Dear Associates, Oblates and Friends,
already creatively engaged in some of these areas. There are other ministries, however, that we would like to know more about.
This issue of The Eagle gives me a wonderful opportunity to share with you the events of the past few months, culminating in our Annual General Chapter in August. This year’s theme for Chapter was Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” And it was indeed
We learned about Natural Church Development (NCD) which has been introduced to the Diocese of Toronto and we have chosen to undergo the survey this fall. Several Sisters have offered to work with parishes on the passionate spirituality component, an area in which we have much experience.
a time to discuss, and a time to listen; a time for education, and a time to work; a time to discuss, and a time to decide; a time to meet, and a time to adjourn; a time to trust, and a time to step out in faith. It was a time to discuss and make decisions about our way of life and how we are being called forward as a community to continue our life of love, prayer and service. An important part of our discussion was our outreach ministries, both present and new ones to which God might be calling us. We looked at Council of the North/First Nation ministries that we might engage in, with excellent input and concrete suggestions from Archbishop Terence Finlay who had just returned from the 6th Indigenous Sacred Circle. We found that we were already making a real contribution in using the Indigenous Sacred Circle daily prayer cycle for the people of the Council of the North. We had also participated in the Amazing Grace project and in the past have offered space in the Guest House to clergy from the Council of the North areas who need rest and refreshment in a context of prayer and community. We hope to be more intentional about this ministry of hospitality in the future. Through a presentation on the Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion by the Rev. Maylanne Maybee, we discovered that we are
Our Episcopal Visitor, the Rt. Rev. Colin Johnson facilitated a two-day discussion about our mission and ministry. He challenged us to be pragmatic women who are both adventurous and risk-takers. He reminded us of Frederick Buechner’s quotation about vocation being “where your deep gladness meets the world’s great hunger”. He also had us look at the criteria for doing ministry through the three-sided model of passion, skills and resources, all three being necessary to engage in ministry effectively and with integrity. Bp. Colin presided at the Eucharist and preached a homily based on the story about Ruth. He used that story to illustrate an idea that England’s Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, shared with the Bishops at Lambeth 2008, about the difference between a “covenant of fate” and a “covenant of faith”. A group can be bound in a covenant of fate when they suffer together— face a common enemy and huddle for comfort and mutual protection. A covenant of faith is made by a people who share dreams, aspirations and ideals. They come together to create something new because they have a common hope. We rejoice in being a community of faith! We reaffirmed that our primary ministry is the ministry of prayer, centred around the chapel where we gather each day to raise our voices in praise and thanksgiving. This past year at the Convent we began using a Taizé Evening Prayer which includes candlelight, repetitive chant, meditation and anointing for healing. In the coming year this service will be held on the 3rd Friday of each month at 5:00 p.m. We invite you to join us at this service
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or any of our other services and to share times of prayerful silence both in Toronto and in Victoria. Music is a vital part of our prayer ministry. Many of the Sisters praise God through performance or composition. Their creativity and inspiration was celebrated with a concert on September 27 in the convent chapel. The history of the Sisterhood was commemorated in words and music, performed by Sisters and friends, and enhanced by a display of the visual arts created by the Sisters. (See p. 16 for an outline of the rest of the 2009/2010 concert season.) We acknowledged the importance of our ministry of hospitality. The Guest House hosts many retreats and quiet days, including speakers such as John Bell of the Iona Community. Themes this coming year include Sacred Laughter, Sacred Art for All Saints, and Angels in the Wilderness. Quiet Garden Days, inspired by the Quiet Garden Trust in England, provide an opportunity to relax, renew and rest in the beauty of God’s outdoors. (For more information on the ministry of hospitality, see the Guest House report on p. 6 or click on Food for the Soul on our website.) We recognized how much we value the ministry of pastoral care and healing services provided by six of our Sisters at St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital (see p. 5). They take an active role on numerous care teams at the hospital, ensuring that the patients’ care is concerned with all areas of the person — physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Many patients have told us that this balanced approach has made a huge difference to their rehabilitation. We recalled the enthusiasm engendered by The Gathering held in May when 90 Sisters, Associates, and Oblates came together at the Convent for five days. It was truly a time of celebrating SSJD and looking together at our future.
The importance of our Associates and Oblates cannot be underestimated. Sr. Patricia Marion created a map marking the places where our Associates and Oblates live which she showed us at the end of Chapter. This will help us to connect with them all, especially the more geographically isolated ones. In the coming year, each of the Sisters will have a list of Associates and Oblates to pray for each week. We continue to believe in lifelong learning for ourselves and others. In 1995 we began two new programs at the Convent: Women at a Crossroads and Education for Ministry (EFM) both of which continue to thrive. Each summer up to 12 women have come to the Convent for four weeks to discern God’s call in their lives and the next steps on their spiritual journey.
Mentors and discerners for 2009: Back row: Srs. Elizabeth, Constance Joanna and Elizabeth Ann. Front Row: Susan Lee, Ronnie Cumberbatch and Rhonda Cross
This year, as part of our 125th Anniversary celebrations, we held a reunion on the weekend of July 10 for those who had attended this discernment program over the past 15 years. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces, and to reconnect with old friends. Sr. Amy, Elinor Snell & Susan Lee If you know someone who might be interested in Women at a Crossroads, please show them the ad on the back page of this Eagle.
We made new friends, were reacquainted with old ones, and explored our spiritual path together with the help of Margaret Silf who spoke on the theme of “Something More”. One of the participants, Norah Bolton did a daily blog on her experiences at The Gathering, capturing this once-in-a-lifetime event in word and image. The blog and photographs of The Gathering are available at our website at www.ssjd.ca. Many suggestions came out of the reports of the small groups on the last day of The Gathering, some of which are listed on p. 5.
Integral to our ministry of education and spiritual formation is the convent library housing 30,000 books on theology, scripture, biography, history, fiction and many more. Guests are free to browse and read at leisure, or may ask for assistance or suggestions from one of the Sisters. Guests also like to look over the new books available in the Book Room (often referred to as “Temptation Alley”!). Books available for sale often reflect the liturgical time of
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year or the retreat or quiet day in session at the time. The Sisters in Victoria also have a splendid library. We took time to remember some of the joyous occasions: • Sr. Constance’s 105th birthday which included the visit of John Nay, the US Consular General in Canada, who presented her with a certificate in honour of her being the oldest known American living in Canada. She also received several other certificates and many congratulatory letters; • Sister Amy’s Life Profession when we rejoiced in this important step in her life with SSJD; • Sr. Anitra’s 25th anniversary of her Life Profession which she marked by renewing her vows in front of her Sisters, family and friends. These joys were tempered with grief, however, at the sudden death of Sr. Peta-Ann in May (see p. 14). We miss her happy, open smile which never dimmed during her difficult battle with cancer, and rejoice that her daughter and her Sisters were with her when she died. She is now a member of the Communion of Saints. Our life as Sisters and our ministry to the church and the world is only possible with the help of many people: • our employees who cheerfully and competently assist us behind the scenes; • our volunteers who generously contribute their time and energy in many areas; • our donors, without whose help we would be unable to continue our ministry (see separate report to our donors). As we look to the future we know that one of our greatest priorities is encouraging more vocations. It is vital to the future of the Sisterhood. One suggestion which came from our discussions at Chapter was to make connections with ecumenical partners such as the United Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Lutheran Church (ELCIC), to advertise in their papers for vocations and the Women at a Crossroads program. We are continuing to improve our website and would invite you to go online at www.ssjd.ca and see what is new and how we are serving. And so Chapter came to an end—to be followed by an eight-day silent Retreat for Sisters and Oblates led by the Rev. Han van den Blink from Elmira, NY. His theme was “Acquiring the Mind of Christ” and he shared with us what he believes to be the four characteristics of the Mind of Christ: compassion, truth, humility, and presence. He spoke passionately about the need to use these qualities to reach out to others and shared many personal experiences as he enlarged on this
theme. He also shared with us two of his favourite icons. He is seen here with a copy of the 6th century icon of the Pantocrator from St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula which he so generously gave us as a gift at the end of the retreat. In this icon, Fr. Han saw Jesus’ overwhelming compassion and understanding for each one of us. This annual silent retreat is extremely important for us in renewing our lives in Christ Jesus and giving us strength for the journey. We have come to the end of our 125th Anniversary year. We have done so much to celebrate 125 years of our life and ministry and have come to a renewed sense of mission and ministry. On September 8, 2009, our Foundation Day, our Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz presided at a Festal Eucharist. We were joined by many Associates, Oblates and friends for this very special occasion.
It has been good to look back and to learn from all that has been accomplished by those who have gone before us. Now we must look ahead. There are a few changes in Sisters’ roles this fall. We welcomed Sr. Jessica back to the Convent after three years at the B.C. House. She will be part of the pastoral care team at SJRH. Sr. Patricia Marion has gone out to B.C. for her branch house time and Sr. Doreen will take on the role of Associate Director for the west along with her other responsibilities as Head of House. There will be new committees and working groups at the Convent, and much work to be done. Whatever happens in the future, we will continue to do what we have been called here by God to do in the spirit of our patron St. John, “to live to the glory of God in fulfilment of the two-fold law of love. . . committed to lifelong conversion and to growth in union with God through the undivided service of Jesus Christ. In Christ we are both called and sent to be open and responsive to the needs of the church and the world, and to pray and work for peace, justice, unity and the integrity of creation.” (SSJD Rule of Life) Our life of prayer anchors us and enables us to do the work we are called to do. May we continue to discern where “our deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger”, and live oriented towards being in a covenant of faith. To God be the glory. Sr. Elizabeth Ann, SSJD The Reverend Mother
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St. John’s House, BC requests can be made to Sr. Jocelyn at St. John’s House, and she is available to speak to altar guilds and anyone who is interested in learning to embroider altar linens.
Several big events have been a focus at St. John’s House in the Diocese of British Columbia since our last report after Chapter 2008. Our carport has become the beautiful Chapel of St. John; this was made possible through donations — a large gift of $20,000 from Gladys Kirwin and approximately $18,000 in generous donations from hundreds of friends, Associates and Oblates. The chapel was consecrated on November 8, 2008. The new garden around St. John’s House: with the construction of the chapel, the garden needed to be dug up and replanted, again made possible through generous donations. The garden at the time of writing is an amazing, colourful extravaganza that has been the source of much joy. A new bedroom for St. John’s House: with the arrival of another Sister this meant creating and furnishing another bedroom. The former chapel was turned into Sr. Jocelyn’s bedroom. Bev and John Evjen (my sister and brother-in-law) came and helped build furniture and put the room together — well supervised by their cocker spaniel Charlie. The move of the White Work Department of SSJD to St. John’s House: Sr. Jocelyn does the white embroidery of altar linens, and so with her arrival St. John’s House is now the location of the white work for the Community. All altar linen
Those who have been resident at St. John’s House for the past year: back row — Oblate Doreen Davidson, Srs. Jocelyn and Doreen; front row — Srs. Louise and Jessica. We have travelled from one end of the Island to the other, visiting churches, doing retreats, quiet days and workshops — always we rejoice in the beauty of the Island and the hospitality of the people here. Trips have also been made to the Dioceses of New Westminster, Edmonton, and Calgary. And we have welcomed into our household friends, relatives, Associates and Oblates — to share hospitality around our altar, to share our hospitality around our dining room table, and to share our life and hospitality with those who have come to stay for a few days’ retreat, refreshment or quiet time in our guest room. As I write this report, we are anticipating the upcoming leave- taking of Sr. Jessica who is returning to the Convent on August 13th after three years at St. John’s House. We will miss her cheerful presence, compassionate caring, and outreach to our Associates, friends, and those who frequent Our Place, a drop-in centre on Pandora Street in Victoria.
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We are also looking forward to welcoming Sr. Patricia Marion, a novice in our Community, for her “branch house” time beginning in September.
From St. John’s House in the Diocese of British Columbia, we all send our love and prayers. Please pray for us that we may be a faithful house of prayer and hospitality.
Sr. Doreen, SSJD Head of House
Pastoral Care at St. John’s Rehab Hospital About the same time as the renovations began, a water pipe burst in the hospital and caused damage to a number of offices and the entrance to the chapel. For months the hallway was an obstacle course as rooms were partitioned off for renovation. Fortunately the entrance to the chapel was closed for only a few days. The vision of SJRH is to be at the forefront of specialized rehabilitation and this has led to plans to build a 49,000square-foot Centre for Ambulatory Care. 2009 saw the beginning of Phase 1 called the “Enabling Project”. This involved renovating the ambulatory entrance and the loading dock; redeveloping the driveway onto the property (“Road to Recovery”); and enlarging the parking area on the west side of the hospital to compensate for the parking spaces being lost for the new building. Phase 1 is now almost completed but with a dusty spring and wet summer, going to or from the hospital posed an adventure for the Sisters trying to walk over there and for convent guests out for a walk.
In spite of all the chaos at the hospital, the Sisters continue to visit the patients daily and organize chapel services. We are very grateful to all our volunteers who help make these services possible. Sisters have had the opportunity to attend various workshops and conferences; for example, the hospital hosted a workshop on native history and health care services in Toronto which was very informative. At times life has seemed rather chaotic, but God has been in the midst of it all, reminding us to laugh!
Sr. Brenda, SSJD Director of Missions
What ideas emerged from the small groups at The Gathering? For Associates and Oblates • Bring friends to Associate Quiet Days. • Invite people to become Associates — tell them about the Associate program. • Invite people to attend a quiet day, retreat, Taizé evening, Sundays at 4:00, or a Sunday supper. • share Margaret Silf’s talks with parish groups (use DVD). • write an article about The Gathering or the Community for your parish newsletters or the diocesan papers. • e-mail the convent (email@example.com) and ask for “Food for the Soul” or other brochures to display on your parish church bulletin board and take to your local synod. • have a display board at your local synod • organize study groups — e.g., Diana McHardy and Jean Robinson are beginning one at the Convent in October on Margaret Silf’s book, Inner Compass. • pray for new vocations — if you know someone who might be interested in becoming an Associate or a Sister, talk to them about it. Plant the seed.
For the Sisters • Produce a Power Point presentation which Associates or Oblates could share with others in their parish. • Put video clips on the SSJD website of Sisters sharing their stories. • Put an SSJD link on the website of every diocese in Canada. (Associates/Oblates could also ask to have a link to SSJD put on their own parish church website.) • Have a Sunday supper 3 or 4 times a year expressly for the purpose of inviting Associates/Oblates to bring their friends; there would be an opportunity to tour the Convent, attend Evening Prayer, and then chat to the Sisters over supper. • Look at various ways to bring more young people to the Convent. • Attend synods of other dioceses than the ones in which we are resident and tell the delegates about SSJD.
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A Home for the Heart: The Convent Guest House “Let all guests be received as Christ.” (Rule of Benedict) The Guest House team, along with all the Sisters, have worked hard these past twelve months to enhance our ministry of hospitality, retreats and spiritual direction and to make the Convent truly “a home for the heart”. In addition to Srs. Constance Joanna, Amy and Patricia Marion, Daniel Brereton, and Ellen Stangolis, a large group of committed volunteers, including many Sisters, help with hospitality at the reception desk and in the Guest House itself. Our ministry continues to grow. From September 2008 through August 2009, we had 155 different groups come to the Guest House (in addition to the “Food for the Soul” programs sponsored by the Sisterhood); and the overnight occupancy was 3,540 (compared to 3,260 the previous year). We continue to welcome groups and individuals from many denominations, ethnic groups, religious orders, youth groups, and vocational groups (e.g. chaplains). We also host church committees and ministry teams. There is a continued rise in use of the Guest House by Asian evangelical individuals and groups, and we occasionally have the opportunity to host an interfaith group as well. These are important opportunities for the Sisters to increase our awareness and friendship with Christians of other denominations as well as people of faith from other traditions. It is also an opportunity to connect with the wider, interfaith contemplative tradition, for what we share in our lives of prayer and meditation is the ground of other religious faiths, and holds tremendous hope for the development of world peace. Our connections with ordinands and future clergy continue to grow. In addition to pre-ordination retreats from many dioceses, we host the discernment weekends called ACPO (Advisory Committee on Postulants for Ordination) twice a year, as well as gatherings of the Diocese of Toronto Postulancy Committee and ongoing clergy formation programs. These connections all provide present and future clergy and lay people with an opportunity to experience the resources of the Guest House – something that they can then share in the future with their parishes. We have established an individualized sabbatical program, and are looking forward to making the Guest House more well known as a resource for people (both lay and ordained) who are seeking a time of renewal as they take a break
from active ministry.
There have been a number of enhancements to our ministry of hospitality this year: •
The Convent has become affiliated with the international Quiet Garden movement and we have begun offering Quiet Garden Days during the summer. These days provide a quiet space (indoors as well as out) for people to spend a few hours reconnecting with their spiritual centre in the awareness of the beauty of God’s creation – both in “nature” and in the human spirit.
We have begun to establish partnerships with parishes which desire to enhance their spiritual health. In particular, a number of Sisters have formed a team to help parishes which have scored low on the “Passionate Spirituality” scale of the Natural Church Development questionnaire.
With the help of a grant from the Diocese of Toronto, we have produced brochures and posters (all available in PDF format on our website) to let people know about the Guest House offerings.
We have doubled the size of our team of spiritual directors (Sisters, Associates and friends of SSJD) to meet an ever-growing desire for the ministry of spiritual accompaniment and individually directed retreats.
We have seen an increase in requests for Sisters to lead retreats for parish groups who come to the Convent, and for Sisters to lead retreats outside the Convent, as our ministry of spiritual formation travels far and wide to parishes throughout Ontario and beyond.
We are grateful to all those who come to the Convent Guest House and who share in our prayer as they seek spiritual nurture. The blessings that we receive are far greater than any we can offer, and we thank you all for that.
Sr. Constance Joanna, SSJD
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The Soul Food of The Gathering “There’s a story growing inside you....,” says Margaret Silf in the preface to her book “Roots and Wings”. She continues: “inside everyone of us there is a story gestating that is as big as the universe, and as mysterious, and as mindblowing and as beautiful. And the amazing thing is that when we even begin to explore the narrative of this great story, we find that we are growing inside that story.” At The Gathering we began this personal and collective exploration, seeking “something more”; we weren’t sure what. Was it a better understanding of the incarnational God, an experience of the presence of God, a deeper relationship with God? Probably we would have said something like that. But more would be required of us! Margaret Silf’s skill as a retreat director and storyteller was evident from the first session. A quick but psych-textbookaccurate overview of how humans, through the life cycle, deal with need really engaged us mid-life (am I too kind here?!) listeners. We were all on the same page. Then, with a slight tweak of the psych. text, Margaret slipped in some challenges. Do we really believe that evolution, human and spiritual, involves not just the demanding cries of babyhood, the acquisition of knowledge in adolescence, the fruitfulness of mid-life, but also the loss of illusion, the letting go, the decreasing energy, influence and power of later life? (We had all nodded our smiling recognition of the aging processes!) But in the fragility of life, are the Beatitudes counter-intuitive? or necessary for our survival now? And have we thought about the losses Jesus suffered: loss of the trust in his closest friends; loss of trust in systems and human justice; loss of dignity; even loss of the presence of God? There followed days of intense mind-stretching, reflecting on topics such as God in Creation — growing from a single cell to the complex person I am now; descriptions
of the Kingdom of God in 21st century language; personal memories of spiritual consolation; how to use Gospel narratives to discover and integrate into our own lives the attitudes and reactions of Jesus; imagining ourselves as the 12th disciple. To be honest, I could have spent a week, even a lifetime, on any one of Margaret Silf’s brilliant, imaginative, life-giving reflections. She widened and deepened our vision of the Way of Christ; she gently encouraged a refocusing from doctrinal certainty to personal vulnerability, mutuality, mystery. Lest you are starting to think this must have been heavy, esoteric, theological stuff, let me reassure you. Each session was grounded in reality, through anecdotes and vignettes drawn from Margaret’s own daily life. In the tradition of great story-tellers, she had us all enthralled, mesmerized, a bit off-balance, amused, intrigued. Very effective! Because in that safe space we were enabled to drop our defenses, re-examine our values (even doctrines!) and consider what “becoming fully human in the vision lived out for us by Christ” means for us: giving up our attachment to security, certainty, achievement, hierarchy, and creeds, in favour of vulnerability, mystery, failure, interdependence and shared experience. The kind of change of heart we explored in those days together happens as women and men share their disillusionment, their hopes and their experiences of the presence of Christ day by day, and live their everyday lives alert to the nudgings of the Spirit and the mysterious and wonderful grace of God. As we explored stories and meanings — “life, the universe and everything” — I think we experienced some growing pains ourselves. Maggie Boulter, Associate from Glasgow, Scotland (seen here with Sr. Jessica.)
Margaret Silf’s Seven Themes on “Something More” • • • • • • •
Is there more to life than just working, shopping, surviving? Is there more to the spiritual quest than just worshipping on Sunday? Is there more than happiness? What about spiritual consolation? Is there more than just me or just us — what about our choices that affect the whole of creation? Is there more than discipleship? Are we also called to be sent out as apostles? Is there more than homo sapiens? Are we evolving spiritually? More is less — discovering the ‘more’ when we shed the many layers of the ‘less’.
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Snapshots of th Row 1: Left: Bunny Stewart (O) ready to receive guests; Right: Jane Winstanley & Mary Smith chat in the lobby. Row 2: Left: Margaret Silf signs books for Wendy Nelems; Right: Sr. Elizabeth Ann welcomes everyone to the open session on Tuesday evening. Row 3: Left: Coffee time in the refectory: Sandra Clark, Crystal Joy Yoanidis talk to Lynne van der Hiel; Right: Jean Gandon (O) and Betty Gillham. Row 4: Small groups: Left: Ruth Corston & Liz Smith; Right: Virginia Sanderson & Janice Barnes (O).
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of the Gathering Row 1: Food for the Spirit Left: Bp. Gordon Light on the guitar; Right: Janice Barnes (O), Sr. Constance Joanna, Margaret Silf and Sr. Wilma. Row 2: Food for the Body Left: A talking meal Right: Sr. Elizabeth (MC for The Gathering) serving soup. Row 3: Food for the Soul Left: The Rev. Tim Elliott entertaining us with Jazz on Friday evening. Right: Group 10 letting their hair down and living it up. Row 4: (left to right) Linda Hill reporting back for group 9; Sr. Anne giving a concert before the final Eucharist; Sr. Amy who organized the food for The Gathering (O) Oblate
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The Monastic Rhythm of The Gathering
Rooted in Good Soil
The Gathering was set in the monastic rhythm of prayer, study, work, and leisure; and corporate prayer was the setting for all other activity. Liturgically, each day was unique, starting with our Patronal Festival of St. John (May 6th), then a day of special intention for unity in the church worldwide, followed by the Feast of Julian of Norwich, and finally, an ordinary day, a feria. Each day was offered to the Glory of God as ninety people raised their voices in song, listened to the scriptures, and broke bread together.
On the first morning of The Gathering, Sr. Elizabeth told the assembled household of Sisters, Associates and Oblates that the days would follow the monastic horarium: Margaret Silf’s wonderful talks would be our “study” to be followed by group work with a purpose — growth and reflection for the individual, the group, and the whole gathered community.
Everyone received a Morning and an Evening Prayer booklet which laid out the Divine Office with its various introductory responses, litanies and responsories for Major Saints and the Resurrection. We sang several different canticles, and three different versions of the Lord’s Prayer. In addition Sr. Sue wrote two new hymns for St. John and for The Gathering. Chanting the psalms is an age-old monastic tradition. The simple chants reverberate in the core of one’s being, awakening that call to Source, and driving us on to find that ‘Something More’ in God. Eucharist was offered daily at noon. We were blessed to have Bp. Colin Johnson, Sr. Constance Joanna, Bp. Gordon Light and Bp. Linda Nicholls as presiders and their homilies were inspiring. They too encouraged us to seek the ‘Something More’ and to live the Gospel today, seeking and promoting peace and justice at home and in the world. Compline was the final Office of the day on two of the evenings, a time to look back on the day that was past, give thanks for all that had been achieved, and trust ourselves into God’s care. The chapel was always available for silent prayer and meditation, reminding us that it is also through silent waiting on God that we are nurtured. The keeping of the Greater Silence from 9 pm to 9 am helped to put the activity of the day into a balanced framework of speech and silence, activity and reflection.
The groups of 8 or 9 people, a mix of Sisters, Associates and Oblates, were each shepherded by a leader and assistant and were spread throughout the Convent — in meeting rooms, library, even the refectory, giving a twist to the phrase, “food for thought”! The flowering plant placed in the middle of each group circle was an ongoing reminder of the Holy Spirit’s presence, the wondrous beauty that flowers out of gathered community and shared insight. The lively group discussions following each talk were structured around handout questions exploring aspects of the theme “Something More”. Challenged by topics such as “More is less”, “More than meets the eye”, “More than happiness”, “More than ‘just me’”, “More than discipleship”, each group was asked to delve deeper through further reflection. We laughed, we listened, we pondered, we shared, we bonded, and yes, we worked hard! An added bonus was the planting of lasting seeds of friendship. No longer were Associates and Oblates just names or photographs but real people, friends to be cherished. One group resolved to keep in touch by e-mail, a wonderful way of weaving together a group that had come from all over Canada, even from the United States and Scotland.
The Sisters, the heart of the Convent, set the tone of reverence and peace within the chapel. The Daily Office is at the core of their being and we experienced just how much can be accomplished when the day flows out of deep prayer. Rhythm and balance are integral to Convent life and I, for one, came away with a renewed determination to live this way each and every day.
On the last morning, the groups were asked to focus on questions concerning new directions that the Sisterhood might explore. The outcome was truly inspiring - a wealth of suggestions that the Sisters would be able to discuss further in the upcoming Annual General Chapter. As one group, using hot pink signs, vividly reminded the gathered community, we are all called to be the missing 12th disciple!
Doreen Davidson, Victoria Oblate
Linda Wheeler, Ottawa Associate
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Pray, Work, Play As I write — three months after The Gathering — the sun has broken through the morning blanket of fog covering this east coast city of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. Gulls are squawking in the distance. (Whoops! Sorry, my feathered friends, I meant ‘singing’!) It’s a long way from Greater Toronto and the convent setting; yet many aspects of that week in May remain quite vivid — and nourishing! For months I had been dealing with one challenge after another, including a family member moving away and bouts of illness. It was on-again, off-again for my going to The Gathering; but, there I was — walking down the tree-lined avenue toward the hospital — which I had taken, inadvertently. Very quickly this road wrongly taken proved to be anything but a mistake. My attention was subtly captured by a scene to my left. There, huddled close to an old tree stump, was a colony of mushrooms — all individually distinct, yet together creating one whole community. As I stood and stared, I sensed an inner movement that catapulted me into that realm of mystery later referred to by Margaret Silf — that mystery to which nature invites us. In retrospect, it seems I was faceto-face with a symbolic assurance that I was leaving that aloneness and dreariness of the past months and entering a milieu of togetherness and energy.
our evening’s rendition of “You Are My Sunshine”, with the vibrant dancers dressed in brilliant yellow shirts and red headbands; as well as the feast of poetry, song and S’mores! Like the individual mushroom, I was huddled for several days in the midst of this Community of Sisters, Associates and Oblates — a Community with a 125-year history of individuals walking ‘‘side by side”, guided by their baptismal covenant and a monastic Rule of Life. Now, as I finish writing, the gulls are still ‘singing’, and my heart is full of gratitude to each and every person with whom I nestled for five wonderful days at The Gathering. What a wonderful gift it is to be connected under the SSJD banner as we, individually and collectively, discern and experience the “Something More” in everyday life — whether in fog or sunshine! Thanks be to God! Nancy French, Newfoundland Associate 125 Years of SSJD (sung to “Jesus Loves Me”) God has a vision of this world, Which Margaret helps us to unfurl, Stones and pearls and dreamwork too, O Holy One, we do love you. S S J D Chorus: One hundred twenty-five Years of SSJD; One hundred twenty-five Of HOSPITALITY. Love Prayer Service “Something More”, it is the theme. “Let’s all choose to live God’s dream. Consolation — face the sun; Desolation — is no fun. S S J D
How wonderful that in our togetherness at The Gathering, Benedictine leisure was honored, as well as prayer, work and study. While two reflective walks to the beautiful garden shrine were quite leisurely for me, it was invigorating to experience the awesome smorgasbord of creative entertainment that lasted a whole evening on the Friday! How fitting that our gifted M.C. and musician, Tim Elliott, opened our evening of entertainment with the song, “Side By Side”, after which we took a walk down memory lane as the Sisters role-played the beginnings of SSJD, with our gifted — and playful — Mother Foundress, Hannah, at the helm. I have a sense that she, too, would have enjoyed
Focus inward, woe is me! Serving outward, Glory be! Light the candle which we bear All our gifts do rest on prayer
S S J D
Tell me, what would Jesus do? Gently transform me and you. Filled with God’s Grace from above, Guide us in the world God loves. S S J D Jesus loves me, this I know, For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, They are weak but He is strong. S S J D
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Associated Milestones Admissions since September 2008: Newfoundland: Rev. Stella Evans of St. John’s. Nova Scotia: Grace Janes and Karie Lynn Maloney of Halifax; Rev. Laurie Omstead of Hubbards. Ontario: Rev. Suzanne McMillan of Peterborough; Catherine Wright of Sunderland; Eveline Maedel of Nipigon; Midge Coleby of Belleville; Andrea Scott of Scarborough; Rev. Anna Claire Swingler of Toronto and Lucy Magnus-Burke of Toronto; Gwedhen Ouckama of Peterborough. Saskatchewan: Mervyn Crozier-Smith of Regina. British Columbia: Catherine Speechley-Pell of Port Alberni; Ven. Bruce Bryant-Scott of Victoria. Special Anniversaries in 2009: 25 years: Hilary Fisher, Laura Roome, Ruth Padmore, Rev. Kay Richardson, Nancy Tordoff-Ives, Judith Claus, Frank & Winifred Finnie, Lavinia Greenwood, Audrey Irving, Rev. Alex Thomas, Paula Thomas, Nancy Wigen. 30 years: Nancy French, Rt. Rev. Philip Poole, Ven. Karen Dukes, Ruth Laybourne, Sam Moffat-Schaffner, Louise Rockman, Rev. Dorothy Daly, Rev. Joan Waters-Garner, Rev. Barbara Barnett, Lorelette and Walter Knowles, Rev. Daniel Van Alstine, Rev. Bruce Cowley, Peggy-Anne Field, Rev. Dennis Frayne, Sheila Martin, Rev. Christine Ross, Mavis Teasdale. 35 years: Barbara Moore, Margaret Bennett, Marilyn Jackson, Rev. Bryon & Lynda Nash, Pat MacLean, Joan Francis, Meg Soulsby, Kathryn Berryhill, Elizabeth King, Nora Dewhirst, Rev. Marion Grove, Rt. Rev. Gordon Light, Elizabeth Murray, Rev. James Tiffen. 40 years: Rev. Gerald Loweth, Mary Lupton, Christine Montgomery, Rev. Robert Griffiths, Rev. Pauline Tiffen. 45 years: Joan Kohner, Lorna Lloyd, Kathleen Meggs, Diane Maybee, Rev. Helga Eliott, Rev. William Whitla, Eleanor Bowerman, Gladys Kirwin, Ruby McBeth. 50 years: M.A. Hobbs, Rev. John Jordan, Rev. Thomas James, Rev. William Rainey, Margaret Ritchie, Anne Bird, Rev. John Martinson, Rt. Rev. Barry Curtis. 55 years: Rev. John Speers, Reta Smith, Rev. Allan Challacombe. 60 years: Dorothy Johns 61 years: Rev. Douglas Candy, Muriel Newton-White, Margaret Wackett 62 years: Ada Potter 63 years: Joan Trowles, Dorothea Howell
64 years: Rev. C. Russell Elliott, Muriel Browne, Muriel Longstaff 65 years: Ven. William Wright 66 years: Rt. Rev. David Somerville 68 years: Pamela Christie Deaths since August 1, 2008 (Admission date in brackets): Aug 21 Dorothy Durrett, Ottawa, ON (Aug 6/87) Sep 3 Madge Newman, Sidney, BC (Jan 16/72) Sep 23 Muriel Walton, Langley, BC (Jun 16/67) Sep Marjorie Henderson, Wahpeton, ND (Aug 1/65) Oct 13 Jean Lummiss, Bobcaygeon, ON (Jul 22/89) Oct 14 Eileen de Pencier, Vancouver, BC (Feb 26/66) Dec 21 Margaret Nelson, Lethbridge, AB (May 31/73) Jan 2 Jean Cunningham, Salt Spring Island, BC July 3/82) Jan 11 Amy Rogers, London, ON (Jun 29/89) Jan 22 Rev. Rhodes Cooper, St. John’s, NL (Jun 14/57) Feb 10 Patricia Thompson, Orillia, ON (Apr 8/96) Feb 11 Ruby West, Scarborough, ON (Jun 4/78) Feb 23 Elizabeth Holbrook, Dundas, ON (Apr 25/62) Mar 4 Elspeth Newton, Guelph, ON (Apr 4/63) Mar 21 Olwyn Crozier-Smith, Regina, SK (Dec 12/38) Mar 30 Rhoda Collie, Oshawa, ON (Sep 28/85) Apr 8 Mary Pike, St. John’s, NL (July 20/08) May 26 Sandy Kelley, Victoria, BC (Nov 25/85) May 26 Joan Lamb, Kitchener, ON (Feb 2/63) July 13 Sally Carr, Calgary, AB (Apr 12/80) Deaths newly reported, most dates unknown: May 17/08 Rev. Kenneth Jaggs, Windsor, ON (May 29/63) Constance Hague, Ottawa, ON (Feb 18/37); Vera Johnson, Oshawa, ON (Sep 21/98); Iris Berry, Owen Sound, ON (Feb 26/84); Joan Fitchett, Aurora, ON (Nov 30/88); Doris Hills, Mission, BC (Aug 1/65) Withdrawals: Cecily Hinton, Charny, QC (May 8/03); Catharine Murray, Montreal, QC (Sep 23/00); Rev. Marian Conrad, Fall River, NS (Mar 16/95); Carole-Anne McGee, Fredericton, NB, (Jul 26/88); Joan Cooper, Pickering, ON (Feb 2/81); Barbara & Lynne Clay, Saskatoon, SK (Aug 15/06); Jody Miles, Winnipeg, MB (Aug 17/96).
Oblate Milestones (Left to right) The Rev. Frances Drolet-Smith (Oblate) presider; Virginia Finlay and Mary Louise Stewart renewing their promises and Carolyn Madeley being received as an Oblate.
Reception of Oblates: The Rev. Canon Susan House, Sept. 14, 2008 Nancy Scott, Sept. 14, 2008 Nora Bottomley, Jan. 20, 2009 Beulah Walcott, Apr. 22, 2009 Carolyn Madeley, Sept. 4, 2009
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The Visit of a Lifetime What a privilege to be given the opportunity to share in the life of the Community of the Order of the Holy Paraclete, an Anglican religious order in Whitby, England where I spent the whole of May, 2009. What were the highlights for me? • Their hospitality, their worship, their community life, and their beautiful grounds and gardens all added to the experience of ‘gift’. • The freedom to enjoy the space and time for spending extra time in prayer in their lovely chapel. • Morning coffee and afternoon tea — something I’ve never personally built into the rhythm of my own life. • The Priory’s luscious rhubarb patch and “berry” garden, and the joy of picking and preparing rhubarb! • Time spent at their branch house — St. Oswald’s Pastoral Centre: a retreat centre near Sleights. • Time spent at their branch house in York, and their work at the beautiful York Minster. • Afternoon tea with the Sisters at their branch house, Beachcliffe, overlooking the North Sea. • Drives over the Yorkshire Moors and into historic villages and towns all set in beautiful surroundings either on the sea or in the Dales. • Visits to Whitby Abbey with Sister Erika, the awesome experience of history in this ‘thin’ place, the magnificent view; wandering around Whitby. • Being with OHP for their patronal festival — Pentecost! • The BBQ and fellowship on my last day with them. A Dream Come True – a Visit to Rivaulx Abbey! Srs. Alison and Erika took me for a day’s outing to the Abbey, a chance to stand in this ancient and holy place; to hear the voice of Aelred of Rivaulx from memories of his book that contains his Pastoral Prayer — to sit among the ruins of the Abbey, enjoy the lovely surrounding countryside, and walk along the river. I never imagined that I might actually stand in Rivaulx Abbey, the place where one of my favourite saints lived and worked and prayed!
ancestors,and interesting places with cousins Barb and Peter, Penny and Colin around Derbyshire and Westbury. And Then a Second Dream Come True — Coventry! To stand in the bombed ruins of Coventry Cathedral, to spend quiet time in the chapel of forgiveness, with the monument to reconciliation — and to see the awesome new Cathedral seemingly rise from the devastation of the old; this was a deep and holy time. We did all the usual tourist things in London, including St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields — A Third Dream Come True. This church has been part of my prayer for many decades — known in the ’60’s for its outreach to the poor in London. Today, it continues a huge social service outreach in the city, is an advocate for third world refugees and human rights, and has a beautiful cultural centre that showcases music and art. It was a moving experience to be in a place that has long been the centre of my own prayer. In Scotland we spent time in Edinburgh with friends, Jean and John Williams, and in Glasgow and Oban with Maggie, an Associate of our Community. We took in all the history, beauty and places of interest in both these cities. And then the last leg of our trip - north to Inverness and Orkney. We passed off-shore oil rigs, barren moors, mountain areas, and beautiful green fields of farmland. It was everything that people said: history, hospitality, beauty, and full of mystery — another ‘thin’ place. Ancient rings of stones — the Ring of Brodger, a 5000-year step back in time in Skara Brae, the ancient Cathedral Church of St Magnus, the Italian Chapel. . . wonderful sandy beaches, fishing villages, castles, boutiques and craft stores — were all packaged into a two-day experience. We walked and walked, and looked and looked, and gave thanks that we had come all this way to this place. What is Scotland without a Highland cow!? Sr. Doreen, SSJD
In June, my sister, Bev, and I travelled around England, Scotland, and the Orkney’s on a glorious holiday. It was a first experience for both of us — a month’s holiday overseas! And in Great Britain! A time of exploring ancient history,
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Sister Peta-Ann Stewart Jackson, SSJD May 3, 1936 - May 17, 2009
Sr. Peta-Ann was born on May 3, 1936, in Montréal, Quebec, to Muffet and Edwin McGowan. Her father was a commanding officer in the Air Force and the family moved frequently during her childhood. She married Victor Jackson, a pilot in the Air Force, and had three children before Vic was killed tragically in a water-bombing accident at the age of 24. She raised her children, Kerri-Lee, Tammy-Lou and Victor (Tuck), as a single parent. She was a teacher and had a real love for learning all her life. Before entering SSJD Peta-Ann was a special education teacher in Whitehorse in the Yukon. She was admitted to the Sisterhood on September 7, 1996, received as a Novice on March 7, 1997, and First Professed on March 10, 2000. During much of her time in the Novitiate and First Profession, Peta-Ann worked in Pastoral Care at St. John’s Rehab Hospital. She and Sr. Elizabeth together made their Life Profession of Vows on August 20, 2003. Sr. Peta-Ann had a special interest in the healing ministry and was a long time member of the Order of St. Luke. She was delighted to be able to attend an OSL meeting the week before she died. She was also a licensed lay anointer in the Diocese of Toronto. Peta-Ann was a mentor for the Education for Ministry program and passed on her enthusiasm for adult Christian education to the many women who participated in this program. She always carried a purse with many coloured highlighters which she used to mark the EFM materials as well as anything else she was reading! One of her favourite recreational activities was swimming. She loved being near the water and for many years was known by the nickname “Dolphin”. At the Convent, Peta-Ann was also known for her love of long baths; Sisters would sometimes wonder if she had fallen asleep and knock on the door to see if she were still alive. She had little concept of time (apparently a family trait) which is very difficult when living in a Community with a schedule such as ours. She would carry an organizer in her pocket, set the alarm to give her enough time to get to the next ‘event’, but never seemed to hear it when it went off! Peta-Ann had a love for people, especially those in need; during the year before her death, she was a strong advocate for a friend of the Community who now needed extra care and was able to get her and her friend into a nursing home. Sr. Peta-Ann developed cancer late last year and bravely faced the treatment regime prescribed by her doctors.
She had a healthy attitude towards life and consequently towards death as well. Peta-Ann was well prepared and in the last few weeks of her life, managed to see and say farewell to many of her family and friends. Her son Tuck travelled here from New Zealand with his former wife, Debbie, and son, Palmer, and stayed for several days during Holy Week. Her daughter Kerri-Lee stayed with Peta-Ann for several weeks during her chemo treatments. Her sister Robyn came to be with her for another week of chemo treatments. Peta-Ann flew out to Victoria, BC, to visit her brothers and sister and their families when her eldest brother Stewart was ill at the beginning of May. She was able to celebrate her birthday with her family while there and attend a reunion at St. Margaret’s School where she had been a pupil. Many, many people have mentioned Sr. Peta-Ann’s joyous face and her beautiful smile especially as she sang the monastic offices and joined in the daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist. She was full of praise for God. In Bp. Linda Nicholls’ homily at Peta-Ann’s funeral, she said: “This truly is a celebration of life and faith captured in the joyous countenance of Sr. Peta-Ann and lived each day of her life. It is the joy of one who knew that she was deeply loved by God — not for any deserved reason — but simply because God was her creator and loved her! Peta-Ann learned that early on and lived it in her life as a parent, as a teacher of children and adults, and ultimately as a Professed Sister in this Community. “She was so clear about the love of God that it beamed from her face at all times. Every time I celebrated at the altar here I would look down the row of Sisters and see her face — eagerly rejoicing in the feast to come. The last time I saw her was as I served communion to her in the infirmary only 3 weeks ago. She was standing there with an IV pole at her side, kerchief on her head — a rather thinner version of the Peta-Ann I had known for many years — but no less beaming with God’s love even in the midst of her illness. “Peta-Ann rooted her joy in her certainty of the resurrection and ascension of Christ. She knew in every fibre of her being that God had, in Christ, prepared a home for her — that death was not the end and that the love that had sustained her all her life was the same love that would take her home at her death.”
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In Peta-Ann’s own words: “I hope you will miss me for a while, and maybe shed a tear or two, but in the process, wave me off into the best and last posting of my life — into the Communion of Saints, one with God however that works — more than we can ever ask or imagine! I’ve been so blessed in my life with family, friends, colleagues, life experiences. How awesome it is to know that none of this is deserved — sheer Love and Grace, made known to me
as a Christian in Jesus Christ our Lord and in the power of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to each and every one of you who has meant so much to me in my life. May you too enjoy the wonder and joy and peace that I have known in God’s love shining back to me in each of you. God bless and keep you.” Sr. Elizabeth, SSJD
The Sisters of St. John the Divine At St. John’s Convent
Sr. Elizabeth Ann (Reverend Mother) Sr. Elizabeth (Novitiate Director) Sr. Margaret Mary Sr. Constance Sr. Joyce Sr. Helena Sr. Wilma Sr.Thelma-Anne Sr. Jean
Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr.
Beryl Merle Patricia Madeleine Mary Margaret Ruth Sarah Jean Anitra Jessica Constance Joanna Brenda Anne
Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr.
Helen Claire Sue Dorothy Amy
St. John’s House, B.C.
Sr. Doreen Sr. Jocelyn Sr. Louise Sr. Patricia Marion (Novice) Doreen Davidson (Oblate)
Standing: Sisters Margaret Mary, Elizabeth, Doreen, Anitra, Wilma, Patricia Marion, Sue, Jocelyn, Margaret Ruth, Amy, Patricia, Sarah Jean, Beryl, Constance Joanna, Jessica. Middle Row: Sisters Thelma-Anne, Merle, Helena, Constance, Joyce, Brenda, Madeleine Mary. Front Row: Sisters Elizabeth Ann, Dorothy, Helen Claire, Jean, Anne, Louise.
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Music for the Soul — 2009-2010 Sunday, November 15th, 2009, at 4:00 p.m. (Time to be confirmed) Bach Vespers: a modern vespers service worked around a full Bach Cantata. Directed by Mark Vuorinen and including a supporting cast of performers from Church of the Redeemer’s regular ‘Bach Vespers’ series. (Includes Evening Prayer)
Are You at a Crossroads in Your Life? Are you considering a career change? Are you looking for “something more” in your life? Do you have a thirst for God? A hunger for prayer? Do you desire to serve God in a new way? Would you like to experience life in community?
Sunday, February 14th, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. Jazz Vespers: a contemporary service built around Jazz standards and led by Tim Elliott. (Includes Evening Prayer)
Then you may be interested in attending a free four-week program (June 29 - July 25) to discern where God is calling you. At the same time you will have the opportunity to experience the life of love, prayer and service in an Anglican religious community of women.
Sunday, March 21st, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. A concert celebrating music of the Renaissance period and highlighting the lute songs of John Dowland. Lorelle Angelo - Soprano, Juan-Carlos Luna - Guitar, Daniel Norman - Harpsichord. (Evening Prayer to follow)
Women who are interested should contact Kelly Clark, The Sisterhood of Saint John the Divine, St. John’s Convent, 233 Cummer Ave, Toronto, ON M2M 2E8 Phone: 416-226-2201, Ext. 301. Fax: 416-222-4442 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.ssjd.ca
Sunday, May 16th, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. A keyboard recital centered around music of the French Classical period. Organ and Harpsichord music played by Thomas Fitches (unconfirmed) and John-Paul Farahat. (Evening Prayer to follow)
Applications for Women at a Crossroads, 2010 must be in by March 31, 2010.
A free-will offering will be taken at each concert. All concerts are held in the Chapel of St. John the Divine at St. John’s Convent and are followed by Sunday Supper (reservations required) Call to reserve for supper ($10.00) at 416-226-2201, x 305 Map and directions at www.ssjd.ca Photos below from the Celebration of our Foundation Day, September 8th, 2009.
Altar linens may be purchased from Sr. Jocelyn, SSJD, at St. John’s Convent. All linens are hand-sewn and made from Irish Linen. Items which may be purchased include Fair Linens, Credence Cloths, Purificators, Lavabo Towels, Baptismal Towels, Fair Veils, Palls on Plexi Glass, Corporals and Sick Communion Sets. For details, please contact Sr. Jocelyn: email@example.com St. John’s House, B.C. Telephone: 250-920-7787 Fax: 250-920-7709
The Houses of the Sisterhood www.ssjd.ca St. John’s Convent 233 Cummer Avenue, Toronto, ON M2M 2E8 416-226-2201; Fax: 416-226-2131 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
St. John’s House, B.C. 3937 St. Peters Road, Victoria, BC V8P 2J9 250-920-7787; Fax: 250-920-7709 e-mail: email@example.com
The Eagle is published several times a year by the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, St. John’s Convent, Toronto, ON M2M 2E8. An annual donation of $10 to help cover the cost would be greatly appreciated. Please let us know promptly of any changes of address. The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine is a registered charity. Our charitable donation number is BN 11925 4266 RR00001
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