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  • 1. The Eagle Michaelmas 2009 Dear Associates, Oblates already creatively engaged in some of these areas. There and Friends, are other ministries, however, that we would like to know more about. This issue of The Eagle We learned about Natural Church Development (NCD) gives me a wonderful which has been introduced to the Diocese of Toronto opportunity to share with and we have chosen to undergo the survey this fall. you the events of the past Several Sisters have offered to work with parishes on the few months, culminating in passionate spirituality component, an area in which we our Annual General Chapter have much experience. in August. This year’s theme for Chapter was Ecclesiastes Our Episcopal Visitor, the Rt. Rev. Colin Johnson 3:1-8: “For everything there is a season, and a time for facilitated a two-day discussion about our mission and every matter under heaven.” And it was indeed ministry. He challenged us to be pragmatic women who are both adventurous and risk-takers. He reminded us of a time to discuss, and a time to listen; Frederick Buechner’s quotation about vocation being “where a time for education, and a time to work; your deep gladness meets the world’s great hunger”. He a time to discuss, and a time to decide; also had us look at the criteria for doing ministry through a time to meet, and a time to adjourn; the three-sided model a time to trust, and a time to step out in faith. of passion, skills and resources, all three being It was a time to discuss and make decisions about our way necessary to engage in of life and how we are being called forward as a community ministry effectively and to continue our life of love, prayer and service. with integrity. An important part of our discussion was our outreach Bp. Colin presided at the ministries, both present and new ones to which God might Eucharist and preached a be calling us. We looked at Council of the North/First Nation homily based on the story ministries that we might engage in, with excellent input about Ruth. He used and concrete suggestions from that story to illustrate Archbishop Terence Finlay an idea that England’s who had just returned from the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan 6th Indigenous Sacred Circle. Sacks, shared with the Bishops at Lambeth 2008, about We found that we were already the difference between a “covenant of fate” and a making a real contribution in “covenant of faith”. A group can be bound in a covenant using the Indigenous Sacred of fate when they suffer together— face a common enemy Circle daily prayer cycle for the and huddle for comfort and mutual protection. A covenant people of the Council of the of faith is made by a people who share dreams, aspirations North. We had also participated in the Amazing Grace and ideals. They come together to create something new project and in the past have offered space in the Guest because they have a common hope. We rejoice in being a House to clergy from the Council of the North areas who community of faith! need rest and refreshment in a context of prayer and community. We hope to We reaffirmed that our primary ministry is the ministry be more intentional about this ministry of prayer, centred around the chapel where we gather of hospitality in the future. each day to raise our voices in praise and thanksgiving. This past year at the Convent we began using a Taizé Through a presentation on the Five Evening Prayer which includes candlelight, repetitive Marks of Mission of the Anglican chant, meditation and anointing for healing. In the coming Communion by the Rev. Maylanne year this service will be held on the 3rd Friday of each Maybee, we discovered that we are month at 5:00 p.m. We invite you to join us at this service 1St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 1 9/21/09 2:45:39 PM
  • 2. or any of our other services and to share times of prayerful The importance of our Associates and Oblates cannot silence both in Toronto and in Victoria. be underestimated. Sr. Patricia Marion created a map marking the places where our Associates and Oblates Music is a vital part of our prayer ministry. Many of the live which she showed us at the end of Chapter. This Sisters praise God through performance or composition. will help us to connect with them all, especially the more Their creativity and inspiration was celebrated with a geographically isolated ones. In the coming year, each of concert on September 27 in the convent chapel. The the Sisters will have a list of Associates and Oblates to pray history of the Sisterhood was commemorated in words and for each week. music, performed by Sisters and friends, and enhanced by a display of the visual arts created by the Sisters. (See p. We continue to believe in lifelong learning for ourselves 16 for an outline of the rest of the 2009/2010 concert and others. In 1995 we began two new programs at season.) the Convent: Women at a Crossroads and Education for Ministry (EFM) both of which continue to thrive. Each We acknowledged the importance of our ministry of summer up to 12 women have come to the Convent for hospitality. The Guest House hosts many retreats and four weeks to discern God’s call in their lives and the next quiet days, including speakers such as John Bell of the steps on their spiritual journey. Iona Community. Themes this coming year include Sacred Laughter, Sacred Art for All Saints, and Angels in the Wilderness. Quiet Garden Days, inspired by the Quiet Garden Trust in England, provide an opportunity to relax, renew and rest in the beauty of God’s outdoors. (For more information on the ministry of hospitality, see the Guest House report on p. 6 or click on Food for the Soul on our website.) We recognized how much we value the ministry of pastoral care and healing services provided by six of our Sisters at St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital (see p. 5). They take an active role on numerous care teams at the hospital, ensuring that the patients’ care is concerned with all areas of the person — physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Mentors and discerners for 2009: Back row: Srs. Elizabeth, Many patients have told us that this balanced approach has Constance Joanna and Elizabeth Ann. Front Row: Susan Lee, made a huge difference to their rehabilitation. Ronnie Cumberbatch and Rhonda Cross We recalled the enthusiasm engendered by The Gathering This year, as part of our 125th Anniversary celebrations, held in May when 90 Sisters, Associates, and Oblates came we held a reunion on together at the Convent for five days. It was truly a time the weekend of July of celebrating SSJD and looking together at our future. 10 for those who had attended this discernment program over the past 15 years. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces, and to reconnect with old friends. Sr. Amy, Elinor Snell & Susan Lee If you know someone who might be interested in Women at a Crossroads, please show them the ad on the back page of this Eagle. We made new friends, were reacquainted with old ones, and explored our spiritual path together with the help of Margaret Silf who spoke on the theme of “Something Integral to our ministry of education and spiritual formation More”. One of the participants, Norah Bolton did a daily is the convent library housing 30,000 books on theology, blog on her experiences at The Gathering, capturing this scripture, biography, history, fiction and many more. once-in-a-lifetime event in word and image. The blog and Guests are free to browse and read at leisure, or may photographs of The Gathering are available at our website ask for assistance or suggestions from one of the Sisters. at www.ssjd.ca. Many suggestions came out of the reports Guests also like to look over the new books available in of the small groups on the last day of The Gathering, some the Book Room (often referred to as “Temptation Alley”!). of which are listed on p. 5. Books available for sale often reflect the liturgical time of 2St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 2 9/21/09 2:45:41 PM
  • 3. year or the retreat or quiet day in session at the time. The theme. He also shared with us two of his favourite icons. Sisters in Victoria also have a splendid library. He is seen here with a copy of the 6th century icon of the Pantocrator from St. Catherine’s Monastery in the We took time to remember some of the joyous occasions: Sinai Peninsula which he so generously gave us as a gift • Sr. Constance’s 105th birthday which included the visit at the end of the retreat. In this icon, Fr. Han saw Jesus’ of John Nay, the US Consular General in Canada, overwhelming compassion and understanding for each who presented her with a certificate in honour of her one of us. This annual silent retreat is extremely important being the oldest known American living in Canada. for us in renewing our lives in Christ Jesus and giving us She also received several other certificates and many strength for the journey. congratulatory letters; • Sister Amy’s Life Profession when we rejoiced in this We have come to the end of our 125th Anniversary year. important step in her life with SSJD; We have done so much to celebrate 125 years of our life • Sr. Anitra’s 25th anniversary of her Life Profession and ministry and have come to a renewed sense of mission which she marked by renewing her vows in front of and ministry. On September 8, 2009, our Foundation her Sisters, family and friends. Day, our Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz presided at a Festal Eucharist. We were joined by many Associates, These joys were tempered with grief, however, at the Oblates and friends for this very special occasion. sudden death of Sr. Peta-Ann in May (see p. 14). We miss her happy, open smile which never dimmed during her difficult battle with cancer, and rejoice that her daughter and her Sisters were with her when she died. She is now a member of the Communion of Saints. Our life as Sisters and our ministry to the church and the world is only possible with the help of many people: • our employees who cheerfully and competently assist us behind the scenes; • our volunteers who generously contribute their time and energy in many areas; It has been good to look back and to learn from all that has • our donors, without whose help we would be unable been accomplished by those who have gone before us. Now to continue our ministry (see separate report to our we must look ahead. There are a few changes in Sisters’ donors). roles this fall. We welcomed Sr. Jessica back to the Convent after three years at the B.C. House. She will be part of the As we look to the future we know that one of our greatest pastoral care team at SJRH. Sr. Patricia Marion has gone priorities is encouraging more vocations. It is vital to the out to B.C. for her branch house time and Sr. Doreen future of the Sisterhood. One suggestion which came will take on the role of Associate from our discussions at Chapter was to make connections Director for the west along with with ecumenical partners such as the United Church, the her other responsibilities as Head Presbyterian Church, and the Lutheran Church (ELCIC), to of House. There will be new advertise in their papers for vocations and the Women at committees and working groups a Crossroads program. We are continuing to improve our at the Convent, and much work website and would invite you to go online at www.ssjd.ca to be done. Whatever happens in and see what is new and how we are serving. the future, we will continue to do what we have been called here And so Chapter came to by God to do in the spirit of our an end—to be followed by patron St. John, “to live to the glory of God in fulfilment an eight-day silent Retreat of the two-fold law of love. . . committed to lifelong for Sisters and Oblates led conversion and to growth in union with God through the by the Rev. Han van den undivided service of Jesus Christ. In Christ we are both Blink from Elmira, NY. called and sent to be open and responsive to the needs of His theme was “Acquiring the church and the world, and to pray and work for peace, the Mind of Christ” and justice, unity and the integrity of creation.” (SSJD Rule of he shared with us what Life) Our life of prayer anchors us and enables us to do he believes to be the four the work we are called to do. May we continue to discern characteristics of the Mind where “our deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger”, of Christ: compassion, truth, and live oriented towards being in a covenant of faith. To humility, and presence. He God be the glory. spoke passionately about the need to use these qualities to reach out to others and Sr. Elizabeth Ann, SSJD shared many personal experiences as he enlarged on this The Reverend Mother 3St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 3 9/21/09 2:45:43 PM
  • 4. St. John’s House, BC requests can be made to Sr. Jocelyn at St. John’s House, and she is available to speak to altar guilds and anyone who is interested in learning to embroider altar linens. Several big events have been a focus at St. John’s House in the Diocese of British Columbia since our last report after Chapter 2008. Our carport has become the beautiful Those who have been resident at St. John’s House for Chapel of St. John; this was made possible through the past year: back row — Oblate Doreen Davidson, donations — a large gift of $20,000 from Gladys Kirwin Srs. Jocelyn and Doreen; front row — Srs. Louise and and approximately $18,000 in generous donations from Jessica. hundreds of friends, Associates and Oblates. The chapel was consecrated on November 8, 2008. We have travelled from The new garden around one end of the St. John’s House: with Island to the the construction of other, visiting the chapel, the garden churches, needed to be dug up doing retreats, and replanted, again quiet days and made possible through workshops generous donations. — always The garden at the time we rejoice in of writing is an amazing, the beauty of the Island and the hospitality of the people colourful extravaganza here. Trips have also been made to the Dioceses of New that has been the source Westminster, Edmonton, and Calgary. And we have of much joy. welcomed into our household friends, relatives, Associates and Oblates — to share hospitality around our altar, to A new bedroom for St. John’s House: with the arrival of share our hospitality around our dining room table, and to another Sister this meant creating and furnishing another share our life and hospitality with those who have come to bedroom. The former chapel was turned into Sr. Jocelyn’s stay for a few days’ retreat, refreshment or quiet time in bedroom. Bev and our guest room. John Evjen (my sister and brother-in-law) As I write this report, came and helped we are anticipating the build furniture and upcoming leave- taking put the room together of Sr. Jessica who is — well supervised by returning to the Convent their cocker spaniel on August 13th after Charlie. three years at St. John’s House. We will miss The move of the White Work her cheerful presence, Department of SSJD to St. John’s compassionate caring, House: Sr. Jocelyn does the white and outreach to our embroidery of altar linens, and so Associates, friends, and with her arrival St. John’s House is those who frequent Our Place, a drop-in centre on Pandora now the location of the white work Street in Victoria. for the Community. All altar linen 4St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 4 9/21/09 2:45:44 PM
  • 5. We are also looking forward to From St. John’s House in the Diocese of British Columbia, welcoming Sr. Patricia Marion, we all send our love and prayers. Please pray for us that we a novice in our Community, may be a faithful house of prayer and hospitality. for her “branch house” time beginning in September. Sr. Doreen, SSJD Head of House Pastoral Care at St. John’s Rehab Hospital About the same time as the renovations began, a water pipe burst in the hospital and caused damage to a number of offices and the entrance to the chapel. For months the hallway was an obstacle course as rooms were partitioned off for renovation. Fortunately the entrance to the chapel was closed for only a few days. In spite of all the chaos at the hospital, the Sisters continue The vision of SJRH is to be at the forefront of specialized to visit the patients daily and organize chapel services. rehabilitation and this has led to plans to build a 49,000- We are very grateful to all our volunteers who help make square-foot Centre for Ambulatory Care. 2009 saw the these services possible. Sisters have had the opportunity to beginning of Phase 1 called the “Enabling Project”. This attend various workshops and conferences; for example, involved renovating the ambulatory entrance and the the hospital hosted a workshop on native history and health loading dock; redeveloping the driveway onto the property care services in Toronto which was very informative. (“Road to Recovery”); and enlarging the parking area on the west side of the hospital to compensate for the parking At times life has seemed rather chaotic, but God has been spaces being lost for the new building. Phase 1 is now in the midst of it all, reminding us to laugh! almost completed but with a dusty spring and wet summer, going to or from the hospital posed an adventure for the Sr. Brenda, SSJD Sisters trying to walk over there and for convent guests out Director of Missions for a walk. What ideas emerged from the small groups at The Gathering? For Associates and Oblates For the Sisters • Bring friends to Associate Quiet Days. • Produce a Power Point presentation which Associates • Invite people to become Associates — tell them about or Oblates could share with others in their parish. the Associate program. • Put video clips on the SSJD website of Sisters sharing • Invite people to attend a quiet day, retreat, Taizé their stories. evening, Sundays at 4:00, or a Sunday supper. • Put an SSJD link on the website of every diocese in • share Margaret Silf’s talks with parish groups (use Canada. (Associates/Oblates could also ask to have a DVD). link to SSJD put on their own parish church website.) • write an article about The Gathering or the Community • Have a Sunday supper 3 or 4 times a year expressly for for your parish newsletters or the diocesan papers. the purpose of inviting Associates/Oblates to bring their • e-mail the convent (convent@ssjd.ca) and ask for “Food friends; there would be an opportunity to tour the for the Soul” or other brochures to display on your Convent, attend Evening Prayer, and then chat to the parish church bulletin board and take to your local Sisters over supper. synod. • Look at various ways to bring more young people to • have a display board at your local synod the Convent. • organize study groups — e.g., Diana McHardy and Jean • Attend synods of other dioceses than the ones in which Robinson are beginning one at the Convent in October we are resident and tell the delegates about SSJD. on Margaret Silf’s book, Inner Compass. • pray for new vocations — if you know someone who might be interested in becoming an Associate or a Sister, talk to them about it. Plant the seed. 5St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 5 9/21/09 2:45:46 PM
  • 6. A Home for the Heart: The Convent Guest House “Let all guests be received as Christ.” (Rule of Benedict) The Guest House team, along with all the Sisters, have from active ministry. worked hard these past twelve months to enhance our ministry of hospitality, retreats and spiritual direction and to make the Convent truly “a home for the heart”. In addition to Srs. Constance Joanna, Amy and Patricia Marion, Daniel Brereton, and Ellen Stangolis, a large group of committed volunteers, including many Sisters, help with hospitality at the reception desk and in the Guest House itself. Our ministry continues to grow. From September 2008 through August 2009, we had 155 different groups come to the Guest House (in addition to the “Food for the Soul” programs sponsored by the Sisterhood); and the overnight There have been a number of enhancements to our ministry occupancy was 3,540 (compared to 3,260 the previous of hospitality this year: year). • The Convent has become affiliated with the We continue to welcome groups and individuals from many international Quiet Garden movement and we have denominations, ethnic groups, religious orders, youth begun offering Quiet Garden Days during the summer. groups, and vocational groups (e.g. chaplains). We also These days provide a quiet space (indoors as well as host church committees and ministry teams. out) for people to spend a few hours reconnecting with their spiritual centre in the awareness of the beauty There is a continued rise in use of the Guest House by Asian of God’s creation – both in “nature” and in the human evangelical individuals and groups, and we occasionally spirit. have the opportunity to host an interfaith group as well. These are important opportunities for the Sisters to • We have begun to establish partnerships with parishes increase our awareness and friendship with Christians of which desire to enhance their spiritual health. In other denominations as well as people of faith from other particular, a number of Sisters have formed a team to traditions. It is also an opportunity to connect with the help parishes which have scored low on the “Passionate wider, interfaith contemplative tradition, for what we share Spirituality” scale of the Natural Church Development in our lives of questionnaire. prayer and meditation is • With the help of a grant from the Diocese of Toronto, the ground of we have produced brochures and posters (all available other religious in PDF format on our website) to let people know faiths, and holds about the Guest House offerings. tremendous hope for the • We have doubled the size of our team of spiritual development of directors (Sisters, Associates and friends of SSJD) to world peace. meet an ever-growing desire for the ministry of spiritual accompaniment and individually directed retreats. Our connections with ordinands and future clergy continue to grow. In addition to pre-ordination retreats from many • We have seen an increase in requests for Sisters to dioceses, we host the discernment weekends called ACPO lead retreats for parish groups who come to the (Advisory Committee on Postulants for Ordination) twice Convent, and for Sisters to lead retreats outside the a year, as well as gatherings of the Diocese of Toronto Convent, as our ministry of spiritual formation travels Postulancy Committee and ongoing clergy formation far and wide to parishes throughout Ontario and programs. These connections all provide present and beyond. future clergy and lay people with an opportunity to experience the resources of the Guest House – something We are grateful to all those who come to the Convent that they can then share in the future with their parishes. Guest House and who share in our prayer as they seek spiritual nurture. The blessings that we receive are far We have established an individualized sabbatical program, greater than any we can offer, and we thank you all for and are looking forward to making the Guest House more that. well known as a resource for people (both lay and ordained) who are seeking a time of renewal as they take a break Sr. Constance Joanna, SSJD 6St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 6 9/21/09 2:45:47 PM
  • 7. The Soul Food of The Gathering “There’s a story growing of the Kingdom of God in 21st century language; personal inside you....,” says memories of spiritual consolation; how to use Gospel Margaret Silf in the narratives to discover and integrate into our own lives the preface to her book attitudes and reactions of Jesus; imagining ourselves as “Roots and Wings”. the 12th disciple. She continues: “inside everyone of us there is a To be honest, I could have spent a week, even a story gestating that is as lifetime, on any one of Margaret Silf’s brilliant, big as the universe, and as imaginative, life-giving reflections. She widened and mysterious, and as mind- deepened our vision of the Way of Christ; she gently blowing and as beautiful. encouraged a refocusing from doctrinal certainty to And the amazing thing is personal vulnerability, mutuality, mystery. that when we even begin to explore the narrative of this great story, we find Lest you are starting to think this must have been heavy, that we are growing inside that story.” esoteric, theological stuff, let me reassure you. Each session was grounded in reality, through anecdotes and vignettes At The Gathering we began this personal and collective drawn from Margaret’s own daily life. In the tradition of exploration, seeking “something more”; we weren’t sure great story-tellers, she had us all enthralled, mesmerized, a what. Was it a better understanding of the incarnational bit off-balance, amused, intrigued. Very effective! Because God, an experience of the presence of God, a deeper in that safe space we were enabled to drop our defenses, relationship with God? Probably we would have said re-examine our values (even doctrines!) and consider what something like that. But more would be required of us! “becoming fully human in the vision lived out for us by Margaret Silf’s skill as a retreat director and storyteller was Christ” means for us: giving up our attachment to security, evident from the first session. A quick but psych-textbook- certainty, achievement, hierarchy, and creeds, in favour of accurate overview of how humans, through the life cycle, vulnerability, mystery, failure, interdependence and shared deal with need really engaged us mid-life (am I too kind experience. here?!) listeners. We were all on the same page. The kind of change of heart we explored in those days Then, with a slight tweak of the psych. text, Margaret slipped together happens as women and men share their in some challenges. Do we really believe that evolution, disillusionment, their hopes and their experiences of the human and spiritual, involves not just the demanding cries presence of Christ day by of babyhood, the acquisition of knowledge in adolescence, day, and live their everyday the fruitfulness of mid-life, but also the loss of illusion, the lives alert to the nudgings of letting go, the decreasing energy, influence and power of the Spirit and the mysterious later life? (We had all nodded our smiling recognition of and wonderful grace of the aging processes!) But in the fragility of life, are the God. As we explored stories Beatitudes counter-intuitive? or necessary for our survival and meanings — “life, the now? And have we thought about the losses Jesus suffered: universe and everything” — loss of the trust in his closest friends; loss of trust in systems I think we experienced some and human justice; loss of dignity; even loss of the presence growing pains ourselves. of God? Maggie Boulter, Associate There followed days of intense mind-stretching, reflecting from Glasgow, Scotland on topics such as God in Creation — growing from a (seen here with Sr. Jessica.) single cell to the complex person I am now; descriptions Margaret Silf’s Seven Themes on “Something More” • Is there more to life than just working, shopping, surviving? • Is there more to the spiritual quest than just worshipping on Sunday? • Is there more than happiness? What about spiritual consolation? • Is there more than just me or just us — what about our choices that affect the whole of creation? • Is there more than discipleship? Are we also called to be sent out as apostles? • Is there more than homo sapiens? Are we evolving spiritually? • More is less — discovering the ‘more’ when we shed the many layers of the ‘less’. 7St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 7 9/21/09 2:45:48 PM
  • 8. Snapshots of th Row 1: Left: Bunny Stewart (O) ready to receive guests; Right: Jane Winstanley & Mary Smith chat in the lobby. Row 2: Left: Margaret Silf signs books for Wendy Nelems; Right: Sr. Elizabeth Ann welcomes everyone to the open session on Tuesday evening. Row 3: Left: Coffee time in the refectory: Sandra Clark, Crystal Joy Yoanidis talk to Lynne van der Hiel; Right: Jean Gandon (O) and Betty Gillham. Row 4: Small groups: Left: Ruth Corston & Liz Smith; Right: Virginia Sanderson & Janice Barnes (O). 8St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 8 9/21/09 2:45:52 PM
  • 9. of the Gathering Row 1: Food for the Spirit Left: Bp. Gordon Light on the guitar; Right: Janice Barnes (O), Sr. Constance Joanna, Margaret Silf and Sr. Wilma. Row 2: Food for the Body Left: A talking meal Right: Sr. Elizabeth (MC for The Gathering) serving soup. Row 3: Food for the Soul Left: The Rev. Tim Elliott entertaining us with Jazz on Friday evening. Right: Group 10 letting their hair down and living it up. Row 4: (left to right) Linda Hill reporting back for group 9; Sr. Anne giving a concert before the final Eucharist; Sr. Amy who organized the food for The Gathering (O) Oblate 9 St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 9 9/21/09 2:45:58 PM
  • 10. The Monastic Rhythm of The Gathering Rooted in Good Soil The Gathering was set in the monastic rhythm of prayer, On the first morning study, work, and leisure; and corporate prayer was the of The Gathering, setting for all other activity. Liturgically, each day was Sr. Elizabeth told the unique, starting with our Patronal Festival of St. John (May assembled household of 6th), then a day of special intention for unity in the church Sisters, Associates and worldwide, followed by the Feast of Julian of Norwich, and Oblates that the days finally, an ordinary day, a feria. Each day was offered to the would follow the monastic Glory of God as ninety people raised their voices in song, horarium: Margaret Silf’s listened to the scriptures, and broke bread together. wonderful talks would be our “study” to be Everyone received a Morning and an Evening Prayer followed by group work booklet which laid out the Divine Office with its various with a purpose — growth introductory responses, litanies and responsories for Major and reflection for the individual, the group, and the whole Saints and the Resurrection. We sang several different gathered community. canticles, and three different versions of the Lord’s Prayer. In addition Sr. Sue wrote two new hymns for St. John and The groups of 8 or 9 people, a mix of Sisters, Associates for The Gathering. and Oblates, were each shepherded by a leader and assistant and were spread throughout the Convent — in Chanting the psalms is an meeting rooms, library, even the refectory, giving a twist to age-old monastic tradition. the phrase, “food for thought”! The flowering plant placed The simple chants in the middle of each group circle was an ongoing reminder reverberate in the core of of the Holy Spirit’s presence, the wondrous beauty that one’s being, awakening flowers out of gathered community and shared insight. The that call to Source, and lively group discussions following each talk were structured driving us on to find that around handout questions exploring aspects of the theme ‘Something More’ in God. “Something More”. Challenged by topics such as “More is less”, “More than meets the eye”, “More than happiness”, Eucharist was offered daily “More than ‘just me’”, “More than discipleship”, each at noon. We were blessed group was asked to delve deeper through further reflection. to have Bp. Colin Johnson, We laughed, we listened, we pondered, we shared, we Sr. Constance Joanna, Bp. Gordon Light and Bp. Linda bonded, and yes, we worked hard! Nicholls as presiders and their homilies were inspiring. They too encouraged us to seek the ‘Something More’ and An added bonus was the planting of lasting seeds of to live the Gospel today, seeking and promoting peace and friendship. No longer were Associates and Oblates just justice at home and in the world. names or photographs but real people, friends to be cherished. One Compline was the final Office of the day on two of the group resolved evenings, a time to look back on the day that was past, give to keep in touch thanks for all that had been achieved, and trust ourselves by e-mail, a into God’s care. wonderful way of weaving together The chapel was always available for silent prayer and a group that had meditation, reminding us that it is also through silent waiting come from all on God that we are nurtured. The keeping of the Greater over Canada, Silence from 9 pm to 9 am helped to put the activity of even from the the day into a balanced framework of speech and silence, United States and Scotland. activity and reflection. On the last morning, the groups were asked to focus on The Sisters, the heart of the Convent, set the tone of questions concerning new directions that the Sisterhood reverence and peace within the chapel. The Daily Office might explore. The outcome was truly inspiring - a wealth is at the core of their being and we experienced just how of suggestions that the Sisters would be able to discuss much can be accomplished when the day flows out of deep further in the upcoming Annual General Chapter. As one prayer. Rhythm and balance are integral to Convent life group, using hot pink signs, vividly reminded the gathered and I, for one, came away with a renewed determination to community, we are all called to be the missing 12th live this way each and every day. disciple! Doreen Davidson, Linda Wheeler, Victoria Oblate Ottawa Associate 10St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 10 9/21/09 2:45:59 PM
  • 11. Pray, Work, Play As I write — three months our evening’s rendition of after The Gathering — the “You Are My Sunshine”, with sun has broken through the vibrant dancers dressed the morning blanket of fog in brilliant yellow shirts and covering this east coast city of red headbands; as well as Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. the feast of poetry, song and Gulls are squawking in the S’mores! distance. (Whoops! Sorry, my feathered friends, I meant Like the individual mush- ‘singing’!) It’s a long way room, I was huddled for from Greater Toronto and several days in the midst of the convent setting; yet many this Community of Sisters, aspects of that week in May remain quite vivid — and Associates and Oblates — a Community with a 125-year nourishing! history of individuals walking ‘‘side by side”, guided by their baptismal covenant and a monastic Rule of Life. For months I had been dealing with one challenge after another, including a family member moving away and Now, as I finish writing, the gulls are still ‘singing’, and my bouts of illness. It was on-again, off-again for my going heart is full of gratitude to each and every person with whom to The Gathering; but, there I was — walking down the I nestled for five wonderful days at The Gathering. What a tree-lined avenue toward the hospital — which I had taken, wonderful gift it is to be connected under the SSJD banner inadvertently. Very quickly this road wrongly taken proved as we, individually and collectively, discern and experience to be anything but a mistake. the “Something More” in everyday life — whether in fog or sunshine! Thanks be to God! My attention was subtly captured by a scene to my left. Nancy French, Newfoundland Associate There, huddled close to an old tree stump, was a colony of mushrooms — all individually distinct, yet together creating 125 Years of SSJD one whole community. As I stood and stared, I sensed (sung to “Jesus Loves Me”) an inner movement that catapulted me into that realm of mystery later referred to by Margaret Silf — that mystery to God has a vision of this world, which nature invites us. In retrospect, it seems I was face- Which Margaret helps us to unfurl, to-face with a symbolic assurance that I was leaving that Stones and pearls and dreamwork too, aloneness and dreariness of the past months and entering O Holy One, we do love you. S S J D a milieu of togetherness and energy. Chorus: One hundred twenty-five Years of SSJD; One hundred twenty-five Of HOSPITALITY. Love Prayer Service “Something More”, it is the theme. “Let’s all choose to live God’s dream. Consolation — face the sun; Desolation — is no fun. S S J D Focus inward, woe is me! How wonderful that in our togetherness at The Gathering, Serving outward, Glory be! Benedictine leisure was honored, as well as prayer, work Light the candle which we bear and study. While two reflective walks to the beautiful garden All our gifts do rest on prayer S S J D shrine were quite leisurely for me, it was invigorating to experience the awesome smorgasbord of creative Tell me, what would Jesus do? entertainment that lasted a whole evening on the Friday! Gently transform me and you. Filled with God’s Grace from above, How fitting that our gifted M.C. and musician, Tim Elliott, Guide us in the world God loves. S S J D opened our evening of entertainment with the song, “Side By Side”, after which we took a walk down memory lane Jesus loves me, this I know, as the Sisters role-played the beginnings of SSJD, with our For the Bible tells me so. gifted — and playful — Mother Foundress, Hannah, at the Little ones to Him belong, helm. I have a sense that she, too, would have enjoyed They are weak but He is strong. S S J D 11St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 11 9/21/09 2:46:01 PM
  • 12. Associated Milestones Admissions since September 2008: 64 years: Rev. C. Russell Elliott, Muriel Browne, Muriel Newfoundland: Rev. Stella Evans of St. John’s. Longstaff Nova Scotia: Grace Janes and Karie Lynn Maloney of 65 years: Ven. William Wright Halifax; Rev. Laurie Omstead of Hubbards. 66 years: Rt. Rev. David Somerville Ontario: Rev. Suzanne McMillan of Peterborough; Catherine 68 years: Pamela Christie Wright of Sunderland; Eveline Maedel of Nipigon; Midge Coleby of Belleville; Andrea Scott of Scarborough; Rev. Deaths since August 1, 2008 Anna Claire Swingler of Toronto and Lucy Magnus-Burke of (Admission date in brackets): Toronto; Gwedhen Ouckama of Peterborough. Aug 21 Dorothy Durrett, Ottawa, ON (Aug 6/87) Saskatchewan: Mervyn Crozier-Smith of Regina. Sep 3 Madge Newman, Sidney, BC (Jan 16/72) British Columbia: Catherine Speechley-Pell of Port Alberni; Sep 23 Muriel Walton, Langley, BC (Jun 16/67) Ven. Bruce Bryant-Scott of Victoria. Sep Marjorie Henderson, Wahpeton, ND (Aug 1/65) Oct 13 Jean Lummiss, Bobcaygeon, ON (Jul 22/89) Special Anniversaries in 2009: Oct 14 Eileen de Pencier, Vancouver, BC (Feb 26/66) 25 years: Hilary Fisher, Laura Roome, Ruth Padmore, Rev. Dec 21 Margaret Nelson, Lethbridge, AB (May 31/73) Kay Richardson, Nancy Tordoff-Ives, Judith Claus, Frank & Jan 2 Jean Cunningham, Salt Spring Island, BC Winifred Finnie, Lavinia Greenwood, Audrey Irving, Rev. July 3/82) Alex Thomas, Paula Thomas, Nancy Wigen. Jan 11 Amy Rogers, London, ON (Jun 29/89) 30 years: Nancy French, Rt. Rev. Philip Poole, Ven. Karen Jan 22 Rev. Rhodes Cooper, St. John’s, NL Dukes, Ruth Laybourne, Sam Moffat-Schaffner, Louise (Jun 14/57) Rockman, Rev. Dorothy Daly, Rev. Joan Waters-Garner, Feb 10 Patricia Thompson, Orillia, ON (Apr 8/96) Rev. Barbara Barnett, Lorelette and Walter Knowles, Rev. Feb 11 Ruby West, Scarborough, ON (Jun 4/78) Daniel Van Alstine, Rev. Bruce Cowley, Peggy-Anne Field, Feb 23 Elizabeth Holbrook, Dundas, ON (Apr 25/62) Rev. Dennis Frayne, Sheila Martin, Rev. Christine Ross, Mar 4 Elspeth Newton, Guelph, ON (Apr 4/63) Mavis Teasdale. Mar 21 Olwyn Crozier-Smith, Regina, SK (Dec 12/38) 35 years: Barbara Moore, Margaret Bennett, Marilyn Mar 30 Rhoda Collie, Oshawa, ON (Sep 28/85) Jackson, Rev. Bryon & Lynda Nash, Pat MacLean, Joan Apr 8 Mary Pike, St. John’s, NL (July 20/08) Francis, Meg Soulsby, Kathryn Berryhill, Elizabeth King, May 26 Sandy Kelley, Victoria, BC (Nov 25/85) Nora Dewhirst, Rev. Marion Grove, Rt. Rev. Gordon Light, May 26 Joan Lamb, Kitchener, ON (Feb 2/63) Elizabeth Murray, Rev. James Tiffen. July 13 Sally Carr, Calgary, AB (Apr 12/80) 40 years: Rev. Gerald Loweth, Mary Lupton, Christine Montgomery, Rev. Robert Griffiths, Rev. Pauline Tiffen. Deaths newly reported, most dates unknown: 45 years: Joan Kohner, Lorna Lloyd, Kathleen Meggs, May 17/08 Rev. Kenneth Jaggs, Windsor, ON (May 29/63) Diane Maybee, Rev. Helga Eliott, Rev. William Whitla, Constance Hague, Ottawa, ON (Feb 18/37); Vera Johnson, Eleanor Bowerman, Gladys Kirwin, Ruby McBeth. Oshawa, ON (Sep 21/98); Iris Berry, Owen Sound, ON (Feb 50 years: M.A. Hobbs, Rev. John Jordan, Rev. Thomas 26/84); Joan Fitchett, Aurora, ON (Nov 30/88); Doris Hills, James, Rev. William Rainey, Margaret Ritchie, Anne Bird, Mission, BC (Aug 1/65) Rev. John Martinson, Rt. Rev. Barry Curtis. 55 years: Rev. John Speers, Reta Smith, Rev. Allan Withdrawals: Challacombe. Cecily Hinton, Charny, QC (May 8/03); Catharine Murray, 60 years: Dorothy Johns Montreal, QC (Sep 23/00); Rev. Marian Conrad, Fall River, 61 years: Rev. Douglas Candy, Muriel Newton-White, NS (Mar 16/95); Carole-Anne McGee, Fredericton, NB, (Jul Margaret Wackett 26/88); Joan Cooper, Pickering, ON (Feb 2/81); Barbara 62 years: Ada Potter & Lynne Clay, Saskatoon, SK (Aug 15/06); Jody Miles, 63 years: Joan Trowles, Dorothea Howell Winnipeg, MB (Aug 17/96). Oblate Milestones (Left to right) The Rev. Reception of Oblates: Frances Drolet-Smith (Oblate) The Rev. Canon Susan House, presider; Virginia Finlay Sept. 14, 2008 and Mary Louise Stewart Nancy Scott, Sept. 14, 2008 renewing their promises Nora Bottomley, Jan. 20, 2009 and Carolyn Madeley being Beulah Walcott, Apr. 22, 2009 received as an Oblate. Carolyn Madeley, Sept. 4, 2009 12St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 12 9/21/09 2:46:02 PM
  • 13. The Visit of a Lifetime What a privilege to be given the ancestors,and interesting places with cousins Barb and opportunity to share in the life of Peter, Penny and Colin around Derbyshire and Westbury. the Community of the Order of the Holy Paraclete, an Anglican And Then a Second Dream Come True — Coventry! religious order in Whitby, England To stand in the bombed ruins of Coventry Cathedral, to where I spent the whole of May, spend quiet time in the 2009. chapel of forgiveness, with the monument to What were the highlights for me? reconciliation — and • Their hospitality, their to see the awesome worship, their community life, new Cathedral and their beautiful grounds seemingly rise from and gardens all added to the experience of ‘gift’. the devastation of the • The freedom to enjoy the space and time for spending old; this was a deep extra time in prayer in their lovely chapel. and holy time. • Morning coffee and afternoon tea — something I’ve never personally built into the rhythm of my own life. We did all the usual tourist things in London, including St. • The Priory’s luscious rhubarb patch and “berry” Martin’s-in-the-Fields — A Third Dream Come True. garden, and the joy of picking and preparing rhubarb! This church has been part of my prayer for many decades • Time spent at their branch house — St. Oswald’s — known in the ’60’s for its outreach to the poor in London. Pastoral Centre: a retreat centre near Sleights. Today, it continues a huge social service outreach in the • Time spent at their branch house in York, and their city, is an advocate for third world refugees and human work at the beautiful York Minster. rights, and has a beautiful cultural centre that showcases • Afternoon tea with the Sisters at their branch house, music and art. It was a moving experience to be in a place Beachcliffe, overlooking the North Sea. that has long been the centre of my own prayer. • Drives over the Yorkshire Moors and into historic villages and towns all set in beautiful surroundings In Scotland we spent time in Edinburgh with friends, Jean either on the sea or in the Dales. and John Williams, and in Glasgow and Oban with Maggie, • Visits to Whitby Abbey with Sister Erika, the awesome an Associate of our Community. We took in all the history, experience of history in this ‘thin’ place, the beauty and places of interest in both these cities. magnificent view; wandering around Whitby. • Being with OHP for their patronal festival — And then the last leg of our trip - north to Inverness and Pentecost! Orkney. We passed off-shore oil rigs, barren moors, • The BBQ and fellowship on my last day with them. mountain areas, and beautiful green fields of farmland. It was everything that people said: history, hospitality, beauty, A Dream Come True – a Visit to Rivaulx Abbey! and full of mystery — another ‘thin’ place. Ancient rings Srs. Alison and of stones — the Ring of Brodger, a 5000-year step back Erika took me in time in Skara Brae, the ancient Cathedral Church of St for a day’s outing Magnus, the Italian Chapel. . . wonderful sandy beaches, to the Abbey, a fishing villages, castles, boutiques and craft stores — were chance to stand all packaged into a two-day experience. We walked and in this ancient and walked, and looked holy place; to hear and looked, and the voice of Aelred gave thanks that we of Rivaulx from had come all this memories of his way to this place. book that contains his Pastoral Prayer — to sit among the ruins of the Abbey, What is Scotland enjoy the lovely surrounding countryside, and walk along without a Highland the river. I never imagined that I might actually stand in cow!? Rivaulx Abbey, the place where one of my favourite saints lived and worked and prayed! Sr. Doreen, SSJD In June, my sister, Bev, and I travelled around England, Scotland, and the Orkney’s on a glorious holiday. It was a first experience for both of us — a month’s holiday overseas! And in Great Britain! A time of exploring ancient history, 13St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 13 9/21/09 2:46:03 PM
  • 14. Sister Peta-Ann Stewart Jackson, SSJD May 3, 1936 - May 17, 2009 Sr. Peta-Ann was born on May 3, 1936, in Montréal, She had a healthy attitude towards life and consequently Quebec, to Muffet and Edwin McGowan. Her father was towards death as well. Peta-Ann was well prepared and a commanding officer in the Air Force and the family in the last few weeks of her life, managed to see and say moved frequently during her childhood. She married Victor farewell to many of her family and friends. Her son Tuck Jackson, a pilot in the Air Force, and had three children travelled here from New Zealand with his former wife, before Vic was killed tragically in a water-bombing accident Debbie, and son, Palmer, and stayed for several days during at the age of 24. She raised her children, Kerri-Lee, Holy Week. Her daughter Kerri-Lee stayed with Peta-Ann Tammy-Lou and Victor (Tuck), as a single parent. She was for several weeks during her chemo treatments. Her sister a teacher and had a real love for learning all her life. Before Robyn came to be with her entering SSJD Peta-Ann was a special education teacher in for another week of chemo Whitehorse in the Yukon. treatments. Peta-Ann flew out to Victoria, BC, to visit She was admitted to the Sisterhood on September 7, her brothers and sister and 1996, received as a Novice on March 7, 1997, and First their families when her eldest Professed on March 10, 2000. During much of her time brother Stewart was ill at the in the Novitiate and First Profession, Peta-Ann worked in beginning of May. She was Pastoral Care at St. John’s Rehab Hospital. She and Sr. able to celebrate her birthday Elizabeth together made their Life Profession of Vows on with her family while there August 20, 2003. and attend a reunion at St. Margaret’s School where she had been a pupil. Sr. Peta-Ann had a special interest in the healing Many, many people have mentioned Sr. Peta-Ann’s joyous ministry and was a long face and her beautiful smile especially as she sang the time member of the Order monastic offices and joined in the daily celebration of the of St. Luke. She was Holy Eucharist. She was full of praise for God. In Bp. delighted to be able to Linda Nicholls’ homily at Peta-Ann’s funeral, she said: “This attend an OSL meeting truly is a celebration of life and faith captured in the joyous the week before she died. countenance of Sr. Peta-Ann and lived each day of her life. She was also a licensed lay It is the joy of one who knew that she was deeply loved by anointer in the Diocese of God — not for any deserved reason — but simply because Toronto. Peta-Ann was a God was her creator and loved her! Peta-Ann learned that mentor for the Education early on and lived it in her life as a parent, as a teacher of for Ministry program and passed on her enthusiasm children and adults, and ultimately as a Professed Sister in for adult Christian education to the many women who this Community. participated in this program. She always carried a purse with many coloured highlighters which she used to mark “She was so clear about the love of God that it beamed the EFM materials as well as anything else she was reading! from her face at all times. Every time I celebrated at the One of her favourite recreational activities was swimming. altar here I would look down the row of Sisters and see her She loved being near the water and for many years was face — eagerly rejoicing in the known by the nickname “Dolphin”. feast to come. The last time I saw her was as I served communion At the Convent, Peta-Ann was also known for her love to her in the infirmary only 3 of long baths; Sisters would sometimes wonder if she had weeks ago. She was standing fallen asleep and knock on the door to see if she were still there with an IV pole at her side, alive. She had little concept of time (apparently a family kerchief on her head — a rather trait) which is very difficult when living in a Community with thinner version of the Peta-Ann a schedule such as ours. She would carry an organizer in I had known for many years — her pocket, set the alarm to give her enough time to get to but no less beaming with God’s the next ‘event’, but never seemed to hear it when it went love even in the midst of her off! Peta-Ann had a love for people, especially those in illness. need; during the year before her death, she was a strong advocate for a friend of the Community who now needed “Peta-Ann rooted her joy in her certainty of the resurrection extra care and was able to get her and her friend into a and ascension of Christ. She knew in every fibre of her nursing home. being that God had, in Christ, prepared a home for her — that death was not the end and that the love that had Sr. Peta-Ann developed cancer late last year and bravely sustained her all her life was the same love that would take faced the treatment regime prescribed by her doctors. her home at her death.” 14St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 14 9/21/09 2:46:04 PM
  • 15. In Peta-Ann’s own words: “I hope you will miss me for a as a Christian in Jesus Christ our Lord and in the power of while, and maybe shed a tear or two, but in the process, God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to each and every one wave me off into the best and last posting of my life — into of you who has meant so much to me in my life. May you the Communion of Saints, one with God however that too enjoy the wonder and joy and peace that I have known works — more than we can ever ask or imagine! I’ve been in God’s love shining back to me in each of you. God bless so blessed in my life with family, friends, colleagues, life and keep you.” experiences. How awesome it is to know that none of this is deserved — sheer Love and Grace, made known to me Sr. Elizabeth, SSJD The Sisters of St. John the Divine At St. John’s Convent Sr. Beryl Sr. Helen Claire Sr. Elizabeth Ann Sr. Merle Sr. Sue (Reverend Mother) Sr. Patricia Sr. Dorothy Sr. Elizabeth (Novitiate Director) Sr. Madeleine Mary Sr. Amy Sr. Margaret Mary Sr. Margaret Ruth Sr. Constance Sr. Sarah Jean St. John’s House, B.C. Sr. Joyce Sr. Anitra Sr. Doreen Sr. Helena Sr. Jessica Sr. Jocelyn Sr. Wilma Sr. Constance Joanna Sr. Louise Sr.Thelma-Anne Sr. Brenda Sr. Patricia Marion (Novice) Sr. Jean Sr. Anne Doreen Davidson (Oblate) Standing: Sisters Margaret Mary, Elizabeth, Doreen, Anitra, Wilma, Patricia Marion, Sue, Jocelyn, Margaret Ruth, Amy, Patricia, Sarah Jean, Beryl, Constance Joanna, Jessica. Middle Row: Sisters Thelma-Anne, Merle, Helena, Constance, Joyce, Brenda, Madeleine Mary. Front Row: Sisters Elizabeth Ann, Dorothy, Helen Claire, Jean, Anne, Louise. 15St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 15 9/21/09 2:46:05 PM
  • 16. Music for the Soul — 2009-2010 Are You at a Crossroads in Your Life? Sunday, November 15th, 2009, at 4:00 p.m. Are you considering a career change? (Time to be confirmed) Are you looking for “something more” in your life? Bach Vespers: a modern vespers service worked Do you have a thirst for God? A hunger for prayer? around a full Bach Cantata. Directed by Mark Vuorinen Do you desire to serve God in a new way? and including a supporting cast of performers from Would you like to experience life in community? Church of the Redeemer’s regular ‘Bach Vespers’ series. (Includes Evening Prayer) Then you may be interested in attending a free four-week program (June 29 - July 25) Sunday, February 14th, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. to discern where God is calling you. Jazz Vespers: a contemporary service built around At the same time you will have the opportunity to Jazz standards and led by Tim Elliott. (Includes Evening experience the life of love, prayer and service Prayer) in an Anglican religious community of women. Sunday, March 21st, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. Women who are interested should contact A concert celebrating music of the Renaissance Kelly Clark, The Sisterhood of Saint John the Divine, period and highlighting the lute songs of John St. John’s Convent, 233 Cummer Ave, Dowland. Lorelle Angelo - Soprano, Juan-Carlos Toronto, ON M2M 2E8 Luna - Guitar, Daniel Norman - Harpsichord. (Evening Phone: 416-226-2201, Ext. 301. Fax: 416-222-4442 Prayer to follow) Email: convent@ssjd.ca. Website: www.ssjd.ca Sunday, May 16th, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. Applications for Women at a Crossroads, 2010 A keyboard recital centered around music of the must be in by March 31, 2010. French Classical period. Organ and Harpsichord music played by Thomas Fitches (unconfirmed) and John-Paul Farahat. (Evening Prayer to follow) Altar Linens Altar linens may be purchased from Sr. Jocelyn, SSJD, A free-will offering will be taken at each concert. at St. John’s Convent. All linens are hand-sewn and All concerts are held in the Chapel of St. John the made from Irish Linen. Items which may be purchased Divine at St. John’s Convent and are followed by include Fair Linens, Credence Cloths, Purificators, Sunday Supper (reservations required) Call to reserve Lavabo Towels, Baptismal Towels, Fair Veils, Palls on for supper ($10.00) at 416-226-2201, x 305 Plexi Glass, Corporals and Sick Communion Sets. Map and directions at www.ssjd.ca For details, please contact Sr. Jocelyn: jocelyn@ssjd.ca St. John’s House, B.C. Photos below from the Celebration of our Telephone: 250-920-7787 Fax: 250-920-7709 Foundation Day, September 8th, 2009. The Houses of the Sisterhood www.ssjd.ca St. John’s Convent St. John’s House, B.C. 233 Cummer Avenue, Toronto, ON M2M 2E8 3937 St. Peters Road, Victoria, BC V8P 2J9 416-226-2201; Fax: 416-226-2131 250-920-7787; Fax: 250-920-7709 e-mail: convent@ssjd.ca e-mail: bchouse@ssjd.ca The Eagle is published several times a year by the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, St. John’s Convent, Toronto, ON M2M 2E8. An annual donation of $10 to help cover the cost would be greatly appreciated. Please let us know promptly of any changes of address. The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine is a registered charity. Our charitable donation number is BN 11925 4266 RR00001 16St John The Eagle FALL09.indd 16 9/21/09 2:46:07 PM