Leave-Taking

On October 21 a bright sunny autumn day, Our Lady’s Missionaries gathered at 2 Leander Court, to bid goodbye to this place which has been our Central House for the past 18 years. Reading parts of Sr. Maejanet’s poem “The Leave-Taking” helped us to remember the many comings and goings in our life journeys.

DSCN3746

We were filled with gratitude as we shared our stories of going out to Mission and returning during the 18 years Leander was Home. As the poem reminded us “and yet now, time impels our going” to our new home Presentation Manor. We look forward with enthusiasm to continuing our “Life is Mission” with other Religious Communities of women and men and lay people. This broader way of Communal living will give us more opportunities to be creative in living out our Mission.

DSCN3755

With grateful hearts, we prayed goodbye to Leander as we prayed welcome to Presentation Manor.

DSCN3727

– Sr. Noreen Kearns, OLM

Courage of a Grand Chief of Treaty

 

Steve
Photo credits: https://www.thestar.com/news/investigation

Steve Fobister died last week of mercury poisoning at the age of 66 following a life dedicated to seeking justice for his people.  He served as Chief of Grassy Narrows and later as Grand Chief  of Treaty #3 leading his people through negotiations for mercury justice and against clear-cut logging.

logging

Long after the mercury robbed him of his mobility and his physical strength, he remained an outspoken advocate for his people and for the environment that is the foundation of their way of life.  In 2014 he held a hunger strike in front of the Provincial Legislature, relenting only when the minister committed publicly to act on Steve’s two primary demands. 1. Disability payments to those suffering from the mercury in payments reflecting rising cost of living.  2.  Mercury Care  Home in Grassy Narrows for treatment.  Only weeks ago was a design completed for such a home in Grassy Narrows with completion set in the fall of 2019.  These are measures Steve set into motion.

A memorial service was held in front of the Provincial Legislature last Thursday evening.  A sacred fire was lit and there was drumming both on a large drum and with hand drums.  Chief Rudy Turtle, friends and family members spoke of their experiences of Steve’s courage, commitment, humour and his inspiration.

-Rosemary Williamson, OLM

Thanksgiving

DSCN3587

“The root of joy is gratefulness….It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”  This quote from David Steindl-Rast reminds me of a little boy in Nigeria who for me embodies this.  It was midafternoon when the sun is most intense and this boy was carrying a massive load of firewood on his head.  At the same time, he was merrily pushing an old bicycle tire frame with a forked stick seemingly oblivious to the heat or the load he was carrying!  We have much to learn from others and their simple gratitude for the gift of life.  Whenever asked to pray Nigerians almost always began by thanking God for life and being able to rise on that morning.

DSCN3567In Canada, most of us have much to be grateful for but we too have our street people, the homeless and single mothers struggling to provide for their children.  There are also many newcomers many of whom have fled violence or areas suffering from natural disasters caused by climate change.  How do we welcome them?  Do we hold our politicians accountable for their policies and do we advocate for more subsidized and low-cost housing?  Are we becoming informed about the candidates running for office in our upcoming local elections?  These are practical ways we can express our gratitude and take responsibility for sharing the blessings we have received.  There are many ways we can volunteer: soup kitchens, drop-in centers, food banks, visiting seniors, teaching English to newcomers and many more.

May our thanksgiving reach beyond one day a year to embrace a whole way of living in which we realize that all is a gift.

“Gratefulness is the inner gesture of giving meaning to our life by receiving life as a gift.”  David Steindl-Rast

-Sr. Rosemary Williamson, OLM

 

Celebrating Moon Cake Festival

DSCN3494

On September 24, 2018, OLMs gathered to celebrate the Moon Cake Festival hosted by Sr. Lucy Lee and her brother, Joseph, at Leander house. This Mid-Autumn Festival is a  special time which honors the annual harvest in conjunction with lunar cycles.

moncakeMooncake is a sweet, dense pastry, filled with a delicious red bean, sesame or lotus seed paste, and topped with an intricate pattern which symbolizes good-luck sentiments such as ‘longevity’ or ‘harmony’. 

Like many Chinese customs, the origins of the mooncake lie in ancient times.  In this case, a time of social and political triumph – the overthrow of the Mongol dynasty. After many attempts to invade China, the Mongols succeeded in the 13th Century, with Kublai Khan establishing the Yuan dynasty. It was an oppressive regime that saw the Chinese people ruled closely by Mongolian guards outside all their homes. Families were even expected to give the guards food and wine. 

In other words, the story behind mooncake is about a successful Chinese rebellion which coincided with the mid-autumn festival. The Chinese distributed a pastry to each resident as a disguised blessing for the longevity of the Mongol emperor.  Within each cake was a piece of paper on which was written, “Kill the Mongols on the 15th day of the eighth month”.  Since the Mongols did not care to eat this pastry, the planned rebellion succeeded and the Mongols were overthrown.

DSCN3486
Sr. Lucy and her brother, Joseph explain the mechanics of the game as the OLM sisters listen.

-Sr. Lorie Nuñez, OLM

 

Autumn Equinox

 

20161024_165624

Hope

Like the mythical summers of youth,

Unending hot days and warm nights,

Sun caressing the trees and the flowers,

The lake calm and warm and attracting.

Tomatoes and beans, lettuce, zucchini

The garden is green and productive.

Weather’s been like that the last two months

Unnaturally warm and inviting.

Grass, trees and ferns change to oil and to gas,

We’re coasting on summers long past,

Coal mines, and cars, trains, aeroplanes

Barbecues, hot tubs, street lighting.

So many changes, so many more coming,

More heat and more storms and more floods.

Our anchors are family, friends and relations,

Kindness, and courage, and wisdom.

Dave Collacutt
September, 2018

Equinox

Dave, the author, mindfully walking a labyrinth meditation at his home.

Wisdom From Our Life Experience

DSCN3429

The sisters of Our Lady’s Missionaries gathered at our Leander house on the 15th of August to celebrate our last major Feast Day before we move.

One of the highlights of the celebration was a dialogue reflection led by Sr. Frances. Sharing the wisdom of our life experiences seen through the lens of the Gospel of the day brought us many memorable stories.  We are grateful to Fr. Brian Swords, sfm, who presided at our Mass.

We are truly grateful for the blessings of family, friends, benefactors and for those with whom we have shared life in mission both in and outside Canada.

And above all, we are forever grateful to Father Dan who with faith and audacity inspired many people in his time to bring Our Lady’s Missionaries into existence until today.

by Sr. Lorie Nuñez, OLM

 

Peace, Salaam, Shalom

Alexander The Great Parkette

On a beautiful Sunday evening in July, people on the Danforth in Toronto were subjected to violence and fear, and so much anguish.

       The following Wednesday, I rode my bicycle downtown for an appointment.  Taking my usual route meant that I would be passing through that very area.  Seeing people gathered at the different memorial sites unsettled my soul.

        After my appointment, I returned to join the evening vigil.  About 20 minutes before the vigil was scheduled to start, people started arriving… and arriving…. and arriving…  There were so many, I couldn’t find the other OLMs that I knew were participating.  Though alone throughout the walk, I felt very connected.

     The vigil began with an acknowledgment of the land.  And then, we were reminded that we had gathered to remember and support three families who had lost loved ones.  I was touched that the family of the shooter was included.  They too are experiencing terrible anguish.  It was noted that some might try to use what had happened as an excuse to fan Islamaphobia flames.  The speaker firmly stated, “We will not stand for this!”

     And then, as we sang “Peace, Salaam, Shalom” and other chants we walked to Alexander the Great Parkette.  We blessed the Danforth with our feet, with our songs, with the sharing of flame to light our candles, with hugs and prayer and a reverent quiet.

IMG_20180725_181740After so much had been taken on Sunday evening, on Wednesday there was a spirit of giving.  Ahmadiyya Muslims were giving out t-shirts on which was written, “Love for All, Hatred for None.”  A couple of young women were giving out red paper hearts.  A group of Sikhs were giving out vegetarian food.  Hugs, smiles and tears were shared in abundance.

     As I climbed back onto my bicycle and headed home, my soul felt nourished and full.  It was like I had been to Church.

by Christine Gebel, OLM