Sr. Louise Francois–Emilienne Veyrat Delachenal
of Manigod, Haute Savoie
who died at Metz Tessy Hospital, Haute Savoie
on 28th May 2022, aged 92 years, 71 of Religious Profession.
Sr Louise Françoise, Emilienne, was born in Manigod in 1930. She was the third child of a young farming family. She was welcomed with joy, but above all she was desired, wanted from all eternity by God: Love which precedes, follows and envelops every creature. The day after her birth, she was baptised, immersed in the life of Jesus, the perfect image of the Father. She was very fragile and required special and constant care until she was two years old. A little sister was born two years later. Her mother, when pregnant for the fifth time, died of pneumonia. She was only 32 years old and Emilienne, 4 and a half. "I remember Daddy hugging me: 'We're going to say goodbye to Mummy. Give her a kiss. No," the child replied. She is sleeping. I'll wake her up. "Give her a little kiss on the forehead.” The child did so. It was a shock when she felt the icy coldness of her mother’s forehead, a shock that stayed with her for the rest of her life.
Her father wanted to give a second mother to his four daughters. He remarried the following year and the children became attached to this second mother. Four boys were born in this new union. The young woman was expecting her fifth child and died pneumonia, aged 34.” I saw my father again," says Sr Louise Françoise, "going from one room to another, unable to utter the slightest word in the face of this drama so similar to the one he had already experienced.” Later, aunts offered to take in one or other of the eight children. “No” said the father. “I'll keep them all together so they'll always be united.” “And” Sr. Louise Francoise stated “we have remained very united. There has never been any difference between our two mothers, nor between the girls and the boys”. It was in this soil of suffering, faith, family and fatherly love that Emilienne grew up. She was 7 years old when she made her first communion, which united her very specially to the life of Jesus. In 1943, at the age of 13, she received the sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit, the Love of the Father and the Son, would slowly make her grow and become a reflection of God the Father. At the age of 14, she entered the candidacy. In poor health, she was struck by typhoid. The doctor thought she was lost and advised her father to call the priest. She received the last rites, conscious and peaceful. Her only concern was upseting her father, who lost his second wife a year earlier. Against all odds, Emilienne recovered.
After a year and a half of rest at home, she returned to the candidacy and prepared for the elementary school exam, which she passed without difficulty. She was 19 when she entered the novitiate, familiar with physical and moral suffering. In the convent she found three beloved and admired aunts: Sr Louise Françoise, whose name she inherited, Sr Paule Marie and Sr St Louis, her godmother.
Sr Louise Françoise has always wanted to teach and loved doing so. Her first post was at St Joseph's day school in Monthey where she stayed for 13 years. Her health forced her to return to the Mother House for a rest. She helped out here and there. In 1966, she was sent to the Bellevaux housekeeping school to assist Sr Marie Antide who taught French, maths, mending, knitting, but also sewing. Sr. Louise Francois had no idea about these subjects, but, courageously she learnt "on the job". At the end of the year, the seven candidates passed their exam. However, the Bellevaux housekeeping school was closed.
Louise Françoise always responded positively to the requests of the superiors. She adapted herself by giving the best of herself to the different places and the different jobs required. Thus, she went from the housekeeping school with teenage girls to a kindergarten class. Sent to Thorens, she learnt modern maths on her own and then took a class in Aigle where she stayed for 12 years. From there, she went to Bon Rivage, where she welcomed the residents, served tables, etc. Finally, she moved to Monthey for the last stage of her active life.
In all the communities where she worked, the sisters underlined her kindness, her discretion, her simplicity. Helpful, attentive to the sisters who were ill or diminished by age, she knew how to respond to their needs. She was very sociable and kept in touch with the people she met: family, sisters etc. Always meticulous, she made pretty cards which she sent to people for their parties, birthdays etc.
In Monthey, she shared in the work of Sr Hélène Marie. These two Sisters shared much in common- particularly that they were both very young when they lost their mothers and they were in the novitiate together. They formed a very good “team” and worked for the well-being of the community. Louise Françoise's love for the Virgin Mary is also noteworthy. Having twice lost an earthly mother, how could Mary, Mother of the Church, not have enveloped her with a love of predilection?
Here is the testimony of Sr Claude of Monthey County: "We had the joy of knowing Sr Louise-Françoise and of sharing a few years of her life in our community.
She was a sociable companion, pleasant to be around, cheerful, who knew how to bring out positive traits in all circumstances with a sense of humour. She had a nervous temperament, but was strong-willed and able to cope with many of the difficulties inherent in her health, which had become increasingly fragile over the years.
Her deep faith, supported by solid convictions, sustained her in her religious life. She edified us by her exemplary fidelity to prayer and community life, by her courageous tenacity in times of trial, by her great generosity in the service of the Community. Sr Louise-Françoise leaves us with the memory of a person totally given to God and neighbour, as desired by our Founder, Fr Médaille". In 2016, at 86 years old, it was time to take a rest. She was welcomed at the Mother House along with Sr Hélène Marie. Two years later she moved to Grand Chêne. Up to her final day, despite her increasingly poor health, she kept in touch with the world by listening to documentaries on the KTO channel.
On Friday 27 May, she attended the Eucharist and had her meal in the refectory with the residents. The next morning, she was found in a coma. She was hospitalised and died in the afternoon. Sister Louise Françoise, thank you for your long life marked by suffering but above all your faith. Watch over your double family: the one where you received life and an unshakeable faith in the Love of God and the Congregation. One day we will join you in the Light.