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Sisters move to new home in East York

East York Observer, April 19, 2013 — Moving is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult if you decide on a new home based not only on practicality — but also on some key values.
 
That, however, is exactly what the Sisters of St. Joseph decided to do when they sold their main residence of more than 50 years in North York and moved to 2 O'Connor Dr. on March 12. 
 
The move was 10 years in the making and Sister Thérèse Meunier, the congregational leader, explained it was done with a specific green mandate in mind. 
 
“We saw the opportunity here to put into action what we really believed about our care and respect for the Earth," she said. 
 
At the heart of the new building is the chapel. Instead of stained glass windows, there are large, floor-toceiling windows with a view of the Don Valley ravine. Sister Marcella Iredale, a resident, noted the new design required some adjustment. 
 
“I love the chapel. I didn't think I would. We have some sisters, and one sister in particular, who just couldn't believe you could have it without stained glass windows," she said. 
 
But the new sacred place has its own rewards, according to Iredale. 
 
“I was sitting in there Friday afternoon for Good Friday services and I was looking up at that window behind the altar, with the clouds scudding across the sky. You couldn't make a stained glass window like that," she said. 
 
Meunier explained that this type of construction helps to reflect the sisters' deeply held religious beliefs. 
 
“It brings the inside out and the outside in. It makes for that closeness to nature and that was part of the design, to be close to nature that is God's creation," she said. 
 
Iredale described the four large windows in her room facing the street side of the building as the perfect setting for an afternoon nap as the sun streams into warm her room. 
 
Today, 58 sisters live at the residence, with most in their 80s and 90s. The second and third floors have dining areas to accommodate those who cannot make it down to the main dining room. 
 
The chapel has no pews in order to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs. There is also a balcony in the chapel for those who need to be close to their rooms. Each room has its own three-piece bathroom with a shower and walk-in closet.
 
Used with permission of the East York Observer. 
Written by Theresa Spohn, published April 19, 2013 on page 8

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