The Life of Sidonie
At Madagascar, the 27th November is the date of the official opening of the Special Tribunal for recognising the miracle of healing of Sidonie, for the process of the beatification of the Venerable Father Etienne PERNET.
Who is Sidonie?
Sidonie was born on the 1st of January 2001. She is the fourth of 7 children, the first daughter. Her mother, Rasoa, was a seller of coal at the corner of the street, she alone was responsible for providing for the family because her husband had died. The family lived quite close to the community of Sahalava at Fianarantsoa.
Sidonie’s parents are catholic and had raised their children in the catholic faith. Sidonie believes in God. She received the three sacraments of Christian initiation according to the different stages of her life.
In March 2015, Sidonie felt a strong pain in her left arm while she was carrying buckets of water from the water pump. In spite of the very modest finances of the family, and thanks to the support of an association, Rasoa agreed to bring her daughter to the local health centre, which recommended that she bring the girl to the University Hospital of the city.
After several consultations and more extensive examinations, including a biopsy, the result revealed: osteo sarcoma, localised at the level of the extremity of the collar bone. It needed to be treated by chemotherapy. Sidonie was obliged to stop her studies, she was then in the fifth class. She had two sessions of chemotherapy, before she arrived in our community in June 2015. In effect, some days earlier, Madame Jeannine, whom we knew by sight, came knocking at our door, to talk to us about Sidonie and to put a very clear request to us, to make sure she can eat well and be well nourished, so that she will be able to regain her strength for the follow up of sessions of chemotherapy, which were still envisaged for her treatment.
Thus began the human and divine adventure of two intense years, marked by suffering and hope!
Sidonie arrived at our house in a state of extreme physical fragility. She had stopped growing and lost her figure, hardly moving and she didn’t speak much either. She was completely exhausted and passed long hours doing nothing. This situation lasted several long weeks.
Following her third session of chemo in July 2015, her health deteriorated, she returned to the community even more weakened, at “the end of her resistance”, her body no longer reacted and was deathly pale. We had great anxiety because we could see that she was failing. With Madame Jeannine we decided to consult the oncologist for advice. Finally the oncologist proposed to finish the chemo and to make her comfortable so that she wouldn’t suffer so much…it was clearly a question of ‘end of life’ care, to permit Sidonie to live out her last days/months with the least possible suffering. It was a great shock to hear it put like that…what strong emotions…
From that day, we entered into a new stage. How to accompany a young girl of 14 years, in ‘end of life’ !!! We decided to pray to Etienne Pernet and ask him to intercede with the Father for Sidonie’s healing. The first novena began.
And so, life went on… every morning was like another new day to celebrate the life in Sidonie, not knowing if she will still be there in the evening. We lived, with our hearts taken by the suffering, and at the same time we had a ‘foolish hope ‘ like a grain of mustard seed, that we could believe in a healing !
In the course of the following days and weeks, since Sidonie had stopped all treatments, there were signs of healing, little by little, like pearls of precious stones, stringing parsimoniously around a thread, the thread of Sidonie’s life: her hair started to grow again, her skin and nails regained their normal colour, she regained the use of all her senses and above all her vitality was back!…Every change, no matter how small, was an occasion of joy, of relief, of thanksgiving, and above all of renewed hope. Sidonie became more and more participant in the life of the community, and the greatest of her joys was to prepare the meals… All her being came alive again. Thus when the school year began in September 2016, Sidonie went back to her education in a school of professional dressmaking. During a year and a half she followed the courses there with pleasure and a certain blossoming.
We wanted to believe that one of the greatest proofs of her healing, was her capacity to give birth, some months after the end of her illness, to her daughter Celine, and she was only 16 years of age!
This healing, which we have witnessed, encouraged, and hoped for over many days, and months, was inscribed into our faith and our hope ever since we welcomed her into our community, and it came to us to confide her healing to Etienne. Three novenas succeeded one another, spread out to Little Sisters of the world, and to everyone close to us in our daily life, and who knew Sidonie…Thus the bouquets of prayers are permanently lit up in each of the little houses of the neighbourhood. In the oratory of the community we put the portrait of Etienne Pernet close to the Blessed sacrament, and confided Sidonie to his intercession, so that he would intercede for her to the Father, the God of the living, and accompany her to her last days. He was there for the two and a half years that Sidonie stayed in our community; reminding us as a “prayer that never ends”, of our request for the healing of Sidonie!
Then the minutes became hours, the hours became days, the days became months…and
Sidonie did not die…She is very much alive, and became a lovely young mother!
With the 17 ‘direct witnesses’ who participated at the Tribunal, the first stage of recognition by the Church of the supposed miraculous healing of Sidonie, and all the Malagasy people of the district of Sahalava, we believe in the intercession and intervention of the Saints of heaven, of our ancestors, Mary, Etienne Pernet, Antoinette Fage (our Founders). They are already in the Father’s House, they can do what we are not able to do.