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January 2016 Visitation East Associate Newsletter

Visitation Province


A Moment for Grace 

A Prayer for Refugees 


God of our Wandering Ancestors, 


Long have we known 

That your heart is with the refugee:

That you were born into time 

In a family of refugees 

Fleeing violence in their homeland, 

Who then gathered up their hungry child

And fled into alien country. 


Their cry, your cry, resounds through the ages: 

 “Will you let me in?” 


Give us hearts that break open 

When our brothers and sisters turn to us 

with that same cry. 

Then surely all these things will follow: 

Ears will no longer turn deaf to their voices. 

Eyes will see a moment for grace instead of a threat. 

Tongues will not be silenced but will instead advocate. 

And hands will reach out— 

working for peace in their homeland, 

working for justice in the lands where they seek safe haven. 


Lord, protect all refugees in their travels. 

May they find a friend in me 

And so make me worthy 

Of the refuge I have found in you. 



Happy New Year Visitation East Associates

From Marjorie Alison-Ross and Anna Rowley

As we begin a new year (and a busy one), we want to wish you a happy and healthy 2016. Last autumn, we were happy to meet with many of you when we visited your communities and provided you with a summary of the Visitation Assembly which we attended. Again this year, we want to engage with you as much as possible.

We need to start reflecting and preparing our responses for the next part of the associate preparation for the 2016 General Chapter. The Central Office of Associate Relationship will soon be sending to all associates the letters (6 from sisters and 6 from associates) that the sisters and associates prepared in the six Congregation of Notre-Dame provinces and regions. We are being asked to read reflectively the set of 12 letters and to consider these questions:

  • What am I noticing?
  • Is anything shifting as I read the letters from other provinces/regions?
  • How am I being influenced in my thinking about Associate Relationship in the Congregation?

Then we are asked to use the 6 associate letters to answer the following question:

  • In light of these associate letters, where is God calling us into the future?

Then gather with other associates in conversation and dialogue and share responses to the question. Someone in each group needs to record the wisdom (capture the spirit as well as the content of the discussion) of the group and forward the responses to the Co-Coordinators before April 1, 2016. We’ll then work with the other Visitation Co-Coordinators to collate one letter from Visitation Province Associates in early April when we have our next meeting.


Mental Health Wellness and Community Resources

Submitted by Lori Young

Happy New Year!

Now that the stress of the holidays is behind us... it’s time to focus on the stress of a New Year! The chaos of returning to an interrupted routine, perhaps recovering from various forms of sleep deprivation or settling those pesky anxieties that surface from being away from home, or from accommodating friends and family over the holiday. For many, these post holiday realities are often overcome after a few weeks.

But for some... the recovery is quite different. Recovery is not just a stage in an illness or injury, it is a lifestyle.

My name is Lori Young. I am 43 years old and I live in a small town. The same small town where my mother and my sister and her family live. I have two cats, I love music and motorcycles... and I am diagnosed with a Mental Illness. In the mid 1990s, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

I am among the statistics that count 1 in every 3 Canadians as being directly affected by mental illness. Those statistics have been challenged to say that there are more than 1 in 3, as many... MANY people never come to recognize or come to terms with ongoing, sometimes crippling symptoms.

We are hearing more and more about Mental Illness and strategies for coping, various treatment options and lots about stigma reduction. The unfortunate thing about Mental Illness is that we are often our most challenging obstacle to accessing services that are intended to help.

One of the most powerful and effective stigma reducing strategies is through the courage of people with mental illness coming forward and sharing their story. This experience allows us to be exposed to the vast variety of people... their gifts, abilities and human traits...that are often skewed by media and other sources as a level of compromised intelligence, poverty and limited resources. Many people still believe that mental illness is a result of bad choices, or the inability to make good ones. Fact is, mental illness does impact our abilities to cope... but there is help. Even the most talented swimmer can be at risk of drowning. It’s the skills we learn, along with our commitment to practicing those skills that keep us above water.

I had the pleasure of being part of a committee who hosted Margaret Trudeau, Canadian Mental Health Advocate, and now mother of Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. By sharing her story of her Bipolar Disorder so candidly with the town of Woodstock provided a much needed platform for people in the community to see mental illness in a much different light. Many people have come forward in some way to recognize the efforts of mental illness based services, like Hayward House Recovery Center – a non profit facility that provides services for those affected by mental illness. Some people have even found the courage to disclose that their struggle has been too long ignored, and are now ready to seek the help available to them.

As we embark on a new year, I challenge you to be mindful not only of your own mental wellness, but that of others. I do believe that our service to others through visitation and sincere gestures of concern are foundations of balanced mental wellness. If symptoms, anxieties, or chaos become significant in their impact…. embrace the resources in your community. I wish you ongoing and mental wellness and Blessings in 2016!

“Changing Our Minds: An Evening with Margaret Trudeau” took place in Woodstock on October 22. Margaret is respected mental-health issues advocate.

In photo above are Lori Young, Executive Director of Hayward Recovery Centre; Guest Speaker Margaret Trudeau; Marie Innes (Lori’s sister) who works at Hayward Recovery Centre and was also a member of the event fundraising planning committee. Photo credit: Kristen Chisholm, Through Kristen’s Lens

Associate Christmas Gatherings—December 2015


Woodstock associates & Fredericton sisters gathered for prayer & Pot Luck Lunch on December 6 at Cyril & Helen’s Ross’ home.


Ray Ross led us in a Dreamscape Prayer which is visualization to music which has a purpose. The purpose for this was to visualize a positive outcome by seeing in our minds the end result of what we want. In a sense, it is a manifestation visualization because you are visualizing something you want and projecting a feeling of how that makes you feel – with a twist – that it has already happened. So you are really manifesting that outcome.

Here's the link to download and play the visualization:


Halifax Sisters and Associates gathered at the Visitation Province Centre for Prayer and Supper on December 14.

Update: 2016—35th Anniversary of Associate Relationship

Submitted by Marjorie Allison-Ross

I have mentioned that I’m on the 35th Anniversary of Associate Relationship Committee. Some of the events that have been planned so far for this special anniversary are the Tree Planting at the Motherhouse on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal. The Central Office sent everyone a leaflet stating, “Embracing our interconnectedness and interdependence with all of creation and in the spirit of our Chapter orientation to protect the planet, a tree will be planed on behalf of all Associates as part of a landscape renewal at the Motherhouse. As a symbol of solidarity the tree brings to mind our Associate logo and we invite Associate groups to commemorate locally by planting their own tree or shrub creating a living network across the planet celebrating 35 years of our Associate Relationship.” If your group does plant a tree or shrub, please send pictures and a write-up so we can send it to the Congregation of Notre Dame Archives.

The Congregation of Notre Dame Archives dedicated the month of November in their calendar to the Associate Relationship (November was chosen as this was the month that the Congregation of Notre Dame received approval from Rome to initiate the Associate Relationship in 1981). Visitation East is still exploring the possibility of a Pilgrimage to Montreal in the Footsteps of Marguerite Bourgeoys. About 10 people from the Maritimes, a few from the US and Visitation West have indicated that they are interested in a pilgrimage in July.

We hope that local groups will take the initiative to plan anniversary events in their geographic areas. Please let us know if you are making plans to commemorate the 35th and we’ll promote it in the Newsletter.


Congregation of Notre Dame Calendar quote for January 2016:

Reflection: “Each moment spent on this bright blue planet is precious so use it carefully.” – Santosh Kalwar

Question: How do I treat this precious earth?

Celebrating Advent and Christmas in Mexico

Submitted by Frances Connell, Miramichi Associate

It means a great deal to me living here at this distance. I must say things are going well. My broken knee is healing well, thanks to the great care, kindness and expertise of the great Mexicans in my life. It is beautiful to experience advent and prepare for Christmas in such a meaningful way as they do here. The feast of our Lady of Guadalupe was something out of this world.

In advent and visitation spirit,

Fran of Mexico (see photo above)

Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue

Christmas and New Year Tidings 2016

The Gospel story of Matthew tells us that Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus had to flee their homeland and go to Egypt. They faced persecution if they remained. The Holy Family were political refugees. As we remember the Christmas story let us pause and reflect that it is estimated that there are over 60 million refugees and internally displaced persons world wide today. Christmas is about celebrating how God so loved the world that God became

human. Human and Divine united. The Incarnation continues revealing to us that we are all one. We are all family. In this New Year, may the light of our oneness dispel the fear of difference and bring peace to our lives and our world.

Nancy Sylvester, IHM Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue

(Sr. Nancy Sylvester from the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue published this Reflection on December 30 on Facebook and her website.)

2016 Jubilee Year of Mercy

The Jubilee Year of Mercy began on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015, the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council and will close on November 20, 2016, Feast of Christ the King. The Pope said he wants the church to live the upcoming holy year “in the light” of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Luke: “Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.”

Mercy is “the beating heart of the Gospel.” Pope Francis writes: “It is absolutely essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy.” Mercy, he says, is “the beating heart of the Gospel” (Misericordiae Vultus ). To live mercy, we must rediscover both the spiritual works of mercy (counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead), and the corporal works of mercy (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead).

Pope Francis’ Prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy

You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God. Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind. We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen


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