The 2012 Jubilarians: Nurturing Community for 50 Years
Jean Leahy CSJ
The first thing to consider is how much I have been nurtured in community over these years. Great thanks are due for all that has been received through community.
I can think of many examples of nurturing — and being nurtured — in the communities in the various high schools in which I taught and also in the parishes where I served as Pastoral Assistant.
However I think I will focus on the present and my involvement with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. Here I am involved with community on a variety of levels – local, diocesan, national and international. In the first three levels, nurturing community is important as we are all engaged in support for the interest of the fourth level, i.e. solidarity (another name for community) with peoples in the Global South (developing countries) which is brought about by partnerships with various groups there. I was privileged to experience this in a more active way by taking part in a D&P trip to Bolivia and joining with partners there as they nurture community with the poor. This kind of community is also part of KAIROS, the Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives which unites 11 churches and religious organizations in faithful action for ecological justice and human rights. I belong to a local KAIROS group which adds the ecumenical dimension.
Mary Mettler CSJ
My first mission as a newly-professed Sister was to St. Joseph’s Health Centre where I saw the Sisters engaged in ministry to the sick and their loved ones. This new experience is what drew me to study nursing — that I might live out the motto "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers / sisters, you do to Me." Nurturing community wasn’t the language we used at that time, but that is what we did. My years with St. Elizabeth Visiting Nurses were particularly meaningful. While offering home care, I met many elderly people needing both love and nursing. One person asked why I wasn’t a doctor: "You’d make the best doctor." Often, a cup of tea was waiting and in leaving I always felt as cared for as much as I had assisted. I heard many stories of pain and loss as well as hope for a brighter future. One lady with a serious leg wound recovered as the result of my speaking to her doctor about different treatment. I was a link between the patient in the community and the doctor.
Elderly people in our cities and institutions feel alienated and often can be at risk. For four years, I worked in our long-term care facility in Winnipeg where, every day, time was given to be with, listen to and support the elderly. It was important also to help the staff better understand and support the elderly and to facilitate cooperation in working together to provide the best care possible. This was true also in my years as a hospital chaplain.
Care of our earth has been a passion of mine for many years and I am committed both to living with a "green heart" and to helping people understand the increasing need for sustainability.
Rosemary McGinn CSJ
Nurturing community for me, as a Sister of St. Joseph, has taken place in the health-care field over these 50 years. During my retirement years, as I have been blessed with energy and zeal, I chose to be a presence and share my “hands-on gift” with the poor, the alienated and the homeless at Mustard Seed. I provide foot care for them, and with care and compassion reach out to give each client "care of the sole." I share this ministry with a group of CSJ Sisters and lay people, and, together, we are a team, serving and responding to God’s people.
As I tenderly care for their feet, and bring comfort to their soles, the clients often open their hearts and share with me their vulnerable stories of pain and struggle. My heart is always touched and nourished as I listen and receive their total presence — who they are, and how they journey each day. They teach me "who God is — and where God dwells in each person." Together, our respect, trust and love continue to grow in us, and we treasure the relationships we build.
More and more, I realize: "The Love of Christ has gathered us together" and truly has nurtured community amongst us. Jean Vanier expresses these experiences in our lives in this way:
You tell me your story —
I listen to you, with my heart.
I come to know your name — your suffering.
It is at this point, that a communion of hearts
Occur, when I become vulnerable to you.
There is no superior — or inferior.
We are bound together in a Covenant.
My heart is transformed.
This is a moment of grace and wonder.
At this time of Jubilee my heart is filled with gratitude — for all who have nurtured community for me, these 50 years.
Mary Carmen MacLean CSJ
Following final vows in 1969 in the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, I was asked by my community to go to Comox, British Columbia, where I ministered as a supervisor of nursing for St. Joseph's General Hospital. This was a wonderful experience, working with the staff, patients and families. I met some wonderful people and as I reminisce I can see where God was present in a number of situations and people although I was not as aware then of His presence as I am today.
After seven years of nursing in Comox, I returned to Toronto and prepared myself to become a hospital chaplain or pastoral care worker. Nursing and pastoral care are closely related in some aspects. Often there is an opportunity to work on a one-to-one basis with the people. Both ministries were indeed a privilege for me, but I believe pastoral ministry was very special because there was more of an opportunity to share what was really meaningful or of concern in the life of the individual. Yes, I was really impressed by the deep faith and hope that was evident in some of their life stories. One meets with a lot of suffering but on the other hand there are many gratifying moments as well. Sensitivity and listening are two very important aspects of pastoral ministry and these gifts are usually called upon on a daily basis.
I retired from full-time ministry in September and presently I assist in my own community as well as visit seniors who live alone and need some assistance. I am most grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve.