Brussels (Belgium). On 25 May 2021, in the Community of Mary Help of Christians in Brussels (Belgium), in the Province of France – South Belgium Our Lady of the Nations (FRB), the Lord of Life introduced into the eternal Easter, Sister Anne-Marie Deumer, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, General Councilor for 15 years.
Born in Havay (Belgium) on 22 December 1928, Anne-Marie grows up in a Christian family, where her parents transmit human values to her with truth and great affection. At the age of 10, the FMA arrived in Havay where they opened the school and, subsequently, the oratory. Anne-Marie notes: “While I was with our sisters, at around the age of 12, I ‘talked’ about a vocation. And the sisters accompanied me during my school years up to the age of 14, but also afterwards, at the oratory.” At the age of 18, she entered the FMA Institute and on 5 August 1949 she made her first religious vows.
An open and enterprising young woman, she obtains a double teaching diploma in French and Flemish and teaches as a primary school teacher. From 1954 to 1956, she continued her studies in Italy at the International Institute of Pedagogy and Religious Sciences in Turin. Back in Belgium, she is soon involved in the field of formation with the postulants, then as an assistant and teacher of the novices. A novice says: “She was young, dynamic, joyful, affable, and completely free! … She was attentive to bring out our talents and careful that the holidays would be filled with pleasant surprises. … She was creative and concrete and proposed many initiatives to make us experience Mornesian spirituality”.
As Provincial Councilor and Delegate of the Salesian Cooperators, Sister Anne-Marie encourages in the Cooperators the rediscovery of the richness and specificity of the Salesian lay vocation on the basis of the Documents of the Second Vatican Council. She gave the impetus for the rebirth of Centers and the creation of new ones.
In 1980 she was appointed Provincial of the South Belgium Province. In 1981, at the XVII General Chapter, she was elected Visiting Councilor, a service she carried out until 1996. This mission led her to broaden her horizons, to increase the joy of belonging to the Salesian Family, and to know the different expressions of the Salesian charism spread throughout the world. Once her mandate as General Councilor ended, in the various positions she carried out upon her return to Belgium, she continued to be interested in the challenges of society and the world, in particular with regard to young people, whom she always welcomed with joy.
Sister Anne-Marie had a deep spirit of prayer. One of the fruits of her relationship with Christ, with Don Bosco, and with Mother Mazzarello was her contagious joy. Article 48 of the Constitutions of the FMA Institute was her favorite of hers and she sums up well what she has chosen to live:
«Mother Mazzarello teaches us that “true piety consists in fulfilling all our duties in right time and place and only for the love of God”. Thus, we will seek to work in that spirit of apostolic charity which leads to the total gift of self and makes the action itself an authentic encounter with the Lord. The commitment of the ‘da mihi animas’, source of ever new energies, silence that pays attention to the Spirit, brief and frequent invocations will make our day a liturgy lived in simplicity and joy, as ‘perennial praise’ to the Father».
In the Message for the funeral of Sister Anne-Marie Deumer, Mother Yvonne Reungoat expresses gratitude to her for having joyfully fulfilled the call of Jesus to follow Him in the FMA Institute and for having been a sign of His love through her smile:
“Sister Anne-Marie leaves in all of us the memory of a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians in love with the Salesian charism, centered in the Lord, and open to simple, authentic, and serene relationships with the people she met. With wisdom and discretion, she knew how to make each person feel that they were important to her, without any distinction. She knew how to encourage and express her gratitude for what she perceived as beautiful and positive in her visits to the communities, in every Province, in the life of each sister. I feel the need to thank her for her willingness to assume various responsibilities with a smile on her face, an expression of her life of faith, of love for obedience accepted as a sign of the will of God to which she had decided to give everything of herself with joy and until her last breath”.