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Ssjd the eagle-2009a-eastertide


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Ssjd the eagle-2009a-eastertide

  1. 1. The Eagle Eastertide 2009 This hanging was commissioned by the family of Sr. Rosemary Anne in memory of her mother. It was designed and sewn by D. Gans and hung behind the altar in the Priory in Edmonton for many years. When the Priory closed, the hanging went to St. John’s House in St. Lambert where it was also placed behind the altar.Winds of the equinox, Three years in Arabia needed by Paul.sing to the Lord Mary knowing, and pondering deep in her heart.who breathes forth the energies:“Let there be light!” Thick darkness pervading — the solid earth trembling,Fifteen billion years might spell out the age of that while “It is accomplished!” day He handed back his Spirit victorious,so insistent to overcome darkness. drained to the uttermost: the death of creation defeated by Death.Here come the apostles, there go the tribes —bearing the burdens, heavy and light — Veiled entrance to glory torn open and wide.a Babe in a manger, What is awaiting, poised on the brink of beliefa star in its space, in a happening beyond mortal thought?heavens a-sundered,voices proclaiming, The mountain is moving —on this puzzled planet, delight and dissension. the Happening done — awaiting fulfilment.Never man spoke like this one. The Spirit says, “Come.”How does he know that?“Only God could reveal this to you, Sr. Helena, SSJD Simon Peter.” February 22, 2009 1
  2. 2. Sister Frances Joyce, the Reverend Mother of SSJD (1970-1994)Frances Joyce made her Life Profession on November 5th, 1958, and worked in many areas and Branch Houses of theCommunity until her death on March 1, 2000. She took office in 1970 as Mother Superior in a time oftransition. The 1960’s had seen dramatic changes. We had begun the revision of our Rule of Life. Our habit was in the processof evolution. We were in the forefront of liturgical renewal. Without losing our primary focus on God, we were exploring thedimensions of interpersonal relationships in new ways. We were seeking a balance between old and new, so as to move forwardwithout leaving anyone behind. She built on the wisdom of Mother Aquila and guided the Community in a way that combinedgrowth and stability, and nourished the monastic values of prayer, community and hospitality. One of her greatest gifts was thegenerous and selfless welcome she gave to all with whom she came in contact. Ecumenical evenings, held annually for many years,including Religious from a variety of Christian traditions, are examples of the hospitality and zealous desire for unity that wereso dear to her heart. During her time as Reverend Mother, we moved into the future as a small but united Community with ahealthy, vigorous and joyful spirit, open to growth and to new insights and forms of ministry, while at the same time groundedin the fundamentals of monastic life. We remember and celebrate her life in thanksgiving for her discipline, cheerfulness,wisdom and caring. Sr. Margaret Mary, SSJD These words from the hymn “All Are Welcome” seem to summarize Sr. Frances Joyce’s deepest desires: Let us build a house where hands will reach Beyond the wood and stone To heal and strengthen, serve and teach, And live the Word they’ve known. Here the outcast and the stranger Bear the image of God’s face Let us bring an end to fear and danger All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place. After Mother Frances Joyce was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity in 1989, the Sisters presented her with Br. Beart dressed appropriately for the occasionDear Associates, Oblates and Friends, together with members of both the Order of the Holy CrossThis is the last of our historical issues for our 125th and the Sisters of the ChurchAnniversary year. In this Eagle we’re focusing on some of at a supper party organized andour Missions and Branch Houses in various parts of prepared by our Sisters whoCanada from Seaton Village in Toronto to St. John’s House live in Victoria. It was truly ain B.C. wonderful time en famille.We have had several special Since then we have had threeevents since our last issue other very special events. Onbeginning in December February 2nd Sr. Constancewhen everyone except celebrated her 105th birthday. It was a wonderful daySr. Louise was able to be beginning with the visit of the Consul General of thehome for two weeks atChristmas. This allowed usnot only to enjoyChristmas together as a family, but also to celebrateSt. John’s Day with a special service at St. Thomas’ Church, Huron Street (see Sr. Doreen’s homily on pp 10-11), where the Sisters used to worship in the early days of the Community; discuss our mission and ministry; have a Eucharist and Epiphany Tea with our Associates, and to have fun2
  3. 3. United States who came to present Sr. Constance with a world. We would do well to ask for those things on yourcertificate identifying her as the oldest American citizen behalf on this the day of your Life Profession. Andliving in Canada. Sr. yet, maybe, perhaps, Amy, there is much more in store forConstance was in top form you. Could it be that God not only wants you to produceand chatted to the Consul the fruits of the Spirit, efforts that will help to transformGeneral, his assistant, and our world but imagines you, Amy Hamilton, to be ato the CityTV reporter. The vintage wine? We ask to produce fruit; God imagines afirst guests for the Eucharist classic vintage.”and dinner started arriving A reception followed in thearound 10:15 a.m. and Refectory. As Sr. Amy has aincluded our Associate, passion for sheep and knitting, aStella George, who is herself friend made her cake anda hundred years old and had decorated it with a large lamb, allmade a great effort to be here. Members of Sr. Constance’s furry with icing rosettes. Sr. Amyfamily from Toronto and Ottawa also joined us for the displayed a beautiful afghan ofFestal Eucharist for the Feast of the Presentation which was multi-coloured, knitted diamondsfollowed by a delicious dinner including an enormous cake. that she made from wool given to Another CityTV reporter her by friends for her First arrived at 2:00 p.m. to Profession. interview Sr. Constance again On the Feast of the Annunciation to and at recreation we watched Mary by the Angel Gabriel, Sr. Anitra a two minute clip about her celebrated her 25th Profession on the evening news. When Anniversary surrounded by Sisters and asked about the secret of her friends from many areas of her life. It long life, she mentioned was truly a joyous occasion as she “serving others”. When asked renewed her Profession vows in the about being a coloured presence of Bishop Colin Johnson, woman, she said “hearts are recommitting herself to the life of love,hearts”, essentially saying there is no colour. prayer and service in SSJD.A week later, on the Feast of Hannah Grier Coome, we had When you receive this newsletter we will be hosting ourthe joy of Sr. Amy’s Life Profession. At the Eucharist Bp. Gathering of Sisters, Associates and Oblates with Margaret Silf in early May. We look forward to telling you all about it in the next Michaelmas Eagle. Later in May, Sara Lawson will begin as our new Director of Development helping to make SSJD better known. Archbishop George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, in response to a question I’d asked about making the Religious Life better known in the Anglican Communion, said that we have to go out and tell our stories. “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15) The work of Development is about fundraising and friendraising: making sure more people know about the life of love, prayer and service that the Sisterhood has been faithfully undertaking for the pastColin Johnson, the Community’s Episcopal Visitor, 125 years, so that we may continue to serve the people ofreceived her vows in the presence of her Sisters, family, God in the future. With every blessing.Associates and friends. The music was splendid, the chapel Yours faithfully,decorated with spring flowers which matched the warm, Sr. Elizabeth Ann, SSJDsunny day. The Rev. Bob Wright challenged Amy in hishomily:“Sr. Amy, this day we ask that your life might be graftedinto Christ in order that you might generate fruits of theSpirit . . . This life will nourish you, the Church and the 3
  4. 4. The Earliest Missions of the Sisterhood Seaton Village Mission began its work around 1891 and was located in the vicinity of Johnson Street and Follis Avenue in Toronto, an area consisting of rows of shacks and a few cottages built on undrained and unlighted land. The people were almost exclusively very poor English immigrants. One person who visited Seaton Village Mission described the house as “an unpretentious building of wood, very inexpensive in structure — just a plain little building from which goes out help and hope, sympathy, encouragement, and much practical assistance to the many poor who live within the wide radius of its walls.” Its small chapel provided services for the immigrants as there was no church in the neighbourhood in the early days.“The Good Shepherd” window from the Seaton Village chapelThe two mission Sisters operated a free dispensary for advice and medicines, visited the sick and needy, and delivered meals toinvalids in the area. Generous friends and Associates enabled them to provide Christmas treats for the Children’s Sewing Classesand the Mothers’ Meetings. The Mission House was enlarged in 1909 through the generosity of our Associate, Mrs. Machell.Gradually over the years the extreme poverty declined, and the district became well built with paved and lighted streetsreplacing the former dark muddy lanes.In 1912 it was decided to close the Seaton Village Mission. The Church of St. Cyprian had been built in the area and had a parishhouse where all the work formerly done in the Mission could be continued by the Sisters. The Mission House became therector’s residence and the Mission Sisters, now living at home, went out daily and carried on the work until 1916.St. Michael’s Mission opened in 1928, just before the Great Depression, at 181 Dorchester Street inthe parish of St. John the Evangelist in Montreal. This ministry also sought to address the needs of thepoorest of the poor. The Sisters who lived and worked there were faced with the abject poverty of thearea and themselves lived in very austere conditions. Relief work was difficult due to lack of funds andclothing. They ministered to many, both physically and spiritually, and gave them a sense ofcommunity. Thousands were fed and clothed. In 1937 one Sister made over 600 visits mostly tofamilies in the surrounding district who lived in deplorable conditions. Another Sister had charge ofthe Junior Women’s Auxiliary of over 50 members. The children attended sewing classes and Sunday school. Some became servers or sang in the choir. One anonymous “Children’s Friend” provided funds for a Sunday morning feast for the children many of whom had been going without breakfast or having very little. The women attended mothers’ meetings or the Mothers’ Union; some served on the altar guild. All the Sisters were involved in the Sunday school, the confirmation classes and the altar guild. St. Michael’s Mission on Dorchester closed in 1953 but, like the Seaton Village Mission, the ministry continued from the Church of St. John the Evangelist. An apartment was prepared for the Sisters over the parish hall from which their ministry continued until 1961. As you can see from the photographs, these early Missions touched the lives of many people. Through their untiring work and loving concern for the poor, the homeless and the indigent, our Sisters of that era helped to relieve some of the suffering that was so prevalent. Srs. Louise & Elizabeth, SSJD Photos of St. Michael’s Mission (clockwise from upper right): Mission itself (entrance behind the pedestrian); Srs. Clare (back) and Ethelwyn (front) with some of the children; A group of children (circa 1929); Fr. Smye with the children on the steps of St. Michael’s Mission.4
  5. 5. St. Johns House / Priory in EdmontonSt. Johns House on 92nd This small house closed in 1967 and the Sisters returned toStreet in Edmonton was a the Convent. In 1968, in response to a request of thesmall ordinary house behind a Bishop of Edmonton, the House reopened under the namepicket fence which belonged of St. John’s Priory with Sr. Rosemary Anne as the Sister-in-to the Diocese of Edmonton. Charge and a new ministry. The Sisters would conductOur ministry began there in retreats and quiet days, provide counselling, be a centre for1936 but I didn’t serve there the Western Associates and provide hospitality for guests.until the 1950’s. This small As with all our Branch Houses, the ministries variedhouse, operated by the Sisters, was a shelter for unmarried according to which Sisters were in residence.mothers and housed an average of 6 - 8 girls. It was a happy Memories of other Sisters who served in Edmonton:household in part because of the Sister-in-Charge, Sr. In the early ‘70’s, Sister Doreen and I were at the ‘OldThelma, who was not only an experienced nurse but a jolly Priory’ on 92nd Street. Her mother had made the Prioryperson with an infectious personality. Sisters some marvellous white habits. Doreen and I went We did not have a car so out for an afternoon walk in Borden Park. We found that shopping was done in the there was a rock concert going on, and the park was full of neighbourhood. We also kept young people. We knew that we would be noticed if we a large vegetable garden and walked into the park, but we did not turn back. Were we were generously supported ‘in curious? Were we trusting in our white habits to save us kind’ by the parish churches. from being laughed at? Well, the event was big enough for all that! I am remembering how the young people admired The winters were hard with our ‘Jesus shoes’, and how the warm autumn sunshine andSrs. Joyce, Thelma and Mary Grace lots of snow packed down by the loud music brought us together. Sr. Beryl, SSJDhigh winds. Since we used the chapel attached to anotherDiocesan house which was on 93rd Street, we had to shov- We had a phone call about a young girl who had run awayel our way across to it, especially for the early morning from home and was coming to Edmonton by bus whichEucharists. One morning when the snow drifts were high, was due in at midnight. Sr. Beryl and Patrick, an Englishwe wondered whether the rector of St. Faith’s Church, Boy Scout staying with us, went to the bus station. PatrickCanon Flagler, would be able to get there. Then we saw his wore his uniform so she wouldn’t be frightened. She sat inshovel appear above the snowbanks. He was a small man our living room in tears, with the head of Simon (the dog)and therefore lost to view. on her knee, eating a turkey sandwich, and partly laughing at him. Sr. Sarah Jean, SSJD We always had two cats, and one pair are memorable for their mischief. The Priory was in a very poor area and allowed us to be They hated being put down into neighbourly in a different way. We would chat to the the basement for the night and neighbours as we walked the dogs. We sometimes served always hid when evening came. sandwiches, looked after children whose mothers were at Occasionally they had their revenge. work or school, or offered refuge to someone who found One morning we opened the door our yard a safe place when drugs were a temptation. We and two innocent kittens rushed out. also had wonderful Associate gatherings. Sr. Brenda, SSJD When we went down the stairs, we discovered that the whole basement I remember the great Communityhad become a vast woolen cobweb. They had found some Suppers at St. Faith’s Church nextdonated wool stored in bags on top of a cupboard and it was door to the Priory: the Taizéwound back and forth around the various items of furni- Sunday evening services at theture. On another occasion they were found gyrating and Cathedral: my work in the gardenmewing in the bottom of the garment bags containing the (a new experience for me, born outgirls’ extra clothing. They also loved to ride around on the of necessity): and so much more.upright Hoover. But it is the people of Edmonton I most remember — those friendly,We aimed to create a happy ordinary home of giving and western Canadian folk similar tofeeling and trying as many who came did not know a happy those I knew from my childhoodhome environment. and youth in Saskatchewan.John Wesley said: “Do all the good you can, in all the places Sr. Wilma, SSJDyou can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, Clockwise from top left: Srs. Beryl, Jean, Jocelyn,as long as you ever can.” Rosemary Anne, Thelma-Anne Sr. Joyce, SSJD 5
  6. 6. The Hidden Ministries of a Convent 1st Row: Mother Aquila writing letters; Sr. Barbara instructing Novice Joan; 2nd Row: Srs. Marilyn & Esther preparing a meal; Srs. Aquila, Barbara, Rosemary Anne and Philippa serving dinner; 3rd Row: Sr. Joyce making altar breads;Sr. Joanna working on a piece of embroidery; Srs. Agnes, Maud & Veronica in the library; 4th Row: Sr. Mary Ruth gardening; Sr. Mary Ruth binding books; Sr. Ella ironing. (All photos are from the early 1950s)6
  7. 7. Our Black History HeritageThroughout its history SSJD has had blackSisters. In the early part of the last century, sev-eral came from the U.S.A. where segregationprevented them from joining ‘white’ orders.Others were from Canada or the West Indies.Regardless of colour, these Sisters were treatedlike all others and undertook whatever min-istries the Community required of them. Weprofile some of these Sisters below.(From the top and left to right)Sr. Frances (left) came to us from the United States and was Professed in 1918. She had been a member of the Sisters of All Saints andSt. Mary’s, an order of black nuns founded by the All Saints Sisters of the Poor. The Sisterhood disbanded in 1917. Here she is seen withNovice Joy.Sr. Marilyn (see also below) and Mother Ruth, CHS. Sister Ruth came to us from the U.S.A. because she was not acceptable to theCommunity she wished to join because of her black heritage. She was Professed in SSJD in 1922 and then left the Community in 1952to found the Community of the Holy Spirit in New York which she hoped would be a Community for those of different racial back-grounds. Sr. Frances and Sr. Ruth were both of Afro-American heritage although they both looked white.Sr. Constance came to SSJD in 1933 from Baltimore, MD, and was Professed in 1936. She has been in the Community for over 75years and celebrated her 105th birthday this year. She has held many positions including being in charge of the Church Home and headmistress of Qu’Appelle Diocesan School in Regina. She received a degree in Gerontology in 1977. Here she is seen receiving an Honorary D.S.Litt from Trinity College in 1984. In 1997 she published her autobiography, Other Little Ships. Sr. Veronica, Professed in 1944, was very musical and taught piano to many children. Here she is seen with a group of children at St. Michael’s Mission in Montreal.Sr. Edna, Professed in 1949, was an art teacher in New York before she entered our Community and was very interested in art therapy.She loved teaching Sunday School and producing pageants with the children and, of course, continued doing art in various ways mak-ing posters and banners.Sr. Marilyn came to us from St. John the Evangelist Church in Montreal in 1948 at the age of 21 and was Professed in 1953. She hada keen and active mind and loved books. During her assignment in the library, she was known for being able to find whatever book wasrequested. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with MS in her late 30’s. Sr. Helen Claire came to Canada from Jamaica in 1970 and joined our Community in 1998. She was Professed in 2005 and is now the Director of Associates in the Central Province of Associates (Ontario and the Eastern U.S.A.) 7
  8. 8. Memories of Maison St-Jean, MontrealThe Chapter of 1997 was described by one Sister as “a most amazingChapter”. It was at that time that the Sisters decided to respond to aninvitation from Bp. Andrew Hutchison to open a branch house inMontreal. There were many Sisters in the Novitiate at that time, so itseemed as if God was calling us to undertake this new ministry.Montreal appealed to us first of all, because the Sisterhood used to havea house there (St. Michael’s Mission) which closed in the early 60’s. Somany Anglophones (including many Anglicans) had left Quebecbecause of the controversy between Federalists and Separatists, and theSisters hoped to be an encouragement to the people of the Diocese ofMontreal, as well as have some ecumenical opportunities to witness toother faith groups. The house would be a place of hospitality, prayerand retreat. Srs. Anitra, Jean, Thelma-Anne, Elizabeth & Helena Bp. Andrew had appointed various forms of prayer or meditation. Sr. Elizabeth Ann was a men- Archdeacon Ian Stuchbery to tor for Education for Ministry and several other Sisters had a year or look for an appropriate place more of EFM while in Montreal. Sr. Elizabeth taught a 5-week course for the Sisters to live in the on meditation at Unitas during her first year in Montreal, and a 10- diocese. One day Ian was at an week course on meditation at the United Church Theological College ecumenical funeral and during her second year. Many of the Sisters took a course in Prayer Fr. David Collins, a Roman Companioning at The Ignatian Spirituality Centre and helped to start Catholic Franciscan, whose the Spiritual Directors’ Group in 2000. Sr. Elizabeth, SSJDcommunity was leaving St. Lambert, said to him, “You wouldn’thappen to know anyone who needs a Friary, would you?” “Well, yes, Memories of other Sisters who served in Montreal:as a matter of fact I do!” said Ian. It was one of those wonderful The most memorable event for me was cooking dinner on the BBQGod-incidences. Not long afterwards a few Sisters drove to Montreal for Sr. Elizabeth’s birthday and learning how to make a pavlova fromto see the house for themselves and realized it would fulfill our needs the internet for her birthday cake — then eating in silence because wevery well. It was in St. Lambert on the south shore of the St. Lawrence were in the Triduum!River, just a 20-minute drive from downtown Montreal. Another memory is having Valerie Charles show me how to take one bus from the South Shore over to the Island of Montreal, and thenSr. Jean, Sr. Elizabeth Ann and Sr. Sue (Peterkin) were the first Sisters walk through the underground shopping malls to get to the Cathedralto live in Maison St-Jean / St. John’s House in the spring of 1998 and for EFM. It was tremendous that she took the time to go with me andwere joined in the summer by Sr. Helena. The house needed some show me the way. Sr. Elizabeth Ann, SSJDrenovations, of course. For example, we didn’t need a four-car garagebut we did need a larger chapel than the one used by the Franciscans. The Christmas Br. Tom, SSF, was with us he invited Br. GabrielSo the four-car garage became a “three-car chapel” with a one-car from the Solomon Islands, who was working at the university ingarage. The house was large and could accommodate at least 10 Quebec City, to be with us. This was Br. Gabriel’s first time in Canada,people (and could hold consider- and he watched our preparations for Christmas with astonishment,ably more if the guests were young especially decorating the tree. On Christmas Eve he celebrated his firstpeople and willing to sleep on the Christmas Eucharist, having only been ordained a few months. It wasfloor!). The chapel was dedicated special having him with us. Sr. Sarah Jean, SSJDand the House blessed on March25th, the Feast of theAnnunciation, in 1999. I have many fond memories of the gardens and grounds of the house in St. Lambert for each season of the year. The trees, bushes, andFrom the beginning the Sisters in St. Lambert had a special flower-beds rewarded the least attention and care! An ancientrelationship with the local parish of St. Barnabas, but also reached out compost-heap in a corner of the garden gave new life to seeds andto the whole Diocese by visiting different churches almost every week, parings from the kitchen. Families wheeled their elders fromaccepting invitations to preach, lead quiet days or retreats, providing “Hôpital St.Lambert” on the paved drive around the house. Littlehospitality at the house, and serving on Diocesan Committees. children from the ‘garderie’ next-door struggled over our snowbanksDuring their 10 years in St. Lambert, the Sisters undertook a variety wearing their mini-snowshoes. Associates and other friends came for aof ministries including mentoring the students at the Diocesan spring-time clean-up and blessing of the garden and grounds. So manyTheological College, helping out at Mile-End Mission and teaching good memories! Sr. Beryl, SSJD8
  9. 9. St. John’s House, BCIn August of 2002 our Community at its General Chapter meetings And move in we did at the beginningin Toronto voted to accept Bishop Barry Jenks’ invitation to come of May! A couple of days after, Canonto the Diocese of British Columbia “to share with the people of the Peter Parker and his wife Marion,Diocese of British Columbia in the mission and ministry of Christ in dropped by and found themselvesthat place . . . to be a praying and prayerful presence in our midst”. helping us move some furniture from an old building owned by the Diocese!The invitation came at a time when the Community, while Marion and Sister Doreen pickedrejoicing at the possibility of having a presence and mission in this massive bunches of lilacs andDiocese on the west coast, was also grappling with the big issue of beautiful yellow roses (perfumedeciding whether to move the Convent to a new location. Normally, unbelievable!) and put them into all ofto begin a new branch house, we need four Sisters to form a small the rooms in bottles and containers. We transformed the house fromcommunity of prayer from which the ministry grows. It was the ‘stale’ to something akin to mid-spring in Victoria!wrong time for such an adventure. At the same time we were busy with engagements around theBishop Barry Jenks offered a perfect solution: “send two Sisters — Diocese and blessed with helpful visitors: my own sister Bev, Sr.we will provide accommodation for them at Queenswood House Patricia on holiday, who helped unpack books, Sr. Margaret Marywith the Sisters of St. Ann, whose community life they can share, who came for a holiday and stayed for the rest of the summer to helpand from that base develop a ministry amongst us in the Diocese”. us settle in. During the summer months, the Rev. Wayne and SheilaAnd so the Community voted to accept the invitation. Perhaps in Short assisted the Diocese by building a bedroom and interviewtwo years we could have our own branch house. room in the basement in order for the house to accommodate fourWe found ourselves very busy within the life of the Diocese. The sisters and a guest room. One large room in the basement, theestablishment of our prayer and community life, the welcome of the former rector’s study, was turned into a lovely Chapel.people of the Diocese and the work that we were being asked to do Today, six years later,in the church all provided a clear sign that indeed the Bishop’s invi- the house has gonetation and God’s call to the Community to the West were a blessing. through severalIn February of 2003 the Sisters of St. Ann, after several meetings transformations: aabout their own Community life and ministry at Queenswood, new shower down-asked if we could find other accommodation by July. While the stairs; the carportmission and ministry of Queenswood was to continue, the Sisters became a beautifulthemselves were making other living arrangements for their own new chapel; the gar-community members, so we would no longer be able to share their dens were “tamedcommunity life. and tailored”, and many Sisters have been part of the household. While our house is inMarch 2003 became a Victoria, our ministry is in the Diocese of British Columbia - amonth of meetings as beautiful and fascinating area that takes in all of Vancouver Islandwe all prayed and and many of the south and north Gulf Islands. Over the years wetalked about possible have been in all parts of the Diocese as we have shared in the life ofsolutions for alternate prayer and mission of the faith community here.accommodation. TheCommunity agreed tosend two more Sisters.The Diocese approached the parish of St. Peter’s Lakehill aboutrenting the rectory as a home for the Sisters. And so St. John’s HouseBC began.The house had been empty for some months. We said we wouldmove in once there were beds, a kettle, a pot and a frying pan!During April and early May, through the expert coordination ofBarbara Jenks with Ruth Brown’s help, the rectory was furnished by Doreen Davidson (Oblate) and Srs. Louise, Jocelyn, Jessica,generous donations of furniture, linen, kitchen utensils — even and Doreen outside the new chapel.outdoor summer furniture and a barbeque! Our beautiful home is atestament to the wonderful support and generosity of the Diocese. Sr. Doreen, SSJD 9
  10. 10. December 27, 2008 — The Feast of St. John in ChristmastideTwo days ago, we went with the In the memoirs of Hannah Grier Coome, our Mother Foundress,shepherds in haste towards the the following is written: “The nineteenth century gave many greatunknown, where we found a stable men and women to the Church, whose ‘names live for evermore’.and a manger, where we stopped Not least the Foundress of the first Anglican Order of Sisters inand gazed in amazement at God Canada; one well fitted by her vigorous mind, her active brain, herwho had become one of us, and fell patient, clever hands, to undertake this great work for God, and todown and worshipped. Today with tread with untiring feet for thirty-seven years, the thorny path of theJohn we run towards the unknown, pioneer in the arduous task of founding a Religious Order in thewhere we find an empty tomb, Church and land of her birth.”where we stop and gaze inamazement at this mystery of the How did she run towards the unknown along “the thorny path ofGod who is one of us, and where we enter that mystery, and where the pioneer in the arduous task of founding a Religious Order in thewe see and believe. Church and land of her birth”? As we look back over our history, we are aware of the faithfulness of God working amongst us, theThe full cradle and the empty grave — the mystery of the faithfulness of people who believed in us, Associates and friends whoIncarnation inseparably linked to the mystery of the Resurrection. were willing to face the unknown with the God who is with us, andTogether they are the fullest expression of God’s gift of constant giv- live into the possibilities of the future. We are aware that we areing, of God’s presence amidst human vulnerability, of God’s tena- recipients of the faithfulness of countless Sisters who have gonecious and everlasting love for each one of us and for our world. before us, who were willing to face the unknown with the God who is with us, and live into the possibilities of the future. ThroughoutIn both instances the people in the gospels: the shepherds, Peter and the years of our history, with the prayerful and practical support ofJohn — and we ourselves — come with a deep longing for God, an others, we have pioneered in many areas and entered into new andinner yearning to ‘come and see’. Today, the Feast of St. John in unknown situations of need and ministry in hospitals, orphanages,Christmastide, the beloved disciple whose name our Community schools, seniors’ care-homes, inner city work with the poor, Sundaybears, models that yearning for us and runs towards the unknown; schools, parish missions, hospitality, retreats and mission work.stands still and gazes, ponders; enters into the mystery and theunknown; and he believes. And for all that active work of ministry and outreach, there is one outstanding contribution that Mother Hannah gave to the historyThis is radical stuff: the unknown, standing still, mystery. . . It brings and future of the Community and the Church. It can be summedshivers up one’s spine; most of us don’t want to touch it with a up in her own words:ten-foot pole! And yet, all of us have that deep inner yearning. . . The object of the Community is first, personal sanctification; sec-As we come together today on this feast day of St John, to celebrate ond, active charity. The life of prayer and devotion must come first,with thanksgiving, joy and hope the 125th or the Community will soon sink down into a society of persons liv-anniversary year of the founding of the Sisterhood of St. John the ing together for the work they can do, instead of a society gatheredDivine, I believe there is a three-fold message in the gospels: three rad- together in the Church to live in loving devotion to Almighty God,ical and important questions that illuminate the past, call us to atten- irrespective of the work each member may accomplish. From thistion in the present, and challenge us for the future. Do we run side of the Sister’s life she draws her courage, and her inspiration fortowards the unknown? Do we stop to gaze, to linger, to stand still? her active works of charity: teaching, nursing, ministering to theDo we enter into the questions, into mystery, open to understanding? fallen, the aged, and the poor.These are questions for us as a Community, and these are questionsfor those of you whose friendship and support enable and challenge Our history has been punctuated by examples of running towardsus to be who we are, and these are questions for your own faith jour- the unknown, of stopping to gaze, to linger, to ponder with the Godney. They are questions for all of us as Church. who is among us, and to enter into the questions, the mystery, open to understanding.How do we run towards the unknown: fearfully, urgently, eagerly,reluctantly, happily, passionately? Is our race hesitant, the long way Over the years our Community has made three big moves: from aaround, short and direct with no detours, constant crossroads, no little house — a converted stable — on Robinson Street to thestops along the way or frequent resting places? It is probably all of Convent and women’s surgical hospital on Major Street; from Majorthese, and more. And this is okay! God is one of us: God’s gift of Street to the Convent on Botham Road; and from Botham Road toconstant giving; God’s presence amidst human vulnerability; God’s the present Convent on Cummer Avenue. Each of these moves hastenacious and everlasting love for each one of us and for our world been in response to changes that have challenged us to move into the— God is one of us. Our question for ourselves is not about how we unknown, changes that have caused us to stop and ponder, and torun, but are we faithful to the faithful God? struggle and wrestle with God, changes that have moved us into10
  11. 11. mystery and questions seeking understanding, and a deeper faith in It is such a hard task entering the mystery: the beloved disciple isthe God who is among us. willing to wait and to gaze without grasping until at last he feels drawn to step inside. It is the hard work of staying with an innerThe challenge, my Sisters, for us today, and for our future — the wisdom, of being open to saying “yes” to abundance, limitlessness,challenge for you, our friends and for your own faith communities freedom, and the realm of all possibilities. It is the hard work of— remains the same: are we willing to run into the unknown, to letting go of control, of my search for an answer (usually my own,stop and ponder, and to enter into the mystery? Are we willing to be thank you), of certainty, of security (of my own defining), of myopen to new understandings and a deeper faith? place, my time, my space! Wait, wait, wait — “O God, you are myEvery time we sit down to pray, every time we touch that deep God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you as in alonging for God, we become the beloved disciple and we start to run dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Ps 63:1) John, theto the tomb. We run because we thirst for God, but what we will beloved disciple, is willing to wait and to gaze without grasping untilfind we can’t possibly predict or control. When we run towards God, at last he feels drawn to step inside. He steps into the mystery — andwe always run towards the unknown. he saw and believed.Do we take the time to stop and gaze, to linger, to ponder - We need to honour our capacity for interiority: we need to honourallowing ourselves the opportunities to hover over things, over the the paradoxes of life and not just try to resolve them. We, all of us,contradictions of life, over our relationships? Do we take the time to are called to the contemplative gaze, where we can hold thingshold them gently in our hands and gaze at them until they move gently in our hands until they become friends. We need the wisdomslowly into that place where we make friends with them? of ‘stop’, of ‘wait’, of silence. As people of prayer this is a radical trust in God and the courage to face reality.I often hear the words of Jesus reverberating in my own head andheart, “Do you have eyes and fail to see? Do you have ears and fail This is radical stuff: the unknown, stand still, mystery . . .For mostto hear?” (Mark 8:18) I, like the disciples, am often bewildered by of us in our daily life this is a radical change of life-style! AsJesus. I often do not comprehend what I am seeing and hearing. a Community, is our life modelled by a radical search for meaning?I rush in with my own passion for God and for justice and for truth; As a faith community, is your life modelled by a radical searchsee literally without taking the time to ponder; and fail to enter into for meaning?the mystery seeking deeper understanding. Scripture has warned us As we give thanks for the beloved disciple John, and as we giveover and over again that the kingdom of God doesn’t come alive and thanks for our beloved Community today, as we take up theactive amongst us by only what can be observed! How difficult it is challenge of running towards the unknown, pausing to gaze deeply,to stop, and to stare, and to wait. and being willing to enter into questions seeking understanding thatWhen faith in the God of our clutching and striving crumbles, there enables us to move to a place of seeing and believing, we need tofinally may be enough emptiness in us to receive what is not acknowledge that we need each other, more than we could ever askself-generated. When love’s fire grows dim, and we stand in the or imagine! Those who loved us and blessed us in our beginnings leftdark, there finally may be a place in us to be filled with light other us with this challenge: “May the name which it [the Sisterhood] isthan our own. to bear, be an indication of the Love which is to pervade and animate it; that all the members are indeed, in a very special sense,How do we stop to gaze, to linger? How do we gaze without “beloved of the Beloved”; are ever mindful of the words “Little chil-trying to control, to fill or to grasp the situation? Eager as John the dren, love one another”. (p. 81 Hannah Grier Coome, a Memoir)beloved disciple was, when he actually gets there he pauses in the Sr. Doreen, SSJDdoorway and does not enter. Why? He stopped to gaze, not just tosee, but to see deeply. Love asks us to linger and go slow. Butwaiting can be hard. How do we muster the courage to sit still or tostand still and let ourselves be alone, and empty, and afraid? We don’tlike vacuums of any kind.Wait, wait, wait. While the world around us calls for action, motion,and anger, God is whispering a thundering “Wait!”.Are we willing to wait? Give up control? Can we allow aspaciousness where truth, healing, and authenticity can breathe?Wait, wait, wait — ponder with John. Do my own limited versionsof reality imprison possibility? Can we stand still without judgment,with compassionate attention? 11
  12. 12. ~ PLEASE JOIN US! ~ The 125th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine September 8, 2009 10:30 Eucharist followed by Potluck and Garden Party R.S.V.P. Guest House 416-226-2201, ext. 305 If you are able, could you bring one of the following according to the first letter of your last name: A-I casserole (meat or vegetarian) or cheese or cold meat; J-P salad; Q-Z dessertOur apologies for omitting the following name from the Donor Report sent with the Christmas Eagle: Dr. Gerald Hart ALTAR LINENSAltar linens may be purchased from Sr. Jocelyn, SSJD,at St. John’s House, BC. All linens are hand-sewn andmade from Irish Linen. Items which may be purchased include Fair Linens, Credence Cloths, Purificators, Lavabo Towels, Baptismal Towels, Fair Veils, Palls on Plexi Glass, Corporals and Sick Communion Sets. For details, please contact Sr. Jocelyn: Telephone: 250-920-7787 Fax: 250-920-7709Sr. Amy describing the afghan she made with the gifts of yarn she received Top: The Assistant to the U.S. Consul General is offering to renewat her First Profession Sr. Constance’s passport free of charge. Below: Sr. Elizabeth Ann is cutting Sr. Constance’s birthday cake. 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 e-mail: e-mail: bchouse@ssjd.ca12