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A New Dialogue on Human Trafficking: Exploring the Spectrum of Exploitation

A New Dialogue on Human Trafficking: Exploring the Spectrum of Exploitation, organized by Faith Alliance to End Human Trafficking

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

9:am – 4:pm

Sam Sorbara Auditorium

University of St. Michael’s College

81 St. Mary Street, Toronto, ON

Cost: $30

To register: https://newdialogue.eventbrite.ca

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MONTRÉAL, WHAT A STORY!… along the river

The People’s Climate March is now a Movement – Join us April 29th!

September 2014 was a transformative time for climate action and we were part of it! Congrégation de Notre-Dame Sisters and staff were on the ground in New York City and more sisters and associates participated in sister marches across Canada. We succeeded in bringing what was then seen as a ‘special interest’ issue that only a few should be concerned with, to becoming a widespread movement that involves everyone and touches every part of our lives. In follow-up to this, the Encyclical Laudato Si has provided a road map for the world with the concept of Integral Ecology. It seems that since then our challenges have been increasing. The power and enthusiasm of mass mobilization is needed more than ever. Plans are underway for what is now being called the People’s Climate Movement. This time centre stage on April 29 will be Washington DC instead of New York. The focus is action on climate change that will create jobs, healthier communities, and a better future. A diverse coalition of groups has come together – faith, environmental, labour, student, environmental and racial justice, and more. Hundreds of sister marches are being planned across the United States. So far there are Canadian marches being planned in Tofino, Vancouver, Kelowna, Edmonton, Prince Albert, Regina, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Bancroft Toronto, and Ottawa. Stay tuned to hear about an event near you, if you are not close to one of these locations. We invite you to be part of this important movement through participating in a local march, involving your local church and through prayer. For more information see https://peoplesclimate.org/

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Shawl Ministry at The Small Plot

For two hours each week a group of women gather to prayerfully knit or crochet a shawl for someone in need of comfort from illness, grief or any other difficulty.

One of the many Prayer Shawl Ministry websites describes the activity in the following manner: “Compassion and the love of knitting/crocheting have been combined into a prayerful ministry and spiritual practice which reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace, as well as in celebration and joy. Blessings are prayed into every stitch. Whether they are called Prayer Shawls, Comfort Shawls, Peace Shawls, or Mantles, etc., the shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient. The intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. Upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on its way.”

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Virtual Pilgrimage: Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette in Toronto

For the past three years, parishioners and students have had the opportunity to experience a Virtual Pilgrimage. The Pilgrimage mirrors spending a day at Lourdes, France. After being a volunteer in Lourdes, Joan Lewis, CND desired to share with others a similar experience. She then persuaded Fran, one of the team members, to come to Toronto. 

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The Statue Our Lady, Help of Christians Returns

For immediate release

After Years of Loving Attention, the Statue Our Lady, Help of Christians Returns to the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel

(Montreal, April 13, 2017) – The splendid statue of Our Lady, Help of Christians that had stood on the pediment of the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel since 1887 is back in its place of honour...

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Monday of Holy Week – The Journey to Salvation

Invitation to Prayer:

As we enter into the rituals of Holy Week, we are invited to enter more deeply into the Passover journey through death to fullness of Life. We follow Jesus along the way of his passion, death, and resurrection step by step. Our prayer this morning invites to come as we are into this journey.  We begin a pilgrimage … a time of walking and seeking a new heart … a heart seeking pardon, healing and wholeness.  Let us ask for the courage to begin this journey in peace.

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As Easter approaches and I reflect on this Lenten season, I am humbled by an unexpected journey with a relative.  The conversations were rich and meaningful for each of us in different ways.  He is asking me questions about my faith.  I am responding to his questions to the best of my knowledge; but his questions lead me to questions I was not necessarily aware that I had.  In turn, I was led to a deeper Lenten prayer. 

I was shocked when, via text, he asked me to be his sponsor during his RCIA journey to becoming a Catholic.  Sure, many in my family ask me to be a Godparent to their babies and then those children grow up to ask me to be their Confirmation sponsors.  Truth be told, often, I am the choice of last resort because I meet the criteria of ‘practicing Catholic’ where others may identify as Catholic but they have a hard time getting the required sponsor sheet signed by their pastor.

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Fire in our Hearts - Easter Reflection

A journey is a journey.   A trip has a map, a GPS or a plan of some kind, but a journey requires openness to change, trust in journeying companions and living in the moment.  The story of the Emmaus journey (Luke 24:13-35) is a perennial favorite Easter story. It is a story of ordinary events – a walk home, conversation, remembering, a meal, and recognition. It is a story of emotions that move from sadness, maybe even anger, and disappointment, through eager learning (feeling fire within) to joy and a need to “run back to the others and share.”  The disciples experience something very deep as they make their way back home. “A walk and a meal can transform our life.”  The walk is a familiar trail, and the familiar may be around us; neighbors, children, pets, tiny birds that look at us, asking for our notice.   God finds ways to reach us, and speak to us, always; alone or in a group. The events in this story follow a weekend like no other, and result in a moment when they knew, “Yes, He is risen.  We recognized Him in the familiar breaking of bread!”  God graces us with peak experiences that come when we need to be reassured and reminded we are not alone.   They may come when we are sharing what we have, when we are pondering, when we are tired and hungry, or when we are fired up with excitement and energy.   God knows our needs and God will find a way.  Happy Easter! 

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A Poem for Earth Day

Silent Psalm


Slowly, the cool dark

earth beneath my feet exhales.

Slugs leave silvered trails.


Tree trunks breathe, listen.

Mists rise, coiling up like smoke

swallowed in stillness.


Towering elms, midget

walnuts, still-green mossy logs,

tangled ivy, fallen


oak leaves floating red-

veined in silky-soft sea-grass,

seagulls’ feathers, frisky

squirrels and that dear orange

butterfly – All praise our God!

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Earth Day 2017

Saturday, April 22 will be Earth Day. Sometimes people ask, ”What can I do to respect, protect and nurture the Earth?” Each one of us needs to find our own answers and do our own search. In our local paper, one environmentalist wrote a column about plastics, that huge umbrella of manufactured materials that can be made into so many of the products we use so liberally. We see bags, bottles, jugs, clamshell containers, stretch wrap, disposable cutlery, stir sticks, straws and so on. Plastics are made of very long and strong chains of carbon atoms; this makes them last a long time. Plastics have a very large carbon footprint; it takes huge amounts of petroleum to make just the plastic water bottles so commonly purchased and tossed away. Plastics pollute our land and our water bodies. Plastics may have additives that cause health problems. We could all make an effort to learn the plastic recycling symbols: Number 4 plastics (bread bags, grocery bags and milk bags) can be recycled into new products; Number 7 plastics belong to a catch-all class that is diverse and essentially unrecyclable. We could make choices about our use of and dependence on plastics. 


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Palm Sunday Reflection

Associate Maria is involved in many ministries in her parish, Sacred Heart/Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As I was reading the gospel for Palm Sunday, I was struck by such contrasts from welcoming and cheering to violence – betrayal, deceit, injustice and death. As a mother I felt the anguish that Mary must have felt to witness her son’s pain and suffering. And there is a part of me that is in awe of Jesus obedience to his Father – to die on the cross for us. 

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A Reflexion on Resurrection

Resurrection is a hard sell. One would think it would be easier than suffering and crucifixion, but ironically it isn’t. No one alive today is unaware of the ordeal of suffering and pain: in themselves, in the people they love, in their own cities and countries. Unfortunately, we are also acutely aware of the sufferings of people around the world through the media. We can see on our televisions and media devices the horror as it unfolds from natural disasters and from evil inflicted by others. We can see the effects of torture and death on the evening news as clearly as if we stood on Calvary looking up at the Son of God as he was dying by the hands of those who hated him. 


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Photo: Sr. Rose Mary Sullivan and Sr. Jackie Hanrahan 

We are winding down the Have a Heart Campaign. We received many notes for our brothers and sisters in detention. We have raised money to be used in collaboration with First Friends, the group which is actively working with immigrants in metro NY detention sites. There are a few more promised donations to come. Our sisters, associates, local Congregation of Notre Dame Communities, former CND sisters, family and friends of CND sisters, several schools, parishes in Norwalk, Kankakee, and Bourbonnais have generously responded to the Campaign. I was especially touched by a letter from a parishioner from Maternity Parish in Bourbonnais who reminded me that the novitiate used to be in her parish and that she loved attending the CND ceremonies held in her church! Her letter and several notes spoke of gratitude to be able to do something in the face of the growing ugly prejudice against immigrants. On April 6, Sr. Marilyn Medinger and I will meet with Sr. Regina Holtz of First Friends to strategize as to the best way to use our funds and to get information on “Packing Day” – the day the materials are packaged for distribution. I hope some of us can go to Kearny, New Jersey to help on that day. I firmly believe this campaign gives concrete and specific expression to our commitment to dare to live interculturally and to go to the peripheries. May we continue to walk where we talk. Thank you for Having a Heart.

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Associate News

New Ministry For Women At Holy Cross/Immaculate, Heart Of Mary Parish, Chicago, IL

The associates and candidates at Holy Cross/ Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Chicago are beginning a Prayer Shawl Ministry. Associate Maria V. explained that many women in their immigrant community are afraid to leave their homes at this time. The purpose of this new ministry is to bring women together to pray, share and support each other as well as make prayer shawls. Maria describes the enthusiasm of their first gathering.

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Vocation Formation

Elizabeth (Libby) Osgood, candidate, has been accepted to enter the Novitiate of the CND. We offer Libby our prayerful support in her ongoing discernment as she continues to prepare for her entrance to the Novitiate in August 2017. 

Update re Ontario Basic Income Consultations

There was a high level of support expressed for the upcoming 3-year pilot project. The names of participating communities will be announced this spring. The following link provides a good overview of the project and lists other countries already implementing it. There is also a link to a good 2-minute video explaining the concept.


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Green News!

Photo Marie-Claire Dugas

During the past three years, personnel at the Mother House have been taking specific steps towards Greening. The Congrégation de Notre-Dame Mother House is now a member of the Green Church Network. http://www.eglisesvertes.ca/enregistrees/par-categories/monasteres-verts/267-cnd-maison-mere

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“The Right To Be Cold”

“The Right To Be Cold” by Sheila Watt-Cloutier will be featured in “The Canada Reads” competition March 27-30 on CBC radio. It is the personal story of one woman’s efforts to save her Arctic culture, the Arctic itself and the Planet. She has many outstanding accomplishments especially being nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, was awarded the Aboriginal Achievement Award and the UN Champion of the Earth Award. Her personal story is a story about climate change and how shifting environmental conditions affected her and her Inuit people’s history. But it goes farther than that when she describes the great disconnect that has developed between our communities, our economies and our environment. She says “we Inuit are the ground-truthers of climate change; we are on the front lines of cataclysmic environmental shifts that are affecting the world, and we have observed and confirmed these changes in the Arctic for decades.” She goes on to say: “If we cannot save the frozen Arctic, how can we expect to save the rest of the planet?” 

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Reflection Fifth Sunday in Lent; Reflections on John 11: 1-45

Photo: Marie-Claire Dugas

In this Gospel reading we are to see ourselves in Lazarus and his two sisters. Jesus uses this miracle of restoring physical life to show us that, if we truly believe and trust in Him, He will give us eternal Life. Much hope is offered to us in Psalm 23, ' The Lord Our Shepherd'.

Jesus' weeping for Lazarus is not only for His love for him but for each and every one of us when He grieves over our sinfulness. We have come to know Jesus as a very merciful God. His love for us shines through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead when He conquers death forever. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for His friends.

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