The Visitation Province Administration Team met at Seton Spirituality Centre in Terence Bay, Nova Scotia, September 2nd – 5th for shared days of retreat. Becky McKenna, CND offered short daily reflections that drew us into times of silence as well as deep sharing.
Recalling the wisdom of eco-theologian Thomas Berry, C.P., Becky suggested that we “look to Earth for guidance.” It is the source from which we come and within this web of life we find all the courage, strength and wisdom that we need to live our lives with meaning and integrity. During our days of retreat we were invited to “Come to the Water,” to know the replenishing powers of the ocean and its buoyancy, the capacity to hold us safely despite the storms. This was followed by a day of contemplating the coastal gardens all around us, wondering at the ways in which we too cultivate life, plot resurrection and delight in being part of this amazing life system.
St. Joseph's Parish, Port Felix will be celebrating Florence MacKenzie's 50th Anniversary on September 21, 2014. Celebration of the Eucharist in the Parish Church at 11:00 a.m. followed by a luncheon in the Parish Hall. Congregation of Notre Dame Sisters and Associates are invited to come and celebrate with Florence and with the Parish.
A beautiful day at Quonnie over the Labor Day weekend became the setting for a conversation in response to the article by Sandra Schneiders that was a suggested “summer read.” Eight of us from six different local communities entered easily and trustingly into a sharing of experiences of transition, challenge, and hope inherent in religious life in the present and in the years since Vatican II. The sharing was personal and rich, the listening was open and deep, the attitude was compassionate and supportive. Also, it served as a link between the summer reflection with Nancy Sylvester and the “Sabbath Sharing’s” that will unfold amongst us in the coming months. Our take-home commitment was two-fold: (1) the need for continued reliance on the Holy Spirit, and (2) focus on being our most pure self. Thus do we hope to meet, survive, and thrive in the ongoing challenge of renewal in contemporary religious life.
Let us remember with gratitude the 50 years of CND courageous and committed life and ministry in the mission of Guatemala. We rejoice with the sisters, associates and others in the Región Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe at this time. One expression of our concrete solidarity and joy during these anniversary celebrations will be the presence of Sisters Mary Corbett, Lorraine Costello, Joan Lewis, Paula Maher and Maura McGrath who ministered in Central America. We wish them a blest, joyous and safe journey. The following words by one of the “journeyers” gives us pause for proclaiming the greatness of God!
“I see this moment as a significant time of support, affirmation and celebration of the Central American women who have chosen to cast their lot among us. When I see who they have become, in their challenges and struggles--yes!--but also in the leadership they have assumed and exercise in such strength and capacity, this seems like a moment to celebrate and honour that.”
Associate relationship is alive and well in Visitation Province. That was very evident as 40+ sisters and associates gathered at Villa Consolata, Howe Island for their annual reflection weekend. This year, the theme picked up from Sister Josephine Badali’s circular inviting all of us to reflect together on Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) “with a Visitation Heart.” Through prayer, wonderfully prepared input, silence, small group sharing, Sunday Eucharist, delicious food and plenty of time for informal conversation with one another, we wondered how - in the years ahead - we can allow that joy to map out ‘new paths’ for our journey as Visitation people. I for one rejoice in and celebrate the shared gifts of sisters and associates, and it was clear that the relationship between us is alive and active. Congratulations and gratitude to those who made this weekend possible.
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. www.internationaldayofpeace.org Anyone, anywhere can celebrate Peace Day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, sitting in silent meditation, or doing a good deed for someone you don’t know. Or it can involve getting people together in a large event.
THE STORY IS TOLD of a lady in a shopping mall. When the power went off and all the lights went out she felt a little hand in hers, and she asked, in the darkness,
“Who do you belong to?” The response came: “I’m yours, until the lights come on.”
The countdown is on!! Early Friday morning, Monica Lambton and Apraham Nizibilian (acting Coordinator of the CND Social Justice Network while Bineta Ba is on maternity leave) and I will be heading to New York City to join in the People’s Climate March. We shall walk and pray in the names of all the children of the world and in a particular way the women, men and children who suffer disproportionately the effects of climate change. We shall march in the name of all of us, sisters and associates in Japan, Central America, Africa, USA and Canada. We are one as you gather in prayerful communion in the invitation to change everything!
The Congregation of Notre Dame International Justice Network has determined that a major focus of our Justice efforts in the coming year throughout the Community will be Climate Change. We have a unique opportunity to participate in an historical movement to draw attention to the effects of Climate Change. While September 21 is International Peace Day and this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the General Assembly’s Declaration of the Right of People to Peace, September 21 also marks the day for the Climate Change March in NYC. As the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network stated, “..the People’s Climate March seeks to ‘bend the course of history, drawing global attention and exerting direct pressure on attendees of the UN Climate Summit. WECAN encourages everyone who is able to march with us on this momentous day as we mobilize for the rights of women, indigenous peoples, nature, and future generations.” I hope our Province will be well represented in this March. Let us make every effort to do our part to bend the course of history.
(L-R: Sisters Mary Anne Foley, Mary Anne Powers, Eileen Good, Kathleen Murphy, Kathleen Deignan)
On August 10th, we gathered for brunch to celebrate our 45th year of Profession. Sharing of present events in our ministries, lots of memories and laughs were all a part of our gathering. We are most grateful to God and to the CND for all that has happened over these many years and look forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary of entrance in 2016 and, of course, our Golden Jubilee-which we can't quite imagine has come so quickly. 2019 seemed like the end of the world in 1969!!!
Nine Associates and two Associate Candidates participated in the Summer Gathering, July 10-13 in Wilton; six from the mid-west and five from the east. Some of their dynamic realizations about their experience were:
Congregation of Notre Dame vitality for mission is lived by both Associates and Sisters but in different ways.
Seeing Congregation of Notre Dame Sisters and Associates faces all around me made me feel so welcomed and my commitment more real.
Associates are fellow travelers with the Sisters; together we are keepers of the charism.
During a final session, some remarks of Sisters about Associates presence and interaction at the assembly were:
There is a new “us” – Sisters and Associates, a movement of the Spirit. How do we respond and work together?
Could more of us, Sisters, individually reach out to Associates?
How do we collaborate together, Associates and Sisters, around issues, especially immigration?
While in Charlottetown in May, I visited some of my friends at Andrews of Charlottetown and was able to participate in a couple of their singsongs. Following those events I was invited by the activities coordinator, Marlene MacLaren, to return in August to sing to the residents, as well as to speak on the topic of "Gifts and Talents That We Have Within Us," based on Paul's Prayer. This was done on two separate afternoons. The attendees, both lay and religious, genuinely enjoyed these sessions, as was evident in their comments which they gave in writing to Marlene, where they stated, “they loved the subject matter and how it created an awareness in them of their own gifts and talents at this particular stage in their lives.
I applied and have been appointed a General Delegate to the 2014 Bridgeport Diocesan Synod. The last synod was in 1981 and after the arrival of Bishop Frank Caggiano last Fall, he discerned that this year would be an appropriate opportunity to begin a process to take a comprehensive look at the situation within our diocese, look at the trends on the national level, examine how our diocesan institutions are responding to those trends and initiate a conversation about meeting the challenges of the Church in Fairfield County going forward.
On Friday, September 5, the CND’s of the Kingston area remembered and thanked God for the safe release of Sister Gilberte and the two priests who were abducted in Cameroon. Joined by the Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of the Hotel Dieu, we celebrated in solidarity with those in Montreal and throughout the Congregation by offering the Eucharist for this intention on that day.
August 19-21 Charlottetown, PE: I attended this conference that offered sections on Gender, Diversity and Community Leadership and Democracy and Social Justice. It was inspirational to hear from dedicated people, especially young people, their ideas and their hope – and to learn of the projects currently established - for better ways. Men and women from professional service occupations, and volunteers, are seeking ways to bring about justice, fairness, equity (not the same as equality); to teach people about institutional power, collective power and social power and how to use these; and to develop more bridge-building and open communication in our efforts to bring about change in the world.
Write to Prime Minister Harper and ask him to accept the invitation of the UN Secretary General to attend the Leaders' Summit on Climate Change (see First Class for the letter JPIC wrote). President Obama and other world leaders are planning to be there but so far no word from Canada.
From the three corners of our “universe” (Ottawa), three cars challenged traffic on the afternoon of Friday, September 5th. They were on their pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de Lourdes Grotto, a 104 year-old jewel secluded in a hidden precinct behind the “real world” in Notre-Dame de Lourdes Parish of the present-day sector of Vanier, an ancient francophone milieu formerly known as Eastview.