Coming home by leaving home

Sister Jeannette Filthaut returned to Providence Motherhouse this Fall after many years of ministry in Western Canada. She wrote about her experiences in a poetic style.


BY SISTER JEANNETTE FILTHAUT

Sixteen years at home in the west (2003-2019)
     These days were some of the challenging best!

Nine years after leadership – a creative sabbatical on Salt Spring Island
     With hiking, basketry, painting, Tai Chi – Island Rain forest was truly grand!

Pastoral ministry in Calgary Diocese for only one year
     Called forth several teams who became so dear.

Home in Edmonton where I was born
     Brought 15 years of a gift I can’t scorn.

My family became ever dearer to me
     As with newer ones I became the Grantie. (Great Auntie)


Last meeting with Friday morning prayer group.

A career in teaching hatched to process facilitation with travel and experiences in a variety of places in the U.S.A. and Canada.

Facilitation with various religious communities and their Associate memberships; Retreat and workshop ministry at PRC (Providence Renewal Centre) all enriched me through the research in preparation, as well as the diversity of the groups. 

Community building with diverse groups of people called me forth as I lived alone. Teaching ESL (English Second Language) at Changing Together Centre for Immigrant Women and research work in Human Trafficking called forth compassionate presence in the midst of tears and learning and built a unique support community. 

A second bout with Cancer in the middle of training for Spiritual Direction called forth the deeper contemplative listening, so that being a Spiritual Director allowed me to be the broken vessel present to embrace the rich stories others offered for their discernment. 

Volunteer ministry with JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) and the Boards of Western Catholic Reporter and Star of the North Retreat Centre called forth and challenged my reflective and strategic thinking.

Being closer to my family has been a gift these past 16 years for they have blessed my life through their generational openness to life, love and acceptance. Elderly friends who’ve embraced their own journeys of life in aging gracefully, have shared with me a richness that mentors me forward in my own aging process.

The collaboration I have so richly experienced in working with others; broken bones and reliance on the help of others; have each taught me vulnerability that has carried me forward to new horizons.

I can’t begin to describe how much I value all I have learned and how much I treasure the beautiful memories I have. Living alone has called me to become more contemplative and to treasure the varied community experiences I have enjoyed. God’s creation in front of me each day reminded me to trust that “ALL SHALL BE WELL!”

And now a new journey begins at home in our Motherhouse in Kingston where I have been warmly welcomed “home” by our Sisters, staff and friends. JPIC is still on the agenda, and so is Spiritual Direction and Retreat ministry, along with being a presence with our Sisters in these changing times.

With Gratitude to our Provident God for the lessons of each day.


Facilitation work with Star of the North Board of Directors.
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