The faces of Visitation spirituality: Sisters MENGUE Évangéline, MINKADA ONANA Brigitte, NGO NGOK Angèle and Sheila Sullivan in Central America.
Photo, CND, 2009

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Fourth Week of Advent Reflection

 

As I enter into a reflection on the Gospel this 4th Sunday (Luke 1:26-38; The Annunciation Story), I am struck by the walk we have all taken together on this Advent e-journey.   I love all of your juxtapositions of the perfect pottery, polished silver, perfectly knitted sweaters and delicately blown glass with the “cracked pots”, “tarnished silver”, “Holy, holey sweaters” and “molten” balls of glass with “minds of their own”.    I love Sr. Joan’s consideration of an “inner-active” Advent combined with Gwen’s thoughts on actively and outwardly participating as “co-creators” in bringing about Christmas. 

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We Remembered…We Celebrated…

On the evening of December 16, Notre Dame Community of Andrews warmly welcomed our Congregation of Notre Dame sisters from the surrounding area, who initiated the gathering. Our hearts were burdened with the loss of two more sisters. They came with song sheets, a guitar, a PowerPoint presentation, gifts and delicious refreshments. The names of the six sisters who left us to enter New Life since we moved to Andrews were artistically displayed in the center of our community room: (Sisters Margaret Kelly, Marie Bernice Arsenault, Georgina Hughes, Dorothy McCarron, Alfreda Rogers and Margaret Arsenault). Coming together lifted our spirits and energized us. We remembered fondly those who were no longer physically present with us.

(photo: Sr. Susan Kidd, CND)

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Fourth Week of Advent, December 21, 2014

As I enter into a reflection on the Gospel this 4th Sunday (Luke 1:26-38; The Annunciation Story), I am struck by the walk we have all taken together on this Advent e-journey.   I love all of your juxtapositions of the perfect pottery, polished silver, perfectly knitted sweaters and delicately blown glass with the “cracked pots”, “tarnished silver”, “Holy, holey sweaters” and “molten” balls of glass with “minds of their own”.    I love Sr. Joan’s consideration of an “inner-active” Advent combined with Gwen’s thoughts on actively and outwardly participating as “co-creators” in bringing about Christmas. 

These juxtapositions are so beautifully alive in the Annunciation story.     Mary was invited by God to bring Christ into the world, but was not a passive participant in the story.   Mary’s strength and active role shines through as she ponders, questions and ultimately reaches her own decision in response to the invitation.

Ultimately, the story of the Annunciation is an active story of discernment.    Each of us, from one day to another, lives the story of the Annunciation and is invited in different ways by God to play the roles of the Angel Gabriel and Mary.  As Mary learns of her cousin’s pregnancy, we are also invited to “enter the story” as Elizabeth (Fran Ferder).  Sometimes we are the Angel Gabriel.  Sometimes we are Mary.  Sometimes we are Elizabeth.

(painting of the Visitation by Sr. Andrée Maheu, CND)

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Advent Celebration in Kingston

We had a great turnout of sisters and associates for the Advent celebration on December 7, 2014 in Kingston, Ontario. Sister Kay Duffin presented and spoke about being open to go where the Lord leads you. Sister Kay told her story of how she attended a lengthy retreat during her sabbatical and how with an open mind and an open heart, one can deepen their relationship with Christ.

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News from our Visitation Province Sisters (English Canada)

May the miracle of Christmas

fill your day with wonder,

your life with beauty,

and your heart with gladness. 

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Save the Date! Slavery No More: April 18

Slavery No More: Breaking the Supply Chains of Human Slavery

Manhattan College  Bronx, NY

Saturday, April 18, 2015    8:45-1:30

More than 100 million girls are "missing" due to parental sex selection!

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Video Recommendation

Margaret Silf one hour talk in November at St. Paul's in London UK on "Faith" can be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70WMEzQMpHQ She shares how her own Ignatian based faith is grounded in personal experience rather than creeds, institutional dogmas, church attendance etc. She will be giving two 2 day retreats and a talk in Toronto at the Sisters of St. John the Divine between May 22-28. (See http://www.ssjd.ca/retreat2015-0522-margaret-silf1.html for more details) and a weekend workshop for the Ignatian Spirituality Centre of Montreal from May 29-31. 

Lima Climate Change Talks & Getting Ready for What's Next

This past week, the United Nations wrapped up its conference working towards a new Climate Change Framework Agreement. We took action by writing to the Prime Minister, Opposition Party Leaders and several other MP's urging Canada to play a positive role in these international discussions. In this letter we referred to letters that we had written to the Ambassadors of China and the United States in Canada, congratulating them on the breakthrough agreement between those two countries on the reduction of carbon emissions. In our letter to the Prime Minister we stated that we are waiting in hope for when we can send a similar letter of appreciation to our own government. This is not the first time we have written a letter or taken action urging the Canadian Government to be a positive force for climate action. We are making progress in very small measures. We carry on, knowing that our persistence will eventually bear fruit. KAIROS is a good example of resilience and persistence. Five years ago this month, CIDA cut the funding to KAIROS, yet they continue on and in many ways are thriving more than ever. KAIROS organized a series of socials to ensure the community gathered to celebrate its resilience. And Rick Mercer joined in. Take a look at his affectionate and humorous greetings here: http://vimeo.com/113536259

As we prepare to enter a new year, let us join together to celebrate our resilience and to strengthen our persistence. 

Gaudium Evangelii

The 'Joy of the Gospel' has been resounding within three highly enthusiastic groups in Montreal; two coordinated by Sister Kay Duffin and one by Sister Marie Azzarello. The consensus seems to be that Pope Francis' Gaudium Evangelii is a breath of fresh air and a source of great hope for our church, for our world.

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Vigil for Lima at Villa Notre Dame in Wilton, CT

In solidarity with People of Faith across the Globe, The Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame and the School Sisters of Notre Dame hosted a Vigil for Lima on December 7 at Villa Notre Dame in Wilton, CT. 

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Mass for Shut Ins

On October 19, 2014 the Associates with some of our local CND Sis-ters gathered at the CTV Studio in Sydney to celebrate Mass For Shut-ins with Celebrant Fr. Albert Maroun and choir under the direction of Mr. Pat Moore with friends. This was a time of really living the words of our Mission and Vision Statement “ In a Spirit of openness and mutuality with the Sisters” and also “We recognize with joy and gratitude that the Congregation of Notre Dame Associate Relationship is a gift for the Church and the world today.” This was a time of celebration for Visitation East living mutuality with 7 Associate Groups from as far as Pictou/New Glasgow and easterly to include the Sydney Mines, St. Theresa, Holy Angels, Holy Redeemer and New Victoria Groups. We felt very blessed to have at least one Associate from each of these groups who actively took part in the varying ministries for the Celebration. Angela McKinnon of the New Victoria Group was altar server, Mary McKenzie of the New Victoria Group proclaimed the 1st Reading, Gwen MacKinnon of the Pictou/New Glasgow Group proclaimed the 2nd Reading and Bev Mitchelitis of the Sydney Mines Group read the Prayers of the Faithful. Helen MacLean of Holy Redeemer and Lorrette Andrews of the Holy Angels Groups were the gift bearers and Theresa MacNeil of the St. Theresa Group was the Minister of the Eucharist. In CND fashion, we enjoyed a great meal at a local restaurant after Mass with Sister’s Gwen O’Neil and Theresa Sampson along with our celebrant Fr. Maroun – God is Good!!! 

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

A moving memorial service commemorating the deaths of the 14 women tragically killed on December 6, 1989 at École Polytechnique in Montreal, and of the nine women on PEI whose lives came to a violent end since that date, was held in Charlottetown on Friday, December 5.

Close to 200 people encircled a table of roses and candles. As each name was read, a candle was lit in honor of that woman. For the Island women, heart-warming details were told of the lives of each one.

The focus of the service was also on the more than 2,000 Indigenous women and children who have been declared missing or slain. The 2014-2015 Purple Ribbon Campaign Against Violence calls for a national inquiry into this tragedy. During the service on Friday, we were reminded that "we mourn and we act." 

God Gave Us Christmas

Gaudete Sunday.  That is Latin for REJOICE!  We’re lighting the rose colored candle filled with the spirit of joy this week.  How did we get here so fast?  One thing makes the time spent waiting seem to go by so much faster.  Any ideas?  Surely many of you guessed it.  Busy-ness.  Seems as if I blinked and instantly it was the third week of Advent!

 

 

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OFFICE OF MISSION ADVANCEMENT NEWS (USA)

At the beginning of November Vicki and I attended a development workshop in Sparkill, NY. On November 6th our Advisory committee met for the 2nd time. Several issues were discussed and it was decided that the next meeting would be held after the new Mission Advancement Director is in place.

We received several very generous gifts in November. These gifts have been invested for Health and Retirement. Please continue to keep our benefactors in your prayers.

Our benefactors’ names will be posted on our intranet. If you know any of these generous donors, please send them a thank you note/Christmas card. It would mean the world to them. We would be happy to give you addresses.

During this Advent season, may your hearts be opened more and more to receive the gift that Christ is offering you.

We wish you a very Happy Christmas and a New Year of good health and deep peace.

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Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, Foundress

In 1640, Marguerite was 20 years old. Following a spiritual experience, she decided to “give (herself) to the service of God.” At that time, her spiritual guide was Monsieur Gendret, priest in St-Nizier Parish (Troyes). She wrote that the good Father spoke to her about religious life. “But the Carmelites refused me even though I was strongly drawn to them. I went to others, but this did not succeed either.”

Monsieur Gendret was aware of Marguerite’s efforts. He studied the quality of the young woman who was under his guidance, her spiritual aspirations and her ability to attract others to her. He spoke to her about planning to found a community which would honour the life of the Blessed Virgin. An unsuccessful attempt was made in Troyes: of the initial group of three, one of these young women died, the other married and Marguerite was left alone. What was God’s will for her? For a while, she continued to commit herself to teaching in the outskirts of her home city. In 1643, she made a vow of chastity and a little later a vow of poverty.

In 1653, she travelled to New France to become a teacher in Ville-Marie (Montreal). Did this mean that she no longer aspired to religious life?

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NB Area Day

NB Sisters and Associates gathered at St Anthony’s Parish Hall in Fredericton on November 1. It had been 4 years since we had this opportunity to visit with one another. Sr, Eleanor McCloskey, CND, led us in prayer with a theme of “All Saints Day”. She said, “All Saints Day beckons us to some-thing beautiful. It reminds us of our great potential – the promise that lies within each of us; the promise of holiness”. As part of the prayer, we remembered the six NB Associates who had died since we last met in November 2010. Our guest speaker for the day, Sr Della Gaudet, CND from Charlottetown provided us with an enlightening history of the life and charism of our Foundress, Marguerite Bourgeoys. Winnie and Marjorie provided an update of their Coordinator work. There were photo and book resource exhibits. During Lunch, everyone had time to visit and share with one another what was happening in their groups. The participants were asked to provide feedback in an Evaluation to assist with planning for future Area Days. The participants said that they were thankful to be able to gather, learn, share and visit with one another. We did learn that the first Saturday in November is not a great time for NB Associates to meet so in 2015, we’ll find a date in later October. We plan to share the feed-back summary with the Maritime Group Contacts as it may be of assistance to other groups. A Special Thank You to Edy, Sisters Eleanor and Charlotte for their assistance with the planning!! 

Third Sunday in Advent - What will it take to lead us to the wilderness?

I noticed on the social networking site ‘Tumblr’ that Advent was a trending topic. When I clicked on it there were various images and quotes from hundreds of blogs about Advent. They ranged from quirky Advent calendars and mystical poems to stick figures of reindeer and cookie recipes. When I converted to Catholicism in 1980 and experienced my first season of Advent… I was told this Sunday was known as the ‘joyful’ Sunday.

None of them featured a wilderness! Yet, that is where John beckons us on this third Sunday of Advent. He is a voice of one crying out in the wilderness and what is amazing is that people follow him out there. Some of them wanted to question his identity - “Are you Elijah? The Messiah? The prophet?” Others were drawn to his message of repentance and preparation for ‘the coming.’ One could also say that Advent was a trending topic in John’s days.

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Blessed Sacrament Province Active Member in the Jubilee USA Network

It is a concrete expression of our Corporate Stand to advocate for forgiveness of the debt of the World’s poorest nations. In Mid-November, Treasury Sectary, Jacob Lew, brought Jubilee’s Ebola Relief Proposal to the G20 Meeting. The proposal included using $300 million, from an IMF Trust Fund created to deal with disasters, to relieve $100 in debt for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leon. In addition, there would be funds for investment in the social infrastructures (Healthcare etc.) of these three countries. Your phone calls and emails in response to Jubilee’s calls to action helped to bring about these actions. Thank you, for responding to my emails for Jubilee. May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bless you. 

Vocation News

Sisters Peggy and Mary Ann have sent to Congregation of Notre Dame Sisters in High School Ministry an invitation to offer their Religion or American History teachers and their students a DVD for viewing. Produced by the LCWR on the history of Women Religious in the United States, it is very well done, narrated by Cokie Roberts of NPR fame. IT would make good viewing for adults in the year of Consecrated Life…. and at no extra cost, Peggy and Mary Ann would come and lead a discussion!!! Book now for WOMEN AND SPIRIT: CATHOLIC SISTERS IN AMERICA BY CALLING!

VIGIL FOR LIMA in the Wilton Chapel

On December 7, we had a wonderful vigil in the Wilton Chapel. In addition to the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame and School Sisters of Notre Dame, we invited all the Catholic Communities in Norwalk and Wilton. We also extended an invitation to 5 area Protestant Churches. We did not invite Muslim or Jewish Communities because the prayer was build around the Season of Advent. Kathleen Deignan and Evelyn Avoglia led us in song. Maryann Calabrese led us in a wonderful "Earth Movement." She estimated about 75 were in attendance. The prayer was sent to all in an earlier intranet posting. It is still the second week of Advent so not too late to look it up and pray with it.

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