Sr. Marie Benedicte, better known as Sister Bene to her Sisters and to her many friends in the Lansdale area, passed away Sunday morning, November 13 at Abington-Lansdale Hospital. She had suffered a massive stroke early Friday morning, November 11, and never regained consciousness.
Born in France in 1929, Sr. Bene lived through World War II as a child and teen; she recalled the German soldiers quartered on her family property, saying of them only: "They had families, too." After the war, she enjoyed the study of English very much, studying in England several times before entering the congregation of Les Gardiennes Adoratrices in Orleans, France in 1951. In 1968, because of diminishing numbers, this congregation asked to become part of the Religious of the Assumption, and so the Assumption was fortunate enough to welcome into its midst Sr. Bene, with her love of the Eucharist, her scholarly curiosity, and her gift for friendship.
After a very positive summer experience for English teachers in the United States, she felt a call to come to the U.S. Province of the Assumption, and so was granted permission to try it for a year, a year which somehow stretched to almost thirty years! Arriving in the early 1980s, she was stationed at the West Philadelphia community and taught at the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur in Radnor. Eventually, she came to Lansdale to help with a parish census; that project led to many more. As a member of the parish staff and of the Assumption community, her affection for and commitment to the people of Saint Stanislaus parish made her many friends. She participated in the annual parish visitations and led the parish bereavement ministry. She was also active in Landings, a program designed to welcome estranged Catholics back into church life. Passionately committed to the causes of justice and peace, she was a member of the Justice and Peace Coalition of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Sr. Bene's enthusiasm for the United States was remarkable. She knew far more about the history of the nation and the Delaware Valley than many who had been born here. From childhood her great desire had been to visit the Grand Canyon, and in December of 2010 she was able to accomplish that dream. Her awe, joy and wonder at the workings of God in Nature touched everyone who heard her speak of it all. And many did hear of it, since Sr. Bene loved to share!
We will all miss her very much. We want to thank the staff of Abington-Lansdale Hospital for their kind care of our sister and their thoughtfulness to all of us as we sat with her during these last days. We also thank all of Sr. Bene's friends who have been with us sisters throughout our vigil in so many ways. You were a blessing to her; you are a blessing to us.
Besides her religious family, Sr. Bene leaves behind one brother, Alain, of Bregy, France, and two sisters, Nicole Percheron of Paris and Francine Coene of Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, and their families.
Relatives and friends are invited to call on Tuesday evening, Nov. 15 from 6 to 9PM at the Simcox-McIlvaine Funeral Home, 532 E. Main St, Lansdale, PA 19446 and Wednesday morning from 9 to 10AM at St. Stanislaus Church, 51 Lansdale Ave., Lansdale, PA 19446 followed by her Funeral Mass at 10AM at St . Stanislaus Church. Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken. For those desiring, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Sr. Benedicte's memory to Saint Marie Eugenie Secondary School in Tanzania (for Scholarships) c/o the Religious of the Assumption, 506 Crestview Rd., Lansdale, PA, 19446 would be appreciated.
-- Obituary reprinted from "The Reporter," November 15, 2011
Click here for Sr. Benedicte's obituary in the "Philadelphia Inquirer"
Click here for the eulogy delivered by Sr. Mary Ann at Sr. Benedicte's funeral Mass.