With 110 years of experience in life, Sister Cecilia Gaudette’s advice to young Catholics on how to be holy is worth listening to.
“Keep very faithful,” is her simple maxim, “keep close to the Lord,” the 110-year-old told EWTN News from a convent in Rome which has been her home for over half a century.
Sister Cecilia was born on March 25, 1902. She grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire where she was educated by the Sisters of Mercy. It was here, she said, that her desire to become a nun was first kindled.
“I always said that it was because I went to school with religious and I wanted to be like them,” she said.
After joining the Religious Sisters of Jesus and Mary as a young woman, Sister Cecilia went on to teach music and art for many years in the United States, Canada and France before moving to Rome. In fact, she took the religious name Cecilia in honor of the patron of music, St. Cecilia.
When asked if her life has been a happy one, she instantly and bilingually replied, “Yes! Si!”
“I always desired to become a religious and so when I became a religious I was happy.”
Even at the age of 110 Sister Cecilia still has to follow the convents daily routine, “I follow the religious rule of the congregation, that’s what I do,” she said, “nothing special.”
That routine includes attending early morning Mass, making time for meditative prayer and visits to the Blessed Sacrament as well as saying three rosaries a day, something she loves to do as “Our Blessed Mother” is her favorite saint.
She still works in the order's archives department where she continues to type up notes on her trusty black enamel typewriter. The pace of change elsewhere in modern life, though, often leaves her a little exasperated.
“It’s the speed with which everything changes. Every week there is something new. Take the computer…urghh,” she sighed. “When I was a child there were no automobiles, for instance, they started when I was a child.”
Sister Cecilia has lived through ten pontificates starting with Pope Leo XIII and concluding with Pope Benedict XVI. Of them all, who is her favorite? “I liked them all. It’s the Pope! I liked them all,” she laughed.
Why does she think God has allowed her to live so long? “I am wondering why” said Sister Cecilia, “I often say that it is time for me to go.” So is she looking forward to meeting God? “Yes.”
And what will she say to Jesus upon meeting him? “I’m pleased to see you, I’d think” she replied with a smile.