February 10, 2019, during our regular monthly meeting, the Sydney Martha
Associates welcomed three students from India who are studying at Cape Breton University.
One of the students, Stephy, is also the house guest of Anne and Terry
Campbell, both Martha Associates. What a lovely way to show Gospel
Hospitality!! Stephy shared a little with our group of going to Church in
Holy Family Church in Nazareth, India. Her Church has 6 Masses on Sunday. There
is standing room only at each Mass, in fact, many people stand outside the
Church, if there is no room to sit on the floor of the Church!!! There are at
least 1500 children enrolled in the Catechism program! The children range in
age from four, up until 18!! Every Catechism teacher must take a 5 day
preparatory course to teach religion! Stephy was herself, a Catechism teacher
in India! She expressed her surprise at how few young people there are at our
group was also blessed to welcome Stephy’s friends, Rajshree and Jay. Both are
Hindu. Raj spoke a little about the traditions of her Hindu Faith. First, Raj
told us a little about India. It has a population of 1.3 billion people and is
the largest democracy in the world! India is very diverse. While there are at
least 22 different languages spoken in India, the official language is
(surprisingly!), English, although most people speak Hindi! There are several faith
groups in India: Hindu, Christianity, Jainism, Sikkism, Islam, Buddhism. The
number one faith tradition is Hindu, followed by Christianity.
Raj explained the
Hindu greeting of “Namaste”, recognizing the Spirit within yourself and in
another. She also told us that at the core of the Hindu beliefs is LOVE! Jay
also helped in some of the explanation of the Hindu faith. It was wonderful to
learn something about a faith tradition that was different from our own
beliefs, yet anchored in LOVE!! It was all about love. Listening and learning
about another faith tradition is a wonderful way to show respect and love for
others who may have different beliefs and traditions. It is one way to live
Greetings from the Sydney group! We just ended another good year and again we wonder where the time went. It seems like we just got started. But it was a good year that began with the retreat in September and sped right by October into November where we met and listened to our coordinator Julia Townsend tell us (and show us) of her travels to workshops in the US (Cincinnati, Ohio), and to the Martha Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta. And then we were enjoying our Christmas supper in December at HERS in Sydney. The name HERS stands for “Hands Earning Respect for Self”. It is a project of the Every Woman’s Centre. At HERS, women living on a low income are provided with the opportunity to work together in a non-traditional work environment to help: Increase social connections and support, Improve quality of life, Increase employability skills, earn income in the form of goods and services, and work in a community kitchen. The setting is homey and the food delish! We had a fine meal for the second Christmas in a row there.
We started the meeting with a check-in from everyone. On the whole we’re all good –knock on wood.
Terry led the group in saying the Rosary as our opening prayer and afterwards Sister Dorothy sang a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria in Mi’kmaq.
Then we moved on to business matters and decided to donate the social justice fund to Mass for Shut-Ins. And we talked about our then upcoming appearance on Mass for Shut-Ins on May 16 (which went wonderfully).
We talked about the annual retreat coming up September 15th at the new Martha Place, where Sr. Jovita MacPherson will give the retreat whose theme will be “Embraced in Love: the many faces of hospitality.”
Julia gave a report from Martha Place and distributed pictures of the scene at the new chapel there, which is a divided painting of a scene as it would look outside the building onto the landscape beyond the building. As though one were looking through a set of windows.
Julia brought beads and holy water from Lourds, France and we all were able to bless ourselves with it.
After this we watched an interesting YouTube video of Fr. James Martin talking about Lourds and St. Bernadette.
A lovely gathering of the Sydney Martha Associates was held on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at the Bethel Presbyterian Church Hall. Everyone was welcomed and we began the night with a round the circle of “How do you come”. All were glad to be together for our evening.
The gathering continued with Associate Co-ordinator, Mike Finigan leading us in the opening prayer. Mike provided the group with a print out of selected verses from Chapter 24 of Luke’s Gospel. We each took turns to read various sections. It was beautiful to hear each of our voices proclaim parts of the Resurrection story! Mike then invited us to pray together……The Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, and the Glory Be to God. Finally, Mike sang a beautiful Hymn: “ Because He Lives”.
A wonderful meeting of the Sydney Martha Associates was held on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 at the Bethel Presbyterian Church Hall. It was a cold night with lots of ice around. Eight of our Associates were able to attend.
We spent a little time on our check in as it was the first time in 2018 that we met. During our check in time, Sr. Dorothy Moore shared with us her experience of being present for the secularization ceremony for the Bethany Chapel. Bishop Dunn presided and only the Sisters of St. Martha were present. Sr. Dorothy said it was very beautiful and meaningful, but extremely emotional for the Sisters; sad, yet hopeful.
A lovely gathering of the Sydney Martha Associates was held at HERS on Dec. 6th, 2017. This is the second year that the Sydney group has enjoyed a Christmas Dinner at HERS. The name HERS stands for “Hands Earning Respect for Self”. It is a project of the Every Woman’s Centre. At HERS, women living on a low income are provided with the opportunity to work together in a non-traditional work environment to help: Increase social connections and support, Improve quality of life, Increase employability skills, earn income in the form of goods and services, and work in a community kitchen.
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 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.
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!
We met on December 7 for our Christmas Dinner gathering, this year, and probably for the foreseeable future at HERS on Bentick Street in Sydney, a quaint little place with one table that seats one group for one meal. The staff had the room decorated elegantly for Christmas and made us all feel at home. We had a delicious meal beginning with a salad with maple dressing, a main dish of stuffed chicken breast and a dessert of molasses cake. All topped off with tea and a night of great stories and conversation. A fine beginning to the season!