The Eagle                                                         Pentecost 2012Dear Friends, Associates and Oblates,     ...
hearings on Vancouver Island. During Holy Week, Srs.             What is it like to be an “Alongsider” with SSJD?Beryl and...
What is it like to be a Lutheran Pastor in an Anglican Convent?If someone had said to me a year ago, “Tell us what it is  ...
Our Lives of                                  Sister Amy was born in Moose Factory, the hospital nearest to her parents’ h...
Love and ServiceSr. Debra was born in Collingwood, the hospital closest to her parents’ farm near Stayner.She has a twin s...
June 21st — National Aboriginal Day of PrayerIt is a profound honour for me to be here this morning as            in Paris...
It has been three years since we witnessed what I consider          I saw the seven sacred teachings alive and embodied in...
Are you between jobs, retired, orwanting to take a year away from your studies?           Consider becoming an Alongsider ...
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SSJD The Eagle Pentecost 2012

  1. 1. The Eagle Pentecost 2012Dear Friends, Associates and Oblates, This past year we began a program to include Alongsiders.A hymn written by one of our Canadian Bishops, Gordon An Alongsider is a woman who lives “at the edge” of theLight, invites us to “draw the circle wide, draw it wider Sisterhood, moving between the monastery and the worldstill”, and this is something that the Sisterhood is doing outside. She lives in our Guest House and participatesas we expand the ways people can be affiliated with the as often as possible in the worship of the Community,Community. We are still being inspired by the Holy Spirit joins the Sisters at recreation, and shares in the work ofto make the good news available to all the world especially the household according to her gifts. An Alongsider isduring this season of Pentecost. committed to a daily practice of personal prayer, spiritual reading and reflection on sacred Scripture. Being anAt SSJD’s founding, it was the men and women who called Alongsider for a set period of time gives a woman thethis Community into being who became our first Associates. opportunity to seek a deeper relationship with God, toAssociates are men and women, lay or ordained, who learn about the monastic life in general, to explore anddesire to have a spiritual relationship with SSJD and follow better understand living in community, to take some ofa Rule of Life. At one time, all Associates were Anglican, the core values of monastic life back out “into the world”,but now, drawing the circle wider, we have Associates from and to help the Sisters deepen their understanding of themany other Christian traditions. culture we live in and its critical issues. Susan Murphy, an Alongsider since September 2011, has been blogging her experience at She also prepares and sends out the “Monthly News from the SSJD Guest House”. Currently we are actively seeking women to join us as Alongsiders to explore living “at the edge”. We particularly enjoy welcoming women who have a desire to join us as Sisters in our Community. Women who have a special call to pray and live in intentional community may well have a call or vocation to the monastic life. They have an inner hunger for something more—a deeper relationship with God— and a desire to use their gifts for others. SSJD also welcomes women from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) with whom the Anglican Church of Canada is in full communion. Sr. Debra is a Lutheran Pastor on a special call from the Eastern Synod of the ELCIC. Recently the Sisterhood had an evening with Bishop Michael Pryse of the Eastern Synod. He presided Nancy Broschell and the Ven. Gordon Finney at our Eucharist and then joined the Sisters for dinner and being admitted as Associates. recreation, a time of conversation so that we may learn more about our Lutheran brothers and sisters and supportIf you are interested in becoming an Associate you can find them in prayer.more information on our website,, under theCommunity heading or write to the Associate Director at Of course sometimes in order to draw the circle wider,the Convent or at St. John’s House in Victoria, BC. the Sisters need to go out to let people know that there are Anglican Religious in the Church. This past Lent wasSeveral years ago the Sisterhood felt the Holy Spirit moving especially busy for us as Sisters were invited to many placesus to begin the Oblate program. Oblates are women who including the Gaspé Peninsula, Montréal, Thunder Bay,have made an offering of themselves to God in partnership Timmins, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Ottawa and Virginiawith the Sisterhood to a life of prayer and service. Each as well as to several parishes in Toronto. The Sisters inOblate spends at least two weeks of residential time at the Victoria were also busy attending St. Barnabas, St. MichaelConvent or at B.C. House helping the Community in many and All Angels, Christ Church Victoria, St. Paul’s Westdifferent ways according to the abilities of each one. Vancouver, and attending the Truth and Reconciliation1
  2. 2. hearings on Vancouver Island. During Holy Week, Srs. What is it like to be an “Alongsider” with SSJD?Beryl and Jean with the Rev. Canon Susan Sheen led aretreat, a mini-pilgrimage to the Holy Land, for those who I have been an Alongsider for eight months, living, workingcame to join us for the holy days leading up to Easter. and playing alongside the Sisters of St. John the Divine. I came into this experience as a workaholic, “night-hawk”We give thanks for and celebrate with our Sisters the special introvert from the Baptist tradition, unfamiliar with Anglicananniversaries in their lives. Sr. Constance celebrated her liturgy, worship style and theology … talk about a “fish out108th birthday on February of water” with a steep learning curve!2nd, a remarkable womanwho has lived this life of My formation as an Alongsider is still a work in progress,prayer and service to the full. but there are a few key things I have learned about Anglican community life and about myself. The Sisters of SSJD juggleSr. Joyce celebrated her many different books and papers in their chapel services! It90th birthday April 19th. took time not to be distracted by this but to value a disciplineSr. Wilma celebrated 55 of arriving early for a worship service in order to prepareyears in Life Profession on (both my papers and my heart) for worship. Saying theMay 1st. Congratulations to Daily Office need not be seen as “interruptions” to my dailyall these Sisters. work schedule. Although I still value focusing on a project for an extended period of time, there is a deep blessing inAt the end of January this year we said goodbye to Sian intentionally quieting one’s heart and mind every few hoursPhillibert who had been received as a postulant of SSJD in to re-focus on God. Monastic life is hard work! For any whoOctober. We still see Sian each week as she continues her think it is an introvert’s heaven, think again. Living, workingEducation for Ministry studies at the Convent. Sr. Rhonda, and playing in close quarters with 24 or so other women fora Novice in SSJD, is taking a year’s leave of absence while decades on end is not for the faint of heart. It takes (or moreshe attends to some family issues which have arisen in her accurately, “develops”) an honest humility and authenticitylife. She also comes for EFM studies. that most of us will never attain in our lifetimes. One sister has put it best: “At the best of times, it is like living with 25Sr. Elizabeth and I recently attended a week-long gathering spouses … at the worst of times, the same is also true.”of the Conference of Anglican Religious Orders inthe Americas at the Community of the Transfiguration Anglican Sisters live on “the edge”. One of the greatestin Cincinnati, OH. It is wonderful to network with our surprises to me is the liberal (in the best sense of the word)colleagues and to realize that the monastic life in the and forward-thinking theology that exists within monasticAnglican church is wider than our own small part. communities. A lifestyle of simplicity and deep prayer allows such communities to face issues head-on that other organizations cannot or dare not address. I believe that monastic women and men in many ways live the true life of Jesus most authentically and so are the counter-cultural role models we must continually seek out and learn from. I derive deep rest and peacefulness from the haunting beauty of the spoken and sung liturgies of monastic services. However, paradoxically this peace has also allowed me to discover a deeper appreciation and hunger for my own church’s tradition of worship and music. When attending my own church’s Sunday services, I now recognize and express my deep joy in worship through rhythmic movement, clapping (and even dance!)Sr. Elizabeth Ann, ssjd; Br. Jude Hill, ssf, Br. David Bryan, Humility comes out of obedience, not the other way around. ohc, the Rev. Don Anderson, Executive of CAROA. I had previously thought that one could “obey” only once one had found humility in one’s heart. Historically I haveMay you too be moved to draw your own circles wider as seen my struggle with structure, rules and regulations asthe Holy Spirit moves you to find ways to include others in a reflection of my stubbornly un-humble heart, and soyour communities. have worked on finding a humility which could tame my resistance to submission and obedience. However, I am learning that it is through the practice of obedience that one develops humility. As I have said, I am still a work in Sr. Elizabeth Ann, SSJD progress. . . Susan Murphy, Alongsider2
  3. 3. What is it like to be a Lutheran Pastor in an Anglican Convent?If someone had said to me a year ago, “Tell us what it is your calling to be a Lutheran Pastor in the context in whichlike to be a Lutheran Pastor in an Anglican convent”, I you now serve?”believe I would have found it easier to answer then than Ido today. The primary reason being that a year ago I was in In response to this latter question, I believe that I havefact a Lutheran Pastor in an Anglican convent. While I am learned the importance of taking time for silence in prayer,still a Lutheran Pastor and this is still an Anglican convent, both individually and corporately. I have learned thean important shift has occurred in our relationship. During importance of practising different forms of prayer, includingthe past 15 months I have come to view the Convent as praying with the scriptures. In addition to this I have comemy home and the Sisters as my family. Titles lose their to see days of silent retreat not as merely a nice option forimportance in family relationships. In the Convent among ministry but essential to being focused in Sisters, I am just Debra. I recognize how easy it is to get caught up in the “noise” ofAs Debra, a member of the Sisterhood of St. John the this world. I spent many years being caught in the businessDivine, I have learned that each of us who makes up the of committee meetings, teaching schedules and visitation. ISSJD family brings particular gifts, beliefs, characteristics have learned that when we fail to take time to develop withand traditions to this relationship. One of the gifts I bring is intention our own relationship with God through worshipthe fact that I am a Lutheran Pastor called by God through and prayer, we simply fail.the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) tospecial service with SSJD. As a Lutheran Pastor I am If I had a wish for all the bishops, clergy and diaconalordained to the office of Word and Sacrament. workers in the ELCIC and the Anglican Church of Canada, it would be to spend a year or two in a conventAt my ordination service on July 7, 2000, I declared that or monastery—preferably two years. It is only after 15the church in which I was ordained confesses that the Holy months that I am beginning to understand how vital one’sScriptures are the Word of God and are the norm of our devotional life is not only to one’s calling, whatever thatlife and faith. I agreed to accept, teach and confess the calling might be—bishop, teacher, maintenance person orApostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian stay-at-home parent—but also to the health and happinessCreed. I acknowledged the Lutheran Confessions as true of life in general. We cannot talk with integrity to peoplewitnesses and faithful expositions of the Holy Scriptures about the importance of having a relationship with God ifand so preach and teach in accordance with the Holy we ourselves do not spend time with God.Scriptures and these creeds and confessions. As a pastorunder special Call by the Eastern Synod of the ELCIC to the The ministries that we participate in are not our ministries;Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, I continue to fulfill these they are God’s ministries carried out through us, God’sresponsibilities. As Debra, a member of the Sisterhood of people. Living in the Convent has taught me this truth andSt. John the Divine I have learned that, while a significant in this context I have been reminded that no job is better orpart of my identity is being a Lutheran Pastor, there is less than another. If the work we do is done in the contextmuch more to me than this. Actually, there is much more of prayer it will be blessed a all of us than the identities we are given or claim forourselves. One of the gifts I have received during the past In this call I have received a glimpse of the truth behindyear is coming to understand this. I am, like all of us, first the quotation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “When Christ callsand always a child of God. a person, Christ bids them come and die.” Essential to living the monastic life is recognizing how deeply we tendI live out my understanding and experience of being a child to focus on ourselves and our own needs and wants whenof God through my life of prayer, my study of the Holy we are invited to see and respond to the needs of theScriptures, and my use of the means of grace. I try by the people around us. Living the monastic life is a process ofhelp of God and with the support of my Sisters to give recognizing the characteristics we have that separate usfaithful witness in the world that God’s love may be known from God and our neighbour and consciously choosing toin all that I do. While this is vital to my ordination vows, it let go of those characteristics. It is only when we begin tois also a predominant focus of the Rule of Life set down by let go of these ways of being that separate us from Godthe Sisterhood. In truth this is to be the predominant focus and neighbour that we are able to live differently. As wefor all who would claim to be a follower of Christ. begin to ‘let go’ we begin to understand that “letting go” is a life-long process that we will never be perfect at. Finally,Instead of asking, “Tell us what it is like to be a Lutheran having said this, it is important that we remember that atPastor in an Anglican convent”, I prefer this question: the end of the day God does not call us to perfection, God“During the past 15 months what new things have you calls us to faithfulness and wholeness.learned, through living the religious life, about your Talk given by Sr. Debra, N/SSJDrelationship with God and the church that has influenced to the clericus on March 21, 2012 3
  4. 4. Our Lives of Sister Amy was born in Moose Factory, the hospital nearest to her parents’ home in Moosonee, where they had come as teachers. She has an older adopted sister. After nine years the family moved to Foxboro to a converted school house that could provide a barrier- free home for her Dad who has MS. Completing public school in a small town setting, Amy attended Quinte Christian High School, the only Anglican amidst Christian Reformed students; then went to Lambton College in Sarnia and Niagara College in Niagara Falls for their Culinary Management course. She lived and worked for a time in Kitchener, after which she identified her own vocational crisis. She returned home and worked in technical support “realizing that I had a draw to that field, but I really needed to figure out what I wanted to do”. Amy came to “Women at a Crossroads” in July 2002, and entered SSJD in January 2003 at age 25. “God calls us at times when we can come in and handle what needs to be handled. . . . My pull was to community. . . . The services are the focus for me.” Highlights for Sr. Amy included the Novitiate trip: “I always knew I’d come to SSJD, so I hadn’t visited Orders in the USA. . . . It’s a challenge but we have the best of both contemplative and active worlds”. The “move” wasanother highlight: “my first Community meeting was the decision to move the Convent. I became ‘the last of things at BothamRoad’. Her years in Victoria and her prayerful pursuits of knitting and spinning also stand out. “I’ve grown into the personI’m supposed to be. . . . I didn’t realize there’d be so many ‘goodbyes’—deaths, Sisters and Novices leaving—but it’s given methe ability to journey with people. Now back at the Hospital, I even journeyed with a patient for Baptism, from preparationto being a sponsor in the service.” Asked why she became an Alongsider, Susan Murphy’s response was “God decided it”. The idea had been presented to long-term residents in the Guest House by Sr. Constance Joanna in March 2011. Susan had been seeking part-time employment to fit with her studies at Tyndale College, so financial and academic adjustments had to be reviewed and reworked. As no job interviews materialized, she wondered, “God may be saying, I want you to do this Alongsider thing”. She liked the idea of living close to the Sisters. “It’s not an easy thing, but it was partly curiosity to experience it.” Logistics and practicalities dictated paring down aspects of her lifestyle, like giving up her car, reducing school to one day a week. Having had to do her own fundraising for school last year, she acknowledges the incredible generosity of family and friends “which has been very humbling–learning the grace of accepting help and letting go to let God provide. I’m definitely working on my sense of pride, thinking I can do everything by myself.” Susan learned of the Convent in the mid ’90s. She refers to God as “the ultimate storyteller writing themes into our lives, hints about what is to come”. Driving past one day she had “felt nudged to turn back and go in”. She obeyed “and booked a room for a week”. Another urge: “I quit my job, went to school full-time and lived at the Convent”. When asked how her Alongsider experience mightaffect her plans for the future, Susan replied, “It’s a very interesting psychological and spiritual study: identifying the ingredientsI can take into the secular world; how priorities compete in my head; recognizing my absolute need for God. . . .This place hasa huge potential for changing lives. They’re role-modelling a lot of stuff for me. They are just so real, and it’s OK to be real!” As a teenager, (Oblate) Frances Drolet-Smith witnessed her mother’s commitment as an Associate “to follow a Rule of Life, taking daily time for prayer and reading, making an annual retreat and participating in quiet days”. She recalls “the churches where we went for these days were cool and dark in a comfortable way; it was a kind of ‘time out’”. When she became a mother, Frances better understood why her mother looked forward, at least in part, to those quiet days! She remembers hearing Sr. Anitra saying of the Christian life, “Perfection is not the point; wholeness is”. It intrigued Frances “and the search was on!” Several years later her mother, “who’d been my companion in the faith”, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “One of her last gifts to me was a question: Are you sure you’re really doing what God has called you to do? She had spoken of her own unfulfilled dreams and the things she’d hoped to accomplish but now recognized she never would.” That question eventually led Frances back to the same Sisters who had fostered in her mother a life of commitment to prayer and service. In 1998 she attended the “Women at a Crossroads” programme and “came to recognize in myself a longing for community, a desire to be intentional about this inner work I felt God was calling meto”. After further discernment on her own and with others, “I made promises to the Sisterhood to live by a Rule and in 2006made my Life Promises”. What makes Frances’ commitment an oblation or an offering “is that, as a parish priest, wife, mother,friend, I’ve undertaken, alongside the Sisters, to encourage others in their spiritual lives, in discerning vocations to live lives, notof perfection, but of wholeness. The journey still intrigues me and the search has led me to a life lived in community. Thanks,indeed, be to God!”4
  5. 5. Love and ServiceSr. Debra was born in Collingwood, the hospital closest to her parents’ farm near Stayner.She has a twin sister, another set of twin sisters and an older sister and brother. After highschool in Stayner, Debra went to Wilfred Laurier University and Waterloo Lutheran Seminaryfor degrees in sociology and theology. She entered the Lutheran Deaconess Community in1987. Her first call was to Bridgewater, N.S.; and then to St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church inKitchener where she specialized in youth ministry, including working with youths in crisis. “Myco-workers said I knew more lawyers than clergy from my advocating for young offenders anddrug users.” Working with refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala was “one of my earlyencounters with the tangible effects of war and poverty”. Debra continued taking courses andfurther studies in pastoral leadership and preaching so, in September 1999 she was acceptedinto the ordination stream and ordained in July 2000. Since then she has served as associatepastor at St. Stephen’s, and then as pastor in Fort Erie, Pembroke and Fergus. “It was a bigloss for me that on ordination I couldn’t be part of the Deaconess Community.” When askedby her Bishop if she had ever considered the monastic life, Debra replied “Yes, but I didn’twant to leave the Lutheran Church. . . . The Bishop knew of this Community, so I came for aday”. Exploratory meetings followed. “I came for a week and then attended Crossroads in 2010.” Approval was granted “thatI could be here ‘on special call’ while still retaining my call as a Lutheran pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canadaand learning to be an Anglican Sister. . . . It’s not easy but it’s been very good.Niagara Falls was the birthplace of Sr. Susanne to Acadian, French-speaking parents fromNew Brunswick. The elder of two daughters, she attended French schools in Niagara Falls andWelland. Married at 18, she went to Ryerson to become a library technician. Although twodaughters arrived, “I was always a working Mother, living first in Toronto then in Hamilton”.As library jobs were not available there, “I fell into a bankruptcy administrator position withinan accounting firm, and did it for 18 years”. Her marriage ended in 1998. “I had felt marriagewas my vocation, so it was very challenging afterwards.” Susanne had always been a practisingRoman Catholic, but “it became untenable for me to belong to a Church that didn’t allowwomen priests and allowed the cover-up of abusive priests”. Attending classes to become anAnglican, “there was a session on religious orders and I pricked up my ears! The priest of thechurch was an Associate of SSJD, so I kept peppering him with questions. Meeting with theAssociate Director, it became clear that the discernment year would be for becoming a Sister”.Susanne visited the Convent often, attended the Crossroads programme in November 2005and entered in October 2006 at age 49. She left in August 2007, “as I felt I was not ready tomake a full commitment”. Training as a medical office assistant, she worked for three years. “I attended the Kathleen Norrisevent in May 2011, and realized that I had learned much about myself in the desert years so, in July 2011 I made the decisionto re-enter. I want to live more closely with Jesus who has never abandoned me and to share in the ministries of the Sisterhood.”Highlights for Sr. Susanne this past year were the birth of her first grandchild, and “looking forward to the journey in continuedappreciation of the love and support of the Sisters”. Associate Eileen Beatty writes: “The catalyst for my desire to pursue and deepen an intimaterelationship with the Beloved began quite unexpectedly in the late eighties through a U.K.friend’s introduction to two authors: Joyce Huggett, a Church of England Vicar’s wife, andSue Monk Kidd, a U.S. Southern Baptist. Their stories shared the paradigm shift they hadeach experienced in their own faith journeys, culminating in their desire to fully embrace thecontemplative dimensions of the Gospel. To nurture this new and life-giving spirituality, theysought out the quiet space of a monastery or convent. I too desired to be in this space and theirstories motivated me to book a retreat at St. John’s Convent, where I was blessed to embracea new phase of my own spiritual journey. After visiting and volunteering at the Convent forseveral years, I was admitted as an Associate in 1996. During the past 25 years it has beena great privilege to deepen the friendship offered by many of the Sisters. It is a pleasure tooffer retreats and quiet days and, with co-leader, The Rev. Diana McHardy, to present a springand fall ‘Come and See’ series for the past 12 years. The love of my life is books and includedfrequent visits to the Convent Bookroom. In 2000 the Sisters, invited me, as an Associatevolunteer, to manage the Bookroom. This ministry continues to be a joy. During my years as an Associate, some of theministries to which I’ve felt drawn include undergoing training by the Jesuits at Loyola House; St. Beuno’s, North Wales; andRegis College, TST. I graduated from Regis College in 1996, and continue to offer the ministry of Spiritual Direction, aboutwhich I am passionate. Many of the things I value and hope to emulate in the Sisterhood are their loving inclusivity, their abilityto ‘welcome the Christ in everyone, and their openness to the mystery of new cosmic spirituality. I have found that the Conventis truly a home for the heart.” 5
  6. 6. June 21st — National Aboriginal Day of PrayerIt is a profound honour for me to be here this morning as in Paris. I was clutching a bag of my favorite candy – Turkishwe celebrate the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer. A word Delight. A boy I knew came up to me and asked me for aabout this head dress. It is an Inuit head dress given to me piece. I clutched the candy closer and told him to get hisby my Father on my 10th birthday. I wear it on my birthday, own. My father bent down on one knee in front of me andmy father’s birthday and at ceremonies and rituals where it said, “Child, you have just torn a hole in the fabric of theseems appropriate. So I wear it today to honour my father, universe.” Well! My 8-year-old brain didn’t really grasp whatand all Aboriginal and First Nation peoples everywhere, my father was saying. All these years later, I have realizedespecially here in Canada as we celebrate this day of prayer. that I am solely responsible for the hole in the ozone layer over Greenland.I am not a Canadian Aboriginal; my father was born inGreenland as were all of his fathers from the beginning. So So not to care for the earth and its creatures, humanI do not have the Canadian experience. My experience was and other, is to not respect the Creator, to not care forone of a side-liner. After being displaced from his native the earth. It is to not respect your elders and all who haveGreenland, my father never really found a place to call come before. To not care for the earth is to not respecthome. Canada was the new home of choice for my family yourself. And this applies as well to sharing candy.but sadly, Greenlander or not, my Father experienced thesame racial abuse other First Nations and Inuit did in the late I love the Beatitudes .They are for me a code—a hierarchy50’s and early 60’s. The struggle became even more difficult of compassion. They remind me that we have been calledafter my mother—a refined Church of England woman— out of chaos into love! The gospel passage this morningdied. I remember my father changing his name, our name. (Mt 5:1-11) reminds us that we are all equal in the eyes ofI remember disappointment on top of disappointment as God. I have no doubt God sees us that way, and certainlyhe—and by extension I—never fit, neither in Canada, his Jesus made no differentiation between peoples, or if headopted home, nor in any other country we tried on for size. did, Jesus leaned towards the poor, the outcast and theAlthough I am not a Canadian Aboriginal, I do live out of my disenfranchised. We, however—that is, all of humanity—own Aboriginal roots. And there are shared understandings have built societies where the lines of separation arebinding almost all Aboriginal peoples that I would like to clear between genders, between ethnicities, between theshare with you. privileged and the unprivileged.It does not matter what country you hail from; virtually all Our European and Western societies have conditioned us toAboriginal cultures have an almost symbiotic relationship always strive to be more—to be better tomorrow than wewith the earth. It doesn’t matter whether your aboriginal are today—with a high priority on individualism. In contrastheritage finds you in the Australian desert, or on the frozen Aboriginal culture is to live from sacred moment totundra of Nunavut. There is a relationship with the earth sacred moment and to just be.that is non-negotiable, and although part of the relationshipis that it provides food and materials for shelter, it is also one There is an understanding that we are part of a biggerof care, compassion and connectedness. picture, that we are interconnected in ways we can never comprehend and guided by the seven sacred teachingsHave you ever been away for a trip, travelling—a short or of Respect, Love, Honesty, Courage, Humility, Wisdom,long trip, it doesn’t matter—or had an incredibly long or and Truth. These teachings are designed to enable us totrying day? Have you ever uttered the words or thought to live in harmony with ourselves, with our neighbours, and allyourself: “I just want to go home,” and once you get there, the created earth.there is a feeling of calm, a feeling that you are groundedand everything is going to be okay. That is how it is with As I said, my father traveled a lot, so that meant as a childAboriginal people’s relationship with the earth. I traveled a lot. Without fail the very first thing we did on the first night in a new country or city was a kind of sacredTry this sometime: take off your shoes and socks and re-centering. My father would take me by the hand, find astand on the ground barefoot, on the dirt—not the patio clearing or a hill and we would lie on the ground and lookor sidewalk but on the dirt in your backyard, at the park or up at the night sky. On more than one occasion I fell asleep,wherever you can find a patch of dirt. Close your eyes and which let me tell you did not impress my father! However,listen with your feet. It may take you a few attempts but I the exercise was meant to reconnect us to the vastness ofam confident if you try enough, you will hear and feel the all creation. It was to remind us that in the big picture ofheartbeat of the planet. You will find yourself connected to eternity we are small and rather insignificant. It was an actsomething so wondrous that words fail to describe it. All of just being, soaking in all that the glory of creation hasAboriginal people have an understanding that everything is to offer and recognizing our place in it. If you have everinterconnected. I first learned this when I was about 8 or 9 looked up at the night sky or searched the clouds to seeyears old. My father and I were standing on a train platform pictures in them, you will know what I mean.6
  7. 7. It has been three years since we witnessed what I consider I saw the seven sacred teachings alive and embodied inone of Canada’s most profound and sacred moments. people of power and the people of struggle. I saw theSet in the middle of the floor of the House of Commons Word—born before the beginning of time—embodied inwere 11 chairs, positioned in a circle. Seated on those that moment. I saw the poor in spirit catch a glimpse ofchairs were 11 Canadian Aboriginal Elders who, for the the realm of God. I saw those who had mourned and stillvery first time in their lives, and for the very first time since mourn being comforted. I saw, for one shining moment,the Indian Act was legislated in 1876, had a voice of their Canadian Aboriginal peoples inheriting the earth. I sawown, on their own terms, from their sacred circle. When the beginnings of those who hunger, who struggled andChief Phil Fontain rose to his feet to address Parliament, continue to struggle for justice and righteousness. I sawhe was greeted by the thunderous applause of a standing them being filled. But the moment was fleeting—and I amovation. When after almost 2 minutes the applause had afraid that in the three years since the apology we havedied down he spoke these words: “For our parents, our made little progress towards equality of our Aboriginalgrandparents, our great grandparents, indeed for all the brothers and sisters. And I think that is what the Beatitudesgenerations which have preceded us, this day represents are calling us to—the equality of the human person: Anothing less than the achievement of the impossible.” living together that sees everyone respected and loved; A living together where honesty, courage and humilityThat is what the Beatitudes call us to—the achievement of are outward signs of an inward reframing; A livingthe impossible. The scene brought to mind for me another together that honours wisdom as well as education,scripture, and at that moment I glimpsed the new heaven and values truth in word and action.and the new earth that John tells us about in the Revelationto John. I witnessed the birth of a new hope and a new May these sacred teachings be as Aboriginal peoplesway of being in relationship. What the world witnessed embody them and as our Saviour embodied them in wordon June 11th, 2008 in our House of Commons was a and example. May they be the building blocks on whichsacred moment, a moment when I think our Canadian we intentionally encounter each other. And now, may thehuman family was at its best—not perfect but honest— peace of the Creator who calls us from chaos to love, reststruggling desperately to understand each other, struggling on and inspire us all. Amen.desperately to reach out to each other, to heal. I saw thebeginnings of the deconstruction of prejudice that I pray a homily preached by the Rev. Samantha Caravanblankets not only Aboriginal peoples but all people who in St. John’s Chapel, June 21st, 2011adopt Canada as home. News from the Fundraising Office the things that have been part of this year or are on the horizon. We hope this information is helpful to you andSome of you have asked about how you might support the answers most of your questions.Community. In May you will have received our NarrativeBudget which outlines in word and picture our various areasof ministry and need. I hope that it is helpful in giving youa picture of our life today. Though we do not earn salaries,our life and ministries require funding. For most of our workwe receive little or no remuneration. You, our Associates,Oblates and friends of the Community, are essentialpartners through your prayerful support and generousongoing financial donations. We live by the generosityof our friends, Associates and Oblates and by careful andprudent management of those funds.Some of you have asked what our particular needs are atthe moment. The narrative budget gives you a generaloverview. Some of our current projects which require afinancial commitment on our part: our hope to participate Sr. Dorothy in the new meeting room in the Guest the solar energy project of the Ontario government; ourWomen at a Crossroads program; our recent renovations Thank you for your generous prayerful, volunteer andto accommodate a growing number of groups and guests financial support. If you wish further information orin our guesthouse; our long range plans for computer clarification about our life and our needs, please feel free toupgrades for the Convent; ongoing maintenance and contact Sister Doreen ( or the Fundraisingupkeep of the Convent and guest house; renewal of office 416-226-2201 ext. 340 or ext. in the refectory and kitchen to name some of Sr. Doreen, SSJD 7
  8. 8. Are you between jobs, retired, orwanting to take a year away from your studies? Consider becoming an Alongsider of the Sisters of St. John the Divine for a year or two, “Living on the Edge” of the monastic life to explore living in Community and deepening your relationship with God. Any woman who is interested in this The Rev. Brian Dench leading a workshop on Celtic Knots program should phone or email the Guest House for a brochure on this ALTAR LINENS new program and/or an application form. Altar linens may be purchased from Sr. Jocelyn, SSJD, at Priority will be given to applicants the Convent. All linens are hand-sewn from Irish Linen. who can commit to at least 25 hours of Items which may be purchased include Fair Linens, work per week in the convent. Credence Cloths, Purificators, Lavabo Towels, Baptismal Towels, Fair Veils, Palls on Plexi Glass, Corporals and See articles on p. 1 & 2 of this Eagle Sick Communion Sets. for more information. For details, please contact Sr. Jocelyn: Telephone: 416-226-2201 Fax: 416-222-4442 Srs. Louise, Sarah Jean, Brenda, and Oblate Doreen Srs. Wilma, Jocelyn, Susanne, Amy, Rhonda and Davidson living at the BC House in Victoria. Elizabeth Ann enjoying crafts at Recreation. The Houses of the Sisterhood 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 email: email: 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 RR0001.8