A Syrian couple arrived late Thursday evening in Canada; they will be staying with Sister Susan Kidd for the next few weeks. Sister Susan says “They are well, tired and we are all learning much. Non-verbal communication can be effective! Friday, they went to Sears, Marks Work Warehouse and a convenience store owned by a Syrian family and got groceries. Saturday was more around the house. Ibtisam cooked for us and in the evening went to the mosque for a social event for women. Their suitcase arrived yesterday so today is for laundry and possibly phoning friends in Lebanon. Tomorrow, they will go to the bank and Tuesday to Newcomers. My Arabic speaking neighbours have also been over a few times. We celebrated Fawaz's birthday with balloons, Syrian music, a roasted chicken with PEI mashed potatoes, chocolate cake with candles and a UPEI student from Jordan as translator. Fawaz and Ibtisam are two of the most courageous people I know and still … they smile. When we ask if they would like anything or need anything, they want us to be happy! We laugh and say that is what we want for them. Lots of "Thank God," in the house these days. We are blessed! Please continue to carry them and all refugees in prayer”
Sisters may be interested in the book entitled The Holy Year of Mercy. This is a Faith-Sharing Guide with Reflections by Pope Francis. It is compiled by Susan Heuver. Each of the eight sessions features a Gospel passage followed by a homily on that passage by Pope Francis. Questions for reflection and discussion focus on both the Scripture and the homily. It can be used for individuals or small groups.
On Ash Wednesday, Development and Peace will be launching its Share Lent campaign focusing on the theme Create a Climate for Change inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si' and the Jubilee Year of Mercy. For almost 50 years Development and Peace has accomplished outstanding development work in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. In fact, the 50th anniversary is next year, 2017, with celebrations beginning this year. The Share Lent campaign is designated as our annual fundraiser. As well, people may help financially by sharing year-round through our monthly donations program.
On Jan. 15th, a special school Mass was celebrated to honor her. I gave a short bio of St. Marguerite and students did silent enactments of what I was saying. For Catholic Schools Week, Theresa, Helen and I will be part of a Vocation Panel sharing about our life as CNDs. I often think of and pray for each of you who made your Holy Habit and 1st vows at Maternity Church. It continues to be a very special place.
On Saturday, January 9th, journeying associate Mary Jo Jaques and her daughter Megan, who is a 1st year CBU student, and myself visited the Congregation of Notre Dame Health Care Centre to visit the Sisters who live there. While there, we learned that Sr. Theresa had returned home to Parkland the day before. We then went to Parkland and low and behold Sr. Theresa was in the entrance when we arrived. She was so thrilled to see us as we were to see her too. God bless her. She was using the walker and will continue to do so until her strength is fully restored. Continue to keep her in your prayers for a full recovery. We felt truly blessed to be visiting the Sisters in the spirit of St Marguerite Bourgeoys.
The 35th Anniversary Committee invites groups to think of activities that they can do to commemorate this special milestone in the life of the Congregation de Notre Dame. One idea that has been encouraged is for groups to plant a tree, shrub, flowers or vegetable garden. This would be a symbol of solidarity with the tree planted at the Motherhouse. Whatever your group decides to do, please take pictures and write about it and send this to the Coordinators so it can be placed in the Archives. There may be a Facebook page where we can inform others about our Anniversary activities.
In early January, we asked associates to let us know if they were part of any preparations to receive the Syrian Newcomers to Canada. We heard from a few groups.
In Woodstock, NB, 2 associates are part of the Planning Committees for their local areas (Finance and Health & Wellness). The overall Planning Committee is a partnership of churches, organizations and individuals working together to submit applications to receive approximately 6 families in Carleton County. Many associates have donated money, clothing and household items. Some have assisted with sorting clothing donations. One of the homes that a Syrian family will be living in is the former Congregation of Notre Dame Convent where sisters lived for 27 years. Some of the associates have been asked to clean it and prepare it to be ready to receive the new family. One picture shows volunteers sorting the clothing donations. Other photo is the Convent on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Congregation of Notre Dame Mission in Woodstock in 2003. The Committee has just been informed that it may be March before the families arrive.
Woodstock Associates celebrated on January 14. The weather interfered with the Fredericton Sisters and Associates joining them. Fr. John Keoughan, Parish Priest at St Gertrude’s in Woodstock joined them for lunch.
On the feast of Marguerite, I found myself at daily mass in our old mission church. I am a lone Congregation of Notre Dame presence in this town in the hills of central Mexico. Around me were the beautiful Mexican people so steeped in faith and love, joy and courage. These are the poor, the little people who are ignored and have no voice... they are the elderly with no income, the children who cannot get an education, mothers who give their food to their children before they eat. So many struggling poor families yet brave and happy with the little they have.
Before communion they turn to me. La Paz del señor este siempre contigo.
"The Lord hears the cry of the poor, blessed be the Lord". Psalm 34
On January12, 2016, the Truro associates gathered at the home of Joan Fraser to celebrate the Feast of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys! There was music, shared prayer, with 'exerpts' from the "suggested program" to honour St. Marguerite. There was a lovely Gospel Reading and sharing of the written word. Then, we all shared and read the wonderful writing Sr. Pat Simpson did on St. Marguerite, entitled "She Went on Her Way Rejoicing: Marguerite’s Gift of Joy to Us.” We concluded with discussion, shared Intentions, fellowship, and refreshments We surely enjoyed Marguerite's Gift of Joy to us.
To the chorus of the hymn to St. Marguerite Bourgeoys written by Sister Rita Clare, many Congregation of Notre Dame sisters and associates and laity paid respect on her feast day. The church St. Marguerite Bourgeoys named in honor of her patroness Saint Marguerite celebrated a mass and exposition of her relic on Jan 12, 2016 in Sydney, N.S. Father Bill Burke expressed his joy in such a large crowd attending this mass on a cold winter's night.
On January 12, the beautiful feast of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys was well attended by many sisters, associates and parishioners. The statue of Marguerite was placed near the altar. The relic of St Marguerite was placed near the statue of Marguerite by Sr. Dolores Kennedy. Deacon Robert Coleman’s beautiful sermon showed us how Congregation of Notre Dame Sisters influenced his life. He was taught by them. One of his aunts was a CND sister. Fr. Bill Burke spoke about how many great things have taken place in the parish since the church was renamed “St Marguerite Bourgeoys”.
Theme: “Rooted in Jesus Christ Let Us Cultivate Love and Compassion”
In November, information went out to all Visitation province associates announcing an opportunity to attend the 2016 Congregation General Chapter in August in Cornwall, Ontario. The nine associates who attended the Assembly were invited to be part of the Discernment Process. We were given 3 passages to use for contemplative reflection to help us discern if we should submit our name for consideration. If we wished to be considered as a participant we had to submit our name by December 15 with a brief statement of what moved us to let our name stand.
The Congregation of Notre Dame Community at Andrus recently joined in prayer to celebrate the life of Sr. Dorothy Siemsen on her 90th Birthday. There was rich sharing on the many gifts and talents during Dorothy’s many years as a Congregation of Notre Dame sister. Some there knew Dorothy as a young sister; others have shared her life at Andrus. Dorothy’s response was one of gratitude to all there for sharing her years at Andrus and to God for her many years of life. A great ice cream social followed.
Everyone at the SSND residence in Wilton shared the joy of January 12, 2016. The sisters from Lourdes joined the larger community in the chapel. As usual, our “Notre Dame” sisters there welcomed us with their usual generous warmth and joy. At the Liturgy, Lectors were Mary Anne Powers, CND, and Pat Flattery, CND, and the homily was preached by Joan Mahoney, CND. The topic was Marguerite’s joy, and Joan delivered the homily in that same spirit. Sr. Mary Ann Rossi composed and read the Prayers of the Faithful. We prayed for Sr. Denise Conway, CND, on her birthday and remembered sisters Joan Annello and Rose Marie Duffy on the anniversary of their deaths. Sr. Marylou Lyons and Sr. Sue Poulin were Eucharistic Ministers and Sr. Mary Ann Calabrese was the coordinator of it all with her usual grace. After Mass, CND sisters and associates gathered in the Leclerc dining room for coffee and pastry.
Recently, a group of Congregation of Notre Dame sisters in the Norwalk area joined Sr. Sally Norcross at St Matthew Church, Sally’s parish, for a session of the “Underground Church.” The type of worship offered at these gatherings seems to attract young adults, so we went. I had invited Karen, a young woman (19 years old) from Sisters Pat McCarthy and Rose Mary Sullivan’s parish to join us there. She came with a few of her friends. We share our experiences and theirs because it seems to show the different styles of spirituality between the generations! At one of our General Chapters, the question was asked about Vocation Ministry: “What oceans do we need to cross to reach women who may be called to Religious Life?” I believe that being open to different types of spirituality and prayer may be one of them!! Let us tell you about the evening.