Sister André Randon, the oldest person in the world, passed away on Tuesday in France. She was 118.
Born Lucile Randon back on February 11, 1904, the future nun dedicated her life to teaching and caring for children and the elderly. She served as a teacher, a governess and became especially burdened caring for orphaned children during World War II. She also ministered to the aged in hospitals.
Though born into a Protestant family, Lucile converted to Catholicism when she was 25, and then took vows as a nun with the Sisters of Charity when she was 40.
Sister André would continue her humanitarian work for the next 68 years. She didn’t retire until she was 108. She scoffed at the suggestion that work “kills.”
“Work kept me alive,” said the French nun. In fact, she lost her eyesight, was confined to a wheelchair – and still cared for other elderly patients. She fought off COVID just before she turned 117. At the time, she was quoted as saying, “I’m not afraid of COVID, because I’m not afraid of dying.”
As she grew older each year, reporters often asked about her “secret” to longevity. She would just shrug and then respond, “Only the good Lord knows.”
Whether or not Sister André’s diet contributed to her extended years is something of an open question. She said she enjoyed drinking a glass of wine each day, as well as eating chocolate. Her favorite dessert was raspberry and peach flavored Baked Alaska.
Questions of diet notwithstanding, it’s clear that Sister André Randon’s happy and fulfilled life was marked by five habits we all might emulate:
- Serve: Whether through war, weariness, illness and even infirmity, Sister André saw problems as opportunities. Her goal was to be helpful.
- Go the Extra Mile: She said it was her desire to “go farther” that drove her into full-time ministry. The Cajuns have a word for this: “lagniappe” – it means to give a little extra. Sister André was always asking herself what more she might do.
- Develop a Grateful Heart: Sister André modeled the words of the apostle Paul when he wrote, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:18).
- Keep Smiling: A happy woman, the French nun was known to light up a room by just walking into it. Others have been known to brighten a room by just walking out of it. Don’t be that type of person. Someone once said the most important thing you can wear is a smile. It never goes out of style.
- Enjoy the Ride: Whether you live 40, 80 or over 100 years, you might as well as enjoy the adventure – and that’s more likely to happen if you follow the first four healthy habits.
In her final interview, the Catholic centenarian summed up the way forward for all of us. She said, “People should help each other and love each other instead of hating. If we shared all that, things would be a lot better.”
Amen, Sister André!