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Going to the peripheries

October 17 was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Thousands of people representing over 100 groups across Canada marked the day by calling on the federal government to take immediate action on this ongoing violation of human rights. As part of the Dignity for All campaign, CHEW ON THIS! my friend Patricia Power and I stood on street corners in downtown Charlottetown handing out brown paper bags to passers-by. The bags contained a snack, a fridge magnet reading CHEW ON THIS! and a post card to be signed and mailed to the Office of the Prime Minister. The message to government was simple: " The country is watching. It's time to show the millions of people in Canada living in poverty that their government cares about them." The supporters of Dignity for All are asking the Prime Minister Trudeau and new government that in the first 90 days, a real commitment be shown to a poverty-free Canada by choosing effective human rights policies and making poverty a budget priority.

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Cape Breton Celtic Colours Welcomed Kathleen and Ann Deignan

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish, Sydney, NS

Following the presentation people came forward to touch, pray or just be in the presence of the relic of St. Marguerite which was removed from the altar for this night only. (This ritual was repeated at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish, Tantallon, NS.)

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The Congregation Leadership Team visit continues...

Visitation at Holy Redeemer Convent, Sydney

We were delighted to host the members of our Congregation Leadership Team on Sunday, October 6, 2019. Our understanding of interculturality expanded and deepened as we each shared some highlights of our unique vocation stories and family backgrounds/cultures. We were also deeply moved by the reflective PowerPoint presentation that followed this sharing. We wish to thank the members of the Congregation Leadership Team for the gift of their presence among us and extend blessings to them as they continue their visitation throughout Visitation Province.

Gwendolyn O’Neil, CND with the Sisters of Holy Redeemer Convent

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Route 19 Luncheon with Sr. Agnes Campbell

There was a joyous celebration on Route 19 in Inverness County, Tuesday, October 8th, 2019. A multitude of guests gathered at the beautiful facility “Route 19 Brewery and Restaurant” to hear Sr. Agnes’ speech. She captivated the audience of sisters, priests, former students, associates and people from the neighbouring communities. Sr. Agnes spoke on the life and journey of St. Marguerite and she gave an account of the history of the Congregation de Notre-Dame Sisters in Inverness County. There was a presence of CND sisters in Inverness County from 1884 to 2019, a span of 135 years. She and other sisters of the Congregation de Notre-Dame taught school in Inverness County. Some former students attending mentioned by name the CND sisters who had been their teachers. It was a beautiful gesture of remembrance to hear their names.

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Visit with Sr. Kathleen Deignan, CND

Sisters at the CND Health Center in Sydney enjoyed a presentation by Sr. Kathleen Deignan and her sister Ann [associate from Blessed Sacrament Province] accompanied by chauffeur Sr. Libby. The sisters were left with a renewed sense of love and appreciation of Marguerite Bourgeoys.

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Celebrating in Miramichi!

Our Miramichi event to mark the 400th anniversary began as a proposal (last winter) from Frances Connell Enriquez. Frances, CND associate and artist, suggested an art show, centered around paintings from two Congregation de Notre-Dame Sisters, Sr. Marie-Anna Gallant (Sr. St. Marie Ovide) and Sr. Marie Bordage (Sr. St. Margaret of Bavaria) teachers here long ago, and also the work of their students. 100 pieces of art were gathered and placed in exhibit at Carrefour Beausoleil, a local Community Center. The Center set-up the display, offered wine and snacks, and gave us the use of their beautiful auditorium (for free) for the Concert of the Cultures Saturday evening. The concert gave us Irish songs, Scottish songs, folk songs, French songs, a bit of Latin, religious songs and a rousing set from the Miramichi Fiddlers. On Sunday morning, parishioners from the five worship sites, which now comprise Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish, gathered for Mass, celebrated by Bishop Robert Harris at St. Mary’s Church. The reception that followed had such an abundance of food that organizers gave out containers and urged people to take food home! (It looked like more than the scriptural 12 baskets of leftovers!)

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Congregation Leadership Team Visit to Notre Dame High School

While in Toronto, the Congregation Leadership Team visited Notre Dame High School. The students have been offering support to our ministries in Central America and Cameroon for several years by way of communication and financial support. The school and the Congregation Leadership Team were happy to put faces with each others' names. The Congregation Leadership Team made the outreach as a gesture of gratitude and appreciation for all the effort and energy that goes into the fund raising... and a witness to "liberating education". The visit was a great success.

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The Congregation Leadership Team visit continues...

Thanksgiving with the Congregation Leadership Team – Kingston, ON

Thanksgiving weekend was truly a time of deep gratitude for the Sisters of Kingston as we gathered at Providence Mother House with our Congregation Leadership Team. After a heartfelt welcome expressed by Sister Barbara Prior, Sister Ona Bessette invited us to share a pivotal time in our life journey. For some it went back to their original call to the Congregation de Notre-Dame, while for others it involved moments on mission throughout multiple life experiences. It was a very moving experience for us to listen with our hearts as each sister shared with simplicity and depth of how united with God’s journey she arrived where she is today. In the midst of the diversity among us, the common thread of responding to God and Marguerite Bourgeoys’s invitation was woven throughout each story. After refreshments and social time, we spent time in contemplation of a beautiful power point presentation showing God’s journey, Marguerite’s journey and our journey. On Monday morning, the sisters living in apartments received the members of the Leadership Team in their individual places. They returned to Providence Mother House to enjoy a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings before departing by train for Toronto. We are grateful to our Congregation Leadership Team for their time with us both in the group and as individuals, and we pray for God’s blessing on them as they continue their visitation throughout Visitation Province.

Eleanor Monahan, CND

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News from Visitation Province (Canada)

Visit with Congregation Leadership Team

The Truro, NS associates on October 4th hosted the Congregation Leadership Team: Sisters Agnes (Cape Breton), Ercilia (Central America), Ona (USA), Danielle (Quebec) and Sophie (Cameroon) accompanied by Sister Catherine (Bedford).

Together we all listened and learned about one another as we were invited to share about ourselves. Sister Ona then shared a reflective visual history starting with Jesus, moving to Marguerite Bourgeoys’s journey, and photos of the first convents in areas of the world as the congrgation expanded internationally as well as photos of more recent ministries. This was followed by sharing our reflections, discussion and Q&A’s.

Our visit was a living experience of interculturality and a witness of the Charism of St. Marguerite being lived out today. As a group we felt very blessed and grateful to have Sisters Agnes, Ercilia, Ona, Danielle and Sophie with us enhancing our relationship as associates in the Congregation de Notre-Dame Community.

Alexa Smith, Halifax associate with the group gathered

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Peace & Justice News

Announcing TWO exciting invitations for our recent transition from Summer to Fall 2019. One, a local call to participate and celebrate, the other, a call to global work to affect the Sustainable Development goals. Both ventures invite us to continue to engage as pioneers in the Call of our Congregation de Notre-Dame Chapter Orientation: “How Then Shall We Live?”

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Associate News

150th Anniversary In Waterbury: On September 8, Cathy, an associate from Chicago, attended the 150th anniversary of five CND sisters coming to Waterbury, CT from Montreal. Cathy is a graduate from Waterbury Catholic High School and was asked to speak during the celebration dinner. Below is an adapted excerpt from Cathy’s speech talking about her gratefulness and joy in knowing the Sisters of the Congregation de Notre-Dame and her mission as an associate to carry on their spirit.

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Waterbury 150th Anniversary

Recently the planning committee for the 150th anniversary celebration gathered one more time to celebrate the success of our Sept. 8th event. Over 400, mostly alum, came together at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury to express gratitude for the five Congregation de Notre-Dame Sisters arrival in Waterbury 150 years to the day. Sr. Agnes Campbell, coming from Montreal, graced us with her presence and her thoughtful words. Bishop Leonard Blair was the celebrant and Monsignor Joseph Donnelly, a friend of the Congregation, was homilist. The palpable sense of joy, the sense of gratitude, and the power of singing with one voice added to the beauty of the Eucharist.

The spirit of joy and gratitude continued at Bella Vista as classmates were searched for. The excitement of once again meeting old classmates and teachers added to the very festive atmosphere. Friendships were renewed and strengthened, reflections on the liberating education received were voiced and sincere gratitude to teachers expressed numerous times. People left wanting more time together. Future reunions for all kinds of reasons were planned by many classes.

Deo Gratias for all that has been these past 150 years at Waterbury, CT. Marguerite Bourgeoys’ charism continues in Waterbury.

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Opioid Crisis

There is much news about the opioid crisis in this country, especially the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and Purdue. However, Sister Beth Davies and several others launched that fight way back. The journalist Beth Macy published her book back in 2018, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America

Throughout her work, the author often refers to the work of Dr. VanZee and Sr. Beth Davies' struggle with the ever-growing menace of the opioid epidemic, especially in rural VA. Macy often mentions Beth's struggles in the coal mining scourge and then with the drug addiction. I highly recommend this book. All age groups need to be involved in the struggle to overcome this addiction. Thank you for letting others know about Macy's timely book.

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Vow Celebration: What A Day!

Nearly 2 months ago, on July 28th, I was surrounded by sisters from PEI, Nova Scotia, Ontario, New York, and Connecticut, as well as my very close family and friends, and internationally through the power of the internet and Facebook live, to profess my first vows. I only remember joy and celebration, and still I know a lot of people put a lot of time planning and preparing for the big day. I’m grateful to Sisters Becky, Maco, and Sue for the time they spent and their role in the ceremony, as well as to Sister Elaine and the melodious choir, to my former community members in White Plains, and to my two celebrants, one of whom has since passed from this world. The outpouring of support from sisters in the Visitation and Blessed Sacrament provinces through emails, cards, and hugs in person have been constant throughout my time in formation, and have been the backbone of support, helping me during so many times and showing me just how big Congregation de Notre-Dame can be. So many times I’ve wanted to submit something to the newsletters to say “thank you” – after my entrance to the novitiate, the completion of the canonical year, when I was on my apostolic missions, being at the border, and especially now, as a newly professed sister, I get to thank you all, and let you know how much your prayers and reaching out have meant to me. Thank you.

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News from Visitation Province (Canada)

On September 24, Sisters Agnes Campbell and Ona Bessette came to Innisfail for their Leadership Team visit. They shared with us their wonderful contemplative reflection. We had great sharing. The following evening, they joined us for our fall parish supper which was a fundraiser for our new church. On the evening of the 26th, we were happy to have the team meet with our associates. After enjoying a delicious meal, the members of the Leadership Team shared their special reflection. All were very inspired by their presentation which broadened our awareness of the whole Congregation de Notre-Dame. We were most grateful for Sisters Agnes and Ona's visit.

Sisters Marie Clarkin and Paula Maher

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Happy 100th Birthday Patricia Landry, CND

September 29th dawned beautiful and sunny in preparation for a special celebration of Sr. Patricia Landry’s 100th birthday. Her two brothers and many nieces and nephews gathered from near and far (Caraquet, New Brunswick, Quebec City, Saguenay and the Montreal area). Joining the family for the festivities were the Congregation de Notre-Dame sisters from Montreal and Mary of Peace Community. Sisters Danielle Dubois and Ercilia Erazo represented the General Council. Sister Rebecca McKenna brought greetings from Visitation Province Leadership and highlighted the gift of presence that Sister Patricia has been for the community and to the many people whom she has touched over the years in her various ministries of “visitation” as teacher, school administrator, local superior/leader and as provincial counsellor. “Sr. Patricia served in many places in the CND community in Charlottetown and Ottawa, but especially in Montreal where she served the longest and was loved the most.”

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Sisters and Associates Care for the Earth!

Sunday, September 29, 2019 our Charlottetown Diocesan Council of Development and Peace – Caritas Canada hosted our annual Fall Action – education Workshop. Our guest speaker was Luke Stocking of Toronto, Deputy Director of Public Engagement and the face of Development and Peace's leadership team for the Ontario and Atlantic regions. Luke's presentation was informative. It inspired me and blessed me with renewed energy to support the work of D&P. By the enthusiastic reaction of the seventy-five or eighty people present I believe they went home feeling as I did.

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Closing prayer to recite throughout the jubilee year:

Almighty and everlasting God, we give you thanks

for the gift of life, for Marguerite Bourgeoys’s vocation,

and for the spiritual heritage she bequeathed to us 400 years go.

We glorify your Name and we recognize your active presence

in the works of her daughters and sons throughout the world.

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400th and 50th in Cameroon

“My sister, my brother, my friend, the hand that takes from us tomorrow will make things grow without asking us our opinion.”

With these words from the song of the Saguenay, I invite you to live this official opening of our festivities. I feel that the opening of the year of the 400th anniversary  of the birth of Marguerite Bourgeoys and of the 50th anniversary of CND presence on African soil merits a special time of preparation.

On this occasion or at this time of preparation, we will ask the Lord, through the intercession of Marguerite Bourgeoys, for the grace of living this time of preparation in love, reconciliation and mercy and of finding a new  missionary fervour, like that of our  founding mother, in order to set the world ablaze  with the contagious fire of love and faith.

 

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A Journey Into Celtic Spirituality In Story and in Song

Presenter: Dr. Kathleen Deignan, CND

Theologian

Author

Composer

Singer

Where: St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Church 40 Cabot St., Sydney, NS.

When: Wednesday October 16th 2019 at 7:00pm

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