Sr. Marie Elisabeth Suprin was born in France in 1904. At the age of 15, she was employed with a renowned couturier in Paris. Gifted with a beautiful voice, Sr. Marie happened to meet a great singer one day who was fascinated by her extraordinary talent. At the age of 22, Simone Suprin signed her first contract to sing in Chicago. However, God had another plan for her. One day she entered a library in Monte Carlo and came upon what was for her an unusual book. It was the book of the Gospels. She bought it and read it over and over again and came to learn about Jesus Christ. Simone got in touch with a Dominican priest and told him that she had decided to give her life to Jesus Christ.
Simone Suprin gave up her singing career and entered a Dominican monastery but after a few years she left to enter our Congregation. In January 1933 she was received in the Etrépagny Novitiate. In 1937 she made her Perpetual Profession and then offered herself to be sent to Trinidad. She reached the island of Chacachacare where she joined the Sisters caring for the lepers.
The Second World War broke out in 1939 and on this remote island great were the hardship and deprivation that the Sisters and patients had to endure for four years. As a result, the health of Sr. Marie Elisabeth deteriorated and she had to return to France. She was assigned to the convent of Levallois. When she had recovered her health she became the attraction of artists who had known her previously. They came to confide to her their sorrows and joys.
Sr. Marie Elisabeth’s last assignation was the convent of Chaudron where she died on October 1, 1988. She was 84 years old and had been Professed for 51 years and had spent nine (9) years in Trinidad.
Sr. Petronilla Bando was born in Brasso Caparo, Trinidad on July 25, 1887. Her parents brought up a family of 12 children. They lived in a rural area but her father was attentive to the education of his children. Petronilla attended the Teachers’ Training College in Port of Spain. Afterwards, she taught at the Sacred Heart School. After two years of teaching she sought admission at the Holy Name Convent. She entered the Novitiate on September 8, 1912. After her Profession, Sr. Petronilla was assigned to the St. Dominic’s Convent. For the next 30 years she assumed the management of the two primary schools on the grounds of the St. Dominic’s orphanage. She ensured that a thorough religious education was given to the children and she introduced the teaching of handicraft and gardening.
In her old age, Sr. Petronilla had the joy of celebrating her golden jubilee of Profession in 1954 and her Diamond jubilee in 1975. She died in 1978 at the age of 91 and had been Professed for 63 years.
Sr. Marie Lorette Florin was born in France in 1874. After her Profession she offered herself to be sent to Trinidad. Once in Trinidad, she spent most of her 36 years in Belmont. At the orphanage she was put in charge of the senior girls and gave them an excellent education. “Marie Lorette”, as they called her, was gifted as an artist and she is the one who introduced and spearheaded the well-known “Nativity Play” performed by the children on the grounds of the orphanage.
After Belmont, Sr. Marie Lorette was assigned to the Holy Name Convent where she was put in charge of the Training Centre. Thereafter she was appointed Prioress of the Sisters’ Convent in Chacachacare.
Sr. Marie Lorette exhausted her strength. She fell ill and had to return to France. She was assigned to the convent of Montrouge in Paris. It was there that she spent the last years of her life in great suffering. She had become paralysed. Her acceptance of suffering and her courage were truly admirable. She died on October 12, 1955 at the age of 81. She had been professed for 46 years and lived in Trinidad for 36 years.
Sr. Marie Elisabeth Hamard was born in France in 1867. At the Etrépagny Novitiate she received a solid religious formation from Mother St. Dominic, Our Foundress. After her Profession she offered herself to be sent to Trinidad. She arrived here in 1896 assigned to the St. Dominic’s Convent in Belmont. Thereafter she was sent to Cocorite where for 20 years she worked at the leprosarium. She was greatly loved and appreciated by the patients.
In 1926 the Cocorite leprosarium was transferred to the island of Chacachacare and she went there with the Sisters and they all continued their work in this place of banishment.
Though Sr. Marie Elisabeth had enjoyed good health, she became ill at Chacachacare. By 1932 she was on the point of death yet survived another year. She died “happy to have done God’s will”, as she declared, on October 14, 1933. She was 66 years old and had been professed for 41 years. She spent 37 years in Trinidad. Sr. Marie Elisabeth was buried in the Sisters’ cemetery in Marine Bay, Chacachacare.
Sr. Marie de St. Jacques Dressler was born in France on August 10, 1903. Her father was a military officer who took part in the First World War (1914-1918). After the war, he and his family had to live in Germany for the military occupation. It was during her holidays in France that young Charlotte became acquainted with the Dominican Sisters in Etrépagny. She entered our Congregation in 1926. After her Profession she offered herself to be sent to Trinidad. It was in November 1936 that she reached Chacachacare and joined the Sisters in caring for the lepers.
The medical doctor, failing to obtain dentists from Trinidad to attend to the patients at the Hansenian Settlement, asked that two Dominican Sisters be trained in dentistry. Sr. Marie de St. Jacques volunteered to be one of them. Both had to go to Port of Spain to receive an elementary formation from a dentist. They were taught how to extract teeth and to make dentures. Sister was very calm and gentle by nature and the patients loved her and had full confidence in her.
In 1950, at the withdrawal of the Sisters from Chacachacare, Sr. Marie de St. Jacques was one of the Sisters sent to the leprosarium of La Desirade (an island of Guadeloupe) to look after the lepers. She remained there with Sr. Henriette up to 1970 when both were recalled to France, to the convent of Chaudron. It was there that Sr. Marie de St. Jacques spent the last years of her life. She gave generous service to the community and courageously bore the sufferings of old age. She died peacefully on October 16, 1995 at the age of 93. She had been Professed for 67 years and spent 14 years in Trinidad.
Sr. Stanislaus du Sacre Coeur, Jolante Watta-Skrzydlewska was born in Poland on June 30, 1916 in a very Christian family. When her eldest sister left for France to enter the convent at Etrépagny (Sr. Marie Yolande), Jolante was only four years old. Little Jolante, not only lost her big sister but her mother as well who, a few years later, died of cancer. Through suffering the young girl felt a great desire to give her life to Jesus and, one day, to do like her big sister, to look after lepers on Chacachacare. In 1936, Jolante arrive in Etrépagny after going through many trials in crossing Germany when Nazism was gripping the country. She used to speak perfect French. At her clothing ceremony she received the name she desired very much ‘Stanislaus’, the name of her dear mother.
She made her first Profession in October 1937 and her Perpetual Profession in 1940. It was war time in France and there was no question of going overseas. It was only on July 21, 1945 that Sr. Marie Stanislaus arrived in Trinidad where there was a reunion of the two blood sisters, Marie Yolande and Stanislaus, after 25 years of separation. It was therefore to Chacachacare that Sr. Stanislaus was assigned but only for five (5) years as the withdrawal of the sisters from the island was in 1950. Afterwards, Sr. Stanislaus was assigned to the leprosarium in Guadeloupe where she nursed lepers for the next 12 years. Marie Yolande remained in Trinidad. Sr. Stanislaus was later assigned to Bonnay where she looked after the sick both in the convent and outside. In 1979 she continued the same work in Chaudron. In 1981 she had the great happiness of meeting her illustrious countryman, Pope John Paul II at Lourdes.
Towards the end of her life, Sr. Stanislaus’ mental health deteriorated and she had to be hospitalized. She died suddenly on October 20, 1997. She was 82 years old and had been Professed for 60 years. She spent five (5) years in Trinidad.
Sr. Catherine Dominique Viau was born in France on August 15, 1909 in a large Christian family which gave a son and a daughter to God, both Dominicans. Anne Marie entered the Novitiate in Etrépagny in 1934. She made her First Profession on February 10, 1936 and was Perpetually Professed in 1939. At that time, Sr. Catherine Dominique offered herself to be sent to Trinidad. It was decided that she should first go to England to learn the English language and in May 1939 she was sent there for a period of four months. She was still there when the Second World War (1939-1944) broke out in September 1939. She found herself cut off from France and her stay with the Dominican Sisters in Stroud was going to last six years. It was only in March 1945 that she was able to return to France. Four months later she was on her way to Trinidad with other Dominican Sisters. It was a most epic voyage, under navy escort, via New York, which brought the weary travellers to Trinidad in the course of July 1945.
During the 13 years she was going to spend in Trinidad, Sr. Catherine Dominique, greatly helped by her fluency in the English language, did a tremendous work in the St. Dominic’s Convent and orphanage in Belmont to which she was assigned. In those days the orphanage numbered over 600 children and most of the houses needed reconstruction. Sr. Catherine Dominique was not only gifted for building construction but she also had the gift of imparting new life into this old institution. The family spirit, which characterizes the St. Dominic’s orphanage, was all the more enhanced by this dynamic Manager and Prioress of the Convent.
In 1958 Sr. Catherine Dominique was called to do a similar work at the house for delinquent girls run by our Sisters in Raizet, Guadeloupe. For the next 20 years, she worked very hard at this new mission and she succeeded.
In 1977 she returned to France and was assigned to the Colombes convent. From there she kept in touch with many Guadeloupeans and gave yeoman service at their chaplaincy in Paris. Sr. Catherine Dominique continued to work hard until complete exhaustion of her physical strength. From Colombes she went to the convent of Etrépagny where she fell ill, had to be hospitalized in Gisors. She died there on October 24, 2005. Sr. Catherine Dominique was 97 years old, had been Professed for 70 years and spent 13 years in Trinidad.
Sr. Marie Augustin Cartier was born in France. She was one of the first Sisters who accompanied Mother Marie Dominique Bonnardel to Trinidad and arrived here on March 8, 1868. In 1868 Sr. Marie Augustin contracted yellow fever but she survived. For the next 28 years, she devoted herself body and soul to the care of the lepers in Cocorite until total exhaustion. She died there on October 27, 1897. She was 58 years old and had been Professed for 37 years. Sr. Marie spent 29 years in Trinidad.