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Sister Françoise Georgeault obituary

·2-min read

Sister Françoise Georgeault, who has died aged 95, dedicated her life to the nurturing of young people. As the headteacher of the Convent of Our Lady school in St Leonard’s-on-Sea, East Sussex, from 1973 until 1986, she valued building strong relationships with her pupils, and guiding them into adult life.

In 1987 she moved to London to be warden at More House, a hostel for university students, a post that she held until 2010. Once more she was in her element, working among people from all over the world.

The students (of whom I was one) knew she was there for them and they loved her for it. As with her former pupils, she kept track of the many ex-students as they moved on with their lives, remembering each and every name.

Sister Françoise was a lovely person to live with in a community. She was always happy, even-tempered and interested in everything. She had a beautiful voice and loved singing. She particularly enjoyed good liturgy and the yearly Proms in the Royal Albert Hall.

The youngest of five sisters, she was born in Pont l’Evêque, in Normandy, France. Her father was an estate agent in nearby Deauville. As a child Françoise went to the local Catholic school and, from 1935 until 1944, was a boarder in the Convent of the Canonesses of St Augustine at Honfleur.

Françoise described her second world war experiences in a characteristically dispassionate way. Food was in short supply, the family moved constantly to avoid bombing, fearing arrest as neighbours were sent to camps and by 1945 her aunt and grandmother had been killed and the family house destroyed.

She travelled to Britain, and taught French at Moira House school in Eastbourne, eventually becoming head of the French department. Meanwhile she continued studying for the degree that she had been forced to abandon in France.

Her previous knowledge of the Canonesses of St Augustine led her to join the English novitiate at Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, in 1963. Her apostolic year was spent at Lady Margaret House in Cambridge and she went back to Cambridge to complete the Westminster theology diploma and a diploma in English.

In 1973 Françoise moved to St Leonards-on-Sea, where she became headteacher at the Convent of Our Lady school. She often organised trips abroad where her gift for languages was invaluable. Her interest in Russian and Italian developed at this time, and she was still studying them up until a few weeks before her death. In August 2018 Françoise moved back to St Leonards, joining the Canonesses’ community there. When cancer was diagnosed earlier this year, she faced the news bravely.

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