Sister Rolande Sauvage
Franciscan Missionary of Mary
Born in Montreal, QC
May 14, 1927
Entered the Institute in Quebec City, QC
September 15 1947
Died in Montreal, QC
April 14 2019
in her 92nd year,
the 71st of her religious life
May she rest in the peace of Christ!
Sister Rolande was born on May 14, 1927 in the great metropolis of Montreal and was baptized the next day in St-Ambroise church. Her father, Cléophas, worked as a window dresser and a clerk in a department store. Her mother, Maria Major, was a pious woman who brought up 11 children, 10 girls and 1 boy, Rolande being the 6th child. The home was joyful: they loved to sing and have fun together and every evening the mother gathered the children around her to recite the rosary and family prayer.
However, soon a shadow would darken her world. Around eight, Rolande and her sister Suzanne went to an orphanage to relieve her mother. Her aunt, the sister of her father, a religious of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, received them. After two years, she happily returned home and continued her studies until Grade 10 in Commerce. However, Rolande tells us: With the economic crisis of 1929, it was a very hard time and the family lived below the poverty line. I took care of children in the evening and my small earnings were handed over to my mother to buy the next day’s meal.
In 1943, her 59 year-old father was paralyzed at work with no hope of recovery. Therefore, with great regret, Rolande gave up her studies and worked as secretary in an insurance company to help her mother make ends meet. At work, she met some young girls with whom she went to pray at Saint Joseph Shrine. She also would spend long moments in front of Jesus in the Eucharist at the parish of the Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament. It is there that she felt the call to religious life. She followed a retreat and the priest directed her to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Mother Saint-Novat welcomed her with much solicitude, spoke to her of our Institute to Rolande’s delight.
Day after day, her vocation became clearer, but the problem was to give up her job and the small contribution that she brought home. I asked myself the question, she says, Would mother let me leave? One day I decided to ask. And to my great surprise, with joy, she accepted. On September 15, 1947, I entered the novitiate in Quebec.
Sister Rolande lived the first years of her religious formation with great happiness. The day she took the religious habit, she felt she was in heaven as she had given herself to Jesus forever. Soon a new darkness would descend on her. She became completely deaf and lived for months in anguish at the thought that she could be sent away from the convent as it would prevent her from going to the missions and her field of action would be reduced. However, the ways of the Lord are unfathomable. With this handicap, she was admitted to perpetual vows. In 1961, she met a specialist who successfully surgically restored her hearing for the rest of her days after being deaf for 12 years.
In thanksgiving and with revived fervour, she continued to accomplish with great generosity her mission in Canada. For some time, she was out in the streets of the cities and countryside to make our Annals known and sell handicrafts made by our sisters. She was procurator in our houses, librarian, serving our sick sisters, and worked in a parish. Sister Rolande especially marked the Canadian province in her profession as provincial secretary for some 20 years. Competent, she had the gift of writing, of communication; organized, she had an eye for detail; devoted, discrete, she was a support and a precious help for her superiors contributing thus to the animation of the province.
For her sisters, she was just as attentive. Gentle, compassionate, she loved them and never missed celebrating birthdays by composing little songs for each one. Her compassionate soul was attracted especially by the poorest. She visited a residence for persons with intellectual disabilities. She said, More than others these persons need to be listened to, encouraged, and above all, loved unconditionally.
All through her life, she had a special affection for the members of her family. She journeyed with them in all life transitions, whether mourning the deceased, united in trials, rejoicing at the achievements of each one, or presenting them to God in her prayers. After the death of Renée, she turned her affection to Monique, her only remaining sister.
To pronounce the name of Rolande is also to pronounce the name of Mary, so great was her devotion to the Mother of Jesus. Her rosary in hand, she recited Aves for the whole world. Since her meetings with Jesus in the Eucharist at the chapel of the Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament, she entered each day into a deeper intimacy with Jesus during her adoration time. The psalms of praise were her favorite ones at Lauds and Vespers.
In 2012, she went to Montreal. Although in poor health, she continued to render services such as preparing liturgies, composing songs for celebrations, and being community secretary. In 2017, she was admitted in the infirmary. She understood that this was a sign from the Lord and while waiting for her God, she had only one desire, to love more and more with tenderness and mercy. In her final days, she looked with love on the photo of Mother Foundress and thanked her for her life in the Institute. The Scripture words do not be afraid, I am with you, shed their peace on her; and the prayer written in her spiritual notes was accomplished: “Virgin Mary, when God will come to get me, take me in your arms and lead me to your Son Jesus. Rolande had just left us. May she rest in peace.