For the longest time in my young life, I wanted to play piano. There was one at my Gram’s house I wasn’t allowed to play; the closest I was allowed to get to it was sitting on its bench at extended family holiday dinners. There was also a piano at my Grandma’s house, but we only saw her once a year and she used the piano to keep pictures of all her grandchildren. My elderly neighbors also had a piano and Martha let me play, even though I didn’t know how, and she promised me she’d one day give me lessons. Unfortunately, she had to go to a nursing home before she was able to.
I finally began taking piano lessons when I was nine, much older than most of my peers began, but it was a relief and a joy to me. My parents bought a keyboard for me to learn initially because those are much easier to move if I decided I didn’t like playing. I stuck with it, however, and they bought me a piano of my choosing (an incredible 800 year old upright that I fell in love with when I played it at the shop) when I was twelve. Playing became a sort of tranquil place for me and I often would go down to our basement and play to relieve stress, process emotions, and to connect with something beyond myself. In a sense, piano playing became a form of worship for me, connecting with myself and with God through His creation and music.
All this to say, I was taken with Blessed Dina Belanger because she was also a pianist and originally had plans to become a concert pianist.
Dina was born and baptized on April 30, 1897 in Quebec. She devoted herself to studying music and wanted to become a concert pianist. However, while studying at the Conservatory of New York (New York and Quebec are actually pretty close to each other, if you’re short on geography (like me)) she lived with the Religious of Jesus-Mary and was extremely taken with them. Dina left school and returned home to enter religious life at their motherhouse in the Congregation of Jesus-Mary at Sillery. She was given the name Sister Marie Sainte-Cécile of Rome, which I can’t help but think was given to her because of her passion for music.
As a nun, Dina taught music. Twice she was sent away to teach elsewhere, but both times she was brought back to Sillery because of illness. So she stayed put and taught music until she died. It’s fascinating to me that, although she was accomplished in many areas and could’ve taught many subjects, the Lord fulfilled her passion and calling for music through teaching at the convent. He didn’t allow her to forsake her desire but rather re-directed it. And she heeded that! What a great reminder that by following the Lord, even when it doesn’t look like it will lead where we want to go, that He fulfills every desire He gives us and doesn’t let us go to waste. This is an especially great reminder for me at this particular point in my life, as I try to both follow where He is leading and fulfilling the desire placed long ago on my heart.