Friday, September 30, 2011

A Life of Devotion and Education

     Thanks to the documents provided by the Presentation of Mary Manchester Province Archives, we can know much more about the life of Rebecca Albert (1908-1996). As her grand nephew, I called her Aunt Rebecca but most people called her Sister Rebecca due to her chosen profession and service to the church. Her death and burial records recorded her name as "Sr. Rebecca Albert". She lived to the ripe old age of eighty-eight.  
Rebecca Albert in 1930
     Rebecca's childhood included a tragic life event - the loss of her mother to cancer. Like her siblings, she was raised by different relatives. In a recent conversation with her nephew, Roland Albert, he recalls that Rebecca lived with the family of an her aunt after the death of her mother. Upon graduating from grammar school at St. Hyacinths in Westbrook, she was sent to a girls boarding school in New Hampshire. The Diocese of Portland apparently provided financing for orphaned children to receive a Catholic education. Other Albert girls were sent to boarding schools in New Hampshire as well, including my mother, but only one went on to become a nun. In February 1933, Rebecca received her Profession of Vows and chose the religious name of "Sister Wilfrid-Marie" presumably to honor her brother-priest, Wilfrid Albert, whom she had a special affinity for. She took her final vows in the Order of the Presentation of Mary on August 15, 1938. 
St. Marie Parish in Manchester, NH
     The other lifelong passion of Rebecca's was teaching. Her teaching assignments detailed in the archive document shows she taught at nine different elementary and high schools from 1933 to 1987 which allays my concern of the numbers of schools I have taught at. Most years she taught at St. Marie High School in Manchester, NH. The subjects she taught were English, Writing and Art. She also taught writing skills to her fellow sisters in a college extension program. 
     In 1987, Rebecca retired to St. Marie Residence in Manchester, NH. She passed on March 23, 1996. Her life was devoted to God and education. Although I have not been able to confirm that she received a college degree, an obituary printed in the Portland Press Herald of March 26, 1996 reported that she obtained a bachelor of arts degree from the University of New Hampshire. In a call to the UNH Alumni office, she was not listed in the database.
Notes:  Much of the information in this post was taken from a short biography written by Sister Gabrielle Messier, and the source of the Manchester picture came from Susan Bailey's website.