A Fresh Start!

Every year at this time, I enjoy the feeling of starting a fresh New Year.  This year, as I spend time reflecting on my desires and goals for 2023, I do so with a sense of gratitude for the blessings of 2022 as well as of letting go of the mistakes and disappointments of the past year.

May we all have a fresh start with renewed hope and energy to pour into the various issues and concerns that are important to us – whether it be the Climate Crisis, Racism, Sexism, Human Right Abuses or another of the many, many situations that need attention.

Some of us may delve a bit in many different issues and others may focus more deeply on one or two.  As they say, “You do you!”  Since everything and every being is inter-connected, whatever you choose, it will ripple out to the whole world.

Like the much joked-about New Year’s resolutions, our hope and energy will wane as time moves forward, and that freshness will start to feel stale.

That’s why the New Year has 365 days!  My hope and prayer for each of us is that we are able to begin each new morning with a fresh start too, getting in touch with our gratitude for what is and our enthusiasm for what could be.

Wishing you blessings and much goodness in 2023.

Christine Gebel OLM

Christmas Greetings!

Advent, the Season of Hope, has been filled with a variety of activities and gatherings here at Presentation Manor. All of them, whether spiritual in nature or pre-Christmas celebrations, witnessed to the meaning of the feast of Christmas for which we have been preparing.

There were some highlights. A series of Advent presentations by Father Tom Rosica CSB and invited speakers added to our daily liturgies in helping to create a time of personal and communal reflection.

A “festival of lights” evening preceded by a festive dinner celebrated our connection with our Presentation Manor community and with the natural world. An afternoon Christmas Party starred some very talented staff members and residents who offered their time to bring joy to all of us.

As the season of Advent ends its blessings of gratitude for God with us and the gift and responsibility of caring for one another are part of our readiness to celebrate Christmas. A strong reminder to respect and care for our environment was added in the form of a snow and wind storm.

Residents of Presentation Manor will share Christmas Masses and a festive Christmas dinner with family members and friends. We are fortunate to be able celebrate with the larger community as well as our own OLM community.

We will gather with gratitude for the many blessings we experience, and the desire to make our own blessings a means of reaching out in support for the many suffering people in our world.

We pray for peace, joy, health and security for all. Merry Christmas.

Sr. Frances Brady, OLM

Saying Goodbye to Sr. Elaine MacInnes, OLM

Our Lady’s Missionaries is grateful to all the friends, family and associates of Sr. Elaine MacInnes who joined us for her wake and funeral this past December 7’th and 8’th. Thank you too to those who watched the funeral as it was lived streamed.

Many have asked if the funeral will be recorded. Yes! Here is the recording:

Thank you for all your messages of prayerful support. They are very much appreciated.

Dance in the Darkness

Jesus, Lord of weakness, we wait in joyful hope;

see our weakness, be our strength, Jesus be our light.

Dance in the darkness, slow be the pace,

surrender to the rhythm of redeeming grace.

Carey Landry’s Dance in the Darkness is one of my favourite Advent hymns. 

We who live in the Northern hemisphere certainly need to learn to live with darkness as the winter days grow shorter – and colder.  A glance at our world can also feel like a venture into darkness… the climate crisis, violence and war, the triple threat of Covid, RSV and the seasonal flu… 

As we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Emmanuel, God-With-Us, who chose to come among us as a vulnerable baby; may we see our weaknesses, our fears and worries, as a call to surrender to the grace of realizing how much we need each other and how good it is to be there for each other.

May this Advent be a grace-filled time for you!

Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM

The People, United, Will Never Be Defeated

On Sunday, September 18th people from different communities and labor organizations joined the call for a “Status for All” campaign across the country led by migrants demanding the federal government regularize everyone and grant full immigration status.

Two of Our Lady’s Missionaries sisters; Lorie and Christine together with Gemma (friend of OLMs) and many others from all walks of life joined the rally. Below are images of people and their messages.

Sr. Lorie Nuñez, OLM

A Season for Letting Go

Here in Canada, as we move into the autumn months “Letting Go” becomes a prominent theme.  Trees let go of their leaves; we let go of the birds migrating South; and we also let go of the glorious long days of summer!

Our Lady’s Missionaries have recently gone through a couple of other kinds of letting go…

Our Sr. Cecile Turner passed away on January 7, 2020, and, ever generous and wanting to be of help, had her body donated for scientific research.  Her cremated remains were recently returned to us and on September 10, 2022, we gathered in prayer to remember Cecile and say one last goodbye as we buried her urn at Holy Cross Cemetery. 

We pray that all of you who knew our Cecile will continue to carry good memories of her generosity and compassion and live in the hope that she is now fully alive in God and free of all pain and anxiety.

As we experience our various common and individual lettings go this autumn, may all of us be grateful for what has been and hopeful for what will be.

-Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM

Welcoming Presence at Becoming Neighbours

(L-R) Sr. Mary Jane Leonard, CND and Sr. Frances Brady, OLM

On April 19, 2022, Sr. Frances Brady, OLM, Sr. Mary Jane Leonard, CND (above photo), and Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR were honoured with the Margaret Myatt Recognition Award during the Becoming Neighbours’ Annual General Meeting.

On the following day, Our Lady’s Missionaries gathered to celebrate with Sr. Frances.  The award is named in honour of Sr. Margaret Myatt, CSJ who dreamed of a Joint Apostolic Ministry for the members of religious communities in the Archdiocese of Toronto. She spearheaded the founding of Becoming Neighbours to meet the needs of refugees and new immigrants in Toronto.

Sr. Frances has worked with Becoming Neighbours for some years and is currently Chairperson of the board.   Becoming Neighbour has always accepted donations of clothing, household items and furniture. Srs. Frances and Mary Jane have worked tirelessly sorting and arranging the donations. Since the beginning of COVID restrictions at Presentation Manor, they have welcomed staff and residents to come and “shop” for any articles they need. Many of the staff are also new Canadians. 

Above are the actual images of the three awardees from left, Mark Miller, CSsR, Frances Brady, OLM, and Mary Jane Leonard, CND taken during the Becoming Neighbours’ AGM event.

For more information about Becoming Neighbours see the links below:

Landing Page

Dancing Alone Together

Religions for Peace International https://www.rfp.org/?fbclid=IwAR2LQJ0g_xlxnX7E3_wRVmZAwAxsrJKpHLGb6W1hun8YFWZ4uxlKqDTCuh8

At a time when there is so much suffering – wars, climate change, racism, the pandemic, and so much more – as you can see from the meme above, there is also celebration and unity. 

Some time ago, I heard Sr. Jose Hobday, a Native Franciscan Sister, describe Native North Americans’ dance as “dancing alone together.”  What an apt description of all people of faith who are celebrating these days!

While the details of our beliefs and rituals vary, the core values of all these faith traditions are the same… love, peace, justice.

We who are Christians, celebrate the Paschal Mystery – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ.  As we reflect on suffering, death and new life, those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere are used to seeing this same mystery played out in all of Creation as plants and trees spring back into life. 

(Although, due to climate change, weather patterns are disturbed and some are celebrating Easter with a huge dump of newly fallen snow.)

May our journey with Jesus this Easter weekend, through suffering and death into the new life of resurrection enable us to recognize the same journey in our own lives. 

And, may the happiness all of us enjoy as we observe our different celebrations give us the energy, courage and strength to pray and work together to spread the love, peace and justice we all value so much.

Happy Easter!  Blessings on all who are celebrating at this time!

Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM