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Happy 100th birthday, ‘Miss Beulah’

By Leela Ramdeen, former Holy Faith Convent student

On Saturday, March 13, Holy Faith Convent, Couva (HFCC) and the Past Pupils’ Association of HFC paid tribute to our beloved Beulah Maillard on her 100th birthday.

HFCC Principal, Sr Theresa Vialva CHF; former Principal Pamela Punch; Sr Pauline CHF; Tynneille Tuitt, President of the Past Pupils’ Association; and about ten other past pupils visited ‘Miss Beulah’, a small group at a time, following COVID-19 protocols, at a home for the elderly in Trincity to bring greetings and  present her with gifts. What a happy occasion it was.

When I entered HFCC as a student in 1962, Miss Beulah was already working at the convent. She spent her entire working life there, diligently cleaning the classrooms after school hours, and providing lunches, which she prepared at her home for some students and staff members. She retired in the 1980s.

She says that Sr Magdalena CHF, the first Principal and the Sisters were a great influence on her spiritual journey.

Too often we only celebrate the lives of those in ‘high’ positions and forget our Church’s social doctrine on the dignity of work and the rights of workers.

St Pope John Paul II stated: “…all work should be judged by the measure of dignity given to the person who carries it out”.

In his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis says: “We were created with a vocation to work… Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfillment.” (LS 128). And St Basil the Great said: “Work honours the gifts and talents that God has given to each one of us.”

Pope Francis also reminds us that “…work is about more than just doing something for money, but about cooperating with Christ’s work of redemption in how we care for others and the earth…work is fundamental to the dignity of a person created in the image of God. Therefore, it is said that work is sacred…it gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, and to contribute to the growth of one’s own nation.”

Let’s offer prayers of thanksgiving for the life of this wonderful woman of faith, Miss Beulah, who was born and grew up in Couva. Her six siblings are all deceased.

Her only child, Carol, lives with her husband Leroy, and children Melissa and Keisha in Canada. They are her “world”. Sadly, they were unable to join her to celebrate this incredible milestone. She has many nieces and nephews who all cherish her.

For many years after she retired, Beulah lived both in Canada with her daughter and her family, and Trinidad, until she decided to remain here permanently. From her modest earnings Miss Beulah, a true Christian, helped anyone who was in need.

My classmate, Janice Frederick-Sealy writes: “What a grand lady you are, Miss Beulah! We, the past students of Holy Faith Convent Couva share fond memories of you as you performed your duties with such commitment, diligence and so much love.

“My classmates of 1962–1968 remember you as a mother figure, friend, counsellor… always giving loving and sound advice and the occasional ‘bouff’ if we were loud or mischievous, or if we messed up the classroom after you had cleaned it.

“You have played a most important role in moulding and shaping us into the accomplished HFC women of faith that we are today. We admired your quiet strength and your faith in God.

“On behalf of all the girls of HFCC, we thank God for you, and we pray that He will continue to bless you as you enjoy this beautiful period of your life. 100 not out…What a blessing!”

Miss Beulah’s life brings to mind Pope Francis’ words: “There are many people who spend their lives… in the service of others. … When you forget yourself and think of others, this is love!”

Dear Miss Beulah, may your life of love and selfless service inspire us all. The virtue of humility is a gift which you certainly possess. May the Lord continue to bless you in your sunset years.

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