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Graced Aging… Keeping the Energy Alive

Twenty-two (22) Congregation of Notre Dame Sisters gathered at the mother house for the weekend of September 23-25, 2016. This gathering was an opportunity to pray, reflect on input and share in small and large groups on the topic of graced aging. Using her well-honed skills and broad experience, Sister Nancy Sylvester, IHM, gently led us through an unfolding and rewarding process.

Friday evening began with the sharing of symbols. Each sister had been asked to bring a symbol that describes how they want to live into their graced aging years.

There were many opportunities for reflection and sharing as Sister Nancy introduced us to “The Five Why Process” and the Powers of the Universe … Energy for Aging. “The Five Why Process” helped us to identify what we feel when we reflect on getting older. We were asked to consider what the four (4) Powers of the Universe – Cataclysm, Transmutation, Transformation and Radiance tell us about how we understand and approach aging and what do they offer to us to approach aging in new ways?

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General Chapter 2016 Environment and Social Committee

During General Chapter 2016 the Environment and Social Committee (chaired by Sisters Marie L. Arsenault and Mary Jane Leonard) placed a glass pot with some bean plants on each of the nine tables. These living organisms reminded us of our Chapter theme “Rooted in Jesus Christ: Let us Cultivate Love and Compassion.” The sisters and associates at each table watched daily, noticing how the roots snaked their way under the earth, the long lanky stems stretched upward, leaves unfurled and how some plants mysteriously returned to compost. The living cycle of life was present in all its wonder, beauty and vulnerability. Towards the end of Chapter there was a ritual where someone from each table brought the plants and soil to one central container and we were told that this soil would continue to support life in another setting. I took this soil home to The Small Plot and a week ago Sr. Ann Broderick and I mixed the rich black earth with some soft peat, and a little bone meal before we forked it into the raised beds. The life of these plants and soil continues as does the life of Chapter as we take it from Cornwall into many other life venues. 

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Westport celebration

On Sunday, September 18, 2016 many Congregation of Notre Dame Sisters attended Holy Mass and the dedication of a memorial monument in Westport, Ontario. The memorial, on the site of the former Notre Dame Convent next to the church, recognizes the CND Sisters' great contribution to Catholic education, as well as to parish and community life, in Westport and area for over a century.

The Plaque reads:

TO THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME CONVENT, WESTPORT, ONTARIO

This memorial was created from foundation stones of Notre Dame Convent and St. Edward's Roman Catholic Continuation School. The two-storey red brick buildings were constructed on this site in 1886 by Father Michael J. Stanton and the parishioners of St. Edward's Parish, Westport. The convent was home to a total of 106 Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame until their departure in 1987, after which it served as a centre for parish activities until its demolition in 2011. The high school closed in 1967 and the new St. Edward Catholic School was constructed in 1970. The CND Sisters were central to the life of the school, parish and local community throughout those 101 years. This memorial was dedicated on September 18, 2016. 

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