Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 22, 2007
Sister oversaw institutions for local young girls
Sr. Pilon led order to give its property to the archdiocese
Sr. Florence Pilon
By GLEN ARGAN
WCR Staff Writer
Sister Florence Pilon, a sister who was instrumental in turning over her order's 20-acre property overlooking the North Saskatchewan to the Edmonton Archdiocese, died Jan. 6. She wasr 94.
Pilon, also known as Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, was superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity for 18 years.
The order ran what was known as the O'Connell Institute for young girls and the Good Shepherd and Mapleridge institutes for young women with social needs at 101st Avenue and 84th Street in south Edmonton.
In 1983, under Pilon's leadership, the sisters decided to give their property to the Edmonton Archdiocese. It is now the site of the Catholic Pastoral Centre, Villa Vianney home for retired priests, Primrose Place Day Centre and several houses in which active priests live.
Superior 3 times
Pilon served three stretches as superior of the small community - from 1961 to 1968, 1977 to 1983, and 1989 to 1995. A native of Edmonton, she studied at St. Anthony and Mount Carmel schools and entered the order in 1928, serving 78 years as a religious.
Sister Norma Johnson, one of the four remaining members of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in Edmonton, described Pilon as "a very strong, faith-filled leader."
She was generous to those in need and when people in need came asking for butter, she would always give some even if the community had little for itself, Johnson said. "There was always a generous spreading of the butter."
Other times, Pilon was taken in by people who sought money they said was to visit relatives in the East, she said.
She was also an accomplished pianist who taught music to children in the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Pilon was chosen as community leader because of her character, leadership ability, charity, compassion and mercy, Johnson said.
With their declining numbers in recent decades Pilon saw that the sisters would no longer be able to continue in the ministries they had begun in 1912, she said.
"We felt the property belonged to the Church. We felt the proper thing was to give it back to the Church for the service of the community and the Church."
A funeral for Pilon was held Jan. 11 at St. Michael-Resurrection Church.