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News from Visitation Province

FACQs ~ May 29, 2020

  • UNPACKING THE YOUTH SYNOD AND CHRISTUS VIVIT 

Recently, the Canadian National Association of Vocation and Formation Directors (NAVFD) collaborated with the Toronto Archdiocese Vocation Directors Association (TAVDA) to present a webinar.

  • Gardening in Small Spaces was the title of a ZOOM presentation offered by Third Age Centre, St. Thomas University in Fredericton. Corinne Hersey, STU prof, was the presenter.
  • Under 75 Group 

In response to the recommendation of our 2019 Assembly to consider using technology to enhance communication, Sr. Becky invited sisters “under 75” to participate in a “zoom” gathering.

  •  ​Change 

In the past few months, through enforced change, we may have personally experienced isolation, social distancing, face covering directives, and a loss of some of the freedoms we took for granted. Change has been all around us, for individuals, groups, families, businesses, etc.

  • COVID BLESSINGS

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The Long Women’s March... Marked by Significant Milestones

The year 2020, chimed in the 400th anniversary of the birth of the woman known as the “Mother of the Colony”: Marguerite Bourgeoys, born in Troyes in Champagne on April 17, 1620.

From the early years of the colony named Ville-Marie, she set the tone and imprint of education adapted to the needs of the women and settlers who were already there. She welcomed the King’s Wards and passed on her knowledge and skills to them “because it was for the families.” When the children were ready to receive instruction, she opened Ville-Marie’s first school in a vacant stable. All children had unconditional access to the stable-school. History preserves traces of official documents signed by this multi-talented woman who responded to the needs of her time. She surrounded herself with women whom she called Filles séculières, secular women, and then Congréganistes, Congregationists. It is in this place that originated the first uncloistered religious community “without veil or wimple”: the Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Montréal. Still today, education in all its forms continues in Canada, the United States, Japan, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cameroun and France.

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Presence in the Periphery

Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic is making our social-political crisis even more complex.

Since November 2016, we have been enduring the instability and uncertainty of our very future, especially that of our school-aged children. Indeed, since the first general strike in November 2016, our schools have remained closed. Families who have the means or who have relatives in the French regions of the country have enrolled their children in bilingual schools. For security measures, almost all public servants in our region have also moved – about 60% of our population.

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News from Visitation Province (Canada)

The Month of May at Mary of Peace Community

Carmie Rizzo and Lina Farinaro have been boosting the spirits of the sisters at Mary of Peace Community by preparing displays for the month of May (with emphasis on Mary), and spring scenery on the bulletin boards in the common spaces and in sisters' rooms. Lina was assisted by Srs. Clare O'Neill and Gladys Hayward.

Donna Kelly, CND

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News from Blessed Sacrament Province (USA)

From Our Leadership Team 

May 15-16 marked our third all-Zoom meeting. (Pat Ells zoomed in from her “office,” formerly the dining room.) Like many of you, we find it challenging at times and never as satisfying as in-person meetings. But we are getting better at it and are very grateful for the gift of being able to come together face-to-face, though virtually.

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Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys and Laudato Si’

As we celebrate the 5th anniversary of Laudato Si’, let us reflect on quotes from the Writings of saint Marguerite Bourgeoys in connexion with the encyclical.

p. 59 on remora (fish) – “I consider those person who are detached from everything and attached to God alone as that little fish, remora, which turns aside all that can harm a community... this little remora who obtains from God all she asks for His glory and for the good of her neighbour.”

MB tells us to be as reliant on God as the little remora fish that attached themselves to bigger fish for their survival.

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Living The Hope Of The People

In the context of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the birth of our foundress during this world health crisis, what does it mean for the Sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame to live the hope of the people? Let the words and testimony of Marguerite Bourgeoys enlighten and transform our hopes and expectations.

Marguerite was born on April 17, 1620. On April 17, 2020, the Sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame were preparing to celebrate the 400th anniversary of her birth when the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the programs and activities carefully planned for this great celebration.

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News from Visitation Province (Canada)

On Tuesday May 5th, Sr. Mary Edna Levangie celebrated her 101st birthday in fine style with music, dance and song. Happy Birthday Sr. Mary Edna!

Arlene Rutledge, coordinator, CND Health Care Centre

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Quebec’s Wide Open Spaces

The first impressions tourists have when visiting Quebec is admiration for our wide-open spaces. The Saint Lawrence River is immense, forests are innumerable, the North and Far North are fascinating. Everything is vast, open and spacious. Our eyes are accustomed to seeing big! We can allow ourselves the comfort of “social distancing” since we do not step on each other’s toes. When we scan the horizon, we see further still, and when we look up, we see the highest star. Yes, in this our nation, we are accustomed to a full-sized life!

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Visitation East Associate Newsletter

This beautiful illustration of St Marguerite Bourgeoys was created by a 15 year old artist from Cameroon. His artist name is zac’art and he gave his permission for us to use it in this Newsletter. He is the son of Cameroonian Associate Mary Chimy. Zac’art drew Marguerite wearing a face mask during this year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 400th anniversary of her birth. On Marguerite’s first voyage to Canada in 1653, Marguerite cared for very ill people on the ship and a mask would have been helpful for her. Thank you zac’art for this beautiful painting of St Marguerite.

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Passing of Sister Louise Côté, CND (1929-2020)

It is with great sadness that the Sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame announce the passing of Sister Louise Côté (S. S.-Claire-des-Anges) at Résidence Bon-Secours in Montreal on May 1. At the age of 90 years and 10 months, Sister Louise Côté had more than 70 years of religious life. During this beautiful and long life for which we give thanks, Sister Louise held many positions in service of the Congregation – first as devoted teacher and later as Councillor and Bursar – before being elected Superior General from 1974 to 1984. She was also president of the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC), and Councillor and then Secretary General of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) in Rome.

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Actions summary

During this time of confinement, the sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Montréal in Central America have been involved in different activities. Their daily work is dedicated to education, accompaniment (psychological and spiritual), the formation of pastoral workers and catechists, accompaniment of families, alternative education projects, the teaching of preventive and alternative health strategies.

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Confinement Days

During this pandemic, the sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame are also living in confinement and adapting to this new reality in a spirit of service and solidarity. We asked some of them to describe their new everyday life.

Mother House

This time of confinement is particularly intense for me for several reasons. The disruptions we are experiencing bring me back to the things that are essential: being close to God and to others. Most of my current commitments are carried out thanks to various means of communications: online teaching, accompaniment via Skype® or by phone, writing biblical commentaries in an effort to rekindle our living flame, etc. While the Mother House, where I live, is usually a place where people from everywhere meet, we are now a handful (13 sisters) who together assume a good part of the domestic tasks.

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News from Visitation Province (Canada)

Earth Day at Andrews of Charlottetown

The sisters appreciated our being in touch with the 50th anniversary of this important event. Some took the opportunity to reflect on its significance as we sat in the community room at different times during the day. We pray that we will continue to hold in our awareness, in spite of these difficult times, that “the whole universe is filled with the grandeur of God.”

Anne T. Gillis, CND

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To Live in Hope: A Ripple Effect

A little girl kneels at her window at night and prays to God for her family while she gazes at a cross on a hill in her city. A priest from that city is on the hill blessing the city with holy water. An Archbishop blesses the Easter water in an empty church but then goes to the steps of his cathedral and sprinkles the water over the city. Another priest offers Mass on the balcony of his apartment for his city, while yet another goes up to a high tower and blesses his town with holy water. A mayor stands in the street as a hearse drives by with a deceased victim of COVID-19. Religious communities gather every evening to pray the rosary for the virus-infected world. Every Mass offered for the past two months has included prayers for the pandemic: prayers for healing, for consolation, for patience, for gratitude, for research progress.

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Saint Marguerite

Saint Marguerite, how not remember you today

when we are living a world crisis.

You lived very tough times yourself,

on your first trip to Canada,

you faced and epidemic,

on your second trip the pest,

where, despite your weakened body,

you took care of the sick…

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Comfort in sorrow

Lord Jesus, you are empathy, you are compassion, you are a meaningful presence.

I do not doubt for a moment that you are moved deep inside and your heart cries

With those who today mourn the loss of a loved one to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Yes Lord, there are many families

Who suffer the pain of seeing a family member leave

in an inhumane way, because Covid patients

die alone, abandoned…

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News from Visitation Province (Canada)

Members of Conversations of the Heart group in PEI met via ZOOM: Many of us grew up -- at least in religious life -- hearing and saying, "The only constant in life is change."

Sunday, I allowed myself to unite with others to participate, at age 83, in a virtual Congregation de Notre-Dame meeting. That is a change for me! I saw and spoke with members of our Conversations of the Heart group as we did our sharing for our General Chapter. We were a ZOOM group!

Some members had experience using this medium. Not me! I accepted some tutoring and then risked it! To be truthful I felt anxious.

Now that I have done it once I know I will be less reticent next time and I also know there will be more times. We are now being called to live in a different world. A new normal will be our daily bread. Our Foundress faced them and so will we, for the fuller and new life of our planet.

Alice Long, CND

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CND Engaging Sisters: Virtual Volunteering Ideas

The advice we are seeing for coping with being homebound include scheduling your days very intentionally, thinking of the things that you enjoy doing, and then adding more of those to your day. Ruth Finkelstein, professor at Hunter College’s School of Urban Public Health and executive director of the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging suggests becoming a “virtual” volunteer, perhaps making phone calls to others who may feel isolated and alone. “Feeling like you’re contributing is a good antidote to the messages that are making you feel like you have a problem,” Finkelstein says.

Below are some options compiled by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (US) province. Please note: some of the information below may be cut and pasted from the organizations’ websites – we gathered it here only to offer many options.

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News from Visitation Province (Canada)

Greetings from Honduras! 

From across the miles, my heart-thoughts and prayer have been with one and all through this difficult lent and most unusual Easter season. May the gifts of the season help us all as we, as a whole planet, journey to renewed health with a deepened conviction of our inter-connectedness. We are safe and well here in Amarateca, Honduras and being very careful. Please take good care and be well. Unity, solidarity and all good blessings to you and yours.

Lorraine Costello, CND

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