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.


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:
Sister Margo Ritchie
Congregational Leader
Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada
(519) 432-3781 ext. 418
Lisa Tabachnick
Director of Communications
Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto
(416) 467-2630

Sœur Aurore Larkin
Supérieure de Congrégation
Les Sœurs Grises de Montreal
t (514) 842-9411
c (514)

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



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.

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

“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.
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.
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.



“Justice for Grassy Narrows” and “Water is Life” were emblazoned on posters, t-shirts and banners at the annual Grassy Narrows event on June 20th.  Chief Rudy Turtle of Grassy, Regional Chief Roseanne Archibald and Paul Beauregard NDP member of Parliament all spoke at the foot of the Parliament Buildings.

lining up in parliament building

With an election due in the fall they are now requesting that the funding promised for the building of a Mercury Care Home be put into a Trust Fund.   The CEO of Lake of the District Hospital has committed to covering some of the medical care to be provided in the home which earlier had been a condition requested by the Federal Government.

chief GN

At the conclusion of the walk; a falcon perched regally on the roof of a nearby building granting further significance to the event.

Sr. Rosemary Williamson, OLM

A Retreat at Presentation Manor


Unity & Presence was the theme of the first annual retreat at Presentation Manor.  It summarizes the Gospel readings from St. John that were heard every day at Mass that week.

Fr. John Reddy, CSB presided at all of the Masses which were held at the regular times.  He kept in mind the theme of the retreat for his homilies.

Each day there was also a talk at 3:30 pm.  On the first day Fr. John Reddy gave the talk.  Each day thereafter, Sr. Eileen Power, CND gave the talks.

A separate area of the dining room was reserved for those wished to keep silence during the retreat.

The organizers were unsure of how many people to expect, and were pleased at how many did attend.  The participants were from the religious communities and from the lay people who live at Presentation Manor.  Many expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be on retreat without having to leave home.

Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM



In November of 2017, the then minister Jane Philpott committed to build and operate a Mercury Survivors Home and Care Centre in Grassy Narrows.  Nearly 500 days later, only 1% of the cost to build the facility has flowed and the project is stalled.


Meanwhile, 94% of Grassy Narrows people get no compensation for the intense impacts of the ongoing mercury crisis on their health, culture, and livelihood.  Instead of getting the support they need they face chronic denial as they live with deep poverty and severe food insecurity.

“Commitment to Meaningful Relationships with First Nations” was one of the promises Prime Minister Trudeau made.

Prime Minister Trudeau spoke at a liberal fund raising dinner in Toronto on May 9th.  Across the street from the venue advocates for Grassy Narrows from several groups gathered with a poster, noise makers and chanting to once again plead for justice.  Pamphlets with relevant information were also passed out.


Chrissy Swain one of the women in Grassy Narrows, who has been an activist for many years addressed the crowd via a cell phone hook up. She is now a grandmother but continues her commitment not to simply be a victim but to stand up and seek justice.  The people of Grassy Narrows continue to seek the funds previously promised in 2017 to build a mercury treatment center in Grassy.

Further Information:

Sr. Rosemary Williamson, OLM



Decolonization & Climate Change


The Joint Ecological Ministry committee (JEM) hosted a two day gathering last May 22’nd and 23’rd and some OLMs were in attendance.  The theme was “Decolonization & Climate Change,” and the main speakers were Sylvia McAdam Saysewahum (co-founder of Idle No More & One House, Many Nations), Deborah McGregor (Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice, York University), and Jennifer Henry (Executive Director of KAIROS).

Sylvia McAdam (left) & Deborah McGregor (right)


All three women spoke from their hearts, voicing some strong challenges to those of us who are settlers on the land that is now called Canada.  Sylvia mentioned that whenever she felt troubled about something she knew that there was an important learning coming.  The two days did indeed leave us with much to ponder.



Deborah McGregor, Jennifer Henry, Sylvia McAdam (left to right)
There were also four speakers on a panel on the afternoon of the second day:  Paul Baines (Blue Communities facilitator for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada), Karri Venn-Munn (Senior Policy Analyst with Citizens for Public Justice), Fr. Bert Foliot SJ (IRSS Legacy, Restoration of Identity Project), and Agnes Richards (Coordinating the establishment of a Canadian arm of the Global Catholic Climate Movement).  They each spoke of a project designed to raise awareness of Care for the Earth or Truth & Reconciliation.  They too left us with much to ponder.
Bert Foliot SJ, Karri Munn-Venn, Agnes Richards, Paul Baines (left to right)

-Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM