Strength and Courage to Succeed
Sr. Yvette Beford aspired to lead a religious life filled with good works, teaching and helping others since she was in kindergarten. She became familiar with the Sisters of St. Anne while studying at Holy Name of Jesus School in Worcester and soon after graduation she traveled to Lachine, CA to prepare to take her vows. “I was a member of the first graduating class at Holy Name of Jesus high” remarks Sr. Yvette. “The Sisters of St. Anne were an inspiration to all of us and I wanted to become a part of their legacy.”
In 1948, Sr. Yvette took her vows and was sent to Cohoes, NY to teach. A few years later, she made her way back to Massachusetts to join the music staff at St. Anne Academy in Marlboro. From there she attended Anna Maria College, which had recently moved to its Paxton location. “I lived in the dormitory as a resident assistant and was able to watch the expansion of Trinity Hall,” she recalls. “It was exciting to be a part of Anna Maria during its early years of growth.”
The study of music, and in particular the organ, became Sr. Yvette’s focus and she graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor of Music degree in this field. Her recital included performing the “Westminster Chimes” on the organ, a feat that few are able to accomplish well. “It is not an easy piece to play,” Sr. Yvette explains. “With both hands and feet moving in different directions, it takes a great deal of dexterity and energy.”
Sr. Yvette’s exceptional abilities led her to further study of the organ with renowned Boston organist, George Faxon, who was teaching at Boston University. After accomplishing four years of work in two, she received her Master’s Degree in Music in organ performance and returned to Anna Maria to share her talents with its students. Sr. Yvette loved teaching, and as one of only a few music faculty she taught piano, organ, music history, theory and other music courses as needed. “Although we were a small department, we had a strong and vigorous program,” shares Sr. Yvette. “My experiences teaching at Anna Maria College will stay in my heart forever.”
During her time at AMC, Sr. Yvette helped to build and strengthen the program, and as moderator was twice able to travel to Rome with the Women’s Chorus. One of the trips included 85 students from both the art and music departments. The Chorus performed at the Vatican for Pope Paul VI and met with him after the performance.
Recognizing Sr. Yvette’s hard work to develop AMC’s music department, Dr. Louise Soldani supported her decision to take some time away from campus. During this period, Sr. Yvette worked at the La Salette Shrines both in Enfield, NH and Attleboro, MA assisting “Fr. Pat,” as he is known, with his retreats, often accompanying him on the organ. She also became acquainted and interested in a new profession, pastoral ministry. She then studied at the Allentown College of St. Frances de Sales, PA, where she received her Certificate in Pastoral Ministry and took her gift of service to British Columbia, Canada. Sr. Yvette then spent 20 years in British Columbia, bravely traveling by herself to remote the villages of Tahsis and Gold River, providing adult faith formation and a religious presence to the faithful of these mission churches. “There were times when the unpaved, mountainous roads to these villages were treacherous,” shares Sr. Yvette. “However, I knew that I needed to put my fears aside and trust in God to get me safely to my destination.”
When she returned to the States, Sr. Yvette assumed ministerial duties in local parishes in Massachusetts until she suffered a major stroke. Sr. Yvette remains strong and committed to her life as a religious woman. She strives to be present to the residents of Marie Esther Health Center in Marlboro. She visits the sick, leads the rosary, and heads a Lectio Divina session on the Sunday Scripture readings. “I have had a blessed life and have appreciated every minute of my religious vocation,” states Sr. Yvette. “While I can’t play the organ right now, I can still help others understand the power of prayer. I will never give up on this.”