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From the Formation Corner

Maco Cassetta, CND, Novice Director

It has been a while since the last Formation Corner Communiqué went out. It is not to say that we haven’t been busy about formation business at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in White Plains, NY. So much has happened this past year. First, Sr. Donna responded generously to a call from Visitation Province to help with our senior sisters at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Montreal, Quebec. This month, she will be returning to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Inter-Novitiate Community. We are glad to have her back!

Secondly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we temporarily welcomed our Candidate in White Plains. She had been in active ministry in a public school while continuing her candidacy program. In order to keep everyone at-risk safe at St. Columbus, in March when we were encouraged in NY to stay indoors and limit contact, it appeared like the best solution for our Candidate continued journey was to join us for a few months in White Plains. We had the space for self-quarantining while she continued to teach remotely. This arrangement, while challenging, proved to be an amazing and positive experience for all!

Thirdly, the pandemic and all that has been happening during this period influenced us in the house of formation to review our priorities. We have found ourselves needing to focus on the essentials personally, as a house, and locally –in the parish and community. These priorities made us aware of vulnerabilities evoked individually and communally because of the pandemic and together we responded generously to the needs around us.

The truth is, COVID-19 along with the racial unrest experienced due to the horrible death of George Floyd invited us to witness a new awakening to the systemic injustices just even in our neighborhood and to act consciously as Jesus would want us to. We have been responding to the cries near us by feeding the poor at a local pantry, connecting with parishioners who have been in isolation, and marching with our neighbors for equality because of our belief, THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER.

In addition, we were also invited to stand in solidarity with the many who wanted to respond to the current call to care for our common home. This year, we are helping support the parish’s new initiative in the care of creation along with the planting of and caring for a vegetable garden on the parish grounds.

As I reflect on all we have been about these last few months with the backdrop of what our purpose is as a house of formation –to nurture and mentor new members-- we are honoring this 400th anniversary of the birth of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys. We are propelled with new energy as Congregation de Notre-Dame to go to the peripheries and respond in hope to the cries of our wounded world.

Our Candidate officially will be welcomed into the novitiate on Wednesday, September 9th, 2020. Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony will need to be small and limited only to the two communities (St. Columba and Our Lady of Mount Carmel) and one or two members of the provincial leadership. The welcoming ceremony will be held at St. Columbus.

While local sisters will not be able to attend in person, we invite you all to pray with us on that day.

In the meantime, a formation schedule for the first part of the year is being drawn up. To note, we will need to adapt to new and creative ways of engaging the formation process. We are definitely in a new moment. Many classes will be held online due to COVID. Also, a consultative formation team is being formed to help with the planning of the novitiate program. The team will be comprised of sisters from both Visitation and Blessed Sacrament Provinces. However, it is my hope to involve as many sisters possible with the formation process. After all, formation is all of our responsibility and each one of us has plenty of experience and knowledge that we can each share with our novice. So stay tune on its evolution and an invitation!

As I sign off, for now, please pray for us especially during these challenging but also exciting times. May Marguerite continue to inspire the mission with courage and hope during this new age and moment so we can address the evolving needs with confidence at the peripheries of all lives.

Indeed… We continue the mission of Jesus Christ with Mary and Marguerite, Magnificat!



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