Martha Associate Day
September 16, 2017
The Eastern Associates held their annual gathering on Saturday, September 16, 2017 at Bethany. It marked the last time that the Eastern Group would meet at Bethany. As well, it marked a new beginning to the face of the annual gathering: a day as opposed to a full weekend retreat. The topic of the day was; therefore, very appropriate, “The Art Of Grieving”.
Sr. Franklyn Ferguson, CSM, lead us through a beautiful presentation, reflecting on a more complete understanding of what it means to grieve. Sr. Franklyn opened her presentation with a lovely song: “There is a Season”, reminding us that there is a time for every purpose under Heaven!
Sr. Franklyn explained that grieving is a process of how we perceive loss: psychologically, socially, behaviorally, physically and spiritually. Naming our loss and our feelings helps us to bring an understanding to it, and allows us to move forward and to do something about it. When we do not allow ourselves to deal with our grief, it can become a pathology and makes us sick!
It is important to remember that we all grieve in different ways and in different periods of time. It is also noteworthy that grief does not only occur with death, but with the loss of many things ie: Hearing, eyesight, mobility, etc. Any change can constitute loss. Awareness of these changes, and naming them allows us to move forward.
Mourning is a part of grieving and it is something we must do. It too is a process and must be done in each person’s time.
Sr. Franklyn described grieving in this way: Grief is like a cut, acute and numb, followed by bleeding, eventual healing and finally a scar. The scar may shrink, but it is always there. But the cut has travelled through a process of change and has been transformed, and the healing allows us to continue forward as all life must.
Our day ended with a prayer and song of Thanksgiving to God.
The Sydney group welcomed Jean Peinsznski as a full member of the associates after her long journey with us. Sister Claudette Gallant presided over the ceremony and addressed the group with an engaging talk about vows the Sisters of Saint Martha take when beginning their own life as sisters. She talked about our baptismal call and asked us to reflect on how we are responding and how we will respond to the call. Then Julia Townsend our group coordinator conducted the Rite of Reception with Jean and her sponsors and the group, and Jean was welcomed. And we’re lucky to have her! Congratulations, Jean!
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.
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.
As of Thursday, April 16, as Director of the Associates, I have visited each one of the Associate Groups and facilitated the Direction Statement from our 2015 Chapter. It has been a wonderful experience to see the enthusiasm and hear the sharing. We began with reflection and sharing from the Marthas Vision, Mission and Values, as a background for the Direction Statement. More time was then given for the Direction Statement where both the Sisters and Associates shared their reflection. It was clear that we have five years to continue to break open the Word given to us at Chapter and this evening was hopefully one of many to help us live more deeply into the Statement as time moves on.