PowerPoint Presentation by Julia Townsend
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.
Father Varghese is a religious priest and a member of the Indian Mission Society (IMS). He spent most of his time in the Seminary teaching and guiding the Seminarians. Teaching them the Synoptic Gospels.
Some words of wisdom from Father Varghese on the Synoptic Gospels. Our first call is to serve and follow Jesus. Our call is not to worship Jesus. We are call to come together as a community weekly at Mass. We are to deny ourselves and carry the cross and accept the suffering.
Jesus love for us is unconditional. Our suffering is unconditional love for him. We need to empty ourselves by giving up and loving unconditionally.
Jesus identity. What was his Mission? Why was he born. Jesus was born to give us fullness of life and unconditional love. He didn’t come to die he came to live. Jesus was about good news to the poor. Isaiah – God of the Bible – preference was given to the poor. The poor need God and depend on God. The rich want God and want God’s blessings.
In the new testament there is no mention of Jesus as a Priest. He came to challenge the rich and question their value system. Nothing is mention in the NT about the commands of Jesus.
Why did Jesus become to be the Messiah? The Messiah came to change society. He couldn’t change society. He came to save us. The mighty deeds of Jesus and his healings. Healings is a fundamental aspect of God’s reign.
Jesus never came to establish a religion. Christianity is always the way. It is not an organization. Jesus never came to give us teachings or exhortations. He never gave us a charter of Christian life. He gave us the Good News of the Gospel. The Good News is that someone loves us. Jesus never ask us to Love God. The commandment love God is not of Jesus. The good news is that God loves me.
Most Christians are busy loving God.
In Canada most are involved in loving others. We worship God once a week. Loving your neighbour is what Jesus is all about. Jesus only gave us the good news to love one another. Good news to the poor.
1 Samuel Chapter 17 verse 34 & 35
Pastoral Ministry – Meaning of Pastoral (Shepherd) lay your life down. Meaning of Ministry (Service) – method of priesthood. One who risk his or her life to save the sheep. Risk your life to give service to others. Method was service. Not to be served but to serve.
We are trying to be Christian. Travelling to become more Christians.
Disciples – always failed him. They denied him and abandon him. He always forgave them and called them back.
We all have God’s DNA. I am a child of God. You are a child of God. I make mistakes and you make mistakes. We are God’s children. This is the good news.
Have an attitude of gratitude. Put positive energy out there.
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.
A meeting was held at St. Clare’s Convent Monday, April 24th, 2017. Coordinators were present from Sydney Mines, Glace Bay, Eskasoni, Glace Bay and Sydney. Regrets were sent from the Trenton Coordinator / Co- coordinator. After a warm welcome from Sr. Claudette, Julia lead us in the opening prayer. Then each group gave an update on their respective groups. Updates were also given on the progress at Bethany, the 2017 Associate Retreat, Sycamore deadlines, update on the Directory, the upcoming ARCAN Conference, and Mass for Shut Ins. Some discussion was held on concerns, ideas and visions for the future! Our day ended with the praying of our Associate prayer! Details of the meeting will be brought to each respective Associate group by the Coordinators!
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
Our monthly meeting on Feb.1st was bitter sweet. We were saddened to learn that Sister Claudette’s sister had died suddenly the day before, having just lost her husband to death just three weeks prior. We continue to hold Sister Claudette in our prayers and invite you to do the same. On the same day we invited Sister Clarine O’Leary to our meeting so we could say a proper farewell to her, since moving to Sydney after spending 24 years at St Clare Convent. It was so nice to have her back. We miss her but wish her well at her new residence in Sydney.
The Eastern Associates and Assistants met in Eskasoni on November 16. Present were Julia Townsend, Mike Finigan, Shirley Van Ryswyk, Joy Mac Intosh, Sister Gen MacDonald, Georgie Edwards, and Sister Claudette Gallant.
Regrets…Colleen Mac Neil, David Nearing and Nora Bernard.