The Questions of Advent

As Advent begins we will again hear the stories of two scriptural figures – Zechariah and Mary of Nazareth.  They were both visited by an Angel bearing a message of new life, and they both responded with a question.

Zechariah asked, “How will I know that this is so?”  His question, based on incredulity, rendered him mute.

Mary, on the other hand, asked, “How can this be, since I am a Virgin?”  Her question was based on her desire to better understand how she might cooperate with and live out the Angel’s message for her.  She stopped and paid attention to the answer.

Who are our Angels today?  Who comes to us bearing messages of life? 

  • Young people who strike from school in order to bring our attention to the urgency of the climate emergency.  They strike for their future and the future of the entire planet.
  • Thousands of scientists who also want us to understand the severity of the climate crisis.  Their message includes the very practical ways in which we can slow down and reverse the tide, if we act NOW!

Will we, like Zechariah, ask questions that debate the veracity of the messengers and render ourselves not only mute, but paralyzed and unable to move forward?

Or will we, like Mary of Nazareth, ask questions and really listen to the answers so that we may understand better what it is we need to do as citizens of Earth to sustain and grow new life in harmony with all of God’s creation?

Photos taken during the Climate Strike in Toronto – November 29, 2019

THANKSGIVING GREETINGS

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This thanksgiving most of Our Lady’s Missionaries celebrated on Sunday October 13th together with friends and with the larger community at Presentation Manor. We participated at Mass together in our chapel before enjoying good food and companionship surrounded by the beauty of autumn colours both inside and outside our doors.

While enjoying this day I realized how important it is for us to name and be attentive to everything for which we are thankful. Because we take good care of the things that we love and value most and do our best to protect them from harm. What we treasure we do not take for granted.

During these days we have been thinking about ways to respond to a climate emergency. Health care, air pollution, contaminated water and an increase in violence are some of our many concerns. We worry about those who are separated from family, unemployed, homeless or deprived of a safe and secure existence. Sometimes we realize the value of things when they are in danger of being lost.

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Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to gather with family, friends and community. It can also be an occasion for strengthening our resolve to protect and preserve, for ourselves and for others, all that is deserving of our love and care and gratitude.

Best wishes to everyone for a Thanksgiving filled with joy and appreciation for all you hold dear.

-Frances Brady, OLM

PROTECT, RESTORE, AND FUND!

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On September 27, 2019, some sisters of Our Lady’s Missionaries joined the young people, inspired by Greta Thunberg who is leading the world in a Global Climate Strike. They demand protection of the tropical rain-forest where there is massive destruction. It is damaging our planet, and we must help restore the Eco system by stopping funds to projects that destroy nature.

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“We are living in the beginning of a mass extinction” This is the message that the youth around the world want to convey. They are giving up education to protest because they believe that we can still fix this.

George Monbiot, environmental and political activist explains that a “magic technology sucks carbon out of the air costs very little and builds itself and is right in front of us. It is called “treetrees, mangroves, peat bogs, jungles, marshes, sea beds, kelp forests, swamps, and coral reefs,  are the natural climate solution.

Nature is God’s creation. It repairs our broken climate and can make a massive difference but only if we leave fossil fuels in the ground. This easy and doable solution is the reason our young people around the globe ask all of us to unite with science to understand climate change and act.

Here are some images of people of all walks of life with their messages during the Global Climate Strike at Queen’s Park, Toronto.

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-Lorie Nunez, OLM

The Blue Scarf Walk

About 50 people took part in the Blue Scarf Walk this year.  Held on September 21, the International Day of Peace, the walk in Toronto is just one of many similar events held around the world.

In Toronto, the walk was co-sponsored by several groups:

Christian Peacemaker Teams, Pax Christi Toronto,  KAIROS, Development and Peace, Basilian Centre for Peace and Justice, Student Christian Movement, Camp Micah,                 Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, and World Beyond War

According to the leaflet that was given to participants, “In 2008, a small group of brave women gathered in war-torn Khandahar wearing Blue Scarves to publicly pray for peace and justice in Afghanistan.  In 2011, the Afghan Yourth Peace Volunteers turned the Blue Scarf events into a Global Peace Movement.”

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Getting organized at Grange Park

Gathering in Grange Park, a diverse group of young and old stopped in front of the 52 Division of the Toronto Police, the American Consulate, and the Sculpture Court at Toronto City Hall, and finally, at the Peace Gardens of City Hall.  Each time, reflections on peace were shared by different speakers.  All were focused on the link between peace and the climate emergency.

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Stopping in front of 52 Division

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Bringing the message to the American Consulate

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Stopping at the Sculpture Court

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Settling in at the final stop, the Peace Gardens at City Hall

-Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM

Statement by Canada’s Catholic Sisters Regarding the Climate Emergency

Scan of PrayerlogoSeptember 1, 2019

On this World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, leaders of Canada’s 64 Congregations of Catholic Sisters are calling on the country’s politicians to respond to the climate emergency declared by Parliament by taking concrete steps to avert it.

As Women Religious, caring for all of God’s Creation is an essential part of our faith. The drastic changes to our climate brought on by the release of greenhouse gases pose the greatest threat to all living beings. Yet, not enough is being done to address it. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis points out that “reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, above all on the part of those countries which are more powerful and pollute the most.” (169)

For our part, we have taken robust action to combat the destruction of our planet and to care for our common home. Many of our Congregations have taken steps to:

  •  Divest from fossil fuel portfolios to clean and renewable energy projects.
  • Eliminate single-use plastics.
  • Retrofit residential buildings, including solar, bio-thermal and renewable natural as installations.
  • Commit to the Blue Communities project which entails treating water as a sacred resource and shared commons.
  • Plant trees in Canada and in the countries where our Missions exist.
  • Compost, reduce and recycle.
  • Partner and provide support to community groups and movements committed to address the climate emergency.

We urge all politicians running in the upcoming federal election to acknowledge the climate emergency and to implement an immediate multilevel policy strategy for a just transition to ecologically sustainable living.

The actions to address the climate emergency should be concrete, justice-based and stripped of partisan politics. We invite political leaders to join us in caring for our common home by:

  • Keeping fossil fuels in the ground and ending subsidies to fossil fuel and plastic producers.
  • Redirecting investments and rapidly expanding the renewable energy economy, including investment in retraining for workers affected by job loss in fossil fuel production.
  • Continuing to hold companies to account by putting a cost against the greenhouse gas pollution they produce.
  • Coordinating an intensive and sustained public awareness effort to change attitudes and behaviours.
  • Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and developing climate emergency policies in line with the Indigenous knowledge and teachings.

We are facing an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to Earth. With so many others on the planet, we hope that politicians will show commitment, leadership and collective wisdom in the movement to protect our planet from destruction. This is the only way forward together.

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UISG (International Union of Superiors General) is a worldwide organization of Superiors General of Institutes of Catholic Women Religious. It encourages dialogue and collaboration among Religious Congregations within the Church and larger society. This statement is a collaboration of all 64 Canadian members of the UISG.

For more information:
English:
Sister Margo Ritchie
Congregational Leader
Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada
mritchie@csjcanada.org
(519) 432-3781 ext. 418
Lisa Tabachnick
Director of Communications
Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto
ltabachnick@csj-to.ca
(416) 467-2630

Français:
Sœur Aurore Larkin
Supérieure de Congrégation
Les Sœurs Grises de Montreal
alarkin@sgm.ca
t (514) 842-9411
c (514)

Signatories:
CONGRÉGATION / CONGREGATION VILLE / CITY, PROVINCE
Antoniennes de Marie Chicoutimi, Québec
Congrégation de Notre-Dame Montréal, Québec
Dominicaines Missionnaires Adoratrices Québec, Québec
Filles de la Providence St-Constant, Québec
Filles de Marie-de-L’Assomption Campbellton, Nouveau Brunswick
Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception Pembroke, Ontario
Institut Notre-Dame du Bon-Conseil de Montréal Montréal, Québec
Les Dominicaines de la Trinité Shawinigan, Québec
Les Missionnaires du Christ-Roi Montréal, Québec
Les Sœurs de la Providence Montréal, Québec
Missionnaires Notre-Dame des Anges Sherbrooke, Québec
Missionnaires de l’Immaculée Conception Montréal, Québec
Missionnaires Oblates du Sacré-Cœur et de Marie-Immacuée Winnipeg, Manitoba
Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur Dieppe, New Brunswick
Oblates de Béthanie Québec, Québec
Oblates Franciscaines de St-Joseph Montréal, Québec
Our Lady’s Missionaries Toronto, Ontario
Petites Filles de Saint-François Montréal, Québec
Petites Filles de Saint-Joseph Montréal, Québec
Petites Franciscaines de Marie Baie-St-Paul, Québec
Petites Soeurs de la Sainte-Famille Sherbrooke, Québec
Religieuses Hospitalières de St-Joseph Montréal, Québec
Servantes du Saint Cœur de Marie Montréal, Québec
Servantes du Très Saint-Sacrement Sherbrooke, Québec
Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul Halifax, Nova Scotia
Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception Saint John, New Brunswick
Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland St John’s, Newfoundland
Sisters of Mission Service Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Sisters of Providence of Saint Vincent de Paul Kingston, Ontario
Sisters of Saint Joseph in Canada Hamilton, London, Pembroke, Peterborough, Ontario
Sisters of Saint Joseph of Sault Ste Marie North Bay, Ontario
Sisters of Saint Joseph of Toronto Toronto, Ontario
Sisters of Saint Martha of Antigonish Antigonish, Nova Scotia
Sisters of Saint Martha of Prince Edward Island Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Sisters of Social Service Toronto, Ontario
Sœurs Augustines de la Miséricorde de Jésus Québec, Québec
Soeurs de Charité de Saint-Louis Montréal, Québec
Sœurs de Charité de St-Hyacinthe Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec
Sœurs de l’Assomption de la Sainte-Vierge Québec, Québec
Sœurs de l’Institut Jeanne d’Arc Ottawa, Ontario
Sœurs de la Charité d’Ottawa Ottawa, Ontario
Soeurs de la Charité de Montréal (Soeurs Grises) Montréal, Québec
Sœurs de la Charité de Québec Québec, Québec
Soeurs de la Providence Montreal, Québec
Soeurs de l’Assomption de la Sainte Vierge Nicolet, Québec
Sœurs de Miséricorde Montréal, Québec
Sœurs de Notre-Dame Auxiliatrice Rouyn-Noranda, Québec
Sœurs de Notre-Dame du Bon Conseil Chicoutimi, Québec
Sœurs de Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur Dieppe, Nouveau Brunswick
Sœurs de Notre-Dame-du-Perpétuel-Secours St-Damien-de-Bellechasse, Québec
Soeurs de Sainte-Anne Lachine, Québec
Sœurs de Sainte-Croix St-Laurent, Québec
Sœurs de Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc Québec, Québec
Soeurs de Sainte-Marthe de Saint-Hyacinthe Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec
Sœurs de Saint-François d’Assise Québec, Québec
Soeurs de Saint-Joseph de Saint-Hyacinthe Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec
Sœurs de St-Joseph de St-Vallier Québec, Québec
Sœurs des Saints Noms de Jésus et de Marie Longueuil, Québec
Sœurs du Bon-Pasteur de Québec Québec, Québec
Sœurs Notre-Dame du St-Rosaire Rimouski, Québec
Sœurs Servantes de Notre-Dame Reine du Clergé Lac-au-Saumon, Québec
Ursuline Sisters of Chatham Chatham, Ontario
Ursuline Sisters of Prelate Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Ursulines Québec, Québec

A Determined YOU

 

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On June 28, 2019, OLMs, family, friends and some residents of Presentation Manor gathered to celebrate Sr. Mary Hughes’ life. A Prayer Service to remember her was held in the chapel.

 

Some of the readings were messages for Sr. Mary’s 90th birthday (8 years ago) written by OLM sisters. One of these was written by Sr. Therese MacDonald+ who asked her about how many siblings she had and responded “I have two brothers, Frank and Red, I do not have any blood sisters but look at all the sisters I have now.” Another memory was written by Sr. Clarice Garvey+ who wrote how Mary Hughes was well loved by the people in Brazil. Her dedication to join CNWE’s prayer rally against human trafficking showed her concern for women’s rights.

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Sr. Mary Hughes, OLM indeed is a woman for all seasons and one who showed us how to grow older with grace and peace. Here is a poem written by Sr. Marie Clarkson, OLM:

Mary Mary

Mary, Mary
quite contrary
a determined lass
always tallest in class
a girl among boys
no need for toys
compete with your brothers
gave mother the shudders
keep your clothes clean
who wants to be queen
there were horses to ride
and places to hide
who could cope
with the lot of you folk
Aunt Nell did her best
although put to the test
guarded under her wing
your praises she’d sing

big changes in store
new happenings galore
you had the means
to be curate it seems

remember the Polish Parish
the candle light walk in the snow
the pride of the people
small food offerings
their all
is this memory
what helps you
stand tall
training, appointments and mission
what a great shock to your system

beautiful people for meeting
bom dia your greeting
then time with your Dad
much joy to be had

the love of life deepens
the struggle, the fun
the laughter

always courage
compassion, faithfulness
a deep love of family
and stories to tell

O Mary

the inner light
is ever bright
and shines through
a very, very
determined YOU

our Mary, Mary
quite contrary.

90th birthday, April 2011 by Marie Clarkson, OLM

 

-Lorie Nunez, OLM

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

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“Land Issue Come Visit to Learn,” read the sign in front of the logs and brush blocking one of the entrances to Awenda Provincial Park.  We passed it on our way to our cottage outside Penetanguishene.
A few days later, Sr. Lorie and I decided it was time to walk over for our “class.”  We discovered we had much to learn.
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John Hawke of Chimnissing Anishinabek (also known as Brousoleil First Nation on Christian Island) has been living in a cabin on land claimed by Awenda Park for eight years.  He decided to erect the barricade so those who share use of this land could gain awareness of its history, current situation, and dreams for its use in the future.
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He spoke with us of different treaties and what each one meant.  He also mentioned his opposition to agreements made by INAC (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada), a group that many indigenous people feel doesn’t represent them, wanting instead to reclaim the traditional system of grandmother leadership.
John Hawke is leading a men’s group for healing and learning how to live the traditional ways.  He works closely with a group of grandmothers led by Elizabeth Elson of the same community.  He believes that it is possible to find ways to share use of the land currently claimed by Awenda Park.
Surely, spending time living more closely with the natural world would be healing and reconciling for all of us.