As we Associates of St. Martha entered St. Clare Convent in Sydney Mines on a cold and blustery day in March we were greeted by the warmth of smiles and friendly chatter. We settled in and our meeting began with a prayer. Following our new way of folks conducting leadership for our meetings, we have two new volunteers each month. In March we were delighted to have one of our newest Associate couples, Harry and Norma Blinkhorn as the leaders. The results were outstanding. After prayer we were introduced to a very special lady named Dorothy Holliday. She leads, heads, coordinates, directs and with several members and volunteers runs an organization called Community Cares here in Sydney Mines. The title says it all. Dorothy and her “crew” run quite a ship! They help school drop outs, unemployed, and addicts, to name a few. Think of anyone needing assistance and then think of Dorothy and “Community Cares.” She’s been doing this with a loving, caring heart for twenty years! Have you heard her name? Probably not! So what does that say? She’s not looking for recognition just prayers and help. Please keep this amazing work in your prayers!
After a delightful visit with Dorothy some regular business was dealt with and with renewed spirit we closed with a prayer followed by our usual tea and chat.
As we donned our coats and boots to go home, our bodies warmed by hot tea and friendship, and our spirits renewed, we were able to face the cold, frosty, snow filled air outside.
Let’s always care and pray for each other.
Georgie Edwards, Saint Clare Associates
We met on Wednesday, March 8 for the first time since January, having been storm-stayed at home in February on the night of our meeting and it was great to get together. We welcomed a speaker, Reverend Robert Lyle, from upstairs literally – as we hold our meetings in a beautiful, cozy little room in his church, that being Bethel Presbyterian Church in Sydney. After we went over some business, Rev. Lyle joined us and gave us a talk about his work with the church and his journey with God and his faith. Very interesting.
On a chilly winter’s evening, our two Lethbridge Associate groups joined forces for this Sunday evening meeting and as always prayer is paramount. With obvious joy, Sister Theresa and Annella introduced our guest, Stephanie Sawchuk. She begins journeying with us over the course of the next year. Welcome Stephanie!
As Lenten season beckons, to assist us, Sister Theresa handed out copies of an email sent by Sister Sheridan, NGO Liaison. The “MARCH JUST LOVE AND LENTEN CALENDAR, LIVING A LAUDATO SI LENT” provides us with various ideas and suggestions for Lenten reflection and prayer. To quote LS 217:
“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”
For our February meeting, the Glace Bay & Area Martha Associates met at the home of David and Paula Nearing. We had invited Sr Sheila O’Handley to come and speak with our group as she was newly appointed to live a hermitage way of life late last year. We were also joined by Fr Norman McPhee who requested to come and hear more about this way of life.
During the afternoon, we were treated to a insightful talk on a Hermitage by Sister Sheila. Many of us harbored misconceptions about a hermitage and Sr Sheila, new to this way of life, gave a wonderful talk outlining life in a Hermatige, dispelling many of the myths.
Sr Sheila, highlighted many of the key ideals that make up the “Rule of Life” for her including her routine which consists of Prayer, Reflection, Study, and Fasting. She does extra work to help support herself, and allows for Solitude and Stillness to nurture her life. Following Sister Sheila talk, a delicious lunch was served compliments of Paula.
Our monthly meeting on Feb.1st was bitter sweet. We were saddened to learn that Sister Claudette’s sister had died suddenly the day before, having just lost her husband to death just three weeks prior. We continue to hold Sister Claudette in our prayers and invite you to do the same. On the same day we invited Sister Clarine O’Leary to our meeting so we could say a proper farewell to her, since moving to Sydney after spending 24 years at St Clare Convent. It was so nice to have her back. We miss her but wish her well at her new residence in Sydney.
A nasty virus kept a few Associates home but the rest of us braved freezing fog/mist to attend the first meeting in the New Year.
We began in Chapel singing TAKE MY HANDS to compliment Sister Josephine’s beautiful “Hand Prayer.” Thanks to Annella and guest friend Stephani who gave a presentation with numerous accompanying pictures and stories of their trip to south eastern India this past autumn. This gave us all a good glimpse of that part of this far away country, its friendly faith-filled inhabitants and beautiful vegetation. We were all grateful no incidents marred their eighteen hour flights and holiday with their attentive and generous host, Father Alphonse, the hospital priest here in Lethbridge. And yes, we’ve grown accustomed to the henna that remains still in Annella’s hair!
For our February meeting, both Lethbridge Associate groups will welcome our Eastern guests, Sister Claudette and co-coordinator Julia Townsend. James Spiess from Catholic Central High will be present to thank the Associates for our communal donation and inform us of that school’s Christmas project to help feed and gift needy area families. If there is time, Mary Schimd will share the story of Canada’s own beloved Saint Andre.
As always, table conversation along with an array of nibblies and dainties with tea, coffee and juice brought the evening to a pleasant close.
Ina (Catarina) Boyden, Associate Scribe
Our group of four, Barb, Mary, Sheila, Yvonne, met for lunch on January 17th. It was great to “catch up”. We do not meet regularly since the Sisters left. Geographically it is difficult. However we do stay in touch.
We feel gratitude knowing the new building is well on the way at Bethany. Our prayer is for a peaceful transition in this new beginning. All the Sisters who have gone through many changes since the founding of the congregation are watching over, and rejoicing with you.
We remembered SIster Yvonne Vigneault who was my classmate. I remember very well the day we met at Bethany, and remained friends through the years. Her gentle, pleasant personality, sense of humour and deep spirituality endeared her to all who knew her. Heaven has been enriched. May she rest in the presence of God with all the other Marthas who have served so well.
We enjoy our get togethers with the Martha Associates in Lethbridge. We were with them in September 2016. However we were unable to join them for their Christmas party due to winter driving conditions.
May 2017 bring good health, peace, and many blessings to us all. We will continue to pray for each other and our loved ones.
Glace Bay Associates of the Sisters of St Martha met on Sunday January 22, 2017, at the home of David and Paula Nearing. Our meeting opened with a “Prayer of Trust & Confidence” by Thomas Merton. A discussion soon followed concerning the National Catholic Register article titled “Women’s March draws large crowds in worldwide demonstrations for equality” A main theme that seemed to emerge from the article protesting the results of the USA election seemed to be to celebrate the “Wisdom of Women” and abolish “Hate in the World Today”
In response to the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, it was noted that there would be a week of prayer for Christian Unity2017 on Sunday, January 29, 2017 @ 3:00pm at All Saints Anglican Church in New Waterford. Many Associates had noted that information about this celebration had not been shared in their respective parishes. A discussion followed on the merits of diversity and on our calling to be reconsiled with one another in order to give a more faithful witness.
Our group also reviewed some chapters from Pope Francis book Amoris Loetitia, The Joy Of Love. This book if filled with much information and some challenges for us today. We will examine other chapters in the weeks ahead.
There was a great deal of interest in Sr Shiela O’Handley’s role in the Hermitage; our leader David, will cont her and invite her to speak at a future meeting
Our meeting closed with our Associate prayer and a wonderful lunch was enjoyed compliments of our Hostess Paula.
We had a good turnout for our first meeting of the new calendar year and according to our monthly check-in, we are all in good health and spirits. Julia led us in a meditative prayer / poem from Joyce Rupp and we continued on into business matters from there. We look ahead to May when we will host Mass for Shut-Ins for Sunday the 21st. We look forward to our journeyer Jean having her orientation in April and her reception with the associates in May. We continue too with our monetary donations to our Social Justice box and with contributions of food items and clothing for Loaves and Fishes and St. Vincent De Paul. We looked at bringing new and returning guest speakers in and bringing visitors in who might be interested in journeying with the Martha Associates. And as the meeting went on we watched Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas Address for 2016 which focused on ordinary people doing extraordinary thing. Following the words of Mother Theresa (St. Theresa of Calcutta) that though not all of us a not capable of being great, we can do small things with great love. We followed the speech with a thoughtful discussion. And finished up with a fine lunch of sandwiches, sweets and homemade fortune cookies. Best wishes from Sydney!