Sister Andrea Dumont: Pastoral Work In the North
Sister Andrea, pictured at right, lives and works in Thompson, Manitoba, population: 15,000, located nine hours north of Winnipeg by bus. She has been in “the hub of the north” for the past 18 years, working with a population mainly composed of First Nations and Dene and miners. Thompson is a company town, built around INCO.
When the Sisters of St. Joseph were asked after Vatican II to work in the third world, Andrea responded and spent 14 years in Guatemala. Returning to Canada she spent nine years in Manitoba, first in Grand Rapids and Easterville, then on to Thompson. Asked what they were doing, she and Sister Trudy replied, “The same as we did in Central America, but it’s colder here.”
There is a great need for pastoral care in what amounts to a frontier town. For Sister Trudy, this takes the form of visiting the places where people are: the hospital, the homeless shelter, the community centre, the mall – any place where she can meet and chat with people. Sister Andrea describes her work as “adult education” which includes training lay presiders for times when there is no priest available, organizing and instructing in the various ministries, sacramental preparation and RCIA. With no Catholic schools in the area and many broken families, the challenge is to help people become more religiously literate, to establish a relationship with Jesus, to find God’s place in their lives.
Their house is also a centre of hospitality for other missionaries “passing through” or in need of a little R and R. Along with the spreading of the good news goes the keeping of a place of welcome for those working in smaller spots.
Written by Mary Buckley CSJ
Photo by Nida Fe Chavez CSJ