Category Archives: West

MARTHA ASSOCIATES Meeting, Lethbridge Tuesday, May 14, 2019

This was an emotional get together for all of us- Sisters, Martha Associates and Board of Directors- meeting at the Retreat Centre the evening of May14th. Indeed, a great deal of ground was covered that night. To set the tone, we began with our Associates Prayer; ‘MAY WE CONTINUE THROUGH THE RADICAL CALL OF THE GOSPEL TO BE INSPIRED BY THE MARTHA CHARISM AND THE MISSION, VISION AND VALUE STATEMENTS’.

Joan Magliocco led us in prayer and four Board Members were introduced:  Elda Barva, Deb Tarnava, Lise Schmidt and our own Associate member Kathy Gillis.  Oten through tears, Kathy spoke about the future, the loss and the journey before us. She read us the history of Martha Associates and asked us to think about and share with the group how our individual Associate roles have been influenced through the years by the Martha Sisters.

Caroline Martin, Sister Theresa Parker and Sister Josie MacLellan took turns offering up words of inspiration and hope while Annella Wehlage, who recently had the privilege to attend the Antigonish Chapter Meeting (Keeping the Vision,) talked to us about the impact it had on her.

Mark Nixon, our new Executive Director, was also in attendance. He took over in September and is being mentored by Sister Theresa Parker. He unveiled some of his plans for the Martha Retreat Centre inviting us to continue to remain involved and work together as the journey continues.Yes, it is daunting and there is inevitable trepidation coupled with sadness and loss at the impending departure of our precious Sisters, yet, what prevailed that evening was a tangible sense of optimism and undaunted hope.

A chapter has closed and the Sisters are now going home to rest awhile and work out fresh ways in which to serve their own beloved members and their community at large. We here in Lethbridge will move forward with solid leadership at the helm and God as our Captain to help steer us safely through the calm and the muddy waters. For this, O Lord, we pray.

Ina Boyden (Associate) 

LIVING OUR LIFE AS MISSION : CSM Chapter, April, 2019 Reflections of a special time Julia Townsend, Director, Martha Associates

In their usual manner of Hospitality and generosity, the Sisters of St. Martha welcomed four Martha Associates to participate in 2 ½ days of their general Chapter (April 2019). This was unique and extra special, as Associates are not usually invited to attend any of the general Chapters of Religious Congregations. The Sisters of St. Martha continue to be wise visionaries!!!

Martha Associates, Mary Gillis, River Ryan, CB ; Annella Wehlage, Lethbridge, Alta; Gary Rankin, Trenton, NS; and Julia Townsend, Sydney, NS, were guests of the Sisters during this sacred time in their history. It was our privilege to attend the excellent presentations on Wednesday, April 24 and Thursday, April 25, 2019 given by Sister Elizabeth Davies, RSM, Congregation Leader of the Sisters of Mercy in Newfoundland.  In addition to being an extremely well educated Lady, as well as a Scripture Scholar, Sr. Elizabeth was also delightful, with her lilting Newfoundland accent, warm smile and wonderful sense of humor!!!

Sr. Elizabeth opened her presentations with a little history that General Chapters are the oldest forms of democracy for Religious Congregations, going back 1700 years. This event allows all voices to be heard, even the youngest voices! It is pure gift!

Sr. Elizabeth then followed with a beautiful song entitled: “The Mystery of Your Gift”, by Josh Groban (Words on Web Site). An amazing beginning to the two days!!

Sr. Elizabeth’s focus throughout her presentations, was to provide input to the Sisters of St. Martha which could assist them to build on their Direction Statement of Chapter 2014. The Sisters of St. Martha continue to live their lives as mission, seeking “to creatively break open conversations around communion, living community, and ways to respond to the Prophetic call of Apostolic religious life today” (CSM Chapter prayer, 2019)

Over the two days of presentation, Sr. Elizabeth prepared seven sessions. The themes were as follows:

1. Setting out on the Way

2. Exploring this moment in the Martha Charism

3. Sacred Communion of all creation: seeking communion

4. Witness to Life Giving Choices: Prophetic call

5. Living undaunted hope

6. Living our Charism of Gospel Hospitality

7. Weaving the threads into a new tapestry

Sr. Elizabeth’s words were life giving! These are some phrases that spoke to me over the two days of Chapter that we attended,  that I would like to share. You may wish to ponder their meaning within your Associate Groups.“Creation is the Body of God” (Richard Rohr)

There are two incarnations: (1) God incarnate in creation  (2) God became flesh in Jesus

  • “ Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting Covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (Gen 9: 16)
  • Flourishing humanity; thriving earth; evolving universe (Elizabeth Johnston)
  • We have abilities to be “Cantors” of the universe
  • Many Religions, one message! Every religion is the one true religion! We all come on many different roads, but every religion has same basic message!
  • Vatican 11 says we are a Pilgrim church, always in need of reform and change! A Church in need of conversion and forgiveness, growing in grace, working to understand the truth! In our Church, we have both seekers and dwellers! We do have a Church that is able to embrace all of us, and able to help us to deepen and enrich our faith. Is that happening?
  • Pope Francis says we are:  ”Missionary Disciples”! The Church which goes forth is a community of Missionary Disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice! (Joy of the Gospel)
  • Reflect on your intimate connection with the earth.
  • “ But I know somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can I see the stars” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
  • “There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in” (Leonard Cohen)
  • We must keep giving: what more can we give?
  • Sisters of St. Martha have been exemplary leaders in sharing the new understanding of the Universe story. The strongest voices have been those of women religious!!
  • The heart of Cosmology is the communion of all creation!
  • When we gather as a community, the Cosmic Christ is with us, and , we together, are changing all of creation!
  • When we pray together, we are changing all of creation!!
  • Each of us is unique! God meant there to be absolute diversity!!
  • Living the Promise through the pain!
  • We need to develop contemplative hearts! Come to the quiet! Stay in the present, experience God there!
  • Remember that each one of us holds a piece of the truth!
  • Actively listen to each voice!
  • “Detuning the strings to get the new sounds” Find out what you can make with what you have left! (Yitzhak Perlman)
  • “ Only when we know and name our broken rocks, only then can we be prophetic”
  • In the Eucharist, the only ritual which Jesus asks us to repeat, we remember the brokenness of Jesus.
  • Five moments of compassion:
    •  Contemplative seeing
    • Heart filled with compassion
    • Mercying : what we do
    • Building Circles of Gospel Hospitality (Community)
    • Building a culture of Gospel Hospitality
  • “Our task must be to widen our circle of compassion. To embrace all creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty” (Albert Einstein)
  • Every good we do changes all of creation!
  • “Tapestry” (Marcienne Reinstra)

It was a blessing to have been present with the Sisters to hear Sr. Elizabeth. There is much for us to reflect on and much for us to do as Associates in helping to live and share the Martha Charism.

Martha Associate Meeting – Lethbridge March 21

On a beautiful spring evening, Thursday, March 21st. what a pleasure it was for all of us, Sisters and Associates, to welcome back Julia Townsend, Director of Martha Associates, our guest and speaker from Antigonish.

It was most fitting that in her forty five minute power point presentation, Julia chose OUR CALL TO HOLINESS as her theme. This topic served to  seamlessly reinforce the message from the Document of Pope Francis’ Rejoice and Be Glad. Our group has been reading and discussing this Document at our regular meetings. In summary Julia stated that we are all called to the vocation of holiness; called to be the best versions of ourselves. Through the grace of our Baptism, she related various ways each of us can respond to this call to holiness. Weaving in the lives of some well known Saints, it was interesting to note how they each had experienced enormous struggles and challenges on their own faith journeys. She closed her presentation with an inspiring and uplifting message from Father Bill Burke which was followed by a quiet reflection.

Julia had spent a great deal of time and prayer and preparation putting this presentation to paper and we are all grateful and abundantly blessed by her efforts and enthusiastic spirit!

Next Martha Associate meeting takes place A WEEK EARLIER, April 11th. All members of the Martha Board of Directors will be invited to attend. We’re looking so forward to building and exploring our relationships with them and with our precious Sisters departing this summer, discussing how best to move forward together as we ‘attempt’ to fill some awfully large shoes!!

Joan is in charge of prayer and Annella, Kathy and Ina will provide snacks for the evening.

The last Saturday in May, the 25th, five o’clock,will be our bbq. Please mark this date on your calendars!

Your Associate Scribe,


Super Moon meeting in Lethbridge!

For our February evening meeting, a huge harvest-like moon hanging low in the sky served to direct us as we made our way to the Retreat Center situated on that ‘holy hill.’

Kathy Gillis used her book SACRED SPACE thoughtfully leading us in chapel prayer. Caroline followed to shepherd discussion on the third chapter of Pope Francis’ document, GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE (Rejoice and Be Glad.) This one dealt with the Beatitudes, and in the Pope’s own words, is a “Christian’s identity card.” To quote further from the document, Pope Francis writes, “Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy when he gave us the Beatitudes.” I think we all agreed that within that chapter’s nineteen pages, there was much to ponder and pray over, to guide and challenge everyone of us.

For our March meeting, we will be graced by the visit of Julia Townsend from Antigonish. We are all looking forward to her message of inspiration as well as her generous happy spirit. Romano will be our leader of prayer while Sharon and Caroline have volunteered to provide snacks. Our April meeting will be moved a week ahead to the 11th.

Martha Associates Lethbridge

It was World Day of Prayer for Vocations which Annella utilized as her theme for the prayer part of this April meeting. We began and ended with the hymn The Summons then proceeded to the common room for the evening. The following items were discussed:

  • Saturday, May 26 will be our summer bbq at five o’clock
  • Sunday, JUNE 24,  OPEN HOUSE: MARTHA ANNIVERSARY, DAY OF CELEBRATION (9 A.M.) Mass, Sisters and Associates only and one to five, OPEN HOUSE, COME AND GO TEA. (Kathy Gillis will be chief organizer, Caroline Martin assisting.)
  • September Retreat, 28,29 and 30th…Guest speaker to be determined. Please mark these dates on your calendar.

Using the last three chapters from The Decree of Lay People, Sister Josie and your scribe posed questions and guided discussion with the group on the role of  the laity in the church.  “By right of our Baptism we are all strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit and called by God to make of our apostolate, through the vigour of our Christian spirit, a leaven to the world.” For these past months it has been a somewhat nostalgic journey back in time for us all as we shared and thoughtfully made our way through those Vatican 11 documents.

And yes, as always, the discussions seem to follow us right into the lunch room!

Blessings from your Scribe Ina.


Mary Kennedy, Yvonne Donahue, Barb Learmont, Calgary, Feb., 2018

Calgary Ladies with Sr. Claudette and Julia, Feb. 2018

Sr. Claudette and Julia were in Calgary on Monday, Feb. 26th, 2018 to meet and visit with three of the Ladies who were active members of the Calgary Associates. Due to the challenges of an Associate group meeting together in such a large city, the Calgary group has had to disband. However, a small group of 4 Ladies remain connected to the Martha Associates. They continue to be invited to the Western Retreat weekend each year, and they still receive a visit from the Martha Associate Director which helps to keep them connected! It was a lovely visit with these wonderful Ladies!!


Sr. Claudette Gallant and myself made our second trip together to Western Canada to visit the Sisters and Associates in Lethbridge! Needless to say…..we left Spring and found Winter!!! There was lots of snow and ice in Lethbridge, and it was cold!!! Thank goodness for my Canada Goose jacket!!

Julia, Sr. Josie, Sr. Claudette, and Sr. Theresa

We were greeted warmly by the Sisters who live in Lethbridge, Sr. Josie, Sr. Theresa, Sr. Josephine and Sr. Madeline!! We also had a warm welcome from the Associates who were able to make it to the meeting!

Continue reading


Before launching into the summary of our January meeting, allow me to touch on the enjoyable annual year end Christmas gathering held at the Retreat Centre on December 15th. All our Lethbridge group members were graciously welcomed at the door by our beloved Sisters. Conversation and catch up over a glass (or two) of spirits was followed by a variety of festive pot luck dinner dishes and then, moving into the common room, a gift exchange ensued which took at least an hour leaving us with sore sides from the gaiety and laughter. Before we left for home, we joined  our hearts and voices in a carol singsong. The joy and goodwill of the entire Yuletide evening was not lost on anyone!

Continue reading


Fifteen of us attended the meeting Sunday, Oct. 22 which began with Caroline leading a beautiful PRAYER OF ACCEPTANCE and closed singing the hymn Immaculate Mary in gratitude for keeping our three Sisters and their home safe. Tuesday evening, hurricane force winds had fed a rapidly moving grass fire in the coulees right behind the Retreat Center. Too close for comfort, the flames leapt hungrily right up to the grass on their property, licking at its edges! Sisters Theresa, Josephine and Josie each told their own emotionally charged stories of how they fled their home in a matter of minutes. It was a night to praise God for His mercy and His saving power! Continue reading