EDMONTON — When confronted by life's many difficulties, Denise Cadieux-Couturier relies on prayer, strong faith and forgiveness.
She married Charles Cadieux, a meteorologist from Plamondon, in 1957. Together they had three sons and a daughter.
Living in Sherwood Park, her husband died on his way home from work one night. Widowed, she adjusted to becoming a working mother who waited tables and drove 18-wheelers and dump trucks to support her family. She was one of Alberta's first female truck drivers.
Cadieux-Couturier, 74, was the guest speaker at the Edmonton Catholic charismatic prayer breakfast, held June 11 at the Chateau Louis conference centre.
Nine years after her first husband's death, she remarried and was soon pregnant. The newlyweds were unprepared for more children, and her new husband did not view the pregnancy as a blessing.
"My husband gave me an ultimatum. He said to get rid of the child, put it up for adoption or else he was leaving. I gave him a choice to either stay or leave.
"I told him that I'd raised four children by myself, and I could raise another. He left, and he never saw his son," said Cadieux-Couturier.
A year ago, her second husband died. She had long since forgiven him and never spoke badly about the man. She and her son went to the funeral.
"I told my son, 'Say what you want to your dad. But remember, you forgive him.' We've had to forgive and forget and live on," said Cadieux-Couturier.
Born in St. Paul, Alta., the oldest of seven children, Cadieux-Couturier grew up in a traditional Catholic family, praying the rosary every evening at home and whenever they travelled.
When she was six she received her First Communion. That day, she took part in a local tradition of walking through the community and adoring the Blessed Sacrament, set on the doorsteps of about six homes.
"The second house we went to, I was not prepared to adore the Blessed Sacrament," she recalled. "There was this lady and I used to carry groceries to her all the time. One time she brought me to the police, and she told the police that I was stealing crabapples from her trees. I got so frightened because they showed me what a jail looked like."
When she refused to adore the Blessed Sacrament at that house, a sister asked why. When she explained, the sister reminded her that she was there to adore the Lord, not the homeowner.
The family later moved to Edmonton and she attended Sacred Heart School until Grade 9. Then she left school to work at the Misericordia Hospital.
Later, she went to work at the Edmonton Co-op and retired in 1984 after three heart surgeries. She continues to serve at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish and volunteers for many organizations, including as chaplain for the Royal Purple.
Her own children have experienced much success in life. One of her sons, Father Len Cadieux, was ordained 22 years ago and is now pastor of Assumption Parish. Her other sons work as an RCMP officer, bank security guard, and as a Canada Customs superintendent.
"It's been a fantastic life, and I have had great support from family, friends and from our parish in Sherwood Park. I don't know where I would be without the prayers that I get. It's important that we get love and prayers from others."