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Jubilarians celebration

Joan Lewis, CND

We Remember, We Celebrate, We Give Thanks 

I think we can all agree our get together and time of celebration was AMAZING, AWESOME, WONDERFUL, INDEED A BLESSING.

Our first words of thanks go to a God of our creation who gave us beautiful weather, scenery and people who made all this celebration possible. The reputation of the Maritime hospitality was proven over and over again. The CND Visitation hospitality was to experience the joy, happiness and blessings of being together.

First to arrive on Sunday July 1st at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Retreat Centre in Summerside were Sisters Patricia Arsenault, CND, Rosemary Shannon, CND and Joan Lewis, CND. The first contingence from the USA arrived: Sisters Cathy Molloy, CND, Margaret Farley, CND, and Nancy McDermott, CND.

As plans were made a small comment at the end was « Nothing is written in stone. » This was realized when we received a message that Sisters Marilyn Medinger, CND, Margaret Egan, CND, Kathleen Dorney, CND, and Julia Lydon, CND, coming from the USA couldn’t land in Charlottetown due to fog. Only they can describe what it was like to circle around above the clouds at 11 p.m. and to be told they would return to Montreal. The announcement came like the words of the scripture “Sisters Patricia Arsenault, CND, Marie L. Arsenault, CND, and Sue Kidd, CND why are you standing here staring into the heavens? Your sisters have been taken back to Montreal, the roots where your history began. They will return tomorrow to this same terminal.”

Monday July 2nd Sisters Bernadette Gallant, CND, Réjeanne Bourque, CND and Hermine Bernard, CND, arrived from Andrews. With a short night in Montreal our four sisters touched the soil of Charlottetown. I didn’t see any of them bend down to kiss the ground, more bent over from weariness. Greetings of relief and welcome were exchanged and on to Summerside where all were awaiting their arrival.


Fatigue did not deter the desire to begin the evening by “The Walk Down Memory Lane” Each one came with a symbol and their story. Because of the delay the listening was dispersed throughout the week. After a few sisters shared that evening a social followed and early retirement.

Tuesday July 3rd : Each day the magic time was 10 a.m. to gather and venture out. Monday to Cavendish and Anne of Green Gables. Of course no one could resist a treat at Cows, famous for their ice cream.

Each night at 7 p.m. there was a prayer prepared by two members of the group followed by a social. Each evening…

FUN, LAUGHTER AND LOTS OF EXCHANGE OF EXPEREINCES AS WELL OF REMEMBERING OUR ADVENTURES….Who had travelled the furthest? Where did you go? What was the country you enjoyed the most and would like to return?

Wednesday July 4th : a perfectly planned guided tour by Sue Kidd, CND, of Charlottetown, meeting the Fathers of Confederation (University Students playing the role), entertainment by a group of young people and a picnic lunch. Of course the Engineering Building at UPEI with memories of the wonderful contribution of Sister Libby Osgood, our novice accomplishments were a must on the agenda.

Next stop along the way was Andrews where we were met by Sisters Catherine T. MacDonald, CND, and Noreen Hickey, CND, who were unable to join us in Summerside. However, they welcomed us with open arms, a delicious snack and a prayer beautifully prepared. We were happy to greet the other sisters at Andrews who also awaited us.

Thursday July 5th : a day of gratitude to God for our 60 years as Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame. We were blessed to have Sister Regina McQuaid lead us in a day of retreat. We were invited to pray with Hosea 11 : 1-4. The Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys and Psalm 139. Quiet time followed by sharing which was enriching as well as a proof of the many blessings we have received during our 60 years of profession.

Of course no one can come to the Maritime provinces without participating in a caelhi. A great time was had by all as we entered into the caehli with relatives of Sister Joan Marie Chaisson, CND.

Friday July 6th : led by Sister Patricia Arsenault we enjoyed a tour of the Acadian area in P.E.I. passing through Sister Hermine Bernard CND stopping grounds. All were in awe at the beautiful setting, church and cemetery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Pat was proud to show us the Bottle Chapel and houses constructed by her relatives. Used vigil light containers adorned the benches and altar. As the rain came it did not dampen our spirits. We continued on to enjoy a typical Acadian lunch. Because of the weather we didn’t complete the tour, however, everyone was happy to have a respite and recuperate enough energy for the evening and the long journey to follow the next day.

Saturday, July 7th: in my mind and heart I could hear the voice of Nana Mouskouri singing « I don’t want to say good-bye » Yes, we were leaving some behind as we prepared to journey to Sydney, N.S.

How could we thank Sisters Joan Marie Chaisson, CND, Marie L. Arsenault, CND, and Sandra the cook for making our time an unforgettable experience.

After a long day on the road we arrived at Holy Redeemer Convent Sydney. With an unbelievable welcome by Sisters Gwen O’Neill, CND, and Catherine V. MacDonald, CND. As we walked into the dining room we were overwhelmed by decorations, an artistically set table and a beautifully decorated cake. A celebratory meal was prepared which we welcomed with gratitude.

Four of the sisters stayed at Holy Redeemer while three sisters took up residence at the Health Care Centre.

Sunday July 8th: we were welcomed by the sisters at Parkland. It was a joy to celebrate Eucharist followed by dinner with the CND residence. However, as you are beginning to realize we don’t stay still for long. Thanks to Sister Elaine Hawrylak, CND, we were led to Louisbourg where we entered into our CND history. This year the Sisters and Associates are in our house #11 where our history is exhibited with pictures and video. We were happy to have our picture taken in front of Sister Helen McPhee’s painted picture and art work. In visiting the site and the monument of our sisters we recognized the valiant sacrifices the sisters of our community made to teach the woman and children. We indeed stand on the shoulders of many brave and dedicated women.

Monday July 9th: Sister Eileen Roach, CND guided us through the Cabot Trail. Although it was a long afternoon, the scenery was spectacular. The reward came at the end when we stopped at the Baddeck Lobster Resturant for a delicious meal, which satisfied all the steak, salmon and lobster lovers.

Tuesday July 10th: brought it’s difficulties and a witness of Cape Breton hospitality. The story is long so without too many details it was impossible to rent a car. Fortunately we met Sheldon who agreed to take some of the sisters to the Ferry for P.E.I. in his four wheel drive truck.

A quick visit to our CND Health Centre which gave us an opportunity to spend time with Sister Helen McPhee, CND, another member of our ceremony now in residence there.

It was a fitting send off to spend the evening at Glace Bay, the miners museum. We were aware that many families of our sisters worked in the mines. We enjoyed supper and the choir of the Men Of The Deeps, past miners. A recognition and welcome was announced « Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame » celebrating 60 years in the community » At the end of the performance some of the sisters were turned into miners, wearing the miners hats. Memorable photos were taken of the group.

Wednesday July 11th: Another farewell this time « Farewell to Nova Scotia » All returning to P.E.I. leaving Sister Joan Lewis, CND, behind to continue her service at the Health Centre. Before the departure numerous pictures were taken with Sheldon, the truck and three of the group who travelled with him to the ferry. Sheldon entertaining the sisters the whole trip… a venture for all, including Sheldon who had never before met sisters.

One group drove onto the ferry while those with Sheldon left him and walked onto the ferry. Arriving on the PEI side they were delighted to see Sister Regina McQuaid, CND, who came to assist the travellers in their return to Summerside. Sister Margaret Egan, CND, went with Regina while the other five sisters went on to Summerside. The care and concern of our CND sisters was/is overwhelming.

Thursday July 12th: Time for more departures. After a wonderful experience in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia the sisters of the USA began their journey home. With hearts full of gratitude, love and a little sadness all are again scattered physically, however united in mind, heart and prayer. What a wonderful grace of the group gathered to celebrate.











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