Dominican Sister Marie-Thérèse Rétout arrived in Trinidad on February 9, 1952, at the age of 30. During the 70 years she spent in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, she accomplished the following:
· Twenty years the area of education at St Dominic’s Children’s Home in Belmont Port of Spain
· Twenty years as Reporter/Associate Editor at the weekly Catholic News of the Archdiocese in Port of Spain
· Seventeen years of caring for the poor in Barataria and environs
· Two years from its establishment in Port of Spain as French Secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature for the Eastern Caribbean countries; and finally
· Twenty-five years as an archivist for the Dominican Sisters.
Tokens of appreciation
In return the beneficiaries of these works of love graciously offered the following plaques of appreciation:
· Three plaques from the Editor-in-Chief of the Catholic News
· One plaque from the Archdiocese of Port of Spain
· Two plaques from the Parish of St Theresa in Barataria
· One plaque from grateful friends.
National awards received
· On March 22, 2007 – The President of France His Excellency Jacques Chirac awarded Sr Marie Thérèse France’s Medal ‘Chevalier in the Order of the Legion d’Honneur’, which was presented to her by the French Ambassador Charlie Causeret at an award presentation in Port of Spain. This award is the highest national distinction in France. It is the reward for outstanding service to the nation, whether military or civil in nature in France or elsewhere.
· On March 7, 2022 – To her great surprise and joy the President of Trinidad and Tobago Her excellency Paula-Mae Weekes honoured her with the Public Service Medal of Merit Gold for 2020.
Sr Marie Thérèse has authored and published seven historical books which could be used as reference material by other authors, and by schools for educational purposes.
On the occasion of Sister’s 100th birthday (April 23, 2022), the following questions may be demanded of her to which she will give the following answers:
Q: How does it feel to reach 100 years old?
I thank God for creating me and for helping me to live according to His will. I am full of gratitude and loving care. I feel happy and honoured to make it to 100 years.
Q: Was it an easy life?
Not at all! It has been a life of sacrificial love – the cross, battling to survive in war torn France (see Rhona Baptiste’s book Sister concerning Sister’s life; this book can be purchased online on Amazon.com).
Q: Why did you come to Trinidad and Tobago?
I did not want to come to Trinidad because I did not want to leave France and Trinidad was too far from what I had known all my life. But Jesus kept telling me to offer myself. So out of great love for Him, I offered myself in service to the Dominican Sisters’ mission in Trinidad and Tobago and by the grace and glory to God, He helped me accomplish the various works as stated above.
Q: Have you been happy living and serving in Trinidad and Tobago?
Yes, I am very happy living in Trinidad and Tobago., In fact, I became a citizen of this beautiful country in 1973. France gave me the French blood and a rich seed to grow and bloom wherever I am, and I am very proud to be a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago where I’ve served for 70 years. Through works of love, I discovered the soul of Trinidad and Tobago and I pray that this beautiful and noble soul will continue to animate the diversity of this great family.