Sr. Marie-Pascale (Maria Lemaître) was born in Charleroi, Belgium on 27th August 1928, the fifth child in a family of 11. It was a home full of generosity, unselfishness and joy, qualities she herself showed throughout her life.
She went to boarding school at Le Roule, and after her studies she returned home to help her mother with her younger siblings. She was also “Akela” for the scout cubs at Marcinelle, and loved her contact with children.
On 1st August 1949 she entered at Le Roule, and was clothed on 27th July 1950. Her novitiate years were spent at Verneuil where she made her first vows on 12th September 1951. Her final profession was celebrated at Le Roule on 12th September 1954.
She qualified as a science and maths teacher, and from 1960 to1965 she was a member of the community of Verrières-le-Buisson, and then of the S. Michel-le Haut community until 1970. There she helped the headmistress of the junior school and took on the responsibility of the colonies de vacances for the children of Paris.
Thinking about Pascale brings to mind her sensitivity to natural beauty, and her love of walking. Often she would come back with a bunch of wild flowers, bird feathers, pebbles, or beautiful autumn leaves (pressed in the daily paper between the community’s dinner plates!) She would arrange these treasures on her windowsill. If she met children, she would forget everything else in order to chat to them.
When the “Fusion” took place in 1963, Marie-Pascale returned to Belgium, to Berlaymont and Waterloo. She followed a course at Lumen Vitae, but had a nasty bicycle accident resulting in skin grafts and a programme of physiotherapy which helped improve her mobility.
Marie-Pascale felt the urge to work for justice and was involved with ”Dignity in Poverty”. She went to Pierrelaye and Conflans-saint-Honorine where she lived in lodgings for people needing temporary accommodation, then came back to Retinne from 1977to1980, following a course in helping needy families.
Then she went back home, to the Charleroi area, from 1980 to2000. She worked among the poor, in a mental health centre, and a daycare centre, joining movements working for the homeless, proper housing, and community projects in the city. Although she worked to improve the living standard of the people she lived among, and attended demonstrations to alleviate poverty, she herself was happy with very little.
In the Congregation, she was a member of the Secretariat for Justice, analysing problems and writing about her conclusions. She attended conferences on the Faith and kept notes of the direction her thought was taking.
She joined l’Olivier in June 2009, a profound change for her, living with older people both lay and religious. She commented that it reminded her of boarding school! Before that she had visited Nicaragua, bringing back photos and artefacts which linked her to the Third World. Her relationship with God was visible in her radiant smile, her tenderness for children, and her profound faith which was its foundation.