Sister Mary Gabrielle Prince

Sister Mary Gabrielle Prince was a beloved member of the Felician Sister community for 67 years.
Sister Mary Gabrielle Prince
April 3, 1940 – February 10, 2024

Sister Mary Gabrielle (Bernadette) Prince, 83, peacefully went Home to her loving God on Saturday, February 10, at Holy Name of Mary Convent in Mississauga due to kidney failure.

Bernadette was born on April 3, 1940, in Rockingham, ON, and was the eldest of 7 siblings. She completed her elementary education in Rockingham and part of her secondary education. On February 2, 1957, the former Bernadette entered the Felician Sisters in Mississauga. She professed her first vows on August 16, 1958, and made her final vows on August 16, 1964. Sister Gabrielle completed her secondary school education in Mississauga and worked to complete her Early Childhood Certification in 1971.

During her 67 years of religious life, Sister ministered mainly as an early childhood educator of young children in Toronto and Hamilton. Following this 22-year ministry, she ministered as a teacher’s assistant in the Toronto District Catholic School Board and taught special needs children. Sister Gabrielle loved working with these students and became proficient in sign language to help the deaf students. In 2005, after she retired from 16 years of service to the special needs students, Sister Gabrielle volunteered in the kitchen at St. Felix Centre and served guests in the lunch ministry. Sister gave her all and enjoyed each ministry she was involved in.

Throughout her years of religious life, Sister Gabrielle was always willing to do what the community asked of her. Her other ministries included teaching catechetics, serving the Felician community as the director of postulants and affiliates for a few years, and serving as local minister. When Sister was healthy, she loved cooking, walking, gardening, and various handicrafts. She was always willing to lend a helping hand when needed. In recent years, Sister Gabrielle enjoyed going for walks with someone taking her out in her wheelchair. The various animals brought her joy – she enjoyed visiting with the dogs and spending time with Nemo, the budgie. Being in the “stillness” of the outdoors or in the lounge was important to her prayer life. Sister treasured the phone calls from her family members. It was obvious that they loved and respected her.

Sister Gabrielle had a number of falls, with her leg strength progressively weakening in 2016- 2017, and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2017. Although she became wheelchair-bound in November 2017, she was fortunate to receive the help of personal support workers so that she could reside at Holy Name of Mary Convent. Sister had serious diabetes since the early ’90s, arthritis, heart problems, and developed vascular dementia recently. She only had one kidney and, for the past two years, had an indwelling catheter. For 60 years, Sister lived with a permanent ileostomy due to an ulcerated bowel. For the last year, Sister Gabrielle was on palliative care and received nursing help once a week. During her last two weeks of life, she developed a serious urinary tract infection, and even though she had intravenous antibiotics, her kidney failed. Sister was alert and talking in the early morning of February 10, and an hour later peacefully passed away.

Sister Gabrielle will be remembered for her friendly spirit, dedication in each ministry she served in, and her unfailing perseverance and acceptance of her many health challenges. Despite her difficulties, she did not feel sorry for herself and usually displayed a positive attitude. Sister is survived by her sisters, Anna Mary (Tom), Rose (+ Vince), Leona (Leonard), and Susan (Eric); and her brother, Barclay (Sheila), as well as brother-in-law Dan, sister-in-law Susan, and many nieces and nephews. Sister Gabrielle is predeceased by her parents, Michael and Julia, her sister Elizabeth, and her brother Sylvester.

Visitation was held at Holy Name of Mary Convent in Mississauga from 3:00-8:00 pm on Wednesday, February 14. The wake service was held at 7:00 pm with sharing of memories. A number of family members and associates came to the wake. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in the Convent Chapel on Thursday, February 15 at 10:00 am, with Father Keith Wallace serving as main celebrant and homilist and Father Rudy Nowakowski, OMI, serving as a concelebrant. The Mass was live-streamed, and family members from Barry’s Bay who were unable to attend the funeral were very grateful to be able to watch the Mass via Internet technology.

Sister Gabrielle is interred at the Felician Sisters’ burial plot at Assumption Cemetery in Mississauga, Ontario.

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Serving where needed since 1874

Founded in Poland in 1855, the Felician Sisters are a congregation of women religious inspired by the spiritual ideals of their foundress, Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska, and Saints Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi and Felix of Cantalice. Arriving in North America in 1874 following Blessed Mary Angela’s directive “to serve where needed,” they helped to weave the social service system. Today, the Felician Sisters founded, sponsor or support through the presence of our sisters, more than 40 ministries – all continuing to evolve to meet the needs of the people they serve.

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