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Visit to the Maritimes

Stéphanie Manseau

Photo: Sister Bernadette Gallant, Sister Eleanor McCloskey, Sister Réjane Bourque, Sister Simone Abbass and Sister Charlotte Lockhart

From November 7 to 11, 2016, a team from the Communication Services of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame visited the sisters who live in the Maritime Provinces. During this all too short visit, we recorded a certain number of video interviews (in English and in French) that you will soon find on our social media. Meanwhile, we would like to share with you some of our travel impressions and fond memories of the visits that filled our days. When one visits the sisters, one enjoys generous hospitality, lively conversations and the opportunity to grow a little through contact with these devoted teachers. To all of you who offered us such a warm welcome, Thank You!

“Whatever be our age, (…) 
our mandate and the milieu in which we exercise it …

Most of our visits were to the “larger houses” where there are the greatest number of sisters in one place. Among them were some residences for the elderly. In fact, whether it is in Sydney (Parkland; CND Health Care Center – MacGillivray Guest Home), in Charlottetown (Andrews) or Fredericton (Windsor Court), the sisters pursue their mission of presence to those who live in residence with them. They are no longer in the convent but they still live in community! Each sister makes an effort to welcome and to integrate the new residents. At meal times everyone greets one another. Sister Lorraine and Sister Helen have keen eyes:  they notice when some have more trouble than others to get around; they inquire about their health. All the residences we visited had devoted and attentive personnel. Among the employees was a former student of one of the sisters who was very happy to be reunited with her teacher!

The sisters support one another in many different ways: accompanying each other to medical appointments, running errands, etc. They provide services for others: one sister visits the extended health care centre once a week to wash the patients’ hair. Sister Hazel runs a charity shop (Shalom Shop) from which all the profits are given to the foundation of the same centre. Sister Réjeanne meets a young intellectually handicapped woman to teach her how to write and with whom she has developed a special relationship. Sister Charlotte provides bereavement support and a listening ear to those suffering a loss when they need to talk about it. These are just a few of the examples of ways the sisters continue to be involved in their milieu.

Sister Hazel at the Shalom Shop

Faith at the centre of people’s lives

Ecumenism is very clearly felt in the Maritimes and people of different religious beliefs work together.

At Holy Redeemer Convent in Sydney, meetings are held by different groups who wish to deepen their spirituality. The convent is also a second home for many people who are receiving cancer treatment at the Sydney hospital. Hospitality is a value that is dear to the Congrégation de Notre-Dame and which is always at the heart of its actions!

Ecumenical meeting with Sister Gwendolyn 

Sister Susan Kidd is chaplain at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) in Charlottetown. The evening of our visit, she had been invited to give witness to consecrated life in the context of the course “Intro to Catholic Studies.” During this same class, one of the students, a grand-niece of Sister Eileen Doiron, presented her research on the Congrégation de Notre-Dame.

Sister Susan Kidd gives witness to consecrated life in the context of the course “Intro to Catholic Studies” at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) in Charlottetown.  

In Fredericton, Sister Eleanor McCloskey, who is involved in the local parish, organizes retreats, upon request, for different groups. If the theme inspires her, she does it! Recently she worked on the theme “What lights your fire.”

Involved and interested

During all of our visits, we always had lively conversations. The sisters are interested in current affairs and are always well informed. Our visit took place at the beginning of November and all the sisters were wearing a Remembrance Day poppy. Several followed the news coverage of election night in the United States around which many discussions were held the following day. Social justice is something that is important to all of them. Sister Bernadette, for example, is interested in the matter of the privatization of water and raised public awareness on the issue by means of a “letter to the editor”[1]. Informed and involved!

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There is so much to say about our wonderful visits… but the best thing to do is to let the sisters do the talking! Follow our upcoming videos to learn more!

 

 

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