What are God’s Plans Now?

My most favourite scripture quotes is Jeremiah 29:11-14, you all know the one… the plans, the future full of promise and the promise of being found and brought back.  I am hanging on to that tightly these days. It is such an unknown time and somewhat scary. We all live in communities with those who are elderly and most at risk. We all have parent(s) who are on their way to being elderly. In my case I also live with a mentally challenged, blind, and diabetic woman in her 50’s. Her day program has been shut down and so I have become the day program. I am also still “teaching” and what a learning curve that is! And, like many of you, have become somewhat of a landing cyber spot for colleagues and parents questioning what does it all mean…

I console myself, too, with either Maslow or Jesus, with outreach to the families most in need in my school community. A group of 8 staff have taken to delivery 30 food packages to our most vulnerable sector. My sisters and I pack 30 bags on Sunday afternoons and then my staff show up Monday and take 4-6 packages. It is a chance to see our students (from a distance) and give families the connections we can’t do over the internet.

Written by: Sr. Connie Harrington, SNJM

For more details about the amazing work so many Sisters are doing please go to:

https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/people/ministry/news/keeping-community-what-sisters-are-doing-amid-covid-19-lockdowns

Présence de Dieu

Dieu me murmure : « Je suis ici! Approche-toi de Moi telle que tu es. De toute façon, tu ne peux pas te présenter autrement; Je ne te l’ai pas encore accordé! Au moment que Je choisirai, et seulement quand tu seras prête, Je t’inviterai à aller plus loin. »

Dieu m’invite : « Parle-moi z’en de ça! Je veux savoir tout ce que tu vis afin de l’habiter. Mon fils Jésus est entré dans la chair humaine, donc rien de ce qui est humain ne m’est étranger. Je ne te quitterai pas quand ça va mal. Je suis avec toi pour y rester, si tu le veux bien! »

Dieu m’accueille : « Je sais que tu as le cœur triste parfois mais tu ne seras pas toujours triste. Je viendrai chez toi-même quand tu n’auras rien fait pour que Je vienne. Tu te sentiras aimée, jamais jugée, et Mon Amour te transformera. »

Dieu me fait comprendre : « Ton amour ne sera jamais parfait sur terre, mais tu aimeras. Si tu M’écoutes, Je te parlerai à travers tes blessures. Je te partagerai la puissance de Mon Amour et c’est Mon Amour qui agira pour toi, en toi et à travers toi. Mon Amour te fera parcourir de longs chemins. »

Dieu me confie : « Jésus n’a pas fini de dire Mon Amour aux autres. J’ai besoin de toi pour continuer sa mission. Donne-moi tout de toi, à Moi, le Dieu de l’impossible. »

 

Title:  Presence of God

God whispers to me : « I am here! Come closer to Me just as you are. In any case, you can’t come any other way; I haven’t granted it to you yet! At the moment of my choosing, and only when you are ready, I will invite you to go further.”

God invites me: “Talk to me about that! I want to know everything you are experiencing so that I may inhabit it. My son Jesus came in the human flesh, so nothing that is human is foreign to me. I will not leave you when things go wrong. I am with you to stay, if you want me to!”

God welcomes me: “I know your heart is sometimes sad but you will not always be sad. I will go to you even when you haven’t invited me. You will feel loved, never judged, and My love will transform you.”

God makes me understand: “Your love will never be perfect on earth, but you will love. If you listen to Me, I will talk to you through your wounds. I will share with you the power of My love and it’s My love that will act for you, in you and through you. My love will make you travel long roads.”

God confides to me: “Jesus hasn’t finished telling My love to others. I need you to continue his mission. Give Me all of yourself, to Me, the God of the impossible.”

Article and picture by: Sr. Céline Belliveau, ndsc

(Souvenir d’une tempête de glace, 2017 Ice storm, St. Margarets, NB)

Fun and Fiesta for Ursulines!

During the month of January, all around the world, Ursuline Sisters and friends of  Angela Merici join together for a global “fiesta”. We really have no other choice, since in her writings, Angela insists that her daughters come together as often as possible to celebrate and cheer one another on.. to comfort…to console.. to strengthen…to inspire.. to offer each other hope!

The feast day of St. Angela on January 27th is a yearly invitation for us to celebrate a woman for all times – a woman ahead of her times. Within the unfolding of Church history, Angela is recognized as an Evolutionary. In her time she broke through the entrenched patterns of her age to instigate a new form of spiritual identity for women. At  a time when options for women were either marriage or the cloister, Angela, supported by like minded women created an alternative. The women who gathered with Angela, discerned the need to establish themselves as consecrated and living within society having no solemn vows, habit or enclosure. These women fortified their commitments by uniting from time to time for prayer, instruction and celebration. These first Ursuline women experienced both a deep autonomy of spirit and community life – a model which opened up ministries of social accompaniment never before possible within the realm of cloister restrictions.

As I celebrate our community Feast Day, I celebrate the gift of our Ursuline charism to the church and the world which continues to have impact through the development of women’s circles — making visible and nurturing the life experience of women. While it is important to acknowledge the breakthroughs that are happening to support the elevation of women’s status in society, the work continues for those women who are on the margins. My ministry with immigrants who are in Canada as new comers, refugees or migrant workers is where I connect most deeply with Angela’s call to cultivate life giving spaces. Especially in my encounters with women working on Canadian farms through temporary contracts. I feel Angela’s loving encouragement to challenge the systems that keep the women’s contributions hidden and undervalued.

St. Angela Merici ~ Pray for Us!
Pictures and article by: Noreen Allossery-Walsh, OSU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Angela for being my inspiration, as I follow your legacy to stand for the dignity of women. Thank you for the courage, fidelity to Spirit, beauty and wisdom which you call forth in your daughters!

Anchored in Hope at Rise Up!

“We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…” (Heb. 6:19). 

Over 1,300 young adults, Religious women and men, and clergy descended upon Toronto at the end of December to participate in Rise Up, an annual conference hosted by Catholic Christian Outreach, aimed at deepening the faith of Catholic young adults and preparing them for missionary discipleship rooted in Christ’s love. Over the course of four days (December 28 – January 1), we heard inspiring talks drawing on the conference theme Anchored, and we sang, prayed and celebrated the Eucharist together. 

One of the great gifts of this year’s conference was the opportunity for some of the communities that have been part of the “55ish and Under” retreats to collaborate to offer a space for Religious and young adults to get to know one another. Eight congregations (CND, CR, CSJ, CSsR, FcJ, IBVM, and SNJM) joined forces to host a side event during one of the afternoon breaks. 

Entitled Heavenly Hosts (cleverly tongue-in-cheek, of course), the event brought together more than 80 young adults and Religious for an afternoon of art and games, snacks, and conversation in an informal setting. Between the laughter and the friendly competition, there were deep conversations about the life of the Church, how to discern one’s vocation, and the joys and struggles of religious life.

For me, personally, the conference and our collaborative event created a great sense of hope. Hope for the future of the Church in Canada, witnessed in the sincere desire of so many young Catholics to deepen their faith, give their lives to God, and be open to vocational discernment. I also experienced hope for the future of religious life in Canada, especially as a member of a congregation that in Canada is aging and shrinking in number. Working across congregations offers a new dynamic to support the mission of the Church and to excite young people about religious life.    

This conference proved to me that the Holy Spirit is on the move, shaping and enlivening religious life across Canada through the work and ministry we do together. Indeed, through the Holy Spirit, the entire Church thrives when we come together to work for the greater glory of God. From Heavenly Hosts to whatever comes next, I trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide, encourage, and bless our efforts.

Article by: Sr. Sarah Rudolph, ibvm 

Photos by: Sr. Michelle Garlinski, snjm

 

Mary’s Praise to the Lord

January 1st of each year is only one of two holy days of obligation in our Church
outside of the mass of the Lord’s Resurrection on Sunday: the other being the
Solemnity of Christmas on December 25th . It is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
There is no better individual to honour when we reflect an openness to the
presence of God in the signs God sends us.  The words she heard from the angel
Gabriel: “Greetings Mary! The Lord is with you!” were comforting words as she
would be asked to say “yes” to the Lord’s invitation to be the bearer of the Christ-
child. It was her faith that poured forth the great Magnificat: “My soul proclaims
the greatness of the Lord! My spirit rejoices in God my saviour!” This would first
take a trust that the Lord truly was with her. Being assured that the Lord was with her brought her peace in a way that the world would have never been able to give her.  This same God offers us the graces to be open to the signs of God’s promise of his love. Are we attentive to them in our lives? Our God came into the world as a child to teach us the way to the Kingdom. I have learned from children how to be attentive to the promise of God’s love in signs.
As we were processing to the cemetery to bury my mother last May, my 10-year-
old nephew noticed a streak of rainbow colours in a bright sunny sky. Rainbows
biblically signified God’s promises. A child pointed out the promise of
Resurrection for our loved one as we were grieving. These signs that we recognize of God’s love call us forth to cry out the Magnificat as Mary did centuries ago.

Picture and article by: Fr. Dan Lobsinger, CR

www.Resurrectionits.ca

A Velveteen Rabbit Christmas

This Christmas Fr. Joseph, Fr. Dan and myself chose to offer a shared homily.  We focused on the story of the Velveteen Rabbit because we felt the parish being pulled apart when we reached out to the homeless and saw Christ making us more real in the process.  The homily is at the 7:45 minute mark in the video below if you would like to listen to it.  May the gift of Emmanuel continue to fill our hearts with Christ’s love this Christmas and may the many ways we choose to love make our world more real.

Midnight Mass Video

Merry Christmas!

Dan, Toby and Joseph – Resurrectionists living in community in downtown Kitchener – www.stmarysrcchurch.ca

Picture by: Michelle Langlois, fcJ

Video by: Artistic Photography

Giving Consent with Courage

One of the sisters in my house used a poem by Denise Levertov called “Annunciation” as a part of our evening prayer heading into the weekend of the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.  A line of this poem caught my attention and it has stayed with me.  Speaking of Mary’s interaction with the Angel Gabriel: 

“No one mentions courage.

The engendering Spirit

did not enter her without consent.

God waited.

She was free

to accept or to refuse, choice

integral to humanness.”

In this day and age of the Me Too movement, consent is a big word.  Consent is an active and enthusiastic YES, not the lack of a NO.  This interaction between Mary and the Angel Gabriel says a lot about both God and Mary.  God clearly respects Mary enough to give her the information and the space to make her decision and the openness to accept her answer either way.  Mary also clearly trusts God and says yes out of that trust.  Mary doesn’t just say maybe, she gives her consent, an active and enthusiastic “yes, let your will be done.”  We too are called by God in small and big ways and are given the autonomy to say yes or no.  Part of the information that helps us to make these decisions is our current relationship with God and if we can trust God even somewhat like Mary did.  Sometimes it does take courage as Denise Levertov suggests.  

As a second year candidate with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, my candidate director and I have been having conversations about the next stage of formation and she has given me some prayer and discernment resources to use to discern if that is the right move for me to make.  In some ways my biggest decision was deciding to enter the community, moving in with the sisters, and starting candidacy.  When I made that decision I imagined staying for good, unless something big caused me to re-evaluate.  The last year and a half as a candidate has been awesome.  It has challenged me, given me many graces, and helped me to strengthen my own relationship with God.  So of course, my immediate sense is that Novitiate seems like the right next step.  Even so, we are going through a proper discernment process because it isn’t an assumption, I need to give my consent and enthusiastically say yes to moving on to the novitiate.  

How fitting that my discernement coincides with Advent, a time of deeper reflection and prayer.  Advent also features more stories about Mary.  The story of the Angel Gabriel coming to Mary, Luke 1:26-38, was the Gospel for both the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I happened to be planning the prayer service at school for Our Lady of Guadalupe with a group of students and they picked out the sense of call and Mary’s response as the theme to reflect on in the prayer service.  So as I prepared for Our Lady of Guadalupe, this reading kept coming back to me and Mary’s consent kept coming back to me and weaving in with my own discernment.  As Advent deepens, I will continue to walk with Mary and God in discerning my next steps.

Article and picture by: Christian Cahill, a second year candidate with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary

Sometimes Mission Finds Us

A call last Monday after a snowstorm requesting space for homeless people.  An emergency meeting with my brothers in community and parish staff.  A short time to reflect and pray.  All of this lead to saying yes to transforming our parish hall into an emergency overnight shelter – quite literally overnight!

For the most part the regulars at our parish are adjusting well.  First I notice their shock and then it gradually transforms into an offer to help.  People are coming from other faith communities and from no particular faith community at all to simply say that they care too.  It’s beautiful.

After a week of meetings and mitigating I finally had time to reflect and came to the conclusion that sometimes mission finds us.  We were so busy trying to articulate a mission statement in my religious community and in the parish that 3 of us have been assigned to that we simply didn’t see this one coming.  Namely, that God is using homeless people to knock on our door and ask us to look after a very important need in our community.  We are realizing in a very tangible way that these people are God’s beloved too and we are here to care for them.  Personally, I’m beginning to realize that the front page stories and news interviews will soon fade but they will have left behind a great gift – our new mission.  One where we all get to work full time and continue to discover what a privilege it is to care for God’s beloved in downtown Kitchener.  Looks like a new mission has found us!

Photos and Article by:  Fr. Toby Collins, CR, a member of the Congregation of the Resurrection.  www.resurrectionists.ca

A church responds.
A guest’s heart is warmed.
A “Snow Card” left behind to thank our staff.

Creation, Diversity, and Religious Life

The autumn colours are a rich reminder of the gifts of creation, the changing of seasons, and a time of thanksgiving.  I have been blessed these past few weeks to experience this season in two radically different places, Arizona and Toronto. What fascinated me most is how creation adapts to diversity, this tree, the Palo Verde, found in the desert adapts to its context by facilitating photosynthesis in its bark, green due to the chlorophyll that helps it hold water and sugar in the absence of large leaves.  While hardly autumn weather as we would know it in Canada, the cooler evenings certainly provided a relief to the heat of the day.  

By contrast the cooler autumn weather in Toronto brought the start of the fall colours to the landscape around the city.  In the midst of urban life, skyscrapers, and traffic, you don’t need to look far to find a shot of colour to remind you of the change of season, the coming winter, and miracle of photosynthesis displayed in the brilliant red and gold leaves. 

This diversity displayed in creation is a great metaphor for the times in which we live Religious Life.  The elements of our way of life are the same, rooted in our Baptismal Call, led the Spirit of the Risen Christ, and facilitated through our vows, in the context of  community.   The diversity of our world means that we need to adapt to the contexts in which we find ourselves, fewer in number, less visibility, and a more urgent call to be prophetic voices.

This fall also marks a new term for me on my congregation Leadership Team.  Four of us were re-elected and given the gift of time (up to 6 weeks) for some renewal and rest.  I am grateful to use some of that time to be with with family in Toronto, especially my Mom, to celebrate Thanksgiving.  

I also plan to spend some time in retreat, and creating opportunities to discover the movement of the Spirit and the ways in which we are called to live out the Charism of Religious Life in particular, and my own congregation’s Charism specifically.  I am grateful to each of you as we continue to journey together in support and solidarity as we strive to make life giving choices in our personal lives, our communities, and our ministries. 

Written by:  Sr. Joanne O’Regan, CSM – Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish

We, Sisters of St. Martha, inspired by God’s graciousness, hear, embrace and respond to the cry for Gospel Hospitality. (Mission Statement, Chapter 2004)