By Sr. Anne Lewans, OSU
(Adapted from a tribute given at Sr. Lucille Bleile’s 75th Anniversary Celebration in 2013.)
Genevieve Bleile was born on a farm south of Prelate in August 1921. She was the sixth of nine children born to Balzaar Bleile and Barbara Ziegler.
Like many families at this time, the Bleile family struggled to make a “go” of things. Though Genevieve’s childhood was simple, it was filled with happy times, music, family prayer, feastday celebrations…and, a close relationship with her father.
Genevieve heard an inner call to religious life when she was still a very young child. She had spent time as a companion to one or another Sister who was teaching in a country school. Then in 1935, at the age of 14 she left home (with her parents’ blessing) and went to the convent.
After her perpetual vows, Sr. Lucille Bleile, OSU, helped out in several missions before attending Normal School in Moose Jaw in 1944-45. Her 35 years of teaching began in country schools where both hardships and challenges were the order of the day: very little food, cold winters, poor teacherages, large classes and few resources.
In her first school Sr. Lucille had 46 students in grades 1 to 4, of which 16 were beginners who could not speak English. Among the memorable happenings in her teaching career was “Sing Out 70” in Macklin!
In 1983-84 Sr. Lucille attended Newman College, which helped prepare her for the next phase in her life. Though Sr. Lucille always loved teaching, she says that her most rewarding ministry was in Parish Pastoral Ministry – working with RCIA, preparing children for the sacraments, assisting the grieving, listening to people’s struggles, sometimes helping people return to the church.
Six years in St. Charles Parish and nine years in St. James Parish (both in Edmonton) were rewarding years, and it was difficult for her to leave when called to serve a four-year term on the General Council of the Ursulines, and move to Saskatoon.
The first year in Saskatoon, she assisted with the care of the Sisters at St. Angela Merici Residence, and the following year moved to the residence to facilitate her ministry there. Sister Lucille also spent a semester at St. Angela Academy, teaching foods, cooking and sewing.
Music has always been a special interest and important part of Sr. Lucille’s life and ministry. She has worked with choirs in most of the missions where she taught.
Sr. Lucille is a gifted seamstress and has generously offered her talents in sewing for the Sisters. Quilting has been a favourite hobby, and she has produced numerous masterpieces (over 400!) for sale or for charity auctions.
Sister Lucille has been an ardent sports fan…she is especially fond of curling and football.
At 102 years of age, Sr. Lucille’s activities have given way to a more quiet, reflective life. However, she is still ‘on her feet’ participating in activities at St. Angela Merici Personal Care Home and providing a positive and cheerful presence.