Discover the influence of Sr Raymonde Tessier on the young Sisters of Latin America in the third of a series of tributes to this much loved and admired Daughter of Jesus.
You have to have known a person well to speak with ease about her life. I would simply like to share some of the experiences that I had with Sr Raymonde, or “Mundita” as I affectionately called her, that have marked me. I had the joy and grace of sharing eight years of community with her in Bogota, Colombia, six years in the novitiate community in the neighbourhood of San Agustín, and two years in the provincial house.
A sense of belonging
Sister Raymonde was a person with a great human heart who was passionate about Christ and humanity. She loved her vocation and the Congregation and felt a strong sense of belonging to it.
I admired her humility. At one point in her history of service in the Congregation, she was the one who listened to us and then it was my turn. Raymonde was one of those Sisters who knew how to diminish so that the other might grow “He must grow and I must diminish“ Jn.3:26. Another aspect that I admired in her was her respect for the authority figure. Even if sometimes she did not share some things, she knew how to listen.
She shared her gifts and skills
Raymonde knew a lot and was a wise as well as an intelligent woman. She used this intelligence to serve and love in the way of Jesus, knowing how to share the gifts and knowledge that God had given her. Her presence in the formation community was well appreciated, for her simplicity, her easy manner, and her gift for people. She made herself available to teach what she knew and gave confidence to others. A cheerful woman, her laughter was contagious.
We would spend hours in the computer room sharing profoundly. Sometimes we ended up saying, “There, we have put the world to rights.” Raymonde was a woman of prayer and it was surely here that she presented her frailty, her health and her worries to God, as well as finding the strength to live her joyful surrender on a daily basis.
She was a Sister who showed the compassionate and merciful face of Christ. A defender of community life, she was fraternal and did her bit to make the community a place where Jesus and the Kingdom were lived out.
Close to the young
Raymonde was close to young people and the novices appreciated her presence in the community. They found in her a wise older sister who knew how to help them when necessary. She treated them as adult women who were in a process of formation and helped them to advance. In turn the novices knew how to benefit from the teaching that she shared with great enthusiasm and dedication.
The people in the parish appreciated her very much, not only the young but also the simple and poorest who were her favourite people. Just as Jesus did, she tried to serve in the most modest and vulnerable environments. If she herself could not go because of her health, she would encourage us to go to these places of mission where life is more threatened. She was clear about this aspect of our charism:
“We try to associate ourselves closely
with people of modest means
and be a presence among them,
with special compassion for the most deprived.”
(Rule of Life no 10)
A Sister full of wisdom
Personally, I appreciated her very necessary and important presence as an older Sister in a formation house. Because of the wisdom and discretion she possessed, she was a great support for me in my mission of accompanying the novices.
She held various posts in the Congregation: General Councillor, the Sister responsible for the Chile and Honduras sectors, Vice-provincial for Latin America. She never made light of this, on the contrary, she lived these posts as service. She was clear that authority must be lived as service and not as power, I always admired this aspect in her. In addition to these services, she accompanied the associates in Chile and Colombia, wanting to transmit the charism of the Congregation to the laity.
The guardian of the historical memory
Her traces remain in the Province, which has now become the Latin America Region. A lover of history, she meticulously organised the archives and faithfully guarded the historical memory of the Congregation in Latin America.
Her testimony remains
I will remember her for the freedom and capacity she had for questioning us about our way of living the mission and the Charism today. In sector meetings she would always remind us of the simple origins of our Congregation.
My dear Mundita, I will live in gratitude for the witness of a life dedicated to the mission. Your fragility did not prevent you from living the missionary life with joy and dedication right to the end. Your dedication to what was entrusted to you, like that of other older Sisters who are no longer with us, has helped me to live the services that have also been entrusted to me with responsibility and trust in God.
In the long meetings and conversations we had, you used to say, Mundita, that our older Sisters are a mirror for us, in which we look at ourselves. If we were Daughters of Jesus today, it was thanks to their missionary daring, their openness to the unknown, their risk-taking, ther detachment. Raymonde, you were a foundation for the young women in formation and for some of us.
A big thank-you
A big “Thank you” to Réjean and Helene whom I have had the joy of knowing, who let their little sister go on mission. You helped her to faithfully live her dedication to the God of life whom she served and loved in the poor.
Thank you also to the Province of Canada who generously allowed her to freely leave in order to share her personal charism and the Charism of “Honouring the Sacred Humanity of the Son of God” with Latin America.
Raymonde, you were that wise and fruitful woman who knew how to accompany and support those of us who have taken your place in the Congregation. You sowed with love and dedication and sometimes with sacrifices and labour pains. God gave you the grace to see the fruits of a well-prepared sowing.
Good News for many
Raymonde, you were Good News for many people. You knew how to transmit the Good News of Jesus Christ, but also the Good News of the Charism of the Daughters of Jesus. This Charism continues to take root in the Latin American culture, and we Latin sisters are the fruit of this mission without frontiers.
The simple people, the Associates, the Sisters, those of us who have had the joy of sharing life more closely with Raymonde will remember her with great affection and gratitude for the inheritance she leaves us, of a life spent doing good just as Jesus Christ did.
Thank you Mundita, for what you sowed throughout your life. “The grain of wheat has fallen into the ground to bear fruit and fruit in abundance“ (Jn 12,24). Your mission accomplished, you are already enjoying the presence of God together with your mother, Doña Julieta, whom I have had the joy of knowing.
I have written these humble words with affection. They do not describe all that our Sister Raymonde was, as unfortunately our little Sister’s book was only 78 pages long.
Sr Gelsomina Rodas B. dj
Community of Choluteca, Honduras