On Thursday, December 14th, 2017, a wonderful gathering was held to celebrate the reception of a new Martha Associate, Sheila Morris. Sheila has been journeying over the past two years, and the Sisters of St. Martha welcome her as an Associate.
Our monthly meeting was held on Wednesday November 1, 2017. There were 15 members present along with a guest speaker Marjorie Serafinus. Colleen introduced our guest speaker. Harry did a prayer reading “Are You Listening.”
The reading gave us some thoughts about how seasons change and how we can change. Following the prayer reading there was a reflection. Several members joined in the discussion.
We began in our usual way with a check-in, and then Mike, with his guitar, lead the opening prayer with the song “How Can I Keep from Singing?”.
Then we moved on to business and, among other things, decided what to do with the social justice fund. As it stood we decided to let it build a little more and then give the funds in December to St. Vincent de Paul.
Then we made plans for our December 6th Christmas dinner at “Hers” in Sydney.
We looked at possible speakers to bring in or ideas, such as movies or documentaries to view and discuss as our year moves ahead. We’re interested in visiting the Muslim mosque on Grand Lake Road in the future for one thing and are making strides toward that end.
Next, Julia gave an interesting and informative report on her trips to Cincinnati, Ohio, and Lethbridge, Alberta where she attended retreats and workshops, and she showed us a slideshow of pictures from her travels.
We finished up with a prayer – a reprise of the song. We couldn’t keep from singing.
And lunch, delicious as always, was provided by Julie and Julia.
A good meeting with good friends and good food.
CHARITY FRIENDSHIPS: DEEPENING our RELATIONSHIPS through CONTEMPLATIVE CONVERSATIONS
From October 15 – 21, 2017, I was blessed to be able to attend the Federation Grassroots Retreat at St. Joseph Motherhouse, Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati, Ohio. The weather was beautiful and provided an incredible backdrop to a wonderful week of sharing, friendship and conversation!
Sydney Martha Associates
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
A regular meeting of the Sydney Martha Associates was held October 11, 2017. After a check in and a beautiful prayer, we welcomed our special guest for the evening, Sheila O’Handley. Sheila has made a commitment to live within the Diocese of Antigonish as a Hermit.
And what does that mean? Sheila enlightened us greatly!! A Hermit, according to Canon Law, is one who lives an Arametical Life, a person who lives alone, reads, reflects and helps people. A Hermit is not necessarily one who lives out in the desert, wears odd clothing and does not interact with others!! Although in the early 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries, Hermits may have gone to the woods. They went there in search of God, they went there to purify themselves because often they had a very negative image of God. They wanted to understand God, but God is mystery, we cannot understand God.
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.
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.
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
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.”