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Confinement Days

Congrégation de Notre-Dame

During this pandemic, the sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame are also living in confinement and adapting to this new reality in a spirit of service and solidarity. We asked some of them to describe their new everyday life.

Mother House

This time of confinement is particularly intense for me for several reasons. The disruptions we are experiencing bring me back to the things that are essential: being close to God and to others. Most of my current commitments are carried out thanks to various means of communications: online teaching, accompaniment via Skype® or by phone, writing biblical commentaries in an effort to rekindle our living flame, etc. While the Mother House, where I live, is usually a place where people from everywhere meet, we are now a handful (13 sisters) who together assume a good part of the domestic tasks.

The ever-changing adaptations bring me a deep joy, that of mutual solidarity among us and beyond the walls. While understanding that the corona virus crisis is causing many social, economic and political hardships around the world, I also see how it can contribute to crossing borders and bring us closer together across differences. This common vulnerability helps us connect. A few days ago, we participated in a funeral in Honduras via Zoom® to support Ercilia (a sister who lives here and who just lost her mother) and to be close to her family.

I regularly meet by videoconference with three sisters from different countries, Yoko (Japanese in Fukushima), Melba (Honduran in New York) and Maco (Italian-Canadian in New York), to share our current experiences during this time of struggle against the corona virus and of active demonstration of compassion. Through the video image, we reach out our hands to one another. Christa Joy, a young woman with whom I lived a few years ago, is organizing via Zoom® a virtual festival of hope. I am pleased to be part of this gathering and am amazed by its creativity. With particular intensity, we are experiencing that “together we are strong!”

Marie de Lovinfosse, CND

In Maria Province…

Meiji-Gakuen High School held its 2020 graduation ceremony on March 2nd. Participants wore masks to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

The ceremony, which usually takes about an hour and a half, was shortened to 30 minutes.

Following the day of the ceremony, the school was closed.

The school remains closed to date, and has started holding virtual classes over the web. We are used to hearing the sounds of children playing, but we now have a “Silent Spring”.

Sachiko Date, CND

Life at the Presentation Manor Residence in Toronto

We have been in lockdown since March 13. This began gradually with no family or friends allowed in and then restrictions increased.

We can walk on the grounds and are encouraged to do so daily. No trips out at all. Anyway everything is closed.

We don't have to go to the grocery store. Like you and so many. We now have to eat in our rooms.

Not something we like but accept to keep everyone safe.

The upside. All are well here.

Thank God for the phone, email and zoom as ways to stay connected with friends and family.

Marie Azzarello, CND

COVID-19 days in PEI

Oh what a week it was … clocks change one hour, springing forward; a full moon AND a Friday the 13th. I was praying the week would not be as challenging as the predictors indicated. I will leave that assessment to you …

Friday March 13 was the first weekly notification we received from our university president, a) campus life as we knew it was shutting down b) classes and exams were to moving online. By the following Tuesday (things change quickly) the sports centre and the library were closed. The UPEI Chaplaincy Centre houses our campus food bank so was deemed “essential services”. Since then, my ministry as campus minister has morphed into responding to the temporal needs of our students, mostly international who were unable to return home or find seasonal work to support staying here. Corporal works of mercy are playing an important motivating role in my daily prayer and schedule.

People of the campus community and the surrounding area have been very generous with financial and food donations. Our food bank has always been supported by the community but this crisis has called everyone to a deeper commitment to those who do without food, funding, even faith. “Sister, what do you need? Sister, how can I help?” The need is great and so is the response.

I follow the store ads online. Shopping in large quantities usually involves a conversation with the store manager, given rationing of some food and household products. I was already pretty good at finances on spreadsheets but have improved those skills immeasurably. And we do not know for how long.

So, how do I stay well? I feel I have sacrificed a lot – community and campus life, friends and family life, my gym class. My prayer has also shifted and I struggle to let it not become a to-do for the day of tasks and people. And so I walk. I stumbled into it (pun not intended). For several years, I have had an irregular relationship with my FitBit, sometimes faithful and other times not. It took a week for me to find a routine but since then, my walk has been my grounding. In chaotic times where life changes so regularly, I carve out an hour (and now a bit more) for my 10k steps.

Isolation and distancing are challenges. So I began taking short video clips as I walk. It feels as if I am walking with others as I go. Instagram wants them to be 60 seconds. Facebook and YouTube are more generous. “A Walk by Faith” and “Sermons under 60” are now playlists on my YouTube channel Susan Kidd CND! Topics vary depending on what I prayed that morning or did that day. I tend to walk later in the day. Clothing varies with the weather, from hats/scarves/gloves to hoodies! Come on warmer temperatures of spring!

Now that my walks and talks are “public”, people are watching and commenting. “Saw your walk Sister” “Way to go, Sister” “Keep it up Sister” So when a day has had either too much time at the dining room table office or Netflix on the couch, I walk – for my own satisfaction of 10k steps and also as outreach to those who watch. We are in this together!

Susan Kidd, CND

Living the Coronavirus-19

During this time of “sheltering in place” in the coronavirus hotspots, we are vulnerable with the vulnerable. By age, ministry and circumstance not a moment goes by that one is not aware of living with this unwelcome and life-threatening guest. By geographic location and age all our local communities of sisters are required to shelter in place. Three sisters come to mind. One directs a large shelter for abandoned teens. The transient life of these victimized young people requires quarantine Covid-19 protocols for the staff, while at work or at home. Another sister is the in-house chaplain at a high risk, inner city hospital. Although not allowed at this time to have direct contact with the Covid-19 patients, when she is on call her ministry is very much with the staff as they deal with loss of patients and the illness and death of their co-workers. In some cases, given exposure issues at work or at home it may mean that a sister is not able to return to the local community during this sheltering time. And finally, another sister in a large parish is pastoral minister to their elderly members, 400 of whom are in their 80s. Before the “sheltering” most of her work was done by in person visitations at their homes or hospital. This sister is one of the many of us who is working from home these days because our offices are closed. Typically, now all her ministry is done by phone, each call a gifted moment of revelation. First gratitude that she would call them, second hearing that someone has died from the virus or has tested positive or is waiting on some other crisis. These days no family members or other visitors are allowed at the hospitals, nor at nursing homes or assisted living homes.

What is happening to us in this global moment of awareness? We are learning. We are “trying to evolve into a higher form of species – one that actually CARES about the Earth, actually KNOWS that compassion involves action, one that understands the meaning of Everything Is Connected.”[i] And in this 400th year of Marguerite’s Birth she walks with us.

Jaculyn Hanrahan, CND

[i] April 26, 202 Bulletins from Immortality, Jan Phillips.


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