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.
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.
Our Lady’s Missionaries stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and all anti-Black Racism movements. OLMs who lived and worked in Nigeria have expressed their solidarity in a particularly personal way.
Sr. Rosemary Williamson:
Colonization in Nigeria was founded on racism and the assumption that Black people were inferior to white Europeans or at worst sub-human. While the colonizers were busy exploiting both the people and the resources they also tried to destroy the vibrant culture which had existed before their arrival. As time passed some tribes were given opportunities for education and training to meet some of the needs of the structures set up for trading and governance.
Since Independence, this favoritism continues to create deep divisions between the north and the south of the country. Tribalism remains a source of violence and is exacerbated by the struggle for land.
Racism is evident in the attitudes of the World Bank and other International organizations and multi-nationals which continue to exploit the resources while failing to recognize the wisdom and gifts of the Africans.
We were in Nigeria when Barak Obama was elected president of the United States and the joy and pride of the people was incredible. The solidarity expressed in Nigeria with the Blacks of the United States now in the movement Black Lives Matter is rooted in their own history.
While the focus now may be on the United States the response from other countries reveals how racism exists world wide. This is an opportunity to address the insidious roots of racism and begin to establish a new world order based on our shared humanity.
Sr. Gwen Legault:
Black Lives Matter – All Black Lives. When I was assigned to live and work in Nigeria in 1974 I discovered that deaf children were excluded from getting an education. I thank God that I had already studied to be a teacher of the deaf and had teaching experience in Mexico, and so was able to realize the challenge to open a school for the deaf in Vadeikaya, Benue State.
It was the Feast of St. Francis De Sales, January 24, in 1975 when the ribbon was cut at a humble round hut with wooden shutters to welcome in the light, so essential for the deaf to read signs or gestures. Six children enrolled.
In time that tiny seed grew to what we find today on the outskirts of Vandeikya. To read more see Building Bridges, WeavingHope in the Summer 2004 edition of the Scarboro Missions Magazine.
The world is facing a deadly disease that requires everyone to wear a mask, observe physical distancing, wash hands frequently, and only go out for essentials.
It also requires a proper understanding of COVID-19, which must be a based on medical science rather than politics. We need to listen to the scientists and medical experts.
This pandemic, I realize, also has implication for our faith as it gives us a chance to look after each other and creation. It asks us to be more loving of our neighbours so we can be part of the solution.
In Presentation Manor, we seek ways to participate in flattening the curve while Staying Home. Some sisters of Our Lady’s Missionaries, volunteer to sew non-medical face masks, lead assisted living residents in a sing-song, help to monitor the residents’ temperature twice a day, tend cash-register at the Tuck-Shop, share a game of scrabble, walking within the premises, writing and sending greeting cards to the sisters who live in Providence Healthcare, and learning the new digital mode of communication in order to connect with family and friends. This new way to communicate is easing difficult isolation. It shows us how a new normal is unfolding through this crisis.
The RCIA group of St. Thomas More Parish (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) is continuing classes through ZOOM meeting. This digital connecting has shown us a profound meaning of our faith journey. The elect remain hopeful to be baptized and grateful that in isolation we are doing our part to love our neighbours by staying home.
Below is a song, “Ukuthula,” recorded in isolation by St. Thomas More choir. One of the member completed the RCIA process few years back and then decided to join the music ministry.
“Hi Sister, I’m so glad I found you on Facebook. I always think of you. You touched my life since I know you from RCIA. And I keep in mind what you told me to be in a choir. But Before I joined the choir I had dream that I am singing in the Mountain. So I decided to join the choir. Thank you sister for the inspiration. Donald had just our first recorded UKuthula in Isolation. Take care and Stay safe sister “
This global crisis has awakened us to find new ways of being…. to think differently so the earth can continue to heal.
May we take courage to continue to join together, to make new choices, and create new ways to live and heal the earth fully.
Five years ago, Pope Francis released his encyclical, Laudato Si which focuses on care for our common home, Earth. Key among the insights of Laudato Si is the understanding that everything is connected. Care for those made poor by unjust systems cannot be disconnected from care for all of God’s creation.
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, we can mark Laudato Si Week by speaking out and by learning more.
In Canada, Catholics United for Climate Action are calling for swift and concrete steps to be taken to address the climate emergency. Signatures are being collected for a letter to be sent to Prime Minister Trudeau next week.
To learn more about Catholics United for Climate Action, go to:
May 1’st is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. What better day to remember all the essential workers who are risking their lives to fulfill our basic needs during this most unprecedented time?
It’s also a good day to revise our idea of what is essential. It took a global pandemic for us to recognize how much we need grocery store workers and everyone else involved in bringing food to our tables including farmers and truck drivers. We now realize the importance of public transport workers, cleaners, waste and recycle collectors and so many others. Also at the top of the list…. teachers!
May our gratitude extend to ensuring that all workers receive just compensation for their work and that they are provided what they need to work safely.
OLMs are especially grateful for all the workers at Presentation Manor and the Houses of Providence. One is a seniors home and the other is long term care. Both are potential hot spots for COVID-19. We are grateful for all the precautions that are being taken in both places and for all the extra work the staff at both places are willingly and cheerfully taking on.
Everywhere in the world Easter will be celebrated differently this year. With churches closed and gatherings unwise and unacceptable we all look for other ways to experience the joy of this holy day, the hope of Christ risen.
We are seeing signs of God’s presence and love with new eyes and renewed gratitude. The generosity and commitment of health care staff and others who work to provide for us, the kindness of so many people helping both friends and strangers in need, are awe inspiring.
For Our Lady’s Missionaries the care and attention given to residents by generous and dedicated staff at Presentation Manor and Providence Healthcare are exceptional and a cause for deep gratitude. The calls and messages from friends to ask if we are well, to keep in touch, are heartwarming and the thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated.
I hope and believe that this year people of every faith, each celebrating their own particular holy days, will do so with a greater awareness that we are one people praising God perhaps by different names and in different ways.
With a growing awareness of how connected we all are with one another and our environment, we are coming to realize more clearly than ever that this earth on which we live is one home that we share. With this thought in mind for reflection, the beautiful Easter message from KAIROS can be seen below.
Best wishes from Our Lady’s Missionaries for an Easter season blessed with joy, gratitude and trust in God’s continued love and guidance.
The Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, is the primary Feast Day of Our Lady’s Missionaries. Like everything else in all of our lives, it was different this year.
March 25 also happened to be the day of our regular OLM monthly meeting. Once we got together in our community room…. we realized that it is impossible for us to follow social distancing recommendations when we are all together there. We talked about how we needed to change our normal prayers and celebrations and how to keep up communication and our community ties.
Earlier in the day I read a beautiful reflection on the Annunciation by Joan Chittister, OSB a few years ago. Her focus was on how Mary was given the freedom to accept or reject the Angel’s words. The angel waited for her response. Her words have led me to ponder the following:
Right now, all of Creation and our Creator is waiting to hear how we will respond to the COVID-19 crisis…..
Will we unite in keeping physically distant to slow down the spread of the virus?
Will we ensure that those most in need do not fall through the cracks?
Will we manage our fear and anxiety and not let it fill us with selfishness and xenophobia?
Will we allow this time of self-isolation to be a time of deep reflection on what is really important in our lives?
Will we heed the signs of healing that are being seen in the environment around us because of the slow down in human activity on Earth?
Will we choose life for all of Creation and all of humanity when it comes time to decide what our new normal will be?
Like Mary, we have the freedom to choose. May we come to understand that, like Mary, our choices can bring Jesus who is Life, Love, Peace and Justice, into our world.
Please know too that OLMs are holding all of you in prayer during these critical days.
Our Lady’s Missionaries welcomes two health workers who have been hired as part of our sponsorship agreement with Canadian Religious Stewardship.
Esmeralda Gonzales as a Care Companion and Felicitas Guiam, RPN, as our Health Care Navigator, provide health care assistance and services to our sisters in Providence Healthcare and in Presentation Manor.
We are grateful for Esmeralda and Felicitas whose skills and expertise will accompany us to new beginnings.