NEWS AND EVENTS
A Celebration of
Faithfulness and Love
On June 8th, Sisters,
families and friends will gather at Mount St. Joseph in Peterborough
with six Sisters to celebrate wonderful milestones in their lives of
loving service to God and neighbour. The Jubilee will begin with
a Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Bishop Nicola DeAngelis,
Bishop of Peterborough. Following the Mass, there will be a
reception and time for the Jubilarians to enjoy time with family and
Process of Civil Approval
Wednesday, May 1st the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada began again the
process of obtaining approval of the Ontario Legislature for the civil
amalgamation of the four Congregations. The process was
interrupted when the Legislature was suddenly prorogued last October.
Grant Crack, MPP (Glengarry--Prescott--Russell) presented the
bill to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills. Our
counsel, Mr. Terry Carter, and Sister Veronica O'Reilly made brief
presentations to the Committee. They were accompnied by Sister
Loretta Manzara, Sister Mary McGuire and Sister Anne Kargas.
The Committee passed the Bill, and we now await the continuation of
the process to Second Reading, Third Reading and Royal Assent.
We pray that the process will not be interrupted by an election call!
Historic Leadership Circle Installation
On the feast of St.
Joseph, Tuesday, March 19th, the first Leadership Circle of the new
Congregation of the Sisters of
St. Joseph in Canada
was officially installed.
The ceremony, held at St. Peter-In-Chains
Cathedral, Peterborough, ON, was attended by Sisters from the four
founding Congregations, Associates and Companions, clergy (including
bishops) and many friends and supporters. With a moving mix of
music, Scripture and symbol, the outgoing leaders of the founding
Congregations were honoured, and the members of the new Leadership
Circle were anointed and affirmed by all the Sisters present.
The five new leaders then missioned the Sisters into this new venture.
Sister Veronica O'Reilly, the Congregational leader, gave a
challenging, hopeful reflection and the ceremony ended with the
symbolic sprinkling of all those present and the singing of "You Are
The Voice of the Living God". The Eucharistic Celebration for
the Feast of St. Joseph followed, with Bishop Nicola DeAngelis
presiding, and Bishop Michael Mulhall giving the homily.
Watch the video of the
Installation Ritual and Mass
Leadership Circle Installation -
Sister Veronica's Reflection
Watch the video of the reflection!
Good Morning everyone! It appears to
be a good day for installations. And it is a Happy Thing that this
morning we stand together in the reflected light and hope and
promise of the new Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis.
I second Sister Mary’s welcome to each of
you and say on behalf of us all in the Congregation here and in
our neighbourhoods we are pleased and humbled that you are with us
for our installation And for those who are able to stay, to
celebrate the Eucharist on this Feast of St. Joseph who belongs to
us all as patron of the universal church.
person said recently, and I believe her, that it is a risky
business to assess the times you live in, but still more risky to
avoid the challenge of doing so. We are here today because, in as
much as we are able, we are trying to see and to see through this
moment in our history. We want to discover what it invites us to,
what opportunities it offers us, and what responsibilities we have
at this time to offer our lives and resources at the service of
God and God’s people.
Almost 50 years ago, in 1965, our beloved
Church gave to vowed religious an extra special mandate to do this
assessment. The Second Vatican Council, guided by the Holy Spirit,
explicitly directed us to read the signs of the times and in true
gospel fashion reorient certain aspects of our lives to meet the
needs and opportunities that we discerned.
This obedience has brought us, not without
pain, more deeply into who it is we are and are called to be in
this moment. I believe I can say that the process has opened wider
our hearts and minds to the joys and hopes, the griefs and
anxieties of the people of this age.
has led us more deeply into the mysteries of the universe revealed
through science and theology and it has led us through faith and
experience and ongoing revelation to approach with greater awe and
greater joy the Ultimate Mystery of a compassionate God, to
reverence this God as immanent in all of Creation, lovingly
involved in all that exists, and yet infinitely and always Other.
We have come, I believe, to a more profound faith in Jesus the
Christ as the primary expression of God’s self-involvement with
the world from the beginning. We know him, St. Paul says, as “the
image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation. For in
him were created all things in heaven and earth, and he was the
first to be born from the dead.” And in the life, death and
resurrection of Jesus we have come to know and to embrace the
promise of more abundant life here and in the world to come. Most
importantly we are reinforced in our belief that the dynamic of
creation, the energy the scientists speak of, is love.
One could say that we always knew those
realities, but we know them differently now and in a different
context. As the prophet in Second Isaiah heard in his time and
place: God speaking:
Now I am revealing new things
Things hidden and unknown to
just now, this very moment,
Of these things you have heard
nothing until now,
So that you cannot say, “Oh
yes, I know all this”
You had never heard,
You did not know,
I had not opened your ear
Because not only did our understanding of
many things deepen, but our context changed. Something else has
been happening in these years when our faith lives, our
lifestyles, our theology and our spirituality were evolving: the
world around was changing in ways that may well be unique in many
centuries of recorded history. Each of us here, even the younger
people among us, knows from personal experience that galloping
pace of change and the effect it has on our lives, on our
long-held social and religious traditions.
Those tumultuous decades have shown us
clearly that as thinking human beings on our planet, our
understanding, our very consciousness, needs to expand with the
breath of God’s Holy Spirit. Our consciousness needs to evolve so
we can wisely and bravely go where God is inviting us into what
promises to be a very different future. It is critical that
we, being ever more conscious of God’s
creation in all its forms and our struggling but precious
humanity, enter into the conversations that predict a less than
human future for humankind, perhaps a cyber-consciousness born of
the almost total absorption into the virtual world that science,
aided by technology, creates and promises.
With our ears now being opened we have choices to make. One such
choice is to trust in the promise of a future that resurrection
gives us and to move forward into it with hope and joy. A
colleague in our wider congregation lights up this choice with two
little examples; one from Greek mythology, one from the Hebrew
The Greek story features Odysseus who travels for many years after
the Trojan War to return to his home on the island of Ithaca.
There he hopes to rejoin his faithful wife Penelope, his devoted
son Telemachus, and his irreplaceable dog Argus. Along the way
Odysseus has a slew of exciting adventures - who can forget the
LotusEaters or the Sirens, the Cyclops, or Scylla and Charybdis.
But the overall trajectory of his story is one of return. He is
aiming to go back to the security and joys of the known past.
story features Abraham who hears a call from God: “Leave your
country, your kinfolk, and your father’s house and go to the land
that I will show you” (Gen 12:1). Centuries later the New
Testament summed up Abraham’s awesome response: “he went forth not
knowing where he was going” (Heb 11:8). Unlike Odysseus, Abraham
and his wife Sarah, with Hagar & the rest of their household, did
not have extraordinary adventures. At times things were so bleak
they had to keep “hoping against hope”, as Paul later wrote in
Romans (4:18). But they looked toward the stars and imagined what
was possible, until in their old age a child was born. The God who
promised was faithful, and a new future dawned.
So we are making choices in the light of
God’s promise to be faithful, among them this wider sense of
community we celebrate today. We continue to choose deep prayer
and contemplation as our preferred way of discerning; we ask for
and try to practice an increasing respect and love for all of
God’s creation, especially the Earth and its resources and all its
species.; we choose to continue our commitment, in all the ways we
are able, to those persons whom Jesus favoured, those who have
been left on the side of the road by circumstance and oppression,
and we seek to live and speak courageously the truth of the gospel
as we discern it together in our time and place. We know we won’t
live all these choices perfectly and as lovingly as we would wish,
but we are trying and we trust that it is in making even small
choices, as Pope Francis has so movingly done, that we can be
transformed, converted even, in our personal lives to meet the
future God is inviting us to.
This morning we express the hope that we
can continue to stand together with all of you in imagining and
hoping the new love story of Creation and Incarnation that God is
opening our ears to hear.
INTO A NEW MOMENT...
November 22, 2012, in Markham, Ontario, a new chapter was opened in
the long and storied history of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Four of the
six Canadian congregations---Hamilton, London, Peterborough and
Pembroke joined together to become one new congregation---the
Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada. They recognize
within themselves the impulse of the spirit toward creating a global
community in which all may flourish. With Sisters of St. Joseph in 57
countries around the world, this large network allows them to partner
with others on such important concerns as human trafficking, the
growing disparity between rich and poor, gender inequity and
In a very
moving ritual on the first evening, Sisters wearing different
solid-coloured scarves according to their congregations, came forward,
removed the scarf and gave it to their Congregational leader. She in
turn gave each one a multicoloured scarf which included all four
colours of the original scarves. Sister Ann MacDonald, who came to the
meeting from Malawi, Africa said, “Coming from such a great distance
for our Chapter and returning to Malawi with our symbol of the scarf,
will now remind me of our new founding moment as CSJ women.”
first day of the five day meeting, the group set to work on naming
their priorities for the next four years. The Sisters embraced the new
moment, opening themselves to an ongoing conversion, rooted in a
graced evolution of consciousness. From this foundation, they
committed themselves to discern and engage in the transformation that
is needed in order to move toward a more just world that supports the
thriving of all of life.
in which they wish to contribute to a more inclusive and just world is
in the use of their resources. They have chosen socially responsible
investing for their pooled resources. The philosophy statement which
guides their investments highlights two particular areas: the
elimination of poverty and the promotion of ecological justice. They
are conscious that women and indigenous peoples are disproportionately
affected by these issues. Use
of their investments becomes one more way to claim a public voice for
the common good.
leadership of five sisters was elected to animate these promises among
all the sisters. When asked what her hopes and the hopes of the
sisters are for this new moment in the history of the sisters of St.
Joseph, the newly elected congregational leader,
Sister Veronica O’Reilly stated, “We hope to sustain our serious
commitment into this new moment with the grace of God and the
continuing partnership of those who share our hopes for a better
Sisters departed from Markham heartened by the spirit and energy
evident among them and conscious that the renewal of Vatican II in
which they have been engaged for over 50 years has led them to this
new moment. They continue the journey, faithful to the unfolding of
God’s design in their life together.
As we move
forward in hope,
we ask your prayers that we will continue
guided by the Spirit
as we live out the charisms left to us by our
AN EXCITING NEW DEVELOPMENT FOR US!
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Peterborough
are about to begin an exciting new stage in our development!
After a four year process of prayer, discernment and
consultation, we have decided to merge with the Sisters of St. Joseph
in Hamilton, London and Pembroke to form the
Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.
This major decision was
made because we sense a call to new life.
Aware of the reality of our declining numbers, we chose this
route us to seed the future with all the life we can.
We believe that we can accomplish more for the mission and
ministries we embrace by this merger. This restructuring will allow us
to work with one Leadership Team, instead of the four we have now,
providing us with a greater number of women as potential leaders now
and in the future. The 300
members in the new congregation will give us a stronger public
presence and a voice in the world.
We also anticipate that there will be new possibilities for
ministry, for collaborating together, and for complementary strengths
that will emerge. We have
a sense of energy and enthusiasm for the possibilities which the new
From November 18th to 24th
146 Sisters from the four merging congregations will meet in the first
‘General Chapter’ of the new congregation.
At this time the direction and priorities of the new community
will be decided, and the first Leadership Team will be chosen.
The principal seat of the
new congregation, Sisters of
St. Joseph in Canada, will be at Mount St. Joseph in Peterborough.
The large residences of each of the founding communities, which
serve as home for many senior Sisters and infirmary care for those in
declining health, will remain for those Sisters.
In fact, for most Sisters their daily life and ministry will
To see earlier NEWS items, go to