We are pleased to introduce the new candidates in Scarboro's four-month lay preparation program for overseas mission. On April 30, they will celebrate their missioning ceremony when all but one will make their three year commitments to serve overseas as Scarboro missioners.
Glenn Harty, Thailand
I am a husband, father and grandfather from Penticton in beautiful British Columbia. There is a line in the movie Braveheart that says, "All men die, but not all men really live," and going to mission overseas is, for me, another case of pushing the envelope. Life is a journey and I am a pilgrim on that journey, trusting God that my life will never end.
I am very much impressed with the professional manner with which the Administration Team at Scarboro Missions has handled the application process for the lay program. I feel assured that while Anne and I are overseas we will make a difference. I look forward to the challenges of living a simpler lifestyle and thank Scarboro Missions for giving me the opportunity to do that.
Anne Harty, Thailand
I am in a wonderful time in my life, my children are settled in their own lives and doing well. I have good health and life is good. At home in Penticton, British Colombia, I volunteered at the local hospice and was affected by how quickly lives can change and how short life can be for many.
Now I feel there is more to life than acquiring, using and questing for more material goods. Even travel for pleasure seems wrong. I have also been changed by Mother Teresa's example of simplicity and her call to serve the poor by action and deed.
Through prayer and discernment we found Scarboro Missions. This organization has been very helpful and professional, yet at the same time caring and prayerful. God has chosen me, therefore I choose to honour and serve God to the best of my ability.
Gwen Westwell, Malawi
I am from Halifax, Nova Scotia. A few years ago, our parish in Halifax sponsored a Sudanese refugee family from the Kakuma Refugee camp in Northern Kenya. Much of the time spent with the family was in teaching English as a Second Language to the children, as well as life skills to the adults. Michael and I were very fortunate to be accepted as part of this family and shared in many aspects of the Dinka culture. This was the beginning of our discernment to mission overseas.
I have always danced to the beat of a different drum and believe that missioning overseas will allow me to use my talents as they were meant to be used. I believe that this is truly my vocation; that I am being called by Jesus to continue what he started so many years ago.
Michael Westwell, Malawi
Originally from Montreal, Quebec, I joined the Canadian Navy in 1982 and served for 20 years as a telecommunications specialist. My service in local parishes across Canada has included music ministry, prison ministry, and Catholic Religion education at the secondary school level. Following our marriage in 2001, my wife Gwen and I were active in ministry together at St. Patrick's parish in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The process of discernment that led me to Scarboro Missions was based in part on shared experiences of aiding refugees in Halifax. These experiences provided a solid foundation that shored up an inner drive and spirit to serve as overseas missioners in Africa.
Miriam Wheeler, Guyana
I came to Scarboro Missions from St. Andrews West, Ontario. I have been a widow for 15 years and have two wonderful daughters, Paula who lives in St. Andrews and Tonya who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My grandsons, Cean, age five, and Nelson, age two, are the delight of my life.
Scarboro Missions has always been a part of my faith life. My husband and I hoped to join the lay mission program when we retired. Terry's sudden death six months before his retirement, followed by my cancer diagnosis, redirected my life's path.
I have been abundantly blessed and my life experiences have not only strengthened my faith in a God who loves me in my weakness, but have also instilled in me a desire to make a small difference in the lives of people I meet.
Sr. Sylvia Obrigewitach, Nicaragua
What has been important in my life is Jesus and living my commitment to Him to build His Kingdom as a Sister of Sion. Also important is God's love for me and God's faithfulness to me throughout the ups and downs, weaknesses and joys of my life.
What has drawn me to mission beyond my own country and culture is both an inner call from God and an invitation during my religious community's 2004 Chapter meetings to live with the Sisters of Sion in Nicaragua or El Salvador. There is also a strong readiness at this stage in my life to be with, to support and to share hope with people in very poor and hidden places. I am being invited to walk with them because they are valuable; they are not forgotten. I am being invited to give my time, my presence, my love. I know Jesus is already present there in the sacred ground of their lives.
I was also drawn to Central America to join in solidarity with my Sion family to work for justice and peace together with them. I need to learn other ways than the way of the First World; I need to learn from within their lives and situations what justice means and how to live the Gospel.
For the past 15 years I have been working with the poor, marginalized and First Nations peoples as an adult literacy practitioner, which included community development work living in Saskatoon's inner city neighborhood.
In December 2005 I celebrated my 40th anniversary as a Sister of Sion and was blessed and sent by my parish of St. John Bosco to go to Nicaragua. I have joined the Scarboro Missions preparation program to help me with cross-cultural adaptation, to learn from Scarboro missioners what they do so well: transformation for mission-to be bearers of the hope and reality of God's universal love for all humankind and how to live the Kingdom of God among us more fully.
Tuesday evenings throughout February and early March were community prayer nights for the lay candidates. Candidate Sylvia Obrigewitach, a Sister of Sion, led the group through an evening of remembrance in honour and thanksgiving of our ancestors. Part of the evening was devoted to remembering and honouring Jewish women of the bible.
We are thankful to have Sharon Willan facilitating Scarboro Missions' 2006 lay mission preparation program.