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25 Years of Associate Relationship

Margaret Berger, New Victoria, Visitation East

Celebrating 25 years of Associate Relationship, reflecting on these many years gives me much appreciation and love for all those involved with my spiritual growth and the many directions which Associate Relationship has led me.

Sister Gwen O’Neill nicely invited me to consider becoming an Associate. At the time I was two years away from retirement and was feeling some stress. Over a period of one year I studied the Life of St. Marguerite and Associate Relationship. St. Marguerite’s life, her writings and charism greatly appealed to me. I was struck early on in meeting of the great hospitality given by Congrégation de Notre-Dame Sisters and later found hospitality in every gathering and experience.

My first meeting with other Associates was with a large number from Sydney Mines who were joyful, friendly, active Associates – I was very impressed. Next, I found myself travelling to St. Joseph’s Renewal Centre where I made many yearly retreats that gave many aspects of spirituality and friendships. While there I met Sisters Catherine MacEachern and Eleanor Vautour among many others who were concerned and encouraging CNDs.

Sr. Alma MacLellan was a great mentor and retreat facilitator. I found myself working with her and a committee on developing policy and constitution. Again this gave a broader sense of Associate Relationship and always with great hospitality.

Soon I was attending a Provincial Chapter in Antigonish which introduced me to a great conference on the knowledge, spirituality and mission of CND with representatives from far and wide.

With Sr. Alma and Associates from the Atlantic Provinces, I made a pilgrimage to Montreal entitled “In the Footsteps of Marguerite.” What a wonderful experience this was, learning first hand Marguerite’s work with families at Maison Saint-Gabriel with the sick, and working the farms under very trying conditions yet with great vitality. I recognize this vitality in many Congrégation de Notre-Dame Sisters and Associates. At Maison Saint-Gabriel I discovered Marguerite’s love of the Blessed Sacrament, which encouraged me in my love of the Eucharist – I am a Eucharistic person.

Our meetings held at St. Martin’s Convent, New Victoria, a warm welcoming home, had great direction in learning by Sr. Gwen O’Neill and Sr. Florence Rankin. With the convent’s closing we found ourselves meeting in our homes with some adjustments, then came a time without Congrégation de Notre-Dame Sisters for our immediate group. I didn’t take the leadership but fortunately Winnie Odo took on this responsibility with great sincerity and sensitivity – we are very grateful for Winnie.

Associate Relationship developed and evolved into a great school of knowledge and mission, going into greater directions, internationally, including and covering world-wide problems. Technology enables us to click into whatever interests us and whatever our abilities can understand; however, what is wonderful is that expectations are not set. As Associates, we can become involved in as much as we are comfortable with.

I am very grateful for Associate Relationship and give honour to all who led me to the charism of St. Marguerite. Associate Relationship has given me growth and development of spirituality, a ministry of Prayer, sense of community mission, loaded with hospitality. In the Spirit of Mary, Marguerite, I give thanks to God for this Associate Relationship.

St Joseph Province East Associate Committee Meeting in the late 1990s in Pictou


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