Dance in the Darkness

Jesus, Lord of weakness, we wait in joyful hope;

see our weakness, be our strength, Jesus be our light.

Dance in the darkness, slow be the pace,

surrender to the rhythm of redeeming grace.

Carey Landry’s Dance in the Darkness is one of my favourite Advent hymns. 

We who live in the Northern hemisphere certainly need to learn to live with darkness as the winter days grow shorter – and colder.  A glance at our world can also feel like a venture into darkness… the climate crisis, violence and war, the triple threat of Covid, RSV and the seasonal flu… 

As we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Emmanuel, God-With-Us, who chose to come among us as a vulnerable baby; may we see our weaknesses, our fears and worries, as a call to surrender to the grace of realizing how much we need each other and how good it is to be there for each other.

May this Advent be a grace-filled time for you!

Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM

The People, United, Will Never Be Defeated

On Sunday, September 18th people from different communities and labor organizations joined the call for a “Status for All” campaign across the country led by migrants demanding the federal government regularize everyone and grant full immigration status.

Two of Our Lady’s Missionaries sisters; Lorie and Christine together with Gemma (friend of OLMs) and many others from all walks of life joined the rally. Below are images of people and their messages.

Sr. Lorie Nuñez, OLM

A Season for Letting Go

Here in Canada, as we move into the autumn months “Letting Go” becomes a prominent theme.  Trees let go of their leaves; we let go of the birds migrating South; and we also let go of the glorious long days of summer!

Our Lady’s Missionaries have recently gone through a couple of other kinds of letting go…

Our Sr. Cecile Turner passed away on January 7, 2020, and, ever generous and wanting to be of help, had her body donated for scientific research.  Her cremated remains were recently returned to us and on September 10, 2022, we gathered in prayer to remember Cecile and say one last goodbye as we buried her urn at Holy Cross Cemetery. 

We pray that all of you who knew our Cecile will continue to carry good memories of her generosity and compassion and live in the hope that she is now fully alive in God and free of all pain and anxiety.

As we experience our various common and individual lettings go this autumn, may all of us be grateful for what has been and hopeful for what will be.

-Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM

Welcoming Presence at Becoming Neighbours

(L-R) Sr. Mary Jane Leonard, CND and Sr. Frances Brady, OLM

On April 19, 2022, Sr. Frances Brady, OLM, Sr. Mary Jane Leonard, CND (above photo), and Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR were honoured with the Margaret Myatt Recognition Award during the Becoming Neighbours’ Annual General Meeting.

On the following day, Our Lady’s Missionaries gathered to celebrate with Sr. Frances.  The award is named in honour of Sr. Margaret Myatt, CSJ who dreamed of a Joint Apostolic Ministry for the members of religious communities in the Archdiocese of Toronto. She spearheaded the founding of Becoming Neighbours to meet the needs of refugees and new immigrants in Toronto.

Sr. Frances has worked with Becoming Neighbours for some years and is currently Chairperson of the board.   Becoming Neighbour has always accepted donations of clothing, household items and furniture. Srs. Frances and Mary Jane have worked tirelessly sorting and arranging the donations. Since the beginning of COVID restrictions at Presentation Manor, they have welcomed staff and residents to come and “shop” for any articles they need. Many of the staff are also new Canadians. 

Above are the actual images of the three awardees from left, Mark Miller, CSsR, Frances Brady, OLM, and Mary Jane Leonard, CND taken during the Becoming Neighbours’ AGM event.

For more information about Becoming Neighbours see the links below:

Landing Page

Dancing Alone Together

Religions for Peace International https://www.rfp.org/?fbclid=IwAR2LQJ0g_xlxnX7E3_wRVmZAwAxsrJKpHLGb6W1hun8YFWZ4uxlKqDTCuh8

At a time when there is so much suffering – wars, climate change, racism, the pandemic, and so much more – as you can see from the meme above, there is also celebration and unity. 

Some time ago, I heard Sr. Jose Hobday, a Native Franciscan Sister, describe Native North Americans’ dance as “dancing alone together.”  What an apt description of all people of faith who are celebrating these days!

While the details of our beliefs and rituals vary, the core values of all these faith traditions are the same… love, peace, justice.

We who are Christians, celebrate the Paschal Mystery – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ.  As we reflect on suffering, death and new life, those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere are used to seeing this same mystery played out in all of Creation as plants and trees spring back into life. 

(Although, due to climate change, weather patterns are disturbed and some are celebrating Easter with a huge dump of newly fallen snow.)

May our journey with Jesus this Easter weekend, through suffering and death into the new life of resurrection enable us to recognize the same journey in our own lives. 

And, may the happiness all of us enjoy as we observe our different celebrations give us the energy, courage and strength to pray and work together to spread the love, peace and justice we all value so much.

Happy Easter!  Blessings on all who are celebrating at this time!

Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM

Day of Action for a Just Transition

Christine Gebel OLM

On March 12, 2022 events were held across Canada to call for a Just Transition – from fossil fuels to green energy. 

Sr. Lorie Nuñez and I attended one held near the office of M.P. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith.  I was attracted to this particular event because the invitation stated, “masking is going to be welcome.”

Lorie Nuñez OLM

This is just about the first public event in which I’ve participated since the beginning of the pandemic!  Since it was being held outside and the organizers were obviously conscious of Covid risks, I felt safe to attend.

The reason I (and most of the participants) wore a mask is the same reason I’m concerned about the Global Climate Emergency.

We all breathe the same air – literally – and whether it is infected with a virus or polluted with greenhouse gases, CO2, and other poisons, all Creation suffers.

Those who are economically poor may suffer first, but eventually we are all affected.  All of Earth is inextricably interconnected.

Mary-Ellen Francoeur SOS (left)

This means that the pandemic won’t be finished just because my little corner of the world is vaccinated.  The pandemic will only be vanquished when we ensure that everyone around the world has access to vaccines and medicines.

And, the Climate Emergency will not be resolved because my little corner of the world has reduced its fossil fuel use.  We need bold measures to be taken on many levels. 

One of the speakers at this event reminded us that decarbonization cannot happen without decolonialization.  A Just Transition also ensures that workers who will suffer loss in a transition off fossil fuels are given new opportunities in a green economy. 

The invitation to this event also mentioned cookies and “a spirit of fun, challenge and fierce joy.”  We have a long road ahead of us.  Fierce joy will help us to keep up our energy for the journey.  Cookies will help too!

Christine Gebel OLM (right)

Christine Gebel OLM

So Much to be Thankful for…

Our Lady’s Missionaries are in awe of all the staff of Presentation Manor. These days, this is especially true of the kitchen staff who have been working extra hard to keep the residents safe and healthy by serving us our meals in our rooms.

There is so much to be thankful for in the midst of the pandemic and the restrictions it entails, and after having experienced an unusually severe snow storm here in Toronto. Sr. Marie Clarkson wrote a poem to express her gratitude to the Presentation Manor Staff.

Here are some creative messages made by some OLMs and posted on their doors. Many Presentation Manor residents are leaving similar messages of gratitude on their doors today as we look forward to having our meals in the dining room once again this week!

It is a blessing to be served so graciously and gratitude is an automatic response, for our hearts know what is right.

by Lorie Nuñez, OLM

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Meaning:  The feast of the Immaculate Conception is hard to define precisely.  Even the church itself has taken centuries to try to put it into language that leads us into the mystery of God’s singular grace and gift to Mary from the moment she was conceived in the “eye of God” and then conceived on earth.  The church believes that Mary – by the singular grace and favor of God – is human, is free, and will die, yet that she was somehow more finely tuned to the will of God and open to obedience because of the intervention of her child’s power of redemption and resurrection.  

Megan McKenna “Advent, Christmas and Epiphany”

Our Lady’s Missionaries gathered to celebrate this feast with a simple prayer service combining hymns to Mary, a short theological reflection from the writings of Anthony Padovano, and an inspirational quote from the writings of Caryll Houselander.

Patricia Kay was celebrating 70 years as a member of Our Lady’s Missionaries and Frances Brady 60 years.  They were presented with bouquets of roses.

We then enjoyed a special meal of Chinese food.

                                                            Sr. Rosemary Williamson, OLM

Cushion Meditation in Spanish

Our Lady’s Missionaries shared Sr. Elaine MacInnis’s joy upon receiving a copy of her book “Light Sitting In Light” translated into the Spanish language.

A few years ago in an interview with the Global Sisters Report, when asked why she became interested in Zen practice and teaching; Sr. Elaine explained that “cushion meditation” requires one to be comfortable in silence. She continued to explain that as a musician she was sensitive to sound, and this equipped her to sit in silence.

She hopes that her Spanish readers will find the book helpful and that it will give more depth to the meaning of their lives. Her prayer is that they grow in awareness of how God speaks in silence and brings us to peace.

Here’s a link to Sr. Elaine’s Q & A interview:

https://www.globalsistersreport.org/column/q/spirituality/q-sr-elaine-macinnes-teaching-others-art-zen-meditation-45756