Sr. Jean Sutherland

Sr. M. St. Constantine

Born::  New Castle, New Brunswick, 11/1/1917
Postulancy::Regina, Saskatchewan, 31/7/1935
Novitiate:: Regina, Saskatchewan, 2/2/1936
1st Profession:: Regina, Saskatchewan, 2/2/1938
Final Vows::Regina, Saskatchewan, 2/2/1944
Died:: Regina, Saskatchewan, 8/1/2013

Sister Jean was born in New Castle, New Brunswick, the eldest child of her parents Ethel (Hurley) and Finlay Sutherland.  When she was four and her brother Arthur was two the family moved to Saskatchewan and, after a year or two, settled in Regina where another brother, Douglas, and their sister Carmel were born.  Here the children were able to attend nearby Sacred Heart School and later the girls studied with our Sisters at Sacred Heart Academy.  Jean was very much the "big sister" to her siblings, devoted to helping their mother with both the housework and "minding" the children.  Care for others was to remain a defining feature of her character.
 
At eighteen Jean became a postulant at Sacred Heart College and on commencing her novitiate in 1936 received the name Sister Mary St. Constantine.  After profession in 1936 she helped other Sisters in schools in Winnipeg, Manitoba and in Fort Frances, Ontario, at the same time working towards her Teaching Certificate which she received from the Normal School in North Bay, Ontario in 1943.  Having finally “officially” entered the profession Jean taught for some thirty years in Ontario, Manitoba and finally in Regina, Saskatchewan at Sacred Heart Academy and Marian High School.  Teaching in Manitoba had required additional training in the French language which she studied for a time at Laval University in Quebec and subsequently with our own Sisters in France.
 
In the 1970's Sister followed a "Sister Visitor Program" in Ontario and later various chaplaincy courses in Manitoba and Saskatchewan which led to what proved to be the highlight of her life, working as a chaplain, first at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina and later at Fairview Home in Brandon.  Blessed with a warm heart, an interest in people, and a profound understanding of the difficulties and blessings of prolonged dependency, Jean devoted all her energy to supporting not only patients, but their families and friends.  It was especially when death drew near that she seemed tireless in her presence and concern.
 
Sister Jean's spiritual life was of the greatest importance to her.  In 1977 she made a 30-day retreat under Jesuit direction, in 1986-87 she spent five months in a renewal program in Australia and New Zealand, and in 1997, in preparation for her Diamond Jubilee, she attended the "Inn-Spire" program in the United States... all of these, of course, in addition to regular annual retreats and monthly one-day retreats within the Congregation's schedule.  Another highlight for her was a time at the Southdown Institute near Aurora, Ontario where she came to great peace and understanding of her own growth and potential.  
What was so helpful to Jean personally became a gift to many people who loved to talk with her and were moved by her sincere interest and compassion.
 
In 1994, now in her 80's and no longer able to visit the sick, Jean returned to Regina where she could be near her beloved family as well as some Sisters with whom she had taught.  Here her concern for others led to active membership in "Friends on the Outside", a program to support former inmates and their families.  Here again her listening ear and freedom from a need to judge others made her a valuable asset.  Failing eyesight and various health problems gradually lessened Jean's mobility but never her interest in life and people.
 
On Saturday evening, January 5, while visiting with Sister Anna Aulie and the community at Santa Maria, Sister Jean suffered a massive stroke and was taken to hospital.  Monday morning Rt. Rev. Kenneth Miller administered the last rites in the loving presence of Jean's sister Carmel, four nephews and a niece, and several Sisters.  Tuesday morning, shortly after two Sisters had spent some time with her, Jean slipped away Home.  The funeral Mass was celebrated by Fathers Ken Koep and Brad Fahlman in the chapel in Santa Maria and Sister was interred in Riverside Memorial Park next to some thirty other RNDMs.

May they rest in peace.


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