Nov. 20, 1927 ~ Jan. 21, 2023
Marlborough – Sisters of St. Chretienne, we are founded for a mission, called as was Nino, ‘the Christian’, to proclaim Jesus Christ by our whole life. (Rule of Life #4).
Sr. Rachel Gonthier lived this mission during 72 years of consecrated life. She was born in Amesbury MA on November 20, 1927, the youngest of the 7 children of Fred and Alma (Sevigny) Gonthier. This very Christian family attended Mass at Sacred Heart Church and the children went to the parish school with the Sisters as their teachers.
Rachel’s brother Armand became an Assumptionist priest, her sister Veronica, a Dominican nun, and Jeanette, a Sister of St. Chretienne. Rachel graduated from St. Chretienne Academy in Salem MA and went two years to Rivier College in Nashua, NH. She too felt a calling to consider religious life. Rachel entered the Novitiate in Giffard, Quebec and made her first vows as a Sister of St. Chretienne in August, 1949.
Sr. Rachel taught at St. John’s in Rumford ME (1950-57), at Our Lady of Consolation in Pawtucket RI (1957-68), and at the Sisters’ Academy in Salem MA. (1968-71). When the Academy closed, the Sisters heard about teachers needed in Florida at Tampa Catholic High School and at St. Peter Claver, a small inner city school sponsored by the Diocese of St. Petersburg. It offered African-American students a quality Christ-centered education. Rachel chose to go there and taught 6th grade, and then served three years as principal of the school(1971-83). This was a mission that she loved. She made deep impressions on her students, who even today fondly remember her for her compassion, honesty, and her devotion to them. She always focused on those who needed more help, encouraging them towards being the best they could be.
Rachel did studies in pastoral ministry at the Institute for Spiritual Leadership in Chicago. She then began another phase in her life at Nazareth Center in Newport RI. From 1984-94, she and her Sisters offered hospitality and spiritual enrichment to people looking for a deeper relationship with the Lord. Rachel led sessions in the Enneagram, a method for understanding human personality with the richness of a Christian-centered focus.
In 1997, Rachel moved back to Tampa at Rocky Creek Village. She loved this experience where she and several of her Sisters were part of a vibrant group of religious, men and women, witnessing to Christ’s compassion, reaching out to those who were alone and far from their loved ones. In 2005, Rachel moved back to Marlborough to the Sisters’ retirement community where she helped with driving and various services. In the past two years at Marie Esther Residence, Rachel’s health was declining. She never complained and tried to build up those who suffered more than she did, especially her roommate.
Rachel died on January 21 with her dear sister Jeannette by her side, in the peace of Christ who certainly welcomed her to His Banquet table with the words engraved on her profession cross: “Come, blessed of my Father…into the joy of My Kingdom!”
Sr. Rachel was predeceased by her brothers, Armand (Rev. Denys, Assumptionist), Robert, and her sisters, Yvonne Mahoney, Sr. Veronica, OP and Bernadette Motsis. She is survived by her sister, Sr. Jeannette, SSCh. and her many devoted nephews and nieces. Her religious community of Sisters will miss her dearly but count on her to watch over them from her heavenly Home.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday, January 30, 2023, at 10:30AM at the Sisters’ residence at 720 Boston Post Road East in Marlborough. Visitation will be held from 9:15 – 10:15AM. Burial will be held on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, at 11:00 AM at St. Joseph’s Cemetery, RR110, Amesbury, MA 01913. Covid precautions are in effect.
The Slattery Funeral Home of Marlborough assisted with arrangements.