October 26, 1925 — December 20, 2023
Sister Mary Camille (Genevieve) Bet, 98, a Felician Sister for 79 years, entered eternal rest on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, at Holy Name of Mary Convent in Mississauga due to congestive heart failure.
Genevieve was born on October 26, 1925, in Buffalo, New York. She was the youngest of six children. Her three brothers had passed away before she was born. Sister Camille attended St. John Kanty’s School where she was taught by the Felician Sisters and felt the desire to be a Felician Sister from a young age. She entered the aspirancy of the Felician Sisters in 1940 and, while an aspirant, completed her secondary education at Villa Maria Academy in Buffalo, New York. On August 22, 1944, she entered the community of the Felician Sisters in Immaculate Heart of Mary Province in Buffalo, New York. Sister Camille professed her first vows on August 6, 1946, and professed her final vows on August 6, 1952.
During Sister’s 79 years of religious life, she ministered in various roles, serving the people of God and then her Felician community. She was a teacher of the primary grades for 13 years in Buffalo. She taught at St. Stanislaus (Buffalo), Sts. Peter and Paul (Depew), Holy Cross (Salamanca), St. Adalbert’s, Assumption, St. Johny Kanty’s, and St. Florian’s in Buffalo. Sister took courses from 1951 to 1958 in the evenings and on Saturdays in order to receive her Bachelor of Science in Education in 1958. In August 1958, Sister was assigned to Canada and, over the years, found she loved serving in this area. Sister Camille ministered as a teacher and principal in the Catholic elementary schools in Streetsville, Mississauga, Fenwick, and Winona from 1958 to 1971. In 1964, Sister Camille received her Bachelor of Arts in English at Mount St. Joseph Teacher’s College in Buffalo. In 1969, she completed her Masters in English Literature from Medaille College in Buffalo. From 1971 to 1976, she served as a teacher and principal at Holy Name of Mary High School. During the summers, she took the necessary courses to certify her to be a principal in Ontario’s Catholic elementary and Catholic secondary school systems. Sister Camille was an excellent educator and loved her years of teaching in both elementary and secondary schools. On February 12, 1974, Sister Camille took her Canadian citizenship, desiring to stay and serve in Canada. This day also marked Sister Camille’s permanent transfer from the Buffalo Province to the Canadian Vice-Province.
Wherever Sister Camille served, she loved each ministry and put her all into her service. As a young sister, she prayed that her superiors would never take her out of the classroom, as teaching was her great love. However, in 1976, Sister was elected to the general council in Rome and served as the 4th general councillor. Sister continued her “teaching” skills as the director of the inter-provincial Second Novitiate Program from 1977 to 1980. She served as the coordinator of formation and community life for the Congregation during her tenure in Rome. Sister Camille returned to Holy Name of Mary Vice-Province in 1982, served as postulant director for one year, and then was elected as the provincial minister from 1983 to 1989.
Over the years, Sister really continued her love of teaching – perhaps not to young children, but to the sisters and/or as she facilitated various workshops, conferences, and meetings for the sisters in formation, e.g., Pre-novitiate program, religious formation, prayer. Rule of St. Francis, Scripture study, Felicians as Women of Faith, etc. Sister also attended many workshops, seminars and courses to help her assist sisters in their formation. She was especially interested in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Scripture, spiritual and formation topics such as the vows or Franciscanism and she shared her knowledge with the sisters.
When Sister Camille finished her term as provincial minister, she taught religious education to high school students in Hamilton, Ontario, and after one year, Sister had to give up teaching students once again, as she was called back to Rome, Italy, to serve as the General Archivist. Although she did not have any courses or knowledge of this ministry, she was, as always, willing to learn. She began with a two-week in-service in the archives at Villa Maria Convent in Buffalo, NY, and went to Rome to serve in the role of archivist. While in Rome, Sister furthered her education for her work in the archives by taking courses at the Vatican Archives.
Throughout the years, Sister Camille joyfully served as the General Archivist and, in her last years in Rome, as the local minister. She felt blessed for the privilege of working in the Eternal City, where she believed that in this environment, one cannot help but come closer to God’s holy Church. Both English and Polish-speaking sisters were blessed to have her as an inspiration as she served at the Generalate from 1990-2003. Throughout these years, Sister Camille would often travel to Krakow, Poland, to prepare exhibits for display in the Museum and Archives of Blessed Angela and for the beatification process for Blessed Mary Angela. Sister felt God was very good to her, and she felt privileged to work directly with the Felician documents and Felician memorabilia.
After her thirteen-year tenure in Rome, Sister Camille returned to Holy Name of Mary Convent in Mississauga, Ontario. She offered her help to the sisters and to the larger community in whatever ways she was able. Sister served as the liturgist and organist for the community, sharing her love of the liturgy and love of music to enhance the liturgies. She belonged to various committees for the North American Province and served as Associate Director for a number of years. Again, she was “teaching” adults about the Felician Charism and Blessed Mary Angela.
She helped Sister Andrea Mazur in the archives and in the past 10-15 years, served as candidate director and mentor of young sisters. She was happy to create PowerPoint presentations, again “teaching” postulants and novices about Blessed Mary Angela, the vows, and Felician history. Throughout her various ministries and places of service, Sister Camille brought joy and shared her expertise in formation, liturgy, and Congregational history. Her deep love for the Felician community touched everyone she met.
Sister Camille was a great and interesting storyteller – whether the stories were about her life experiences in community, ministry, or the beginnings of the Congregation. Sister had a remarkable memory and could recall names, historical facts, and information until her last days. Truly, she was the wisdom figure for all who met her. Most importantly, over the years, Sister Camille continued to be a woman of deep prayer and showed great hospitality and openness to everyone, making all feel cherished and welcomed.
Sister Camille was fortunate in that the symptoms of congestive heart failure were not very serious until the last weeks of her life. She would still work in her office, preparing liturgy schedules or intercessions for Sunday Mass, but realized it took her much longer to complete her work. She accepted to be on palliative care at the convent during the latter part of November. She needed oxygen at this time and was under the supervision of the palliative care doctor and nurses. She progressively became much weaker but still wanted to attend Mass in the mornings and was alert until the night before she passed away, which was on Wednesday, December 20, at 9:00 am.
Sister Camille was predeceased by her parents, Stephen and Rose, her sisters, Jessie and Jane, and her brothers, Alexander, Joseph, and John.
Visitation was held at Holy Name of Mary Convent in Mississauga from 3:00-8:00 pm on Wednesday December 27. The wake service was held at 7:00 pm with sharing of memories. Many associates, former teachers and students from Holy Name of Mary High School, and some sisters from Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent, Buffalo, NY, came to the wake. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in the Convent Chapel on Thursday, December 28 at 10:00 am with Father Pawel Nyrek, OMI, serving as main celebrant and homilist, and Fathers Rudy Nowakowski, OMI, and Pawel Ratajczak, OMI, serving as concelebrants. Sisters, associates, friends, Sister Therese Chmura from Buffalo, and relatives Sister Judith Kubicki from Beaver Falls, PA, Eugene Kubicki from Florida, and Stan Kubicki, and Susan Kubicki from Buffalo, NY, gathered to celebrate Sister Camille’s new life in Christ.
Sister Camille is interred at the Felician Sisters’ burial plot at Assumption Cemetery in Mississauga, Ontario.