Sr. Marie Paule Gobeil, Franciscan Missionary of Mary, 90, died August 23, 2017 at St. Antoine’s Residence in North Smithfield, R.I.
She was born July 2, 1918 in Quebec City, Canada; Marie-Paule was the sixth of eight children. Her parents formed a strong Catholic household in which each one was expected to attend daily mass when old enough to do so. There was also family Rosary in October and attendance at Sunday Vespers with Papa in the parish. An atmosphere like this was to nurture the fruit of three religious vocations. A brother became a Marist Brother missioned to Zimbabwe and a sister also joined the FMM and spent 35 years in Australia.
Still little, Marie-Paule desired to go to school and at age three attended the Ecole Maternelle run by the FMM through third grade and then attended the parish school for grades 4-7. After that, she studied privately. She always attended the patronages, social groups arranged by the Sisters for various ages of girls on Sunday afternoons. Marie-Paule says that she could hear the Sisters singing the Mass when she was at home in her room. Even before entering, she said, "My life was with the FMM!"
Her mother died when Marie-Paule was 14, and from then on, she cared for her father, the house and family for ten years, working for the Government during the last two.
September 1943 saw her entering as a Postulant in Quebec at age 25. St. Joseph's Day 1944, she received the Habit and the name M. Louis Romeo. She made her First and Final Vows in March, 1946 and 1949, all in Quebec. In 1947, still a Young Professed, Marie-Paule was the Assistant for the Ste. Jeanne d'Arc community in Winnipeg. She completed three years there and was then missioned to the US, to be Assistant in our community in Woonsocket, Rl in 1950. She went to Holy Family in North Providence on the feast of Blessed Assunta, 1960. After this, she was in St. Francis Hospital Convent as sacristan/cook; she returned to North Providence to supervise the food service. After some five years, Marie-Paule was asked to be part of the St. Joseph Senior Community in Brighton, MA, where she helped out in various capacities. After a year of renewal in Canada, Marie-Paule was again sent to St. Francis, Roslyn, where her ministry was hospitality for the family members of pediatric patients from around the world.
In 1985, she received permission to travel to Korea to experience the country and lifestyle of some of her young patients to be better able to help and understand them. She attended several reunions of her former "grandchildren" and all enjoyed seeing "halmoni" (grandmother) again. After her return to St. Francis, Marie-Paule worked in the Finance Department of St. Francis Hospital and was driver and Jill-of-all-trades for the Community. From 1985, she was the community bursar. Always one to enjoy a good laugh or to give one, Marie-Paule is remembered in Roslyn for wearing the most daring and huge and fashionable hat-filled with flowers and birds-to a social event with some of her friends.
In July 2002, Marie-Paule was sent to Fruit Hill to spend more time resting and praying and enjoying life. After some years at Fruit Hill, where she was a cheerful and friendly presence to the community and staff in the Assisted Living, Marie Paule was missioned to St. Antoine in August, 2017. Here she would spend her final days in peaceful acceptance of her surroundings, praying for others, and, to her delight, communicating with a number of staff and residents who could speak French.
Her funeral will be held on Friday, September 1 at Holy Family Chapel, 399 Fruit Hill Avenue, North Providence. Burial will be in Holy Family Cemetery. Visitation Thursday, August 31, 4 – 7 pm with a wake service at 7.
Funeral arrangements by Russell J. Boyle & Son Funeral Home.