April 11, 2011
Sr. Lina Gaudette

Sr. Lina Gaudette

RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Archdiocese has lost one of its finest educators and intellectuals. Providence Sister Lina Gaudette, a theologian, religious educator, certified psychologist and writer, died at the Providence Centre infirmary March 27. She was 89.

The holder of a doctorate in theology from Notre Dame University, Gaudette served on the faculty of St. Joseph Seminary from 1967 and was one of the founding faculty members of Newman Theological College in 1969.

Gaudette was named vice-president of the college in 1972 and remained on the faculty for almost 20 years.

Father Shayne Craig, rector of the seminary and president of Newman College, met Gaudette when he began his studies at the seminary and college in 1986.

"She was a wonderful woman, very knowledgeable, with a very good sense of humour, very earthy," Craig said.

"Her wit and wisdom and her forthright conviction and professionalism were admired by many of us whom she taught and served in her long career."

Sister Margaret McGovern, a leader with the Sisters of Providence in Edmonton, praised Gaudette's intellectual curiosity.

"She was given the gift of an intellect that did not just want to know, but wanted to understand," she said in a eulogy for Gaudette. "She wanted to know why and how. In her own early years at school, she chafed under the rote learning of catechism which made God and religion boring rather than fascinating."

PROFOUND PASSION

To Gaudette, learning and thinking were the most exciting things a person could do, McGovern said. "She became an excellent teacher and ignited the same excitement in her classes by making difficult concepts understandable and stimulating the students to think more deeply than they ever had before."

Gaudette also continued her own studies, earning a master's in education and a doctorate in theology. She was also a certified psychologist and did the psychological testing for Craig and many other seminarians.

McGovern said the pursuit of a deeper understanding of God was a life-long passion for Gaudette, one that she communicated to others by her teaching at the seminary and college.

Gaudette was Newman's first dean of interdisciplinary studies, which included theology and psychology.

Among other things, Gaudette served on the Sisters of Providence provincial council a number of times, translated books of community history and biography, played a significant part in general and provincial chapters and was coordinator at Providence Centre.

In the year 2000 Gaudette wrote a small book called Theological Reflections on Providence.

ADVENTUROUS INTELLECTUAL

Father Don MacDonald, a longtime professor at Newman, described Gaudette as an excellent professor, an open-minded intellectual and a religious woman ahead of her time.

"If she is not the first nun to get a doctorate in theology at Notre Dame University in the United States, she is one of the first," he said. "She was certainly concerned about the rights and the due place that women deserve in the Church and she certainly stood up for that."

Gaudette was also "very determined in her goals," MacDonald told the WCR. "She knew how to fight for what she thought was best for the college."

Gaudette embraced the Second Vatican Council's vision of Church, MacDonald said later in a homily at Gaudette's funeral Mass.

"She was open to new ideas and ways of doing things, but her knowledge of human nature and her loyalty kept her fully grounded in the sacramental and teaching tradition of the Church."

Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil presided at Gaudette's Mass of Christian Burial at the Providence Centre chapel March 31. Cremation followed with burial at a later date in the Providence Sisters' Cemetery in Calgary.