Friday, September 30, 2016

Sr. Amy Joy

Sr. Amy Joy was born and raised in Hong Kong, coming to Canada in 1973 to further her study and was graduated at the University of Toronto with a BA in Economics in 1977. She received her Canadian citizenship in 1978, but returned to Hong Kong that same year to take over her Father’s business following his death. Her brother who worked together with her died suddenly the following year. These two deaths in such a short time had a severe impact on her, and she crashed emotionally. 

Religion had not been a major concern in her life to that point; but in 1989, a relative introduced her to Jesus. She was baptized the same year, and found a welcoming Methodist Church nearby. After her conversion, there was a break-through for her. Study used to be a difficult task for her, but in Christ she was able to continue her study and received her MBA from Zhongshan University in China (1993-1996). She was later trained and equipped by the Hong Kong Methodist Church in lay ministry and joined several mission trips with her church. The mission trips to Malaysia in 1998 and Cambodia in 1999 were highlights.

Sr. Amy Joy returned to Canada in 2001 to study for and obtain her Master of Divinity from Toronto’s Tyndale University College and Seminary in 2004. Following graduation, she worked as a Pastor with the North Toronto Chinese Baptist Church, specializing in women’s ministry until 2011. 

She left to pursue a Master of Divinity in Spiritual Formation from Tyndale, completing this degree in 2012. She is currently pursuing her Certified Spiritual Direction credentials from Tyndale. In the meantime, she joined the SSJD Women at a Crossroads program during the summer of 2012, and learned about the importance of balance in life for the first time.

In September 2012, she joined the Alongsider program until September 2014 then applied to enter the Community as a Postulant. During this time, she has undertaken a variety of duties - assisting in the Guest House; as part of the St. John’s Rehab team; and, as the Volunteer Coordinator.

In April 2015, she became a Novice, and is assigned as the Sacristan Assistant. She finds this work in the Chapel challenging due to the discipline and detail required; however, she is also discovering its joy. A highlight for Sr. Amy Joy since entering the Sisterhood has been the incredible sense of peace, belonging and acceptance that have come from living and worshiping with community, a new and wonderful experience for her.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sr. Anitra

Sr. Anitra was born in Regina’s Grey Nuns Hospital (now Pasqua Hospital) to Danish parents who had emigrated from Denmark to Canada during the Great Depression. She was christened in the United Church as there was no Lutheran Church in Regina at that time. The family made the big move to Toronto in 1938 and they found a Danish Lutheran Church on Wellesley Street – St. Ansgar Lutheran, but the family later switched to Bloor Street United Church.

In the early 1960’s, she was confirmed at St. John’s Norway Anglican Church. She attended Toronto’s Central Technical School for Commercial Art courses and later the University of Toronto Fine Arts program. She taught art at Glen Ames and Fairmount Park Senior Public Schools.

Her initial contact with SSJD came in 1962, but she had the impression that she needed first to be a nurse – not a personal interest of hers. She was next introduced in 1975 by an Associate, and knew then that she was meant for the religious life and this order. However, the tragic accidental death of her brother and the sudden death of her Father shortly thereafter forced a postponement.

Finally entering the Order on October 25, 1977, Sr. Anitra has worked in the kitchen, the laundry, housekeeping, as a Guest Sister, Librarian, Archives Sister, and Retreats Director. She has been a Spiritual Director and an Assessor on ACPO, and has served at the Branch Houses in Edmonton, Cana Place, Victoria (twice) and Montreal. In the early days in community, she did some painting and small clay sculptures. As time went on, assignments intervened and she has not done anything in this creative area in recent years.

Currently, she is Spiritual Care Sister at St. John’s Rehab Hospital, a ministry she particularly loves. Throughout her life, Sr. Anitra says she has been particularly influenced by her Father and his attitude that clearly said to her – “be who you are and YOU decide what you want to do.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sr. Anne

Sr. Anne was born in Ashbury Park, New Jersey, although her parents were from Montreal. Her father was an English Protestant organist and her mother a French-Canadian Catholic opera singer. The family moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania and later, with her sister, to Baltimore, where “I experienced school integration of blacks and whites in the ‘60’s. Moving to New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, however, racism was still apparent. Her parents began teaching children, most of whom were black, sowing seeds of Sr. Anne’s desire to teach music to disadvantaged children.

Having taken up the violin at age nine, Sr. Anne studied at Dalhousie in Halifax and at various times since, has played with the Atlantic Symphony, the Canadian Chamber Orchestra in Banff and several Ontario symphonies. She started choir involvement at age six in her father’s choir and along with Sunday School, “the two golden threads of music and theology began weaving through my life”, yet not quite taking hold at the times when she was ready to grasp them firmly.

Sr. Anne was raised a Lutheran as it was considered a compromise between her parents’ traditions. “I experienced a call but I didn’t know what it was” after graduating in Music. Waterloo Lutheran Seminary was followed by chaplaincy experiences, and then a priest said “maybe you should enter a religious community”.

Her initial contact with the Convent prompted an inner voice, “I don’t think so, Lord”, and later on “maybe it might be possible”. Although Anglican-Lutheran dialogues were occurring then, Sr. Anne took steps to become an Anglican as “I sensed something’s going on. Then it became clear, so I entered on Holy Cross Day 1994 at age 42”.

She has been involved in every department of the Sisterhood, including the branch houses. “A real highlight was having my Lutheran Bishop participate in my Life Profession as it occurred the same year as the signing of the Waterloo declaration”. Another highlight for her was the Order of the Holy Paraclete (OHP) exchange and being able to visit Iona.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sr. Beryl

Although born in Coronach, Saskatchewan, Sr. Beryl and her three brothers lived on a farm nine miles away. To attend the one-room school over three miles away, they had to walk, take a horse and cart or ride bareback.

At 13 Beryl went to Regina to the Qu’Appelle Diocesan School (QDS) for five years, then began BA studies at Regina College, completing them in Saskatoon at the University of Saskatchewan. Intending further studies she went to England, “ambled about doing various jobs”, returning to teach at QDS in ’52 and to Toronto in ’53 for MA studies in English.

Hearing about short term missionary work in India (as well as thinking about the Sisterhood), Beryl set off via England where she worked in summer agricultural camps and a UN camp in Austria. She sailed from Southampton to Bombay via the Suez Canal during the Suez crisis in ’56. After four and a half years teaching in India, she came to the Community “feeling well-marinated in SSJD” through her times at QDS. “A lot ended but a lot began”.

She returned to QDS three more times as a Sister, the last as headmistress and oversaw the closing of the school – a “low-light” for her, but aware that “tough times are important to our learning”. A highlight of the Priory in Edmonton was when she and Sr. Jean were asked “to do something for the poor”. They joined a United Church project in which Sr. Beryl started an adult literacy programme that expanded and still exists as “The Learning Centre”.

After 13 years Sr. Beryl returned to the Convent, continuing [in] the role of Associate Director but now for Ontario and the Eastern US; then six years at Maison in St. Lambert, Quebec. Through all the years “the friendships and relationships were gift – and now the opportunity of doing spiritual care at the Hospital [SJRH] – a highlight for me”.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sr. Brenda

The eldest of six children, Sr. Brenda was born in Windsor, Ontario. Her father, a cabinet maker, her mother a woman of strong faith, Sr. Brenda was a cradle Anglican growing up in a rural church. She enjoyed Sunday School, Guiding, youth groups, participating on school teams, attending the YM-YWCA and later on, taught swimming, gymnastics and judo. “Guiding had a tremendous impact on my life by opening doors for me to explore new things and learn about God, our environment and myself”.

An RN, Sr. Brenda combined her interests in nursing, physical geography, social geography and culture, and adventure by nursing in Canada’s Arctic and abroad. She ventured deeper into the spiritual dimension of her life, her relationship with God and who she was as a Christian.

Home on furlough from India, her minister suggested she go into a retreat at the Convent. “It was on this retreat that I heard God’s call for me to enter the religious life. With fear and trepidation but a desire to be obedient, I entered SSJD in June 1991 at age 40”.

A highlight for Sr. Brenda was being on exchange with the Order of the Holy Paraclete Sisters in Johannesburg, South Africa. “It was the moment my past life as a nurse who liked to work overseas and my new life as a Sister met, and I found marvel, peace and joy with what was, for what is now, and for what is to come”.

Another highlight was the first Christmas at the new, unfinished Convent. “We went into the Chapel and sang among the chaos of building material. As I sat on a pile of wood and soaked in the beauty of the candlelight, the huge snowflakes gently falling on the windows, the singing of Silent Night and thinking of Jesus’ birth in a stable, beauty, peace, hope, joy and good old nostalgia danced within and around me. Gratefulness for God’s presence that Christmas in the messes and dreams of life, and for the gift of community, still flows forth when I think about that night”.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sr. Constance Joanna

Along with her brother, Sr. Constance Joanna was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents shared Swedish roots but met in Chicago at the 1933 World’s Fair.

She learned to play the piano early on but gave it up at age 10 “because I wanted to be outside playing not inside practising”, then picked it up later along with the organ. “Music was a huge part of my life. I don’t think I was ever away from a choir.”

Sr. Constance Joanna got her undergraduate degree in English, and then her MA followed by a PhD in American Literature and Linguistics. Five years teaching in Detroit and a year as a Fulbright Professor in Germany were followed by a tenured position at Virginia Tech.

“I grew up in the Methodist Church and, although I was later confirmed in the Episcopal Church, I always loved John Wesley, especially the way he talked in his journal about how his heart was ‘strangely warmed’. I aspired to be that myself but it was many years before I discovered that God was around me all the time. This gave me the courage to accept that God could call me out of teaching into the Sisterhood….

I thought I was giving up teaching, but it was my first true ‘vocation’ in the sense that I felt God truly called me and gave me gifts for that. I had become an Associate through my friends at the Cathedral in Detroit and was a regular visitor at the Convent from 1972.”

In 1984 at age 43, Sr. Constance Joanna came to the Sisterhood “not sure whether I was called to be a Sister or a priest. Eventually I had the great blessing of fulfilling both…. I’ve worked at several areas in the Convent and in many roles at St. John’s Rehab. I also had both the joys and the heartaches of being Reverend Mother for 11 years.”

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sr. Doreen

Sr. Doreen was born in Verdun, Quebec, the eldest child of four. As her father worked for the CPR,

the family moved frequently, so her schooling was experienced in Winnipeg, Calgary, Medicine Hat and Vancouver.

She was strongly influenced by her time in Brownies, Guides, Rangers and then as a leader with Guides, along with the Anglican Young People’s Association (AYPA) and teaching Sunday School. Involvement in Rangers was a time of travel, fellowship and outreach projects to the disadvantaged and handicapped. Holidays with family, friends and relatives travelling in Canada brought enjoyment of camping and the outdoors.

“Since the age of eight when an SSJD Sister spoke to our Sunday School class, I had a longing to give my life to God in some way”. Teen years in Medicine Hat surrounded by SSJD Associates and teaching Sunday School, continued to nourish the spark. “I became an Associate in the early ’60’s in Vancouver and, after finishing my BA at UBC in May 1965, I came for a month’s holiday to the Convent, hoping that would either confirm my call to the religious life or free me to ‘get on with other plans’ – marriage, lots of children, teaching, postgraduate studies…. My call was confirmed, so I entered in October ’65 at age 22.

Highlights for Sr. Doreen “have always centred around our life together, doing whatever was needed to make our Community strong and authentic in its outreach to others and the world”. From retreats, missions, spiritual direction, cooking in the Convent kitchen to times in Regina and Edmonton houses and our Home for the Elderly and Cana Place, VP at St. John’s Rehab Hospital (SJRH), starting a branch house in BC – and now a return to the Convent and Community life here – have all added their own highlights to the underlying foundation of prayer, hospitality and service”.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sr. Dorothy

Hamilton, Ontario was Sr. Dorothy’s birthplace, but she moved to Burlington following her adoption at the age of four, and lived there until she was 10. She has a younger sister and brother, an older sister and, until his recent death, an older brother – all of whom were adopted. After moving to Bracebridge, she attended school taking business and commercial courses and became a legal secretary.

“At age 17, I asked my priest about Anglican orders and he contacted SSJD who advised that I had to be 21”. She married in 1973, had two sons and “was an at-home Mom and returned to work in 1989”. Her interests had included horseback riding, cross-country running, nature and the out-of-doors, church groups, Bible studies and volunteering at a retirement home.

After her divorce in 1995 Sr. Dorothy, in frustration, explored a variety of jobs and activities “seeking the path God was calling me to”. A visit to the Convent was suggested and “I knew as soon as I entered the door”. Weekend visits in 2000 to experience the Community, “a talk regarding becoming an ‘Associate’ only it came out ‘Sister’ – and the process started”.

Sr. Dorothy entered in September 2001 at age 48. Highlights have included “learning and experiencing community in a different way when I thought I was being called to a deeper sense of prayer”. Regarding her time at the Montreal branch house – “I didn’t want to go, but it was the best experience I could have had…. Every ministry has its own blessings and gives something God wants you to have.”

Throughout her experience with breast cancer, Sr. Dorothy was very aware of much caring support from all levels of the Community. “One of the things I really like about Community is the way we work towards consensus – discussing and making decisions together – something the monastic life can offer the world”. A personal highlight for Sr. Dorothy has been attaining the status of “Grandma”!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sr. Dorothy Grace

Sr. Dorothy Grace was born and raised in Hong Kong. She was baptized in the Baptist church in
1989. However, she was familiar with the Anglican faith having attended an Anglican primary school and services at the Anglican Church next door with which the school was affiliated.

She worked as an office administrator in Hong Kong and Beijing before immigrating to Canada in 1988. She was able to quickly obtain full time secretarial work and attended Toronto’s Seneca College to obtain an executive secretarial diploma. Upon receiving God’s calling, she completed the Masters of Divinity in Pastoral studies from Tyndale Seminary. And then served as a pastor at Church and a Chaplain in hospice.

Sr. Dorothy Grace retired in 2013, and asked God what was next in her life. She attended the SSJD Women at a Crossroads program in the summer of 2014 at the urging of a friend. She had always been attracted to the religious life, having been initially inspired by the Sound of Music movie. She joined the SSJD community as an Alongsider in the fall of 2014, and was assigned to the spiritual care team at St. John’s Rehab Hospital (SJR) for her year in the program. She acknowledged that she learned a lot about life from her pastoral and spiritual care work, and that those patients were a great source of encouragement and inspiration for her.

During a 40 day retreat at Loyola House in the late fall of 2015, Sr. Dorothy Grace confirmed that formally entering the SSJD community was the place where she should go to build a deeper relationship with God. This community also seemed to be the right place to share the gifts God had given her, and to explore what further gifts she might discover and offer. She joined the SSJD community in January 2016 adding “Grace” to her given name in acknowledgement of the Grace of God in her life. Initially assigned to Chapel duties, she is finding that this is a wonderful and exciting new beginning for her.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sr. Elizabeth

Sr. Elizabeth was born in Vancouver, B.C., joining a brother nine years older, and attended Crofton
House School for 12 years. She loved photography, hiking and camping, and was extensively involved in the Girl Guides which led to her attending an International Guide Camp in Switzerland in 1957. Later as a Guide Captain she met (Sr.) Doreen who told her about SSJD.

Although planning a secretarial career, she spent a year at Neuchatel Junior College in Switzerland where she took up skiing and fencing along with developing her love of travelling which would later include much of Europe, Australia and the Far East. Back in Vancouver, she worked in the tourist and travel industry. While working with a new employee, Elizabeth was told, “You should become a teacher!” A B.Ed. at UBC followed where she was “urged to go into Honours English.” Travel and church interests increased culminating in two years teaching in Japan as part of the Anglican Church’s Volunteers in Mission.

On her return she joined the staff at Crofton House “teaching English and religious studies and stayed for 26 ½ years.” Having learned earlier from Sr. Doreen about SSJD, Elizabeth had become an Associate and “in 1969 felt called to the Community but my parents were unsupportive, so I gave up the idea.” In 1984, Sr. Elizabeth was married “gaining not only a husband but two sons.” In late 1992 a brain tumour ended Ben’s life.

In her Associate annual report in 1995 Sr. Elizabeth noted that she “was part of a small group of women searching for something more, perhaps Oblates.” She attended the Women at a Crossroads in 1996 without any thought of joining the Convent. After four days of the programme she felt a call to the religious life, and entered SSJD in 1997 at age 55.

Highlights have included her time in the Montreal branch house, being Director of Associates, Novitiate Director (“It’s a great privilege to nurture new members”), leading retreats and quiet days, assisting Sr. Elizabeth Ann (while Elizabeth Ann was Reverend Mother), and editing the Eagle. Sr. Elizabeth was elected the Reverend Mother and installed in May 2015.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sr. Elizabeth Ann

Born in Sudbury, Sr. Elizabeth Ann recalls “a happy city where multi-cultural people helped each other through hard times – a good place to grow up”. She was one of six children (but two brothers died in childhood). She now has two brothers and a sister. Her parents sponsored several children through Foster Parents Plan including one foster brother from Korea whom she met in the summer of 2012 when he came to visit Canada.

At age 10 she moved to Toronto and connected with St. Matthew’s Islington. Then at age 16 she moved to North York and joined St. John’s York Mills. High School, mainly through the Alternate and Independent Studies Program, was followed by Forestry at Lakehead University while attending church in Port Arthur.

Having had earlier involvement with church pageants, Sunday School, and Junior Auxiliary, she joined the choir, drama group and became a server. She began to explore Christian Meditation, reading The Cloud of Unknowing, The Philokalia, and going for a month’s visit to the Convent. “I was caught up in the silent pauses in the recitation of the psalms; the touch of God was in that silence”.

She returned to university and then worked at Weall and Cullen Nursery Garden Centre and in 1987 entered SSJD at age 30. Her interests have included science fiction reading, Chinese brush painting and art as an expression of spirituality, calligraphy and writing Haikus. “I love to cook and I love to bake!”

Highlights for Sr. Elizabeth Ann in Community include her time in Montreal “helping to open the house and getting the ministry going; living in a different kind of culture…. I love life in general – there’s ups and downs”. Called back from Montreal in 2000 to be assistant to the Reverend Mother, she was then elected to that position in 2005 and states that “although you experience difficulties at times, you really get to understand what is the grace of the office…. God really does sustain and help you do what you could not do alone…. It’s really quite amazing!”

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sr. Helen Claire

The path to the Convent can be rather circuitous. Although a cradle Anglican, like many others Sr. Helen Claire didn’t know Anglican convents existed until the 1980’s.

“I grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, towards the end of the colonial era. I had an idyllic childhood in a gentler time and place”. After graduating from the University of the West Indies in Spanish and economics, she worked with the tourist board for two years then emigrated in 1970 to Toronto, “the city I know best and loves,” she says. “I’ve been here ever since, except for a year in Paris to try and learn French and a year at our branch house in Montreal”.

For 13 years Sr. Helen Claire was with the Ontario provincial civil service in communications working on internal house publications. When she returned to the church in 1984, she met an SSJD Associate who introduced her to the Sisterhood and the Convent. Laid off in June 1996, she did the Women at a Crossroads programme that July, stating clearly on the application form: “I’m not interested in the religious life but I am at a crossroads.” When the programme ended seven of that group expressed the intention to join the Convent. “I was not one of them.”

Months and travels went by and then she returned for a retreat and realized “why my job-hunting had been half-hearted.” Entering in 1998 at age 54, Sr. Helen Claire has worked mainly in the Associate Office and Guest House. She also had an assignment as sacristan in the chapel that she said suited her as she preferred to work in the background and was good at details.

She ended by saying, “If you want to learn a language, you go and live with the people who speak it. I came to SSJD to learn the language of love. It will take me the rest of my life to do so.”

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sr. Jessica

Glasgow, Scotland was the birthplace, home and school beginning for Sr. Jessica. Although she was
a school drop-out, having left home and school at 16 due to economic challenges, she picked up her schooling later and went on to nursing, a university degree and many additional courses.

Coming to Canada in ’63 she “did all kinds of nursing from public health to pioneering a family planning clinic”, many of which required special studies. Describing herself as a “late-bloomer”, she moved from her Church of Scotland roots into the United Church and attended the Centre for Christian Studies.

A visit to the Convent suggested by a monk friend found her “very drawn to the place” and caused her to stay an additional 11 weeks that summer. “It didn’t take long for me to know I was being called to come here”. Sr. Frances Joyce said “stay close and come often”. The turning point, Sr. Jessica realized, had been a course on Christian Holiness that opened for her the monastic tradition; “a whole new life introduced me to sacramental theology”.

It all became an incredible awakening and couldn’t get enough of me”. On her first desert day, while journaling, she was suddenly aware of being a Christian for years “and now living the Gospel with people you wouldn’t necessarily choose – the gift and the difficult of living and working together”.

All her jobs had challenging times when she questioned her vocation: “I don’t want to blow this. I remember crying over the laundry…. We had a golden opportunity in this life to look at ourselves every day through the scriptures, retreats, reading, etc. I loved doing the chapel and the infirmary (looking after the souls and bodies of the Sisters! Aren’t I privileged!), and with such dedicated help. Maybe I’ll be a late-bloomer in heaven too”.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sr. Jocelyn

St. Hilda’s Church played a prominent role in the early years of Sr. Jocelyn and her younger brother,
and St. Hilda of Whitby is still a lifelong interest.

Sr. Jocelyn took commercial courses in high school, majoring in accountings, along with developing interests in Brownies, Guides, Cadets and enjoyment in walking. She worked for the Toronto Board of Education while leading Brownies and was a volunteer at the Anglican Congress in Toronto in 1963. She also helped set up the book room at St. Thomas’ Church.

Three trips to England and an awareness of wanting “more than a 9-5 job”, I felt called to community, so I approached SSJD but was asked to wait”. Jocelyn then moved to Port Hope to be with the mentally retarded children challenged children from the Aurora and Ottawa houses, working alongside Srs. Anna and Eileen who had been SSJD.

In 1969 she entered Community at the age of 26. “I first visited the Convent after Sr. Teresa made me promise on a flight from England that I would visit her, and that was the summer of 1965…. I have spent more than half my Community time at branch houses including the Priory in Edmonton and then Victoria. She took on the Altar Linen department in 1978. Sr. Jocelyn was involved with the Toronto Diocesan Healing Committee, the Miriam Dobell Centre Committee. She was inducted into the Order of St. Luke in 1978 and was the first lay chaplain in Canada.

An early “highlight” for Sr. Jocelyn in Community was “having cancer in 1970 and being given three months to live…..after making my Profession, the cancer signs disappeared”. She is enthusiastic about her stewarding experiences and contacts at the Cathedral where she also “belongs to the Healing Committee, along with attending local clericus, clergy days and doing the House finances…”.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sr. Kathryn

Sisters Dorothy Grace, Amy Joy
 and Kathryn
Sr. Kathryn was born in Plymouth, Devon, England and immigrated to Canada in 1968 with her mother and siblings. They settled initially in Vancouver, and then moved throughout the Province over the course of a number of years, living in Smithers, Dawson Creek, Kelowna and finally Victoria.

Subsequent moves included Nova Scotia and Ontario but Kathryn and her Mother returned to BC in 1993, settling first in Abbotsford. During her working career in a variety of professional offices, she had been studying for and obtaining an Accounting Diploma with CMA. Later, they moved back to Vancouver Island where Kathryn established an accounting business for herself, and was able to work primarily from home and be of support to her Mother whose health began to fail in 2004 until her death in 2009.

The care of her Mother over that five-year period left Sr. Kathryn both physically and mentally exhausted, and wondering what life would hold in store for her now. While study of all religions was encouraged in her upbringing, attending church was not. Kathryn felt a call to the religious life at age 16, particularly to a religious nursing order – the Sisters of St. Ann in Victoria. Circumstances did not allow her to entertain this option at the time.

Following the death of her Mother, Kathryn attended St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Qualicum Beach and was welcomed with open arms. She focused on her healing, and was baptized and confirmed in January 2010. She became involved in Cursillo in 2011, graduated the EFM program in 2014, and became a mentor that supported her work in various church ministries.

After hearing about a Rosary workshop at BC House she visited the house and sensed it was a spiritual home in which she could anchor her faith journey. In 2012, Kathryn became an Associate, but later, in the silence and contemplation, she sensed it was “not enough”. She began Oblate discernment and took first promises in November 2014, but again the guiding voice said “not enough”.

2015 was a particularly challenging year with her work in a local law firm and in finding ongoing support for her spiritual growth. During a residency week at BC House, she sensed again the need for transformation and to discover a way to live each moment “from that true place” within herself with deeper integrity and intention. She responded to that call by applying to the Convent to enter as a postulant. From that point, things moved very quickly and Kathryn entered community on the first of April 2016.

Highlights for Sr. Kathryn are the structured commitment to prayer and devotion throughout each day, support in her spiritual formation and the opportunity to serve community in so many ways, all in a place of true peace and Godly love.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sr. Louise

Sr. Louise was born in Victoria, B.C. as her parent’s first child, followed three years later by her sister. She attended early school there before moving to Chemainus, B.C. for high school and then Nanaimo for college. Her interests included swimming, sewing, ballet, figure-skating, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, eventually taking on leadership roles. (She still does warm-up exercises as “it’s really helped with maintaining my joint flexibility”.) “We always had a dog which helped me to have a love of animals.”

Sr. Louise was married for a short time (very young) and has a son and two grandchildren. She worked at Eaton’s in a variety of departments, then back to college for computer courses and into office work. When that company closed “I found it difficult to find work within that field – I was just too old.”

Louise finally settled on a seniors’ residence where “getting to know those folks greatly enriched my life.” This was the turning point for her as she became restless in her spiritual life. She learned about SSJD and attended the discernment programme in 1999. “This seemed the answer to the deep calling I was feeling at the time – and it still is.”

Entering the Community at age 47, Sr. Louise’s first branch house experience was at St. John’s Rehab Hospital which “was – and remains – one of the most fulfilling ministries I’ve been involved in”. Other highlights for her included trips to the Anglican/Episcopal religious communities which “helped me to discern more clearly my call, not just to the religious life but to SSJD in particular.” Louise returned for a time to Victoria in a new ministry as the Oblate Director, a position that she said she took “very seriously and with deep regard for the women who are Oblates.” Through family and marriage difficulties, “I have always felt God’s presence with me – and now…. I have the love and prayers of my Community and I have Sisters that I love and pray for.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sr. Patricia

Sisters Wilma and Patricia
Born in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Sr. Patricia was “baptized by my Lutheran grandfather, attended Presbyterian Mission Band, United Church CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training), Sunday School and church camps, and from pre-school years I wanted to be a missionary”.

After nurses training in Moose Jaw General, Patricia attended the University of Saskatchewan for the diploma course in Teaching and Supervision in Schools of Nursing. After two years nursing in the navy she attended the United Church Training School in Toronto. When work overseas was not available, she served at a hospital in Hazelton, BC, which included some work with Indian health.

 On a European trip with her optometrist father in ’64, they visited Berlin and, in going to East Berlin, experienced the infamous “Checkpoint Charlie”. She also went to Windsor for a polo game, and met the Queen Mother and the Queen. In ’65, Sr. Patricia worked in Kent, but “was still aware of something deeply missing in my life”. She took confirmation classes and was confirmed in the Church of England in May ’66.

Her father’s declining health brought her back to Saskatchewan where she decided to make a retreat, as “religious life” and “convent” frequently entered her mind. She told her parents: “I’ve been searching for many years and I feel that I need to pursue this so, in the fall, I will become an aspirant for a month and then a postulant, [to see] if it is meant to be”.

Meaningful memories that she carries with her are the fun as an aspirant; happiness of working in different houses with the various Sisters; attending the Oxford Conference with Sr. Merle in ’83; experiencing the Whitby exchange programme in ’97; being an anointer; and, receiving the Associate Diploma in Theology from Thorneloe College. “If I hadn’t taken all these ‘stepping stones’ in following God’s call, I would not be here”.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sr. Sarah Jean

Sr. Sarah Jean was born in Toronto, an only child to parents from Nova Scotia. In 1950 the family moved to Marathon, Ontario, a pulp and paper town, for six years where she developed her strong love of nature and sewing. She was involved with Brownies, Guides, Sunday School and later on, church choir and teaching Sunday school in St. Patrick’s, when the family returned to Toronto, and where she met Sr. Christine and Sr. Wilhelmina of SSJD.

Trained as a nurse, Sara Jean worked at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Victoria Hospital in London and Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital. Increasing church involvement, sewing, crochet and embroidery added to her skills. “I find it contemplative to sew – especially ripping out! It frees my mind for other things”. She has also been making Anglican Rosaries and leading workshops to teach others.

Sr. Sarah Jean entered Community at age 30 and recalls “one of my happiest times was living in Edmonton for 11 years, longer than I ever lived anywhere. We had poodles and cats which I loved even though allergic to them.... I also got to know the people over time and it was enriching to be with them…. We has a great sense of being part of the Diocese, something I also experienced in Montreal” and later in Victoria.

While in Montreal as Head of House, she sat on the Diocesan Committee for following up on candidates for ordination and was able to take courses in prayer companioning. Another highlight for Sr. Sarah Jean was her first directed retreat at Loyola House, “a time of spiritual renewal for me and giving a new look at what ministry means. When something affects one that much, one wants to share it”. In Victoria, she was Director of Western Associates and spoke excitedly about her new opportunities of experiencing the wild beauty of BC landscape while travelling to various communities.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sr. Wilma

Sisters Elizabeth, Amy Joy, Dorothy and Wilma
Sister Wilma lived in Cupar, Saskatchewan until age eight when the family moved to Mossomin and
then Yorkton, where she completed her schooling. She knew SSJD had a school in Regina because “Mom was an Associate and wore her cross on Sundays”. She recalls seeing “three Sisters walking across the Qu’Appelle Diocesan School (QDS) grounds when visiting the Diocesan office with her father, an Anglican priest.

Later, Sr. Wilma worked in Yorkton, Calgary and Moose Jaw before joining the Bank of Montreal in Regina. While there she became involved in the Anglican Young People’s Association (AYPA) at St. Paul’s Cathedral and also came to know Sr. Audrey at QDS. “I had no sense whatever of becoming one of them.”

Although she appreciated and valued the background from which she came, she said it was chiefly through the Community that her growth and development was challenged, and often pushed beyond what she thought she could do. “My almost 25 years in the bursar’s office may not have been that different from my four years in the bank, but I learned that all work is of equal value if done to the glory of God.

My 17 years in the Church Home were truly valued years and gave me the opportunity to grow in love and concern for others – the privilege of sharing in so many lives. My brief year at the Priory in Edmonton gave me a tiny glimpse of what it would be like to work with the poor and marginalized – my deep desire for as long as I can remember. In the 12 years I spend at St. John’s Rehab Hospital, I experienced a different aspect of care than at Cana Place. I presently have a variety of activities which I enjoy and which continue to interest and challenge me.”