Sister Alma DESAULNIERS

(CSJP, 1905 – 2003)

Sister of St. Joseph of Peace Alma Desaulniers (Sister Victor), a musician, teacher and principal in Catholic schools in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California for 46 years, died in Chilliwack, British Columbia on November 11, 2003 at the age of 98.

Born on April 19th, 1905 in Moyie. British Columbia, Marie Rose Alma Desaulniers was the third of seven children born to Victor and Marie (Boissinault) Desaulniers. Alma’s father ran the hotel in Moyie; her mother gave her a lifelong gift by teaching her to play the piano. Alma completed high school at St. Joseph’s, Nelson, B.C., where she first encountered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.

She began teaching in 1924 after earning teacher’s certification through the B.C. Normal School in Victoria.

After several years of teaching, Alma Desaulniers answered a call to religious life, entering the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in Bellingham on August 15th, 1930. Soon she was teaching again, while attending summer school to complete her college degree.

Sister Alma received her Bachelor’s degree in Church Music from the University of Montreal in 1949, a Bachelor of Education from Seattle University in 1961, and a Masters in Education, also from Seattle University, in 1968.

Sister Alma taught in schools in Fernie, Nelson and Trail, British Columbia; Longview, Port Angeles and Seattle, Washington; Corvallis, Oregon; and South San Francisco, California. She was a dedicated musician who studied voice and choral music; in all her many school assignments, she was always the choir director. Her favorite teaching assignments were fourth and fifth grade, though from 1950 through 1968 she served as Principal in five different schools, teaching the seventh, eighth and ninth grades. Sister Louise DuMont, one of her pupils at St. Joseph School, Nelson, remembers that she used to take her students out into the country on hikes and that she loved to play cards and word games.

In 1976, Sister Alma retired to Chilliwack, where she became part of a lively CSJP community that included Sister Margaret Wood, Sister Emilia Sosnowski, and Sister Rosalie DuMont, who died last month. She served as a pastoral minister at St. Mary’s Church, Chilliwack, for many years, making visits to the sick and to people in nursing homes. One of the homes she visited was Eden Manor, which became her own home when she needed nursing care in 1998. In the last months of her life she received more intensive care at the Extended Care Unit of Chilliwack General Hospital

Sister Alma is survived by her sister Esther McDevitt of North Vancouver and many nieces and nephews. Her vigil will take place at the Chapel of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, St. Mary’s, Bellevue at 7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, November 19th; the Funeral Mass will be celebrated in Bellevue at 10 AM on Thursday, November 20th by Father Gary Gordon, Sister Alma’s pastor at St. Mary’s Church, Chilliwack. Interment at Holyrood Cemetery will follow. Gifts in memory of Sister Alma may be made to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, P.O. Box 248, Bellevue, Washington 98009.