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May 2015 Visitation East Associate Newsletter

Winnie Odo & Marjorie Allison-Ross, associates

On a sunny and snow-free April 9th, sister Arlita Matte, of the Congregational Leadership Team, met with sisters and associates at the Visitation Province Centre in Bedford, NS. Halifax sisters and associates were joined by New Glasgow sisters, Truro associates and an associate co-coordinator.

Sister Arlita presented an overview of the history of the Congregation of Notre Dame: 1653 to today. Beginning with only our foundress, Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, at Ville Marie, the congregation grew to 3500 sisters in the 1960’s. The past five decades have seen vocations decline significantly and today there are approximately 900 Congregation of Notre Dame sisters and 900 associates. Adapting to change can be seen from the congregation’s inception. Through a series of mother houses, the building and selling of educational institutions and convents, the opening and closing of mission sites, full habits to everyday clothes and the introduction of associates, the Congregation of Notre Dame has remained committed to the education of women and to issues of social justice.

The second part of sister Arlita’s presentation focused on the present. Located in Montreal with missions in eight countries across four continents, the Congregation of Notre Dame is international and intercultural whose mission of “liberating education” guides all actions. Cognizant of our interconnectedness with all creation, a corporate stance on climate change offers new possibilities for us as individuals and as a group. The mutuality of sisters and associates permits us to confront challenges as we work towards an inclusive Church and a culture of vocations.

After each presentation there was time for discussion and sharing followed at the end by refreshments. The afternoon provided an opportunity for visitation with old and new friends alike. We are very grateful that we had the opportunity to meet sister Arlita and appreciate that she and sister Nina were able to meet with us in Halifax. Our experience together re-enforced our gratitude to God for calling Marguerite to found the Congregation of Notre Dame. We left knowing that together we will answer the question “How then shall we live?”

Picture Visitations During the CLT Visit to the Maritimes

Above: Halifax Associates who prepared the “Visitation Gratitude” article—Alexa Smith, Bernadette Fegan and Anna Rowley

Halifax Gathering for the Congregational Leadership Visitation on April 9 at the Visitation Province Centre in Bedford. Back row: Anne Marie MacDonald, Bev Brazil, Carmel Carrigan, Bernadette Fegan, Roby Barrett, Anna Rowley, sister Pauline Dalton, Alexa Smith, sister Anne Marie MacKenzie, sister Nina Glinski. Front row: sister Arlita Matte, sister Mary Jo MacDonald, sister Loretta MacLennan, Martha Kennedy, sister Mary Morris, Marjorie Allison-Ross.

Above: At the end of sister Arlita’s presentation, Bernadette Fegan thanked her for her visit and sharing the History, Blessings, Challenges and Hopes of the Congregation of Notre Dame.

Below: Fr. Shawn Daley sharing a story and picture of his classmates when he attended the NBCC in Woodstock with Helen Ross, sister Ann Broderick and sister Josephine Badali.

Congregational Leadership Team Visit in Fredericton on April 11 at St Dunstan’s Parish Centre. Back row: sister Karen Kelley, sister Eleanor McCloskey, Rosamond Ross-Hayter, sister Ann Broderick, Edy Corbett, Isabel Mercer, Helen Ross, Alcide and Gemma Allain. Front row: sister Marie St. Coeur, Carmel Doyle, sister Anne Leonard, sister Josephine Badali, Marjorie Allison-Ross.

The priests at St Dunstan’s, fathers Bill Brennan and Shawn Daley, hosted a delicious lunch for the sisters and associates following the morning meeting. They prepared and served us soup, salad, pasta with chicken and dessert and then joined us for the meal. We were all impressed with their hospitality and visitation.


Sisters Agnes, Anne, Arlita and Josephine in the waiting mode in Sydney... Mary is happy to welcome them!


Sister Theresa Sampson, Marie Mullins, Doreen MacDonnell, Winnie Odo and sister Mary Murphy at the Sydney Visitation.


Sydney associates visiting with sister Arlita.


Halifax Gathering share a cup of tea following the presentation.


In Fredericton, father Shawn Daley took time away from lunch preparation to share a story with sister Josephine Badali.


Anna Rowley, sister Anne Marie MacDougall, sister Mary Jo MacDonald, sister Arlita Matte, Alexa Smith at the Halifax Visitation.

Living Visitation in a Faraway Place

By Frances Connell Enriquez, CND Associate, Miramichi and Mexico

My stepson Chris has a way of phoning me at odd times of the night and day. He has lots of ups and downs on his journey and always has a story of something earthshaking going on in his life and needs a listener and someone to tell him all shall be well. At times I listen to him half asleep with one eye open but always thank him for his call. We frequently joke and laugh over the way life deals with us. I consider myself very fortunate to have him in my life. A few months ago his phone call almost knocked me off my feet. On a quiet day with nothing happening to speak of Chris told me he wanted to give me the gift of a trip to Mexico where he wanted me to spend the winter. My inner self did not even want to think about it. I was settled into my comfortable rut and did not want any change. I have not travelled anywhere in many years. I do not want to go anywhere alone... and what about my Spanish and living in a strange country? What would I do? Then the empowering words of generations of Congregation of Notre Dame sisters and associates came to mind. Go, I shall not abandon you. I thought about Mother Bourgeoys going off into the unknown across the ocean alone with unsavoury company, facing with eyes wide open whatever happened along the way. After the voyage she continued to bravely deal with the events and situations that she found on her path and did not falter. My journey would go well too with her company and example and that of Our Lady of the Visitation. So I thanked Chris for this wonderful gift and made my preparations for whatever this adventure would bring to me. Now I have completed 4 months in the beautiful little Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. It has been one of the happiest times of my life. For the first time in memory I have time for reading good books, prayer, art work, meeting wonderful people and most of all, learning what a joy it is to live with the beautiful people of Mexico. My Spanish has much improved and I can sing and pray all the responses at Mass each morning. They teach me much with their bright smiles and joy of living no matter what happens and believe me, life is not easy for many of them. I shall soon return to Canada renewed and refreshed and very grateful to Chris for this bright idea of giving me this incredible trip and filled with gratitude to Our Lady and Saint Marguerite for standing by me every step of the way.

World Day of Prayer in Miramichi Submitted by Miramichi Group

Seven members of St. Mary’s Parish took part in the World Day of Prayer sponsored by St. James and St. John United Church. Sister. Marie, four Congregation of Notre Dame associates and two parishioners did a mime of Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples. This year’s event was written by the women of the Bahamas, a sharing of our faith which we enjoy doing yearly on the first Friday of March.

Congratulations to sister Eleanor McCloskey, CND

Sister Eleanor has been chosen to receive an Honorary Doctorate from St Thomas University (STU) in Fredericton, NB, at the Spring Convocation on May 12. In the press release, “We are pleased to celebrate these two distinguished individuals at our convocation. Sister McCloskey is a well-regarded teacher, pastoral caregiver and community activist”, said Dawn Russell, St. Thomas University president and vice-chancellor. A sister with the Congregation of Notre Dame, McCloskey has been motivated by belief in inclusiveness and equality—this belief inspired her to challenge the boundaries in every community that she has served, whether it’s the Church, the university or society. She holds advanced degrees in education and pastoral ministry and was a teacher in the public school system before joining the Faculty of Education and Campus Ministry at St. Thomas University. Her work with the Third Age Centre reflects her goal to accompany seniors in contemporary spirituality, enjoyment of leisure, developing imaginative ideas and constant learning. She co-wrote Navigating New Waters, a resource manual for nurturing and promoting compassionate care in healthcare settings.”

CND Calendar quote for May 2015: “Peace is costly but it is worth the Expense.” — African Proverb. Reflection: How ready am I to sacrifice for peace?

Visitation Provincial Assembly

Toronto, July 6-10, 2015

Three associates will represent Visitation East at this Assembly and bring back information for the Maritime associates. Bernadette Fegan (Halifax associate) will join the co-coordinators in visiting associate groups this Fall to share the ideas that the speaker, sister Nancy Sylvester (Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) provided at the assembly on the topic of Contemplation and Contemplative Prayer.

Every Congregation of Notre Dame sister and associate is encouraged to read the following articles as they will help us to understand Contemplation: “Contemplation: A Call to All”; “Contemplation: When Words Don’t Work”; “Contemplation and Changing Consciousness”; Stop Staring…. Contemplative Practice”; “Exercising Contemplative Power”; “Contemplation: Learning to Trust Again”. For more info on sister Nancy Sylvester’s work, please visit her website at

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE: " The Spirit is a' movin' all over this land ..."

Submitted by Associates Marjorie Allison-Ross and Dorena Hall, JPIC

Over this past weekend it was a privilege to participate in the Regional meeting of Development and Peace (D&P) which was held at the Marguerite Bourgeoys Centre in Summerside, P.E.I. Delegates represented the anglophone dioceses in the Maritimes. Several of the sessions were challenging, demanding serious thought and discussion. D&P is committed to addressing the link between the preferential option for the poor and the preferential option for the Earth. The Fall education program and action will network with other groups to build a movement for climate change.

With the generous permission of the Congregation of Notre Dame we incorporated the For Love of Mother Earth prayer celebration into all of our reflections and prayers throughout the weekend. Delegates found this to be meaningful, uplifting and informative.

It is also interesting to note that along with ourselves, associates Gail McKibbon and Mary Hanson were delegates.

Sister Donna Egan, sister Marie Gaudet and sister Marie L. Arsenault welcomed us with open arms. Their gracious and generous service was truly Visitation and their warm hospitality added to the joy of our gathering.

At this moment in time D&P struggles with numerous concerns but we emerged from this gathering energized and committed believing that indeed " the Spirit is a' movin' all over this land..." This D&P gathering gifted us with the rich experience of Solidarity leaving us feeling grateful and hopeful.

Sister Evelyn Macleod, CND

Submitted by Eleanor McCloskey, CND

Sister Evelyn lived and ministered in Fredericton, NB for many years and was a delightful companion. We lived in a little house on Crockett St. and celebrated a great many happy events there. Evelyn was involved in parish ministry, especially in baptismal preparations, being present to religious education teachers, and visiting sick people. She was involved in Meals on Wheels, the Marguerite Bourgeoys Society and the Congregation of Notre Dame associates. She enjoyed cooking and liked trying new dishes as well as old favourites. She was always an active participant in our Congregation of Notre Dame Mission Group activities and could improvise dialogue as well as appropriate costuming. Once, dressed in academic regalia, she made an impressive “college president” awarding degrees and another time she played an old-time “postulant” seeking admission in the “now” time. She was a fun traveller too – always ready to take off on a new adventure. Many here still ask about sister Evelyn. She made many friends and was well known for her deep and lively faith, her huge healthy laugh and her joyful life. May she rest in peace!

2015 Associate Retreats

Charlottetown — April 11

Miramichi — May 22-23

Summerside — May 30

Mabou— September 11-13

Woodstock— September 19

Monthly Rosary at Parkland in Sydney

Submitted by Cape Breton associates

Now that the Lenten Season is over, the associates of Cape Breton have resumed the monthly rosary service to the sisters and residents living at Parkland Cape Breton. Their desire to be more reverent proved very fruitful for all who attended the service of April 15, 2015. The stage was set with six chairs, a small table in the centre and the microphone ready. Marg Berger who was leading the Rosary today welcomed everyone and introduced a beautiful Fatima hymn. Midway through the hymn, the associates who were leading the mysteries processed to the stage, the one in front Frances Gordon carrying our Lady of Fatima to her resting place among the Marguerites and candles that awaited her. Sydney Mines associate Frances Gordon recited the first mystery, followed by Doreen MacDonnell of the St. Theresa Group who prayed the Second. In keeping with our Mission and Vision Statement “living mutuality with sisters and associates” sister Theresa Sampson prayed the third, Kay McIntosh of the Holy Angels Group recited the fourth. Geraldine Walker of the Sydney Mines Group recited the fifth while New Victoria associate Marg Berger concluded. A time of tea and fellowship ended a perfect day.

The Gift of Volunteerism

By Lorette Andrews, Sydney, NS

Words shared by Holy Angels associate Lorrette Andrews who volunteers four hours a week at the Palliative Care Wing for patients at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. For her “a rewarding four hours each week that makes a huge difference in a person’s life,” even when many times that difference is in her own life. Many of the volunteers bake while some provide books and magazines. Others play card games ensuring that everyone wins while for others a simple shared cup of tea or a prayer is enough to make or to be the difference. Most times, when we are a listening ear, it can help. Let me share an example: One day a family gathered around their mother’s bed. One of the daughters says, “mother is waiting to go to heaven, she loves the Virgin Mary.” My immediate thoughts went to medals of our Blessed Lady that were in my coat pocket which I knew had been blessed in Medjugorje. I got one, placed it in her hand and told her that I felt that our Mother Mary was waiting for her. Shortly afterward I left her room. Within minutes the daughter caught up with me saying “you were the angel she was waiting for because within moments of that last “visit” their mom peacefully passed away for what I could only believe was to be with our Blessed Mother. Yes, to volunteer is a commitment that we make each week but what we receive in return cannot be measured in words, God is Good.

EARTH DAY – Remembering and Mourning the Elms – An Earth Day Remembrance

Submitted by Dorena Hall

The trembling aspen, the noble pine
The sweeping elm by the rive line ...
He made them of every grain and girth
For the use of man in the Garden of Earth.
Bliss Carmen

Three hundred elm trees in Charlottetown, P.E.I. are in the process of being cut down because they have Dutch elm disease. It is sad to see these huge trunks and branches lying on the ground waiting to be removed. They have been with us since they were planted on the first Arbor Day, in May of 1884. Early evening on Earth Day people gathered in Trinity United Church to mourn the loss of these stately elms. This gathering filled me with nostalgia and at the same time with a feeling of pure joy. Our reflections were woven together through fine poetry, fitting songs, meaningful photographic images and music of piano, fiddle, Scottish smallpipes and saxophone. For over a hundred years these elms gifted our city with an enchanting beauty, with solace and peace. In mourning our loss we are committed to plant new trees and to protect the ones we have.

Voice of a mighty dying tree in the Redwood forest dense.

Farewell, my brethern
Farewell, O Earth and sky- farewell,
ye neighboring waters;
My time has ended, my term has come.
Walt Whitman

Visitation East Co-Coordinator Discernment

We ask you to keep in your prayers the two associates, Dianne MacAskill of Sydney and Anna Rowley of Halifax, who have generously agreed to let their names go forward for the

co-coordinator role, as they participate in a Discernment Meeting in May.


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