Since the recent death of Jean Vanier, people have asked how was it that Our Lady’s Missionaries gave their Richmond Hill property to him to open the first L’Arche home outside Trosly- Breuil in France.
Four of Our Lady’s Missionaries had attended Jean’s first retreat at Marylake in August, 1968. We were deeply moved by the spiritual wealth we had experienced during those days. We learned, also, of his work with people with developmental disabilities and his decision in 1964 to live in a small home with two of these men. Now he was anxious to establish a L’Arche home in Canada.
Our novitiate was in Richmond Hill. We had a large home and seven acres of land we had bought from the Basilian Fathers and we had planned on moving our novices down to our Clarendon community in the summer of 1968 so as to have access to the inter-novitiate program needed after the Vatican II Council. So we took a poll of our OLM sisters and the result was almost unanimous that we offer our Richmond Hill property to Jean Vanier for his new venture. We approached the Chancery Office for permission and Bishop Wall remarked as we were leaving, “Fools walk in where Angels fear to tread!”
L’Arche Daybreak was ‘born’ in the Fall of 1969.
The risk had been taken, and we’ve known tremendous blessings ever since.
The last vestiges of winter are always so sad and dirty looking. As the snow begins to melt, it reveals leaves and litter from the previous fall. We are tempted to clean the mess right away, but the biodegradable part, leaves and stems of plants, often have become the winter home of butterflies, bees and other pollinators. If we do the clean-up before it is warm enough for them to rise and shine (above 10⁰C), we’ll be destroying a lot of new life.
The last vestiges of a person’s life are often not the best of times either. During Lent this year, both my father and our Sr. Clarice Garvey died. Each had been experiencing some dementia towards the end of their life and we were left feeling that we had begun to lose them long before they passed on.
The day before Clarice’s funeral, I sat in the chapel of Presentation Manor and gazed on the Risen Christ figure hanging above the altar. This figure is not shiny and glorious. Instead, the artist, Timothy Schmalz, has created a figure that bears the signs of suffering and of resurrection in a way that I have never seen before.
I pondered on the lives of my father and Clarice… Both had lived good long lives. Bothwere well respected and well loved by family, friends and the wider community. As I continued to gaze on the Risen Christ figure, it struck me that it is the totality of who we are that is loved by God and rises to New Life… not just the good, pleasant bits.
As we move into our celebration of Easter this year, may we name and embrace, not just the glorious and shiny parts of ourselves, but also the other parts, including the sufferings and temptations of which we might not be so proud. May we accept the totality of who we are and know that we are loved by God as we rejoice and dream of ways in which we too will rise to New Life.
MESSAGE RELEASED FROM THE CPT (Pastoral Land Commission) CEARÁ ON THE RISING TO NEW LIFE OF Sister Clarice Garvey.
BLESSINGS ON YOUR JOURNEY.
On April 1, in Toronto Canada, our beloved Sr. Clarice Garvey, OLM who was instrumental in organizing the CPT Team in the Archdiocese of Fortaleza, Ceará made her final journey to New Life.
In 1964, a group of sisters from the Congregation “Our Lady’s Missionaries” arrived in the Archdiocese of Fortaleza with the mission of working at the “Maternidade Escola Assis Chateaubriand – MEAC – UFC.”(Maternity Institute of the Federal University of Ceara). When they felt they had completed their mission, which was to train nursing staff in that hospital unit for several years, they settled in Planalto do Pici. The sisters engaged themselves in various ministries for social justice in the neighbourhood where they lived. At this point they received an invitation from Parish Priests, José Maria and Moacir Cordeiro, to work in the parishes of Aratuba, Palmácia and Mulungu.
Raimundão, a member of the CPT Team, gives us his testimony:
“We faced a great struggle to obtain land reform on the Bu farm in Palmacia. After more than four years of struggle and resistance for this land, we were still homeless, evicted from the land we had been tilling. The sisters, Clarice, Elizabeth and Paulina were very supportive of us. They welcomed us and helped us in every way they could. We started to fight again for a different piece of land, this time in the municipality of Ocara, in the town of Novas Vidas. Sister Clarice was one of the first people to enter this land on our side, always supporting our struggle. Today we have about 15 settlements in this region of Fortaleza, the fruit of our struggle and work. And we continue counting on the support of Sister Clarice. “
Luizinha Camurça, a historical figure of CPT Ceará who was a political detainee, tortured before finally being released, testifies:
“To speak about Sister Clarice is to talk about a great journey and many years of dedication and commitment in her work at Fortaleza’s CPT and also of the commitment of the sisters, especially Sr. Elizabeth (Maejanet Mac Donell) and Sister Clarice in their support for the workers in the struggle for social and land reform. This included the organizing of communal farms, the struggle for a dignified life for peasant families, the celebration of spirituality, and support for faith and discipleship. At CPT we formed a large family together with the people. In the year 2000, Sister Clarice secured financial resources from the SHARE Foundation to support organic farming. Over 19 years the Northeastern Producers met with their support, committing themselves to practicing agro-ecology (Organic Farming) in their activities, and meeting for the exchange of experiences at the northeastern level. This was a seed that she planted and has already produced much fruit.”
The Pastoral Land Commission of Ceará recognizes the great work and support of Sister Clarice, together with the peasant farmers, in the area of the Archdiocese of Fortaleza, especially in the support and formation of leadership that continues the work to date. She intercedes with God for us, the CPT workers and our mission, and for all the workers in the struggle for land. CPT Ceará echoes the words of the poet Zé Vicente: “Go, my dear Clarice, to the rest of the just.”
On April 6, 2019 OLMs, Clarice’s sister, Claire and her family, our friends and many members of the Presentation Manor community gathered with us in gratitude for Clarice’s life, for the blessings she has brought to each of us who knew her and to all with whom she shared life, faith and commitment to the reign of God. Sr. Frances Brady, OLM welcomed everyone with this story:
“Clarice was born and raised in Mayo, Quebec and educated in the Mayo area and at Immaculata High School in Ottawa. She entered Our Lady’s Missionaries in 1950 the year after the congregation was founded. Clarice was in mission in Japan, then in Vietnam and later in the Northeast of Brazil and served as the Congregational Leader of Our Lady’s Missionaries from 1991 to 1999.
In her time in Leadership and in her other missions, Clarice was a faithful advocate for the rights and dignity of all people and the need for respect for the earth. This was visible in her ministry with landless farmers in Northeast, Brazil whom she accompanied in their work for land reform. The relationship of mutual affection and respect that existed among them was evident.
We, her sisters in community have been enriched by these qualities and by her faith, sense of humour and welcoming nature. Perhaps these values so important to Clarice were planted during her early years on the family farm in Mayo.”
During the mass, Sr. Marie Clarkson, OLM closed the prayers of the faithful with the words of Clarice:
“May our God of Jubilee bless us with the forgiveness of our Brother Jesus, wisdom
of our Mother Mary, faith of our foremothers and forefathers, courage of Fr. Dan, disposition to risk of Sr. Odelia and Sr. Mary Ida, humour of Penny, generosity of the poor, fidelity of women, joy of children , fertility of the earth, freedom of nature, to accept our dying and our rising.”
On March 25, 2019, OLMs gather and celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation. Sr. Rosemary Williamson led us in prayer saying:
“Let us pray, As we recall memories of Father Dan, may they rekindle our spirit to be women of ever deeper faith, as we face the challenge of ageing and relating to a new and much larger community here at Presentation Manor. All this is taking place in a world of major social, political, religious and environmental threats to the very existence of life on this earth. Like Father Dan who did not lose confidence in God’s grace despite the obstacles he faced in beginning our community in his senior years; may we too take inspiration from his example and continue to engage as we are able to be a Gospel presence of joy and faith.”
This prayer gathering reminisced the time when Father Dan approached many generous individuals and communities that supported the founding of the Congregation of Our Lady’s Missionaries. The feast of the Annunciation commemorates the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he told her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is celebrated on March 25th each year.
As Pope Francis reminds us in his Lenten message, Lent is a time for conversion and renewal that prepare us for a joyful celebration of Easter. For everyone there is a need for conversion and an invitation to renewal, specific to each of us according to the circumstances of our lives.
A place where the call to conversion and renewal speaks to all of us without exception is the natural world, the environment created by God upon which we all depend for life. The call is urgent, the need is great and well documented and the opportunities are numerous. For encouragement there are, within these forty days of Lent, significant events to remind and guide us.
March 22nd is World Water Day when we focus on how we can protect our water sources and keep them clean and safe for everyone and identify the reasons that many people do not have access to clean water. http://www.worldwaterday.org/
March 30th is the day we celebrate Earth Hour. By turning off all non-essential electricity between 8:30 and 9:30 pm we reflect on the effect that our lifestyle has on our relationship with the environment. https://www.earthhour.org/
During Lent the NGO Citizens for Public Justice sponsors “Give It Up for the Earth” a campaign to encourage lifestyle changes that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. https://cpj.ca/fortheearth
Every region will have local activities for us to participate in as well, as we enter into the season of Lent with a desire for conversion and renewal of our relationship with the earth.
What is required of us is an attitude of repentance, of acknowledgement of past wrongs and harm done and a sincere desire to renew our commitment to a just and unselfish bond with the natural world that sustains us.
This was the focus of a gathering of residents of Presentation Manor facilitated by Maureen McDonnell on a Saturday morning in February. Maureen is currently engaged in Ministry for Maturing Adults at St. Bonaventure Parish. She led us in a gentle process of reflection and story-telling around how we each came to be at Presentation Manor and what our hopes and dreams for our lives here might be. Maureen helped us to voice some of our frustrations and concerns as well as our gratitude and expectations arising from our move to our new home. Some are not yet ready to call Presentation Manor home. Some have a sense of adventure and excitement from being among the first to move in. Maureen assured us that everything we are experiencing is a normal part of such an important life transition.
Mary Deighan, olm was especially looking forward to this gathering because it was she who hired a teen-aged Maureen to work at St. Vincent de Paul’s Marygrove Camp, managed Our Lady’s Missionaries back in the ’60s!