Sister did much good at St. Joe's
Sister Barbara Gaudet, known to those in the Comox Valley as Sister Christine, passed away on Oct. 20, 2009. Dr. Lui Carvalho has written this tribute.
Sister Christine was executive director at St. Joseph’s Hospital for many years. However, the title “executive director” does not fully reflect her abilities, character and spirit and I wish to take this opportunity to do so.
Sister Christine worked tirelessly for the physical and spiritual health of the Comox Valley. During her time here, she collaborated closely with Don Brown who was her assistant for 10 years, and with the ailing Henry Schellinck who was chairman of the hospital board. They, along with the patients and staff of the hospital, were witness to her open-door policy — she would speak to anyone at any time — and ability to act decisively when faced with difficult problems.
Young women looking for a role model need look no further than Sister Christine, who achieved great professional success at a time when men occupied most important positions.
She was a hospital executive not only at St. Joseph’s but also at St. Michael’s Hospital, a large tertiary care centre in Toronto. In addition, she was a professor of dietetics and held senior positions in various provincial and national health organizations. She also had two masters degrees in health administration and home economics.
Despite her many accomplishments, Sister Christine was humble, graceful and respected by all who knew her. Don Brown has observed that she had “the ability to see talent in unexpected people and the grace to tell them so.” She was also not to be underestimated: on one occasion, she asked a health professional who came to work in shorts to return home to change his attire.
Being a nun, executive and academic enabled Sister Christine to approach her professional and personal life from a unique perspective. The strong relationship between spirituality and health is a topic of growing interest these days, but it is an association that Sister Christine recognized long ago.
Sister Christine wrote that one should honestly articulate pain, suffering, frustration and grief rather than avoid it.
Her passing is a source of grief. But residents of the Comox Valley are fortunate that the culture of ethics and efficiency that she introduced to St. Joseph’s continues under the present administration and that we are a healthier community for it.
Dr. Lui Carvalho, a longtime Comox Valley physician, retired earlier this month.
Posted with the permission of B.C.’s Comox Valley Record newspaper.