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Visitation Province

“Sparks on Fire” Retreat Held at St Joseph Renewal Centre

St Joseph Renewal Centre in Mabou, NS, welcomed Associates from across the Maritimes on the last weekend in September. Sisters Theresa Sampson, Catherine MacEachern and Isobel McLellan also participated in the Retreat. Sr. Eleanor McCloskey and Associate Coordinator Anna Rowley facilitated the Retreat on the theme of “Sparks of Sacred Fire”. It was a lovely weekend of education, prayer, reflection, discussion, remembering, sharing stories, looking at photos, musical entertainment from the Sisters neighbours (we had a kitchen party!), some square dancing, a visitor and gratitude for our Congregation de Notre-Dame history.

Some of the nuggets of wisdom that I took away from what Eleanor and Anna shared are:

  • God is always going forth and going to the new.
  • New ideas and new fire can’t get in when we’re set in our ways.
  • The church is the people.
  • Pope Francis is pushing compassion, mercy and forgiveness.
  • Everyone can be holy. We all have a journey, we’re all called to discover our journey.
  • The Beatitudes are a good roadmap for our call to holiness.

Questions we were asked to ponder: What do we know about our Fire? What feeds it? What puts it out? Does anyone see or know our fire?

Our way of understanding and knowing God changes as we mature. In St Paul to the first Corinthians 11:13, it says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child. Now I am an adult”.

As we reflect on our day, be grateful for what went well and not focus on what went wrong.

  • Jesus said that leaders are supposed to be servants and empower others.
  • How am I as fully alive as I can be?
  • People have a fear of inadequacy and this stops them from doing things. We are born to shine as we are children of God. We are magnificent.
  • We have to take chances and let our light shine. This helps others to see their fire.
  • As Associates and Sisters, we’re trying to let our light shine with creation and go to the peripheries. We are here to serve the world and leave it in a better place. We need to stoke our fire. When we see someone else’s sparks, it sparks our fire.
  • We secondguess ourselves and sometime miss an opportunity. I am unique and everyone else is too. We are all children of God.

As a symbol of our fire, we went outside and lit sparklers. We had a lot of fun with this — we were “child like”.

Several scripture stories were shared for reflection: Story of the Transfiguration, Woman who haemorrhaged, Unbinding of Lazarus, Canonite (Syrophoenician) Woman, Zachaeus story.

Of course, we were encouraged to look at things through a different lens and think outside the box. Sr. Eleanor brought her many pairs of glasses as props to her sharing of stories.

On Sunday morning after the last presentation by Sr. Eleanor and Anna, we went to the Centre’s Chapel where Lay Presiders led us in a celebration of Liturgy of the Word with Communion. So many were able to participate actively in this beautiful service. Anna led us so capably in our prayer time. It was a joyful conclusion to our time together. The weekend ended with a beautiful dinner in the dining room and many hugs as we said goodbye for now to everyone who attended the faith-filled weekend.

The building has been sold and soon it will have a different life. Since 1887, Congregation de Notre-Dame Sisters have lived among the people in Mabou and surrounding area. Their spirit and the spirit of Marguerite Bourgeoys will continue to be there. The Mabou Associates are proof of that!!! Everyone who attended was very grateful for the wonderful Cape Breton hospitality.

Marjorie Allison-Ross

Congregation de Notre-Dame Associates Are Tour Guides at Fortress of Louisbourg, NS

In the spirit of openness and mutuality, with our Congregation de Notre-Dame Sisters and friends, Associates Patrick, Theresa, Lorrette and Dianne shared the charism of Marguerite Bourgeoys at the Fortress of Louisbourg in Sydney, NS during July and August. This was a pilot project organized by Sr. Constance MacIsaac to promote the exhibit of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. As ambassadors for Saint Marguerite, we shared our knowledge with visitors from Japan, Germany, France, USA and our Canadian communities. The Congregation de Notre-Dame exhibit was very welcoming and relaxing. The comments received from visitors indicated their pleasure learning about Marguerite's beautiful story. Tourists openly shared their stories about the Sisters who taught them during their childhood years. The exhibit was well presented with soft music compiled by the late Sr. Rita Clare, the rooms were adorned with daisies, and a video with English and French interpretation was available. There was a wax model of a Sister in the Congregation de Notre-Dame habit depicting Marguerite with two children learning to sew. Relics, symbols from the restoration of the Fortress of Louisbourg dating back to the 1700 were also displayed. We provided bilingual prayer cards and St. Marguerite Bourgeoys medals for those expressing interest. The staff of the Fortress were most accommodating and it is our hope that this volunteer project for Sisters and Associates will continue in 2019. Special thanks to Sr. Connie for inviting the Associates to participate. Patrick, Theresa, Lorrette and I thought it was a marvellous and rewarding experience and a very special way for us to express our Mission Vision statement as Associates. Approximately 77,000 visited the Fortress this year. In 2020, the Congregation de Notre-Dame will be celebrating 400 years since Marguerite’s birth. Visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg would be a fun experience for other Associates and their families to honour and celebrate St Marguerite. Put it on your "to do list".

Dianne MacAskill, Associate

Ode to St Joseph Renewal Centre

Many came through the years,

To look, learn and see… But…

Always left with “Serenity”.

St. Joseph Renewal Centre,

Became the “Spiritual Place” to be,

As it offered “diversity” to folks,

Like you and me!

A small “Scottish man” lived here for years.

Yes, this Holy man, was Fr. Leo Sears!

His Wisdom and Giftedness — he freely gave away.

And all who knew him… Loved him… right to this very day.

“A Wee taste of Scotch, he would say”.

Yes, Sister Catherine led this Centre

Through “thick and then”,

But now it was time For Peg and Carl to begin!

They are CND Associates, Who journeyed “here” from away … And a little over 5 years they did stay.

Their talents and gifts so freely they shared …

And, yes, many “received” from this “Special Pair”.

Yes, this Mabou Centre (If the walls could talk out loud),

Would tell of the “people”, Who walked, “tall and proud”.

Yes, they would share that through Prayer

They experienced “Peace of Mind”

And Sr. Catherine, always gentle and kind.

So with Prayer, Growth and Gratitude

From our experience here,

To St Joseph Renewal Centre and Sr. Catherine MacEachern

A Great Big Cheer — Hip-Hip-Hooray, Hip, Hip Hooray!

Joan Fraser, Associate

Halifax Associates October Gathering

The Halifax Congregation de Notre-Dame Associates met on October 14 at the Visitation Center in Bedford.

Alexa welcomed the small group and thanked Anna Rowley for coming. Anna gave us an update on the Truro Associates who are ill and or have family illnesses. We will be remembering all in our prayers.

Anna gave a presentation on the first Associate Assembly held at the Motherhouse in Montreal in May of this year. For those of us who attended the Assembly the presentation brought back great memories. Also we felt good about what was accomplished through our working groups and leadership.

Alexa thanked Anna for this excellent presentation.

We then had a short planning meeting for our November and December meetings. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and visitation and thanked Sister Eileen McQuaid for opening and closing the office and for her presence.

Frankie MacCormack

Going to the Peripheries for ALS

Riverview Associate Al Kavanaugh had another successful year of fundraising for his special charity, “The Walk for ALS.” His objective for 2018 was to raise $6,000 but in fact he raised almost $12,000. Over the past 16 years, Al’s total fundraising effort has totaled $173,000. Way to go AL!!! We congratulate you on the tremendous success for such a worthy cause. The funds from the “Walk for ALS” go to assist the ALS Society of Canada’s vision which is supporting Canadians living with ALS and investing in research to make ALS a treatable, not terminal disease. Thank you Al for the good work that you do in your community to assist others.

Visitation Province Associate Assembly Presentation for Sydney and Area Associates and Sisters

Marjorie Allison-Ross met with Cape Breton Sisters and Associates on October 1 to review the first Associate Assembly held in Montreal in May 2018. The theme was "On Fire For Mission". Marjorie had the welcoming table decorated with candles and flames and our beloved Marguerite's statue was present providing a relaxed mood. "Oh Spirit Guide Me" song opened the meeting followed by contemplative prayer. Marjorie presented an over-view slide show of the conference, taking time to identify Associates and Sisters we might know. Three readings were shared among those present. Marjorie carefully explained the process which took place in Montreal to reach the 4 core values for Associates. Core Value are beliefs, attitudes on which decisions are made and how individuals interact with each other and communities through lived experiences and hopes of the Associate participants. Similarly, our group separated into smaller discussion groups to reflect on ideas or movements that were emerging within ourselves surrounding these values. A sharing of these personal reflections took place. Each associate was given the flame mounted postcard which describes these 4 core values. This gathering was very helpful in deepening our Mission Vision Statement and how can we take action on these values. We were all delighted to have our Co-coordinator visit our area. As well, Holy Redeemer Sister Gwen and staff provided a delicious lunch.

Dianne MacAskill, Associate



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