September 8 & 9, 2017
Halifax, Nova Scotia
A recent meeting of the ARCAN Steering Committee was held at Barat residence in Halifax, September 8 and 9th, 2017. Sr. Claudette Gallant, Director of Associates, Julia Townsend, Co-Director, as well as Linda Longmire, Associate, Trenton Group, joined with Sisters and Associates of other Atlantic Congregations for the annual meeting. Topics discussed included a review of the ARCAN Conference which was held in June “Greening Our Hearts” with special guest speaker, Dolores Hall. Overall, the Conference was enjoyed by all who attended. As well, the group discussed whether ARCAN should continue into the future. This lead to much reflection among the group, ending with a resounding ‘YES”. It was acknowledged that ARCAN provides a wonderful networking among Atlantic Congregations, Sisters and Associates. This followed with proposing ways to make ARCAN a better resource for us all. We also decided to continue with the Conference every three years. This time period was needed as booking speakers and making preparations requires an enormous amount of planning and work!! The group also discussed how to keep the Congregation Charisms alive over time within the hearts of the Associates. There will be much more discussion on this topic in the coming year!! It was a wonderful weekend and a great way to connect and network!!
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
We met on Wednesday, March 8 for the first time since January, having been storm-stayed at home in February on the night of our meeting and it was great to get together. We welcomed a speaker, Reverend Robert Lyle, from upstairs literally – as we hold our meetings in a beautiful, cozy little room in his church, that being Bethel Presbyterian Church in Sydney. After we went over some business, Rev. Lyle joined us and gave us a talk about his work with the church and his journey with God and his faith. Very interesting.
Sydney Martha Associates with guest speaker, Rev. Robert Lyle of bethel Presbyterian Church.
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.”
For our February meeting, the Glace Bay & Area Martha Associates met at the home of David and Paula Nearing. We had invited Sr Sheila O’Handley to come and speak with our group as she was newly appointed to live a hermitage way of life late last year. We were also joined by Fr Norman McPhee who requested to come and hear more about this way of life.
During the afternoon, we were treated to a insightful talk on a Hermitage by Sister Sheila. Many of us harbored misconceptions about a hermitage and Sr Sheila, new to this way of life, gave a wonderful talk outlining life in a Hermatige, dispelling many of the myths.
Sr Sheila, highlighted many of the key ideals that make up the “Rule of Life” for her including her routine which consists of Prayer, Reflection, Study, and Fasting. She does extra work to help support herself, and allows for Solitude and Stillness to nurture her life. Following Sister Sheila talk, a delicious lunch was served compliments of Paula.
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.
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