A Promised Reward In Heaven

On Saturday, September 11th Our Lady’s Missionaries celebrated the life of Sr. Mona Kelly, OLM with her family, friends, and some residents of Presentation Manor.

The celebration began with sharing memories of Mona. Evelyn, Mona’s sister, recalled how Mona often promised her a reward each time she requested a favour of Evelyn. When she asked Mona for her reward, Mona replied, “Heaven is your reward.”

After several others shared stories, we gathered in the central part of the chapel for Mass with Fr. John Carten, SFM presiding. A reading from Isaiah reminded us of God’s plan for his people. A plan that was reflected in Mona’s life as a missionary in many different countries where Mona became a refuge for the poor and the needy.

Mona’s choice for the Gospel “…that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” reflected her passion that mothers and children have a taste of heaven in this life.

Heaven in Mona’s heart is a place when justice and peace prevail. So, we prayed “most especially for indigenous children, children of colour and street kids; that the adults in their lives will treasure them and strive to make the world a better place for them as did Mona.”

– Lorie Nuñez, OLM

Thin Places

As Our Lady’s Missionaries celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of Mary last August 15’th, the idea of Thin Places came to mind.  My understanding of Thin Places is that these are spots where the physical world draws very close to the Holy.  Mary being bodily assumed into heaven strikes me as a Thin Place. 

The Gospel that day featured Mary setting out to visit Elizabeth and upon her arrival, proclaiming her Magnificat.  I remember theologian Mary Malone explaining in a class, many years ago, that Mary and Elizabeth weren’t just chatting….  The scene Mary Malone described was of Mary and Elizabeth shouting with excitement and glee while they were still some distance from each other.

And so, years later as I walked the mountainous country-side of Mindanao in the Philippines, and heard my companion shouting to her mother in the distance…  Mary and Elizabeth came to mind, and that spot became a Thin Place for me.

Every time I hear Luke 6:38, “…give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap…”, I remember the day I purchased rice in the market in Vandeikya, Nigeria.  The woman selling the rice scooped bowlfuls of it into the measure, an old cooking oil tin; then she shook the tin back-and-forth, causing the rice to settle and leave room for more.  She did this several times.  Now, the rice section of Vandeikya Market is a Thin Place for me.

Lately I have heard and read several commentaries noting that the news today is of “biblical proportions.”  It’s true, isn’t it?  Fires, droughts, locusts, earthquakes, plagues, unrest and injustice leading to war…  If the news of the world is of “biblical proportions,” then perhaps it can also be said that entire world has become a Thin Place.  If we stop, take a deep breath and become really present to the moment, we’ll also be able to feel the nearness of the Holy.  May this give us the impetus we need to grow in awareness, and to act.

Christine Gebel olm

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  )