Sister Cecile Gabrielle
Born to French-Canadian parents in Westford, Mass., Cecile Gabrielle Roux grew up in Groton, Mass., speaking French and English. Her maternal aunt, Sister Olier of the Blessed Sacrament, SP, arranged for her to live with the Sisters of Providence and attend Cathedral High School in Burlington, Vt., where she was taught by the Sisters of Mercy. Thus the seed of her vocation was planted.
She was 18 when she clearly heard the voice of Jesus calling to her. After graduation, she followed her mother’s advice to give herself time to be sure. Cecile entered the Providence novitiate in Montreal in 1951, at the age of 21, making profession in 1953.
Fell in love with Seattle
She moved to Seattle after being named for the West to be a teacher.Summer classes at the College of Great Falls, in Montana, prepared her for what became a great love. Her mother had been a teacher, and Cecile wanted to work with children.
Coming from Burlington, Vt., Seattle seemed too far away, Sister Cecile recalled. “But I came here and loved it, everything about it, the climate, how kind the people were, how generous.” She quickly made friends with her classmates. “I spoke French and they spoke English. “I was one of the only ones who could speak both languages fairly well.”
Multiple sclerosis prompts a change in focus
Her first assignment was working with third graders at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, Ill. Sister Cecile taught at Sacred Heart School in Tacoma for six years, and then at St. Catherine School in Seattle for two years before moving to St. Finbar’s in Burbank, Calif., where she spent more than 20 years in the parish. “All my ministries were wonderful times. They grew me a lot and meant so much,” she recalled.
The onset of multiple sclerosis slowed her pace, so she turned her focus to developing a small-group remedial reading program that allowed her to keep teaching in Burbank and as a volunteer in Seattle. Other ministry assignments included as house bookkeeper at the Sisters of Providence residence in Burbank, as a member of the board of directors of the Rowe Memorial Day Care Center in Los Angeles, as an MS counseling intern at the University of Oregon Health Science Center, and as a part-time receptionist at the Lifetime Learning Center in Seattle. She also was a patient visitor at Esther Pariseau Pavilion in Burbank.
She retired in 1986 and has resided at St. Joseph Residence in Seattle ever since. Sister Cecile enjoys praying and visiting with other Sisters and friends, and she loves listening to music. That is how she will celebrate her 60th Jubilee as a Sister of Providence.