SABATTUS — Sister Lucille Fournier, director of Loaves and Fishes in Sabattus, passed away Saturday following a long illness at the age of 84.

A graduate of St. Dominic’s High School, Fournier entered the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters right after graduating.

Fournier taught fourth-grade boys at St. Peter’s School in Lewiston before taking calls abroad, according to Loaves and Fishes Public Relations Director Claudette Therriault. Fournier traveled for the next 20 years, accepting calls to Rome and Casablanca before returning stateside to teach in Massachusetts, New York and Iowa.

She went on to graduate from Boston College and become director of Parish Religious Education Programs, establishing a certification program for catechists on the diocesan level in Davenport, Iowa.

Fournier moved on to provincial treasurer before being elected to the position of provincial prioress for the United States from 1976 to 1988.

In this position, Fournier was not only allowed to visit sisters across the country, but she was given the opportunity to travel to Africa, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and Switzerland.

In 1990, Fournier moved to Sabattus, working as religious education director and serving on the Justice and Peace Committee at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Sabattus.

Therriault said it was here that Fournier became increasingly aware of the critical needs of families in the area.

“It was during that time that the seed for Loaves and Fishes was sown,” Therriault said. “She will be remembered for her unyielding passion for helping the area poor and hungry.”

Fournier founded Loaves and Fishes in 1997, first as a no-interest loan program for people in crisis. Under Fournier’s leadership, it soon expanded into a food pantry.

“With little money, determination and a desire to help the needy, the small-loan program grew into the successful organization it is today,” Therriault said. “She helped people in need with oil, electricity, medication, car repairs, rent payments and so much more.”

Fournier helped provide Thanksgiving baskets, worked with the Police Department to bring gifts to the elderly at Christmas and established a Christmas giving tree at the Sabattus Regional Credit Union, Therriault said.

“In collaboration with the Knights of Columbus, she helped provide new winter coats, and knitted hats and mittens to hundreds of local children,” Fournier said. “She also organized a program to help provide school supplies to the local teachers and students.”

Therriault said Fournier developed a strong volunteer base for Loaves and Fishes, raising funds throughout the year.

“Sister Lucille was tiny in stature but was a formidable woman when it came to reaching out to the public to raise money for her charity,” Therriault said.

“Even with failing health, she continued to work tirelessly for the success of Loaves and Fishes,” Therriault said. “She will be remembered for her generous soul and her advocacy for the poor and the elderly.”

Fournier was also said to have been a strong advocate for human rights throughout her life, boycotting businesses that violated human rights policies.

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