Sister Olive Lettre, SP, 96, died Friday, March 27, 2015 at Our Lady Providence Residence in Winooski, Vermont.
Olive Cecile Lettre was born in Berlin, New Hampshire on December 4, 1918, the last child in a family of sixteen children. Her father, Joseph, and her mother, Anna Fornier, were devout Catholics and their home reflected their deep and active faith.
One of Olive’s older sisters wanted very much to follow a call to religious life and she was hoping to enter the congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal (the Grey Nuns). However, a fire destroyed the convent of the Grey Nuns and impatient to follow her call to religious life, Olive’s sister asked to be admitted to the Sisters of Providence. Later on, this decision was important for her little sister, Olive.
As a young girl, Olive had visited the convent school of the Sisters of the Presentation and later became a border at this school in Grandby, Quebec. However, her dream was to become a nurse and she kept this dream alive even as she began, as a young woman, to teach with the Presentation sisters. The demands of teaching kept her for a time from pursuing her desire for religious life. After some years, she requested admission to the Sisters of Providence and on July 17, 1940, at the age of 32, she was received as a postulant at the Sisters of Providence Motherhouse in Montreal. Sister Olive pronounced her temporary vows on July 19, 1942 and her perpetual vows on July 19, 1945. After her religious profession, Sister Olive began her lifetime ministry as a primary teacher. She taught first to fourth grade at St. Joan of Arc school in Valleyfield, QC, Canada from 1942-1945. From 1945-1948, she taught at different times at St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski, Vermont, and at St. Gabriel School in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. From 1950 through mid-1980, Sister Olive taught in Chandler and Montreal, Quebec, and in Winooski, St. Johnsbury and Burlington, Vermont.
Sister Olive was especially gifted in working with boys and girls who were having difficulty in school. Her kindness, encouragement and persistence with her students was very much appreciated by their parents and some of these students became life-long friends. During her teaching years, Sister Olive also took time out for spiritual and professional renewal experiences.
From 1986-1994, Sister Olive was in Berlin, New Hampshire where she served as the coordinator for the Sisters of Providence community at St. Anne Residence and in pastoral services at St. Vincent de Paul Nursing Home. In 1994, Sister Olive received permission to take care of her aged brother, Msgr. Lettre, who lived in Ormond Beach, Florida. Following his death 1998, she retired at Our Lady of Providence convent in Winooski where she continued to minister to her many friends and former students through telephone calls, visits and letters.
In her last years, because of failing vision and the dimishment of her health and strength, Sister Olive had to accept the gradual loss of her independence. She found that she could not accomplish all that she wished to do. However, she was full of light and hope as she looked forward to joining her mother, father, brothers and sisters who had preceded her into eternal life. She was heard to say often, “I am able to pray, I have my memory and when people come to visit us, I am so happy”. Sister Olive is survived by her nephew, Rev. Raymond Lettre, nieces Louise Lettre Adam, Lucielle Lettre Hansen, Denise Lettre Vien, Lucielle LaFleur and numerous grand nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, March 30, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at Our Lady Providence Residence, 47 West Spring Street, Winooski, Vermont, with the Rev. Raymond Lettre.
Interment will follow in the Sister of Providence plot at St. Francis Xavier Cemetery.
Visiting hours were be held on Sunday, March 29, 2015 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Providenc Residence Chapel, 47 West Spring Street, Winooski, Vermont. The Vigil Service will follow. Arrangements are under the care and direction of LaVigne Funeral Home and Cremation Service.