, surrounded by her loving family and the many of the Sisters from the Manitoba communities.  

After this brief time near her home, Florence returned to the Province of Quebec to continue teaching.  It was only in 1965 that she came back to her native Manitoba.  Florence taught in St. Edward's School, Winnipeg, in Elie and St Eustache.  She went on to obtain a B.A. at College Saint-Boniface with majors in Religious Studies and French.  Florence then worked as Religious Educator, in the parish of St. Vital, Winnipeg, the Catholic Schools in Brandon, and the parishes around Dunrae, Manitoba.  After she retired from this work, Florence remained in Brandon and found joy and energy as she shared her talents as a volunteer at the service of the poor and those who struggled in life.

Although Florence never enjoyed robust health she lived life fully and intensely. She was a creative teacher, always having a host of creative ideas on how to make her classes more interesting and more fun.  

Florence was a lover of nature and expressed her appreciation of the beauty of creation in many of the poems she wrote and in her art work.   She had a profound relationship with God, which she expressed in her poetry.

Florence had a great appreciation of her French-Canadian culture and heritage.  She had a beautiful voice and loved singing especially the old French folk songs.  

Florence's call to religious life was precious to her and she had a great love for the Congregation and for Euphrasie Barbier.  She often expressed her gratitude for all the opportunities given her by the Congregation, for the studies and the many enriching courses, which she found to be such a help to her in her teaching and for her own spiritual growth.  She valued especially her time in France, England and Rome.  

As Florence became less able to continue her volunteer works due to the beginnings of Alzheimer's disease, she moved from Brandon to Winnipeg where she was able to enroll in an art class.  It was in this form of art that she was able to give expression to what was deeply hidden in her spirit.  It would not be for long. As the disease progressed quickly and affected her ability to handle ordinary life situations, it became evident that she need more care. Reluctantly she accepted making her home at Tache, the Personal Care Home for French speaking Manitobans. Even then, there were yet many creative things Florence desired to do.  She had always been a woman of great desires.  Too soon, however, all she was able to do was to be in silence.  But her eyes would light up as she looked at and ran her fingers on the petals of a rose.  

Florence died peacefully at Actionmarguerite-Tache Personal Care Home on Friday, January 10, 2014, one month and a few days after the Sisters in the Winnipeg area had surrounded her to celebrate her eightieth birthday.


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