Wednesday, July 26, 2017
   
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Ursula Matthews

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At this particular time, I was searching for more in my spiritual life — the CSJ Associate Program was the answer.

My association with the Sisters of St. Joseph dates back to 1964. Sister Magdalena hired me as a part time employee in the business office at St. Michael's Hospital. The Sisters I worked with kept Christ present in the work place. Their example of Christian caring earned my respect and love over the years.

In 1984, Sister Margaret McNamara invited several of the hospital staff to attend the first associate meeting and discern for ourselves if this program would interest us. At this particular time, I was searching for more in my spiritual life. The CSJ Associate Program was the answer. I felt comfortable with the group as we shared our faith and prayed together. During the first year, Sr. Virginia Varley attended our meetings. She told us the history of the congregation starting in Le Puy, France, when associates worked side by side with the Sisters. I was deeply moved hearing Fr. Médaille's little design, reading the maxims and the Eucharistic Letter. I also felt, as did the Sisters, that "the love of God had gathered us together."

About our group

Our associate group is called "St Michael's." The majority of our meetings are at the hospital where we have the privilege of praying in the chapel. We have bonded together: we pray, we share our faith and we bake. For the past 10 years, we have held an annual Bake Sale at the hospital, the proceeds going to support our Sisters in Haiti.

Ten years ago, while making a commitment retreat at Morrow Park, I prayed in the chapel for direction in my life. Shortly afterwards, Sister Virginia Nelson asked the assembly for volunteers to look after a nature mission in the Yukon for the summer months. My husband and I accepted. The experience was life giving, allowing us to engage in a mission of unity and love with God's people.

How I have grown

Through the associates, my prayer life has been transformed. I understand more fully my Baptismal promise. I try to live out the charism of the CSJ by participating more fully in parish ministry, visiting shut-ins and the elderly. Volunteering in the Palliative Care Unit at the hospital has given me the opportunity to care for "the dear neighbour."

The associate program has grown over the years through the sacrifice of a small group of Sisters, giving of their time, sharing their spirituality and gently leading us to a greater understanding of our faith. Thanks to them, the CSJ Associate Program is "the more" in my life.

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