September 29 – October 1st, 2017
Martha Center, Lethbridge, Alberta
The annual Fall Retreat for the Western Martha Associates was held Sept. 29 – Oct 1st, 2017. Amid the beautiful backdrop of the coulees, a wonderful gathering of 18 Associates, 1 journeyer, 3 Sisters of St. Martha, plus two guests from the East, Sr. Claudette Gallant, Director of Associates and Julia Townsend, Co-Director, participated in a Retreat called: “The Vocation of the Baptized”. The sessions were presented by Bishop Gerald Wiesner, a retired Bishop who lives in Saskatchewan.
Bishop Wiesner gave us much reflect and ponder. These are just a few points that he shared with us.
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.”
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.
Saturday, December 19th, we came together at the Retreat Center, thirty of us in all, to fill up the gathering space for our Christmas celebration and though the weather was cold and frosty, the mood inside was anything but as the three Sisters warmly welcomed each and every one of us to their home.
Thirteen were present on this rather chilly Lethbridge evening. Our meeting began in chapel as usual but this night we took turns praying the Glorious decades of the rosary. To begin we sang the beautiful well known hymn Immaculate Mary and since this was the first Sunday in Advent, ended with O Come, Divine Messiah. Our meeting then continued in the large gathering space.
With nineteen of us present, we began with prayer; Pope Francis’ Help me, O Lord followed by the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. We then viewed Cleveland Clinic’s powerful and perceptive four minute video – a brief peek into the ordinary lives of various individuals in hospital experiencing the inexorable challenges of daily life. Momentarily we placed ourselves in each of their shoes feeling a deep sense of compassion and sympathy and respect as they struggle through the full range of emotions like joy and sorrow, fear and anxiety, bad news and pain.
At the end of September, our Lethbridge Associate members linked together with those from Calgary for our annual retreat. Sisters Theresa, Josie and Josephine took charge of the Friday evening session with their usual warmth of welcome, prayer, song and reflection. How fortunate we were to have Sister Marion Sheridan as our retreat presenter! Having faithfully served as the NGO liaison representative at the UN for the past thirteen years, she shared some of her vast knowledge and anecdotal experiences in a number of very interesting lectures and made us more aware of that vast organization’s inner workings, its goals, targets, successes, failures and the ongoing multiple and complex challenges therein. Following are some Associates comments flowing from the weekend:
Here are a few photos from the gathering at Martha Retreat Centre in Lethbridge!