Alayne Scanlon Called to New Life

Alayne Scanlon, former Director of Communications and Providence Associate, died peacefully at the Kingston General Hospital on December 24, 2009. Grieving her loss are her son Steve, his wife Wendy, her grandchildren Philip and Angela and Angela’s husband Elliot Gauthier. Her first great grandchild Nolan Gregory was born on January 21st weighing in at 5lbs 15oz.

Alayne was born in Kingston on September 7, 1930. Her father worked for the railroad. The family moved frequently, so Alayne knew her geography well.

Alayne served as Director of Communications for the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul from 1987 – 1995. According to Sister Frances O’Brien, “When we were creating the Office of Communications and interviewing for the position of Director, I remember so well our first encounter with Alayne Scanlon. Others came to their interviews with massive portfolios of their work and Alayne brought us a plant. Our major objective was to find someone who could relate well with our Sisters and learn to understand our SP culture. Alayne was charming, engaging, with positive ideas and a bubbling personality. Over the years she befriended so many Sisters, and became a valued part of the SP family. Looking back now, it is obvious that we made the best choice in hiring Alayne.”

Alayne made her commitment as a Providence Associate on October 8, 1992. She became Co-Director of the Associates in 2000. Laraine Corbin, who worked as Co-Director with Alayne, offers these words, “Alayne was a beautiful light in my life. During the years I worked with Alayne in the Associate Office I was privileged to witness many moments of her loving and compassionate nature, which just flowed so easily from her. Alayne had many interests and years of varied experience…whenever we went anywhere I always looked forward to a history and geography lesson. She had lived in so many different areas of Ontario and Quebec and had an extraordinary memory for time, place and detail. Over the years I learned a lot. Alayne’s hospitality was unending. Her spirit shone through, and I used to say to her that she never hid her light and always kept her lamp lit.”

Alayne served as Director of Providence Associates until her retirement in October 2006.

Alayne was a member of the Catalpa Group, and at the time of her death was the Associate Contact for that group. Former members of the group had this to say:

Sue MacDonald writes, “I remember the first time I met with Alayne when she was interviewing me for the Associates. She was telling me when the Sisters offered her the position of Director of Associates she was dumbfounded, thrilled and so touched, that they would even consider her. She loved and was very proud to be an Associate of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul and she portrayed this in the way she lived her life.”

Dianne Dutcher says, “Alayne was a wonderful companion and understood the importance of being present to those in need of her love and compassionate caring.”

Sister. Diane Brennen, former contact Sister for the Catalpa group shares, “Alayne Scanlon was one of a kind. She seldom was concerned for her own needs but looked after those who needed her attention and support. When someone was ill she was there, spending days looking after her. Who could forget her support of Sister Mary Ryan or Sister Jean Higgins when they were ill? I remember spending a night at the Hotel Dieu Hospital emergency room with her as we sat vigil with Sister Mary. We stayed awake the whole night after Mary was made comfortable and had been anointed, expecting that she could pass at any time. While we kept vigil Mary slept the whole night!

“As an Associate of the Sisters of Providence, Alayne was faithful to her group meetings. As Co-director of the Associates, Alayne supported the mission and charism even when there were difficult times.

“Her presence on the Healing Violence Committee meant that we had a willing worker who gave her talents to whatever needed doing when it came time for our conferences.

Many parties were organized by Alayne including the Fall Gathering Social and the Associate Picnic in the Gazebo.

“As a friend Alayne loved to take people on long drives down obscure country roads to see what was unusual and hidden away. She loved eating out and sharing a meal with others. Alayne even shared my love of horses by accompanying me when I would go to Parham for a ride. Even though she herself only rode once she had no hesitation in hanging around the hitching post and tack room with the dogs during the hour that I rode. One afternoon was spent driving around the country looking for tack shops.

“My last contact with her was her Christmas card with the question: When are you coming east? I’d love to have a visit. Well, I guess our visit will be held when we meet in heaven. May God bless you Alayne for all your love and generosity, especially to the Sisters of Providence, and for your unfailing friendship”.

Present members of the Catalpa Group say this:

Mary Ann Comartin comments, “She was always there, always real, always interested in what each of us (all Associates) faced in our lives. It seemed that we mattered to her. Alayne was naturally gifted with a spirit of compassion. She embraced us all, especially the poor in spirit. I am reminded of her great love for the Sisters of Providence as evidenced in her generous giving of her time to journey with the Sisters in their time of need”.

‘Catalpa’ refers to a tree of the genus with a large heart-shaped leaf and trumpet-like flowers. Alayne truly was this genus with a large heart and a presence with the likeness of a trumpet; like the trumpet, you always knew that she was present; her presence was palpable! She knew what being an Associate of the Sisters of Providence meant. She lived it.”

Betty Haymans says, “You could phone her any time and she was always willing to help. She was the heart of our group.”

Cathy Bryan adds, “Since my health has been failing a bit, Alayne would call me each day to see how I was and would always end the conversation by making me laugh at one of her silly jokes. I looked forward to our chats and miss her terribly.” Cathy also comments, “Throughout the Summer and Fall, since I was not getting out as much, Alayne would call me every couple of weeks and say, ‘Get ready, we’re going on an adventure.’ She’d pick me up and we’d travel the back roads enjoying nature and the peace of the countryside and then stop somewhere along the way to have a lovely lunch before she brought me back home to rest. I enjoyed our adventures and we always had a lot of laughs and chatter.”

Sister Catherine Casey is the present Contact Sister for the Catalpa group and shares these fond memories, “My memories of Alayne are of a compassionate, wise woman with a huge amount of common sense flavoured with a wonderfully funny sense of humour. She loved traveling and found pleasure in spontaneous, long, leisurely trips to Napanee for fish and chips, Picton for a ferry ride and ice cream, grabbing a sandwich and just driving down to the water to enjoy the scenery or listening to a Summer Band Concert in the Park. I admired how well read she was and looked forward to Scrabble marathons at Marillac Villa or at her home. Her spirituality was very evident in how she lived her life and how she was a real Ecumenical advocate. Most of all, Alayne really had peoples’ well-being in mind all the time.

She expressed this by phoning to inquire about an appointment or trip. I really appreciated her organizational skills when it came to working with her on the Healing Violence committee and how she collaborated with me regarding the Catalpa Associate Group meetings. I deeply miss her as a close friend and Companion on the Journey. Rest in Peace, Alayne.”

Diarmuid O’Murchu, MSC, social physiologist, frequent presenter at Providence Spiritually Centre and friend of Alayne’s tells us, “Vivacious is the word that comes to mind when I think of Alayne. Her own life was full of zest and vitality, and clearly she desired this for everybody else. She loved her friends and I am sure they loved her. Her world was quite a big one, yet everybody felt very special to her and I feel privileged and grateful that I was among her specially cherished.”

As an Associate Office Team we found Alayne to be positive, encouraging and generous. She was always willing to assist with any task. A Reflection on Alayne would not be complete without mentioning her wonderful sense of humour and her ability to tell a joke. Her joyous nature, her capacity to entertain and her exuberance for life were most evident at our Annual Picnic and Valentine Bingos. She shall be missed.