By Sr. Gwen Legault, O.L.M.
March/April 2009

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Much like music, a trip home for me is a beautiful connection with peoples, cultures, experiences, and memories. It has the ability to place me in the present moment or bring back the past.

That is how I felt during a recent trip home to Crysler, a tiny village on the Nation River, between Ottawa and Cornwall. In spite of the record-breaking frigid weather and a serious bus strike in Ottawa, connecting with family, friends, and places was a good way to begin another year.

Stopovers in Belleville and Alexandria, Ontario, are very significant in my life, allowing me to reconnect with people and places from my younger days. In Belleville is the School for the Deaf where I trained as a teacher of the deaf. Alexandria is my home diocese where I entered Our Lady’s Missionaries in 1957, the year that our founder Fr. Dan Macdonald died. A visit of gratitude to his humble gravesite recalls memories of visiting Penny McIntosh long before I dreamed of becoming a missionary. Penny was one of the first to join Our Lady’s Missionaries and was missioned in Nigeria where before long it became clear that she had cancer. She returned to Canada and died shortly after at the age of 33, on May 18, 1961.

Responding to my missionary call has offered the gracious gift of sharing life with the people of Mexico and Nigeria, completely diverse cultures but both with a population of deaf children waiting to be educated. How lucky I was to have acquired the necessary skills to respond to these children’s needs and to work with people who are now carrying on what I began.

Now I’m doing volunteer work in Toronto, one of the most multicultural cities in the world. I find myself looking for those who are from Mexico or Nigeria, and I meet them at Providence Healthcare and at Becoming Neighbours, the Joint Apostolic Ministry for refugees and newcomers formed by religious congregations.

Working with these new friends, I’m inspired to continue to try to live a life of compassion, hope, and healing. They are truly blessings for me. They place me in the moment and bring me back to the past.∞

Sacred circles

By Sr. Myra Trainor, O.L.M.
March/April 2009

In 1857, the Sisters of St. Joseph opened the House of Providence, a place of welcome for immigrants, orphans, widows, and the sick. Today, Providence Healthcare provides rehabilitation and continuing care, long-term care, and community outreach support programs. As a volunteer visiting the sick in residence, most of whom are advanced in years, I notice the many photos in their rooms, photos that hold sacred memories of more vibrant days. There are images of family celebrations and reunions, awards from working days, and blessings from the Holy Father. These displays make our sharings easy and meaningful.

Another aspect of my ministry also involves photographs. I am privileged to classify and preserve the photos in the archives for Our Lady’s Missionaries. These photos speak of the energy of some 60 years as a missionary community.

There are pictures of community life, religious professions, departures to mission, and work on mission. Precious to our collection are our mentors and teachers, Sr. Odelia and Sr. Mary Ida of the Sisters of St. Joseph. In 1949, these Sisters risked leaving their own community for a time in order to teach and model religious life to Our Lady’s Missionaries, a new congregation founded by Fr. Dan Macdonald for mission in other lands. It was indeed a challenge for them.

It is with gratitude after many years in mission that I find myself once again connected to the St. Joseph Sisters and their rich heritage.

As T.S. Eliot wrote in The Dry Salvages, “What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

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