Sister Marguerite Walters
Sr. Marguerite was born and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was taught by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in both elementary and secondary school. In high school, she studied commercial courses in preparation for a career in the business world.
She worked first for the Manitoba Provincial Government in the Department of Education and later for Federated Mutual, an insurance company. She even volunteered with the Red Cross during the historical Winnipeg flood of 1950. That same year she entered the congregation. She was familiar with the Sisters at St. Ann's, St. Alphonsus and those at St. Joseph's Hospital, Winnipeg. "I thought, well, the Lord will put me where He wants me."
She taught for a total of 20 years in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia. "I would not exchange my teaching days for anything. The places I've been, the people I've met, the experiences I've had, I would not exchange it. So God knows." She was then called upon to use her business background in her ministerial outreach, principally in the field of accounting and finance. Over the next 33 years she served in the Payroll Department of St. Michael's Hospital, in the Business Office at Morrow Park as Assistant to the General Treasurer, in the Pontifical Missions office and finally as President of the Morrow Foundation. In more recent years, because of fragile health, Sr. Marguerite has supported both the foreign and home missions through her prayer ministry. She looks back over the past 60 years as ones of joy, seeing God's guiding hand in all her various activities.
Sister Marcella Iredale
"My ministry has been primarily in Health Care Administration at St. Joseph's General Hospital, Comox, B.C. and in Toronto at Providence Villa, Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, as Executive Director and as Vice President at St. Joseph's Health Centre. I remember my 10 years in Comox fondly. You have to live in a rural area to appreciate the interdependence of people. People are close to each other, always ready to lend a helping hand. This is not to say it doesn't happen in the city but it is more obvious in the country. There was the time when, as hospital administrator, I needed goat's milk for an allergic baby. I called my usual suppliers, women in the area, but none had any available. I called a 'stranger' in front of whose house I had seen nanny goats. The woman readily agreed to supply the milk. A doctor who lived nearby agreed to pick it up each morning. All this transpired before the astonished eyes of a nurse from the city.
"For 10 years, I served as General Secretary to the Congregation and for eight of those years as a member of the Leadership Team. For the last six years I have been the hostess at our summer residence, Invermara, where I ensure that things run smoothly and the Sisters have an enjoyable holiday. The most significant aspect of my life has been the opportunity to serve people, to interact with those with whom I was associated. I have been privileged to touch the lives of others, to have influenced them hopefully in positive ways and to have brought them closer to God and to have made their lives better. I am also aware of the many ways in which they have enriched my life."
Sister Conrad Lauber
"After 55 years of full time ministry, I can relate to Thomas Edison's quote, ' I never did a day's work in my life — it has all been fun.' There is great joy and satisfaction in teaching young men and women, not only math and science and English, even religion — but mostly, teaching about life – preparing a foundation for young people, encouraging them to dream dreams, to reach for the stars, so that if they don't quite hit a stellar constellation, they will still reach dizzying heights. Receiving students' notes on the impact on their lives and the inspiration they felt from our connection is a humbling experience. Several students at the university level in residence stated that the years spent in St. Joe's residence were 'the defining moment in their lives.'
"This happiness in a career of teaching could not have come about if I had not been in community. I have to credit friend and mentor, Sister Janet Murray, for kick-starting my career. I was a very young teacher, shy, preferring the background. When I tried to back out of speaking to 100 or so parents and students, Sister Janet dressed me down as only Janet could – and sent me into the lion's den. The rest was history as they say. Being a principal for 35 years in four different schools provided the opportunity to set the tone, the values in the school, to build a community of support for one another, staff and students, in our journey through life in faith surrounded by the love of God. And today, all these experiences have been a wonderful preparation for the pinnacle of my career and perhaps the greatest joy: building community with the seniors at Village Mosaic on Etobicoke's Lake Shore."
Sister Margaret McNamara
Sr. Margaret was born in Oyhan, Alberta. When she was two years old the family moved to Calgary where she completed her elementary and high school education at the age of 15. Being too young to go into nursing, she took a two-year Business Course. In 1939 she registered at St. Michael's Hospital School of Nursing in Toronto, graduating as an R.N. in 1942. For the next eight years she worked in Public Health Nursing. "These years were a great experience because I learned a great deal, especially concerning maternity cases." During these years she also took courses in Public Health Nursing at the University of Toronto.
Having thought seriously about a vocation for several years, she entered the Congregation in September 1950. After completing her Novitiate, she moved to St. Michael's Hospital where she spent 20 years, during three different periods, in the ministry of health care as a Nursing Supervisor, Night Supervisor, Operating Room Supervisor, Instructor in the School of Nursing and Assistant Executive Director. She was a member of the Congregation Leadership Team for two terms of four years each. Sister Margaret was very responsible in the execution of her duties. While she expected perfection, she was able to brighten the lives of those who ministered with her by her love of fun and her keen sense of humour. Although her first and greatest love was St. Michael's Hospital, she was also active in the health care ministry at St. Joseph's Hospital in Comox, B.C. and Providence Villa and Hospital in Toronto. In recent years, because of failing health and visual impairment, Sr. Margaret continues to serve the sick through her ministry of prayer.
Sister Marie Paradis
"In a few words, my journey is about getting into "the Ark." In 1968 I met Jean Vanier at a retreat in Marylake. As Religious Education Co-Ordinator for Simcoe County, I visited the institution in Orillia. This experience led me to organize a pilgrimage to Lourdes. I was then missioned to Winnipeg where, with a wonderful committee, I planned a retreat given by Jean Vanier, which over 500 people attended. After the retreat I was called to be involved in founding a L'Arche community in Winnipeg.
"During this time I received many visits from the Sisters and subsequently I became a member of the Leadership Team. I would never have made it on this journey without my call to the Sisters of St. Joseph and Jean Vanier's retreat."
Sister Cecilia Tallack
"My journey began on the day of my First Holy Communion when I was given a deep conviction that God, for some strange reason, wanted me to follow Him as a Sister of St. Joseph. It continued throughout all my school years, during the period I worked at 'Investors Syndicate of Canada' as well as in the novitiate. After vows, I was asked to be a cook and housekeeper, an elementary school teacher, a principal, a Superior, music teacher, Secretary General, a missionary in Haiti and finally, a companion with refugees. As sidelines, I visited prisoners for 17 years and was always involved in choirs in the schools, both for church services and for competitions.
"Speaking of journeys, besides the travel across Canada more times than I can count, I visited China, Mongolia, England, Wales, Scotland, Italy, many cities in the United States and islands in the Caribbean. My numerous relatives called me 'The Flying Nun.' After 60 years, I think my traveling days are probably over, but my journey is not yet complete. I would never have made it on this journey without the loyalty and support of community."
Contributors: Sisters Marguerite Walters, Marcella Iredale, Conrad Lauber, Margaret McNamara, Marie Paradis, Cecilia Tallack, Theresa Rodgers, Trudy Zunti, Mary Carol Lemire and Gisela Côté