Anita Villeré

Anita Villere, RSCJ, Died September 19, 2012

Birth: September 6, 1919
Profession: Feb. 11, 1944
Death: September 19, 2012

Religious of the Sacred Heart Anita Villeré, who loved God’s creation and enjoyed sharing her artistic gifts, died Wednesday, September 19, at Oakwood, the Society of the Sacred Heart’s elder care center in Atherton, California. Her life will be celebrated in a Mass of Christian Burial Tuesday, October 23 at 10:00 a.m. at Oakwood, 140 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton, CA 94027. Burial will be at the Oakwood cemetery in Atherton.

Born September 6, 1919 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Anita Villeré, was one of six children of Paul and Anita Bouligny Villeré. All four daughters attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans – The Rosary. In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her siblings, brothers, Rev. Jean Villeré, Rev. Charles Villeré, OSB, and Andre Villeré, and sisters, Louise Villeré, OP, Elmire Drackett and Marie Therese Lapeyre. She is survived by nieces Religious of the Sacred Heart Anita Lapeyre, of Redwood City, California, Peggy Villeré Damerest and Micheline Villeré Gomilla of New Orleans, and Marie Elise Villeré Mattingly of Oregon; one nephew, André Villeré of New Orleans, numerous grand-nieces and nephews, as well as former students and colleagues.

After earning a scholarship from The Rosary, Sister Villeré earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Maryville University in St. Louis, also founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart. She later earned a master’s degree from St. Louis University. She entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in Albany in 1941 and professed her first vows there in 1944. She made her final vows in Rome in 1949.

An educator by training and by temperament, Sister Villeré began and ended her active ministry teaching. She began teaching in 1944 at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. In 1947, she moved to the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, Missouri, where she stayed for two years before teaching at Clifton Academy of the Sacred Heart in Cincinnati. Then from 1949 to 1968, she served as headmistress of Sacred Heart schools in Cincinnati (Clifton), St. Louis (City House), Grand Coteau and New Orleans. During those years, she also served as dean of students at Maryville College for two years.

After gaining her master’s degree in counseling, Sister Villeré began counseling in 1968, first at Maryville, then in Grand Coteau, where she also served as superior for the Society of the Sacred Heart community. She served as counselor at Villa Duchesne in St. Louis, 1971-76, before returning to The Rosary, first as a counselor, then as principal of the high school. For a number of years, during summers, she was a member of the Corporate Ministry program at St. Louis University.

In 1981, Sister Villeré began a social services ministry as director at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Center in New Orleans, where she remained until 1992. She spent three years providing hospitality to visitors at the U.S. provincial offices in St. Louis, before accepting an invitation to serve in pastoral care at Oakwood in 1994. There she was able to indulge her love of art through pen and ink drawings and watercolors. She shared her talents not only by giving away much of her artwork, but by teaching art classes to the residents. She moved to Oakwood as a resident in 2006, but continued her pastoral care ministry.

“Nita, an introspective introvert, nevertheless devoted herself to others and their needs. She watched over the children in her care with a loving eye,” wrote a former student and long-time friend. “Her primary love was given to her Lord. Her prayer life was the center of her life. And Jesus Christ was the center of her prayer life. Nita loved nothing more than to spend quiet reflective time with Jesus listening to that wee small voice and adoring Him.”

Sister Villeré was a true Southerner, who loved beauty and to make others feel welcome. She felt called to serve the poor, feeling a personal unrest about the inequities of life and a sense of being touched by God in matters of justice. She served on the parish council and the parish team of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, the Sisters Council of New Orleans, was a member of the executive committee of the Association of Parish Social Ministers and the National Association of Catholic Charities.

Comments

Submitted by HELEN ROSENTHAL on

It was as a child at the Academy of the Sacred Heart that I first knew Nita who came to be our surveillante general. Through the yeaars I always found her so supportive, loving, and really interested in what I was doing. She was a true friend. I will miss her but know that now we have another friend in heaven.

Submitted by Linda Jackson Haydel on

Sister Villere. or "Mother" Villere as she was known to us when she was Mistress General during my high school years at Grand Coteau, was someone who impacted my life in countless ways. She was my mentor, my spiritual advisor, and a wonderful friend throughout my life. I truly owe who I am and the many wise choices I have made in my life to this incredible woman. She will stay in my heart forever! 

Submitted by Jeanette Mackey... on

Sister really Mother Villere as I knew her was Mistress General during part of my hight school years, until I graduated. She was a true southern woman and had such great impact on all of our lives. I remember her so well and know she is with her Lord Jesus now. May she pray for all of her Sacred Heart girls, as I will pray to her. Rest in Peace Mother Villere

Submitted by Elena Bousquet ... on

It is with great sadness that I have just learned of Mother Villere´s death.  She was my Mistress General at Grand Coteau when I arrived at the age of 11 and I will never forget  her sadness at having to tell my sister and I on our second year there that we could not go home for Christmas because of the situation in Cuba.  Through the years I stayed in touch with her, when my son went to Tulane, Mother Villere was living in NO and they became best friends - she looking out for him.  When my daughter went to Maryville I had the great fortune of having not only Mother Villere, in St. Louis  and Mothers Marheineke and Plauche at Regis and all the dear nuns who had retired at Regis.  They took over as ¨"grandmother" for my daughter Ani and took excellent care of her. I know Mother Villere is where she longed to be and I know I will be able to pray to her to intercede for us.  She will be greatly missed but will be with me forever.
 

Submitted by Anita D'Antoni ... on

How sad to see Mother Villere's obituary in the New Orleans newspaper last week. I have such wonderful memmories of her from high school at City House and was thrilled to be with her again when my 3 daughters attended the Rosary. I will always remember her smile.

Submitted by Berta Fdez-Hermo on

I left Cuba in 1959 to attend the Academy of the Sacred Heart at Grand Coteau. I had lost my mother when I was very young and my life had taken some hard turns since then. I arrived at Coteau to find a community of nuns who were cultured, kind, generous and understanding. All of them gave me all the tools I needed to grow up confident and courageous, but it was Mother Marheineke, as surveillant, and Mother Villere, as Mistress General, who were present in my life day in and day out, teaching me with tenderness and example to live my life in the presence of God, to know myself, my weaknesses and strengths and to go forth "into the world" full of hope and plans for the future. Mother Villere and Mother Marheineke made my Coteau years unforgettable ones...I kept in touch with them through all my life and they have remained a source of love and wisdom for me. I spoke to Mother Villere a few weeks ago and told her I would donate all her letters- which span 50 years- to the Academy; she asked me to wait until after she died to do so...little did I know she was already sick.
I thank God for the privilege to be among the students she so lovingly guided. 
Another of her students, Elena Bousquet, wrote a note on this website on Oct. 1. She died suddenly a few days later. Elena took Mother Villere's teachings to heart and lived her life following the principles she learned  at the Sacred Heart. I pray that now both mentor and pupil find peace in the presence of God.

Submitted by Clare Pratt, RSCJ on

Dear Berta,
I shall take my laptop to Mother Marheineke so she can hear your kind words. I am sure she will remember you as she does all her old children.
Thank you for your memories of Mother Villeré. I would love to send you her memorial card if you send me your address.
140 Valparaiso Ave.
Atherton, CA 94027-4403