photo left to right(back row): Sr. Mary Joan FaFleur, Sr. Stella Syzbisty, Sr. Peggy Flanagan, Sr. Margaret Mary, Sr. Marlene Schuster, Sr. Leona Fitzgerald and Sr. Reinalda Kloosterman left to right (front row): Sr. Patricia Kelly, Sr. Rose Bekar and Sr. Mary George
A remarkable 590 years of religious life is being celebrated this year by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. Ten Sisters celebrated their Jubilee anniversaries at Providence Motherhouse in June 2008. Gratitude was also paid to the five deceased Sisters who would have been celebrating Jubilee 2008. In his homily, Monsignor Father Don Clement said “Our message to Jubilarians today is carry on faithful servants in the ministry the Lord has given you.” Kingston Archbishop Brendan O’Brien thanked the Sisters for their apostolic services and prayerful presence. He added, “Thank you for recognizing the presence of Christ in the people you served.”
The following is the address to Jubilarians from General Superior, Sister Pauline Lally.
Like Mary in the Magnificat, God took one good look at you and look what happened!
50, 60, 70 or even 75 (though we do not celebrate 75 for some reason) years ago you embarked on an adventurous journey that was beyond your wildest imaginations.
You never would have dreamed that:
- you would have been a major player instrumental in opening up the west especially in Saskatchewan, to Catholic Health Care
- you would have become a principal of a prestigious high school and be bestowed with the papal medal
- you’d be writing poetry to be published and sending challenging Letters to the Editor; sometimes even under your mother’s maiden name, “Alice Bell”
- you would be the one holding St. Francis de Sales Parish in Smith Falls in unity as each pastor came and went.
- you would have nursed not only in traditional health care in both the east and western Canada but introduced a wholistic care through reflexology and reiki at Providence Spirituality Centre.
- through your great love for animals and people you would have brought them together in pet therapy giving great joy to the patients at St. Joseph’s in Edmonton.
- you would have been a teacher and principal for many years even obtaining your Supervisory Officer’s papers and in retirement (whatever that is, for a nun!) be a delight to the girls in McKinley Centre with your recitation of poetry.
- you would have left your farm in Bancroft and nursed way up in northwestern Alberta in a little hospital where you served in many capacities ending up in the Kingston prisons!
- a young gal from Montreal would shine not only in the culinary arts but in the fine arts as well, with your beautiful paintings and a voice meant for the stage.
- this “jack of all trades” would serve not only on teaching and health care mission in Canada but would be driving a jeep in the foreign missions of Guatemala as well.
Yes, Sisters, it’s been quite a journey hasn’t it? I’m sure you never would have dreamed of such, as a young girl. A Journey full of opportunities.
However, it’s not only been a Journey of Adventure but a Journey of Inventure, as well, as you’ve journeyed from the familiar to the unknown which became familiar, only to be called once again into the unknown as you accepted each new move and assignment for the sake of the mission.
From each new “ticket” you received a new set of eyes and ears with which to perceive the world.
Each place has been “holy ground.” “All we do our whole lives long is go from one little piece of holy ground to another.”
It’s been on a Royal Road because you have been following Jesus — WHO is THE WAY; who is the very JOURNEY itself.
No doubt there’s been, sacrifice and pain, but much awe and wonder and joy as well. That’s part of living fully. Life usually forces us to live out both the agony and the ecstasy calling for profound trust in the overwhelming Providence of our God.
The Christian message gives us the light and courage to say to the darkness, “I beg to differ.”
And you haven’t done it alone. Twenty years ago the Associates took for their theme song, “Companions on the Journey.” It’s been your song for a long, long time.
You’ve had wonderful companions for the Journey — some still with us, and some, like Sisters Kathryn LaFleur, Helen McFadden and Mary Publow, Mary Cabrini and Marcia Goodwin have taken the Great Mysterious Journey that each of us will embark in total simplicity and total poverty, chastity and obedience, in complete trust and complete faith.
They are with us. They celebrate with us today. They would never forget us — nor we them. Let us be grateful for these Sister companions as they celebrate and be blessed by them today within the Communion of Saints.
Our lives are fed by kind words and gracious behaviour; we are enlivened and healed by expressions of respect and dignity – all Sacraments of Consideration and Courtesy that you will experience and be fed with this weekend.
So, my dear Jubilee Sisters, continue to enjoy your Journey – especially this year, your Jubilee Year. Make it special. That Royal Road is still spread out before you. Your journey isn’t over yet. Your Jubilee Journey has just begun – a special journey all its own.
Tread lightly on the earth and share with your companions and others the beautiful vocation of a Sister of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul which is yours. Wrap your heart in gratitude, humility, and wonder.
As the poets say,
Dwell in possibility
With a love in every widening circles
That stretch across the world.
Continue to keep an eye open to the poor along the way especially the poor among us.
May your hands and hearts always remain open to them.
Take with you a mystic map so that you can find invisible meaning in the events – bumps and delays, disappointments and surprises.
The fruit of your pain is never lost as you continue to journey that Royal Road With Your Beloved.
And I hardly need to tell you to do it with JOY knowing that God’s great love for you is unconditional and forever.
You have nothing to lose. It’s almost too good to be true, isn’t it?
God’s Blessings on us all.