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Sister Gertrude Girardin , SSCh
  • Sisters of St. Chretienne
    197 Pleasant St.
    Marlborough, MA 01752

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“Sr. Gertrude taught me to play the organ in Fort Vermilion beginning in 1975. I was 8 years old. I will never forget how patient she was, and always...Read More »
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Sister Gertrude Girardin, SSCh (Sr. Marie Donat), died Thursday, October 5, 2017 at Marie Esther Health Center, Marlborough, MA.
Born in Rumford, Maine, she was the daughter of the late Donat and Victoria (Leblond) Girardin.
She attended the Juniorate for high school at St. Chretienne Academy in Salem, MA. She entered the novitiate and pronounced her first vows as a Sr. of St. Chretienne on August 15, 1947. Sr. Gertrude's love of music was fostered in her very musical family. She took piano lessons and as an adult studied Gregorian chant and directed the Sister's choir. Music remained a highlight for the rest of her life.
Her teaching career began in Giffard, PQ, Canada where she taught music, piano and directed the school choir, mainly learning by doing. In preparation for a competition, she had a demonstration on the basics of direction and then went on to lead her choir, winning first prize over all the schools in the diocese.
In 1957 Sister volunteered for the mission in Fox Lake, Alberta, Canada and began her service teaching young Cree Indians. She also taught piano and organ and developed the talents of a young Cree woman who now plays in churches throughout her community.
During her 31 years among the Cree people, she developed many long-lasting friendships. One of these was with Fr. Rogier Vandersteen, an Oblate missionary priest who was translating the words of the Catholic Mass into Cree. He encouraged Sr. Gertrude to listen to the lullabies of the native mothers, and she composed the music for Mass from thee lullabies. The people are still singing this today!
In 1988 Sister Gertrude returned to Marlborough, where she ministered to the elderly Sisters at St. Chretienne Retirement Residence. In 1996, after some years in Newport and Pawtucket, RI she returned to the retirement residence, where she was the organist and sacristan. In 2014, her failing health necessitated a move to Marie Esther Health Center, Marlborough,MA. .
Sister is survived by her sister Rachel Paradis and her husband Pete of Bristol, Connecticut, her sister Jeanne Girardin, SSCh of Marlborough, MA, her brother David Girardin and his wife Stella of Avon, Connecticut as well as her nieces and nephews and their families. She was predeceased by her sister Hortense.
Visiting hours will be held on Monday, October 9, 2017 from 4-7 pm at the St. Chretienne Retirement Residence, 197 Pleasant St., Marlborough, MA. A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 10:30 am at the Chapel of the St. Chretienne Retirement Residence.
Burial will follow at St. Mary's Cemetery, Beach St., Marlborough, MA.
Donations may be made to the Sisters of St. Chretienne, 197 Pleasant St., Marlborough MA 01752