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Being Truly Aware of God’s Presence and God’s Call

“I made profession in 1951. My name is Georgina MacInnis. I’m a very happy Congrégation de Notre-Dame Sister. I had a real definite conviction that that’s where I was to spend my life, and I never looked back.”

 

Sister Georgina did not always want to be a religious. She had decided after high school to go to Teacher’s College but, she says “I wasn’t even convinced after that that I wanted to teach!” She thought she would try it for a year. She was only 18, and taught in 8 grades in a small town along the Atlantic Ocean. None of the children in the school were Catholic: Sister Georgina had really opted for a situation that was different from all she knew. That radical choice lead her to an even more radical one after that, as she decided to enter religious life.

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Prayer service for the Feast of Marguerite Bourgeoys, 2017

“Go to the peripheries.  In a spirit of mutuality and collaboration, respond in hope to the cries of our wounded world.” The second direction of the CND Orientation 2016-2021

Suggested Opening Song:  Mission Song (Ave, Kathleen Deignan, CND) you may wish to intersperse verses after each reading

We will gather up the Blood of the Savior,

which is shed by the ignorance of people.

We will gather up the Blood of the Lord.

 

We will teach the gospel of justice;

we will labor for the kingdom of peace.

 

We will sow the seeds of the Spirit;

we will harvest the fruit of new life.

 

We have come to the new land to labor

for the new world promised in Christ.

 

May there always be written on

our dwellings the great commandment of love.

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The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation

We are astounded at times by the new information unfolding about creation, about the world, about the changes that keep moving into our understanding, into our cultural sureness, and into our perception of just about everything. So what about our image of God? In Divine Dance, Richard Rohr writes of the Trinity as relationship. He uses descriptive words like “endless flow of giving and receiving;” of “rhythmic movement” among Father, Son, and Spirit, the kind of movement we experience in dancing. God is a dancer, and God is the dance itself! We are invited to join in. “It all comes to this: do you allow the free-flow or do you stop it by endless forms of resistance, judgment, negativity and fear?” This book is a treasure, a joyful treat that concludes with eighteen pages of ideas of how to practice the “divine dance that animates the cosmos and invites us in.” 

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Celebrating a History

One of the interesting experiences of living in a community of three congregations as we do here at Providence Mother House, is learning more about one another’s founding stories. On December 13, the Sisters of Providence of Kingston celebrated 155 years since the arrival of the first group of four Sisters who came from Montreal in 1861 at the request of Bishop Horan to begin a new foundation. They were preceded by the CND’s who came in 1841 for the education of girls and the RHSJ’s in 1845, whose mission was to care for the sick by opening a hospital. The Sisters of Providence came to serve the poor and destitute of the city. Their mission involved opening an orphanage, a home for the aged, visiting prisons, and supporting the poorest people of the society of the time. The celebration in honour of the founding Sisters took place in a beautiful prayer service during which the story of the founding days was recounted along with a time of remembrance of the Sisters who had entered the community in the first ten years. During the special meal that followed, Sister Sandra Shannon, General Superior, recognized the contribution of the two communities who had welcomed and supported them in those early days, and who are now living with one another within their Mother House. “It is now as it was in the beginning,” Sister Sandra reflected.

Throughout the meal, conversations continued with sharing other foundation and community stories of each of our communities.

Thank you, Sisters of Providence, for your 155 years of devoted, compassionate service to the people of Kingston and beyond. 

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“Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy.”

And the angel said unto them

“Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy.”

The shepherds heard such a message and we at Andrews of Charlottetown experienced God’s calling of two of our sisters. Sister Elizabeth, who every day greeted one with a smile, died the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2016. She was known as one who showed joy and compassion throughout her teaching years on PEI and in her mingling with the Tahlton First Nation people at Mary Magdalene Mission in Dease Lake, BC.

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Area Gatherings

On Saturday, December 10th a profitable and enjoyable gathering of sisters and associates took place at St. Joseph Convent, Mabou. Sr. Ann Broderick led us in a reflective prayer followed by a wonderful overview of the General Chapter proceedings. The PowerPoint presentation showed the joyful spirit which permeated the event. Following a short tea/coffee break Sr. Connie MacIsaac led us in looking ahead to the upcoming Provincial Chapter which takes place from July 10-16, 2017. The personal sharing following both presentations gave all of us opportunities to bring the Congrégation de Notre-Dame Orientation 2016-2021 and Visitation Province Direction Statement to prayer and further implementation. A Reflective Prayer brought our gathering to a close with deep gratitude to Srs. Ann and Connie and to all for making this gathering possible despite the busyness of the Season.

Catherine MacEachern, CND

Photo taken by Sr. Becky McKenna

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A new leadership for Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Region!

Magnificat!

Leader: Martha Lucía Pérez Gutiérrez

Associate: Clara Marina Quintanilla Martínez

Councillors:

María Emelí Alba Teruel

Sandra Margarita Sierra Flores

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

Regina is the Co-coordinator of the Associate Relationship for Blessed Sacrament Province. Her reflection reveals how the Advent scriptures bring light to our life’s concerns.

When I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I say a prayer and tell myself to turn the problem over to Jesus. I do this pretty often and since I don’t want to wear out my welcome, I switch over to others including Mary, Marguerite Bourgeoys and Therese of Lisieux. This advent season I’ve been worried about my sister and her accelerating memory loss which is more and more pronounced over time. My mother suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s and my anxiety is palpable and affecting my ability to focus and stay somewhat centered.

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Visit to the Maritimes (2)

Sister Ann Marie McDougall – A Mission of Compassion

On November 9, we met Sister Ann Marie at Parkland Residence in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Sister Ann Marie would have been very happy to give us a filmed interview, only that a regrettable fall forced us to change our plans. Fortunately, Sister Ann Marie was not seriously hurt. However, because of the bruises on her face, it was best to put away the camera for another time. Still, nothing dampens Sister Ann Marie’s humour! To those who asked her what had happened to her, she laughingly answered in a heartbeat, “Oh, I won the fight!” While we remember her sense of humour from our interview, the two words that describe her are: gratitude and her compassion.

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Third Sunday of Advent

Jennifer lives in Ontario and works in an agency assisting new immigrants. She reminds us how important it is not to miss Advent and to discern how we are to respond to the invitation of Advent.

We rejoice this Gaudete Sunday. The birth of our Lord is near. The readings fill our thirst for justice, calm our fears and inspire us with great hope. We hear of “abundant flowers” and “everlasting joy” (Isaiah). “The blind regain their sight” and “the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” (Matthew) Wow! Feels like it may be Christmas already!

Not so fast. Our second reading reminds us to be patient. “Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it, until it receives the early and late rains. You too must be patient.” (James)

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CND World Social Forum Event Featured In Citizens For Public Justice Newsletter

A review of our event, "Climate Change: Hope in Action through the Arts" was featured in the most recent edition of The Catalyst. You can read it on line here: https://www.cpj.ca/climate-action-through-arts.

 

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A Meaningful Mini Retreat

A mini Advent retreat was held at Regis College on December 3, beginning at 12 o'clock with soup, bread and a beverage. It consisted of four sessions of a reading from scripture, a short reflection and 20 minutes of silent contemplation. The retreat ended with Eucharist at 4:15 pm. A meaningful pause during Advent! 

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A Retreat for Homeless Women

On November 11-13, Sr. Maureen Baldwin took part in a retreat with 11 women who experience homelessness in the greater Toronto area. The retreat is part of the Ignatian Spirituality Project at Regis College which is partnering with the Seeds of Hope Foundation. The group gathered at St. Joseph's Retreat Center in Cobourg, ON, amidst the beauty along Lake Ontario. It was a beautiful experience for all involved. 

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Memorial Service – December 6

It is difficult to find words to adequately describe the moving candle-lighting ceremony held at the Confederation Center organized by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women. The ceremony opened with an Aboriginal prayer and the Honour Song. Various officials lit the individual candles in memory of the women murdered in the Montreal Massacre, as well as ten candles honouring the women who have been murdered on PEI by their partners or significant others since 1989. All was silent except for the reading of names and some reflective music playing in the background. The theme of the day was really about honouring survivors, in keeping with that, a young Syrian Refugee woman, Dima Mreesh, was the guest speaker, telling her story of survival. The ceremony ended with a powerful song of survival composed and sung by a young woman who is a survivor. Everyone was then invited to depart in silence. I have attended these memorials for a number of years and never cease to be moved by the reverence and respect surrounding the event and the emotional toll experienced by many participants. I was happy that Sister Marie Hagen could accompany me. 

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Area Gatherings

Area Gathering in Victoria, BC 

On the second Sunday of Advent East met West, as we gathered in Victoria for reflections from the General Chapter. With the sun shining, the birds singing and the grass being mowed, one could hardly realize we had entered the month of December.

Though our numbers were small, we did not lack energy or enthusiasm. We found the process designed for these gatherings very good. With Donna Kelly and Josephine Badali bringing us their personal experiences and insights we felt connected to the whole Congrégation de Notre-Dame community.

As we contemplated, sang, shared and danced we reflected on our past, were attentive to our present reality, and move hopefully into our future.

We were delighted that associate Maria MacDonald was with us adding so much with her insights. Sister Mary Jane Wilson, our hostess, graciously welcomed us to her home, treating us to a delightful meal.

The day was indeed a graced encounter for each of us.

Mildred Chabassol, CND 

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A Cinema Suggestion: Silence

A Film about Faith and Struggle is something that Pastoral Center Publishing is suggesting to watch for in January. The film, based on Shūsaku Endō’s celebrated Japanese novel of the same name, raises deep questions related to faith, loneliness, doubt, suffering, and oppression. The story follows Fr. Sebastian Rodrigues, a seventeenth-century Jesuit priest from Portugal who sneaks into Japan at a time when Christians were brutally persecuted there. Here are some interesting notes about the film:

  • Scorcese, who briefly studied for the priesthood, worked toward this film adaptation for almost 30 years.
  • Pope Francis has read the novel and told Scorcese at a recent Vatican screening that he hopes the film "bears much fruit."
  • Actor Andrew Garfield spoke last night about praying through the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in preparation for his role as Fr. Rodrigues.
  • Fr. James Martin, S.J. served as a consultant to the film.
  • The film is a top contender for the Academy Awards, just making it under the wire to be considered for this year.
  • VIEW the Trailer to see some of it.

 

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Second Week of Advent, 2016

Associate Christine McMichael reminds us all, in the midst of our hectic Advent lives, to keep our eyes open to see the light as a child does in simple joys.

Second Week of Advent, 2016

I barely got the Advent wreath out in time!

Volunteering to write an Advent reflection is easy. Writing an Advent reflection is a process.

In the past I’ve included Curious George in my Advent reflection, that’s the ‘real’ clue around here that we are beginning to wait for something special. One may think that watching A Very Monkey Christmas on the Friday after Thanksgiving would have prompted digging out at least one of two Advent wreaths! Nope.

We did start singing, Are you ready? Are you ready for Christmastime to come…

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Advent Reflections

This Advent, Joy Ryan-Bloore offers another set of reflections that fits like a glove with the transformation that seems underway in our wider world at the moment. Many in the world are anxious and seeking simplistic answers that will return stability and certainty to their lives. Joy offers us a decidedly different style of retreat through this series of meditations: "To resist the crass, cultural emphasis on frenzied purchasing, partying and noise and instead foster a time of quiet and contemplation. To step out on a path towards peace and the birth of a new level of human consciousness – which is what the birth of Jesus the Christ called us to 2,000 years ago." ... Brian Coyne, editor See http://www.catholica.com.au /gc4/jrb/032_jrb_291116.php

Advent Resource: Philip Chircop, sj draws from diverse sources in diverse formats to reflect on Advent. www.philipchircop.com

Nina Glinski, CND & Kathy Kelly, Ottawa 

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Post-Chapter Reflections

The Congrégation de Notre-Dame General Chapter began last summer with a retreat with Father Simon-Pierre Arnold setting the tone and helping us arrive at a New Moment – a New Day! In his third session, Father Simon-Pierre invited us to look at the mystery of mission before ‘church’ – to understand what Jesus intended mission to be and what the call is for us today.

Jesus' message is that God’s love and compassion be lived out in the ordinariness of our daily lives. We are called to constantly find new ways to break open the Gospel daily and mirror for each other and for God’s world this Love that is the Reality that defines who we are and directs our lives. 

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Advent Prayer Service

Dear Sisters,

An Associate suggested that the theme for Advent this year should be “Face our fears and vulnerabilities.” In our Congrégation de Notre-Dame orientation, that sentence follows “Live interculturality” and certainly pertains also to “Go to the peripheries.”

Another suggestion from an associate was to reach out and form “Circles of Hospitality” in true Visitation spirit. Individually or as a group, we might want to invite people we know who are immigrants or of different ethnicities, religions, political persuasions than ours to share coffee and a conversation or join groups who are doing this, e.g. Interfaith services, immigrant rights, etc.

The hope of Advent is that the Incarnation is both present and coming. This hope calls us to “Face our fears and vulnerabilities.” We believe the variety of readings in this prayer service for Advent invite us to face our fears and uncertainties with hope. If you are doing in a group, you may wish to choose only certain readings.

Peace and Hope,

Regina Smith and Joan Mahoney, CND, Co-Coordinators of the Associate Relationship, Blessed Sacrament Province

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