+Sister Devota LaVoie, OSB

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+Sister Devota LaVoie, OSB

In Loving Memory

Sister Devota LaVoie, 103, died September 19, 2013, at St. Scholastica Monastery. She was born Delia Eugenia LaVoie in Cloquet, Minnesota, on July 27, 1910. She was the fourth of the seven children of Theophile and Mary Josephine (Parenteau) LaVoie.

Delia’s happy childhood was disrupted by the disaster of the Cloquet Fire in 1918. Her memories of the fire were very vivid, and she loved to share them.  During the work of recovery after the fire, Delia, at that time the only girl, had to stay with relatives until their home was rebuilt. When she was ten, she was delighted to welcome her little sister, Marie, to the family. She and Marie maintained a special bond all their lives.  She was also very close to her older brother Phillip, who became Christian Brother Louis Andrew, and who encouraged her in her own vocation.

When a Sister came from Duluth to talk to the girls at school about Villa Sancta Scholastica and religious life, Delia had not thought seriously about becoming a Sister.  On the way home, her family gave a ride to “the Panger girls.” Delia’s friend and classmate Goldie Panger (who became Sister Eunice) was especially excited about the idea of going to Duluth—and her enthusiasm was contagious. The two girls got permission to become aspirants the next year.  The next summer Delia returned home for vacation, but by then, Sister recalled, “Goldie and I had no intention of staying home.” She enjoyed her time at the Villa and blossomed in her studies and spiritual life. She entered the community as a postulant in October 1926, and professed triennial vows on July 11, 1928.

At eighteen, newly professed Sister Devota began her ministry of teaching at St. Thomas Aquinas in International Falls.  These next years were challenging ones made sorrowful by the death of Sister’s father, just six weeks before she made her profession of perpetual vows on July 11, 1931.

Sister left International Falls and returned to Duluth in 1935, teaching first at St. Rose in Proctor and then at St. James. In 1948 she became the principal of the school at St. Rose.  Sister was remembered as an inspiring, gifted, and demanding teacher.  During this time, like many Sisters, she finished her education during the summer, receiving her B.A. degree in Education from The College of St. Scholastica in 1953.  At this time she was asked to leave St. Rose to go to Phoenix and establish a new school at the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle.  In 1955 she returned to Duluth and taught at St. Anthony’s.

Her teaching after this began to focus on religious education, which she taught from 1957-1964 in Ely, MN.  During this time she received a certificate as a teacher in the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) from Marquette University. It was while she was in Ely that Sister Devota’s mother, who had remarried and moved to St. Paul with Sister’s step-father, Peter Theroux, died.

She returned to Duluth in 1964 to work in the Diocesan offices as the Supervisor of Religious Education during this exciting period of catechetical renewal—a position she held until 1969. In 1966 she received her Master’s Certificate in the CCD Leadership course.  In 1969 Sister went to Brainerd to be the coordinator of Religious Education in that area.

Brainerd became another home to Sister Devota until she returned to the Monastery in 1996.  Sister Devota transitioned from traditional religious education to working with the residents of the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center.  She worked with developmentally disabled children and adults, reached out to senior citizens, and led scripture study groups for other clients as well—those in mental, neurological, and criminal rehabilitation programs and those recovering from addictions.  When she retired in 1996 (at the age of 86!), a colleague wrote, “her love, understanding, and caring showed through in all that she did . . . she will be sadly missed by all of us, clients and staff alike.”

Returning to the Monastery, Sister Devota continued to serve others in every way she could, helping Sisters on Benet Hall and through her  ministry of prayer. Throughout her life she maintained close and loving relationships with her family, and she felt a special joy and responsibility in praying for all of them.  She kept a book in which she recorded all the joyful and sorrowful events of the lives of her siblings, their children and grandchildren. Her love for all of them kept them close to her and was very evident in all the celebrations they shared with her, from Jubilees to her 100th birthday party.  She always thoroughly enjoyed these celebrations as was evident shortly before her death when Sisters, family members, and friends gathered on her 103rd birthday.

Sister Devota’s determination, joy in living, sense of humor, and deep faith were evident all through  her life. The day after her 103rd birthday, she observed, “I just don’t know when to quit!”  At the same time, she was well aware of the joy that lies before all the faithful. 

She should have the last word – when her mother died, Sister Devota wrote,

This is Death – the mysterious journey to

another world.  The soul goes ahead into God’s presence.  Time is no more.  We who believe

look ahead with confident hope to an eternity of love.  God is Love and we are His.

This is the way I see it.

Sister celebrated her Golden Jubilee August 15, 1978, her Diamond Jubilee August 14, 1988, and her 85th Jubilee on August 11, 2013.  She was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers Ernest, Harvey, Philip (Brother Louis Andrew), Alfred, and Clement, and her sister Marie Greco.  Besides the Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery, she is survived by loving nieces and nephews and numerous friends.

Sister Devota’s Wake Service was Friday, September 27, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel.  The Funeral Mass followed at 11:00 a.m. with Rev. Brian Schultz presiding.  Interment was in Gethsemane Cemetery.

MINISTRIES

ELEMENTARY EDUCATION 

  • St. Thomas Aquinas, International Falls
  • St. Rose, Proctor
  • St. James, Duluth
  • St. Thomas the Apostle, Phoenix
  • St. Anthony, Duluth

  ADMINISTRATION

  • St. Rose, Proctor
  • St. Thomas the Apostle, Phoenix

  RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

  • St. Anthony, Ely
  • Diocese of Duluth
  • St. Francis, Brainerd
  • Brainerd Regional Human Services Center

  CHAPLAINCY

  • Brainerd Regional Human Services Center

  PRAYER MINISTRY

  • St. Anthony’s Parish in Ely, MN
  • St. Alice’s Parish, Pequot Lakes, MN
  • The Benedictine Health System

 

 

 

 

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“Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.”
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