Parishioners reflect on the life and legacy of a nun who dedicated much of her life to faith formation in the archdiocese

While she spent only 17 years teaching in the archdiocese, the impact Sr. Georgette Payeur left on the hearts of the parishioners she served will last forever.

Last March 21st, Sr. Georgette passed away at the age of 92 – a loss deeply felt by all who knew her.

A parishioner who was most close to Sr. Georgette and is most feeling her loss is Helly Lacombe of Peace River. They remained close friends throughout Sr. Georgette’s time leading RCIC (Roman Catholic Initiation for Children) and the adult lay formation program for the archdiocese.

“She made a huge impact in my life,” said Helly. “Everything she did, she did it in a way that was interesting that was fun to be a part of. She was always courteous, welcoming and warm, and just a really, really sweet woman.

“I learned so much from Sr. Georgette. When I met her I was pretty new to the Catholic Church. I still had lots of questions and she was the one I went to for answers. She was always willing to clarify things for me. She was very knowledgeable about the church and its teachings.

“I witnessed her love of God and her love of people. My faith grew because I was blessed to have Sr. Georgette as a role model.”

Sister Georgette Payuer, Sister of the Holy Cross (from the parish archives of Our Lady of Peace in Peace River)

From 1998 to 2015, Sr. Georgette worked in the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan as an educator and formator. She also spent some time as a formator in the Archdiocese of Edmonton and the Diocese of St. Paul during this period.

She had much-in-depth knowledge on theology and the dogmas and doctrines of the Church, and offered these insights in her pastoral ministry as a formation director.

Born in Spirit River in 1931, Georgette entered religious life as a Sister of the Holy Cross in 1948, where she took the religious name Sister Mary of Saint-Denis of the Saviour.

Her decision to enter religious life came after her years attending the Sisters of the Holy Cross boarding school in Falher. It was there that her love of the Lord and her love for teaching were first fostered.

Before she returned to the Peace Country, the Sisters of the Holy Cross made her the order’s Provincial Leader of Western Canada in 1984, in honour of her gift of leadership and her reputation as a faithful “listening presence.”

That fondness for the Sister of Holy Cross is shared by all who knew her. For Nampa parishioners Daryl and Myrna Duffy, the two years they spent taking Sr. Georgette’s adult faith formation program is a time they will always treasure.

“If you were to ask me to give one word to describe Sr. Georgette, I would say ‘pious’,” Daryl Duffy said. “She always had a warm, gentle smile. She always put her best foot forward. She listened well, spoke softly and carefully.

“Her heart was on her sleeve. That’s where she wore it.”

This is only an excerpt. Read the full story in the May 2024 edition of Northern Light