72 Years of “Our Life is Mission”

Srs. Noreen Kearns and Rosemarie Donovan

On Monday, May 31st, OLMs attended Mass together at Presentation Manor Chapel to celebrate our 72’nd anniversary. In his homily Fr. John Carten, SFM spoke about Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth to be of service as her mission to fulfill God’s will.

One of the two pioneer members of Our Lady’s Missionaries; Sr. Rosemarie Donovan, recalled her experience when she first arrived in Immaculata House to enter, and the other, Sr. Noreen Kearns shared her story of how a simple act of giving pennies inspired her to join OLM.

In the words of Sr. Rosemarie Donovan…

On May 31’st, 72 years ago Our Lady’s Missionaries was founded. A 40 year dream of our Founder, Fr. Dan Mac Donald was realized on that day. He was 82 and stood so proudly on the station platform as we emerged from the train. Noreen and I and our Mothers. There were tears in his eyes as he put us in a taxi to take us to our new home – “Immaculata House”.

On our arrival there were two St. Joseph’s Sisters; St. Charles and Sr. Natalie to Welcome us and usher us in the front door. Fr. Dan was soon vesting for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in our small chapel. We could not enter as the varnish had not dried but we sat on the stairs and participated thru the door of the chapel.

Fr. Dan spoke eloquently thanking God for the many flavours granted him leading to this very day. We were all in tears as we were shown into the kitchen for tea and scones. Mother and Mrs. Kearns were sitting on chairs, Noreen and I sat on orange crates.

The sisters were warm and friendly and made us feel at home. Our mothers were to stay overnight at friends and the car soon came for them. Tears again and off they went until the next morning where we made our final goodbyes as they left for home. Our Lady of the Visitation seemed very close.

In the words of Sr. Noreen Kearns…

On March 25, 1949, Our Lady’s Missionaries was founded in Alexandria, Ontario.

I entered the community on May 31 that same year. I recall my memories of those seventy-two years during our celebration here in Presentation Manor, Toronto, Ontario.

When I was in Grade 3 at St. Brigid’s School, Toronto, our teacher, Miss Hayes’ gave each of us a small box distributed at that time by Scarboro Foreign Missions depicting a group of children in a far-away country asking for pennies to buy food. Young as I was, I remember saying, “When I grow up, I will bring them my food!”

After my teen age years and when I thought seriously regarding my future, I recalled my promise and I applied to Our Lady’s Missionaries. As a pure gift, I was privileged to work in “far-off” Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Brazil. My work was never equal to the many blessings and relationships I received from the people who received me and gave me their love and culture.

Our Lady’s Missionaries remember Fr. Dan’s words in a letter he wrote when the first sisters were preparing to go overseas for their mission:

There is an event to occur drawing nearer and daily increasing in size, when parting will come with no hope of re-union. Such at least is the probability. I think every day of it and know that your joy will be my pain. That is the human experience. Not to feel it would be inhuman.”

Going forth to the unknown, uncertainties, and risk has been for OLMs a blessing as we live “Our Life is Mission.”

A Tribute to Sr. Mona Kelly, OLM

Mona Kelly! We, the community of Escuta – Espaço Cultural Frei Tito de Alencar, will see you in Heaven, you have lived life to the fullest in our midst on Earth, our Common Home especially in Planalto do Pici, Fortaleza.

We witnessed your commitment to fight for liberation, peace, and justice by accompanying the poor and the marginalized denied their human rights.  You were a warrior by bringing together homeless people to be courageous to preserve and defend the right to housing before the state’s power.

At her invitation I, Leonardo Sampaio and Lúcia Vasconcelos in 1990 met  with a group of people at the church (Igreja da Penha) in Bela Vista, where the sisters of Our Lady’s Missionaries lived. We discussed the occupation of the land of the abandoned American Airforce Base in Bairro Pici. The initiative to occupy the land was strengthened, and soon after, you stepped on that space with a hoe in your hand and stuck it in the land, the land to call home that was longed for by many people to live, they were poor who’d been unprotected from the abusive powers. That very moment we see you as one of us not an outsider nor a foreigner, but a land dweller with a humanitarian spirit ingrained with the faith of Christ the Deliverer, making her mission present the oppressed and building the Kingdom of God here on Earth, the Kingdom of justice, equality, equity, love and fraternity.

Mona, in her earthly passage, testified to her commitment, leaving her legacy to be followed, which is why we are sure of her presence in the infinity of the Universe with the Sacred Deities.

Our gratitude to her and her congregation.

Sister Mona present, yesterday, today and forever!

Coordenação do Escuta 11/01/2021. (Translated from the original Portuguese)

Moving Forward Together to 2021

Along with the other residents of Presentation Manor and Providence Healthcare we Sisters of Our Lady’s Missionaries are preparing for the New Year much as we celebrated Christmas. While missing the usual visits with family and friends, we are immensely grateful for the warm and caring communities in which we live assisted by kind and attentive staff members.

Unable to have Mass in our Presentation Manor chapel, our celebrations of this liturgical season were centered around a variety of smaller gatherings and the TV or internet. This surely did not lessen, and possibly increased, the fervour of our prayers for one another and for our world.

Some of the blessings we give thanks for are different from the ones we usually express when looking back on a previous year. They may also lead us to more faithfully keeping our “New Year’s resolutions” – which will also, perhaps, be different from other years.

Whatever we give thanks for or resolve for the future, my heartfelt hopes and prayers are those shared by many. May we move forward together with care and compassion for all people and with respect and reverence for the created world that gives and supports life.

Happy New Year All!

Frances Brady, OLM

God Waiting for Us

As part of a series of Advent Reflections held at Presentation Manor, on December 8th our very own Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM guided us in a reflection on the Second Sunday of Advent.

Focusing on the message of the Good News for ourselves and our world, we spent some time savouring God’s presence and love for us so that we in turn, may be bearers of God’s love, peace and joy during this time of so much anxiety and frustration.

Here is a link to the video:

Remembering and Emulating

The Annual General Meeting of Becoming Neighbours was held via Zoom this past week.  Once again the memory of Sr. Margaret Myatt CSJ was honoured with the presentation of the Margaret Myatt Award.  With perseverance and concern for the marginalized, Margaret called together the leaders of religious congregations in the Archdiocese of Toronto in 2003 to explore how we could collaborate together in a common ministry.  Collaboration was a deeply held and lived value for Margaret and out of her ability to bring others together, Becoming Neighbours, a program welcoming refugees and immigrants, was birthed. 

Our Lady’s Missionaries is excited to share that the Margaret Myatt Award was presented to our own Sr. Frances Brady this year!

Margaret Myatt Award

Presented to FRANCES BRADY, OLM

and all the Sisters of Our Lady’s Missionaries

In gratitude for your unwavering

compassionate ministry with refugees

Becoming Neighbours 2020

Frances has been part of Becoming Neighbours in some way since the very beginning and has successfully encouraged many of us to participate as well.  Despite the fact that Frances is currently the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Becoming Neighbours, she was unaware that she was to be the recipient.  The rest of OLMs were given a heads up and were able to join the Zoom meeting in time to watch as Frances realized that she was presenting the award to herself!

May we all continue to honour the memory of Margaret Myatt by emulating her perseverance, concern for the marginalized, and collaboration.

Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM

Co-Creators of a Just Recovery

At some point this year, as we began to realize the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic would affect our entire world, we began to hear the plea… We cannot go back to normal. Normal was part of the problem that got us here!

And so, on November 5’th JEM (Joint Ecological Ministry) in conjunction with CRC (Canadian Religious Conference) hosted a webinar entitled “Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in the Context of a Just Recovery.”

Dr. Niigaan Sinclair gave us an informative, challenging and hopeful presentation. If you missed it, don’t despair! Dr. Sinclair graciously agreed to having his presentation recorded and you can see it here:

Fr. Patrick Kelly, SFM

September 4, 1933 – September 29, 2020

Pat Kelly was missioned to the Philippines in 1959.  He was sent to Guyana in 1996, and returned to the Philippines in 2000.  In his heart he had never left the Philippines.  His love for the people and passion for justice held strong until his last days.

OLMs, especially those who also lived and worked in the Philippines, treasured his friendship.

With tears and laughter, and many stories, Our Lady’s Missionaries joined Scarboro Missions for a memorial Mass and to accompany Pat to his final resting place.

Fittingly, he who rallied the people to fast and fight for the forest was laid to rest underneath a beautiful tree.

Pat lived large.  Whatever he did, he did with total abandon.  May we too remember to embrace all that comes our way with a passion and love that befits a disciple of Jesus who “came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”   Jn 10:10b

By Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM

To read Fr. Pat’s Obituary, please click here:

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?n=sfm-patrick-john-kelly&pid=196888751  )

OLM ASSEMBLY

On September 24, 2020 all of our sisters living at Presentation Manor were able to gather for an assembly.

In a large lounge and wearing masks we began the day with a video presentation by Cynthia Bourgeault on “Being” and some shared reflection. The rest of the morning was spent discussing reports from the OLM committees that help to support our sisters and our community life.

After a break for Mass and lunch, the afternoon focused on the many activities within Presentation Manor and outside in which individual sisters are involved. The resulting conversation presented an image of a vibrant community here at Presentation Manor to which OLM sisters contribute and in which we enjoy participating.

By Sr. Frances Brady, OLM

Links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ALAgUlzxX0

Hiroshima Nagasaki

August 6th and 9th, the anniversaries of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively, have for many years been occasions for remembering those horrifying events and strengthening our resolve to assure that such weapons are never used again.

In a world where nuclear weapons are still available the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bombings took on a special significance among groups working for peace and in the many events organized in remembrance.

The need to organize online rather than in person due to the threat of the COVID virus did not lessen the resolve of the many organizers and participants. Among the online events were one organized by the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and one (attended by a number of sisters of Our Lady’s Missionaries) sponsored by the Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition (Toronto). The message was a strong call to everyone to do what we can to bring about the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

A specific goal is to have all nuclear armed nations become a party to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was adopted by the UN in 2017. Canada has not yet signed this treaty. Prime Minister Trudeau and the Canadian government are being urged not only to sign the treaty but to take a leadership role on nuclear disarmament.

Setsuko Thurlow, who at the age of 13 was a victim of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, spoke at both events. Her message was a passionate plea for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. She expressed gratitude for the progress that has been made and for all those who are committed to continuing their efforts until this goal is achieved.

Sr. Frances Brady, OLM

Please see links to sign the petition:

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/75th-anniversary-of-hiroshima-nagasaki-canada-must-sign-the-treaty-on-the-prohibition-of-nuclear-weapons-2?clear_id=true