Jubilarians 2013: Looking Back Over 60 Years
Sister Margaret Feeley
It was a memorable day — September 7, 1952 — when I said my goodbyes to family and entered the Sisters of St. Joseph. I had attended the Nursing School at St. Michael's Hospital for one year and after my making my first vows, I was missioned to St. Michael's Hospital to complete my nursing training. After graduation, my next ministry was at our Infirmary at St. Joseph's-on-the-Lake, where I was enriched by the lives of faithfulness and prayer of our senior Sisters and the teachers who lived there.
Over the years, I continued to serve the sick in various positions at St. Michael's Hospital, Morrow Park Infirmary, St. Joseph's General Hospital, Comox, B.C., and Our Lady of Mercy Wing, St. Joseph's Health Centre. Our patients and staff came from different walks of life and we worked together to provide compassionate care to all.
My bedside experience helped me greatly in parish ministry which began in 1981 at St. Leo's Parish, Etobicoke, with an emphasis on visits to senior parish members in their homes and in nursing homes. I was grateful for the graces of this new calling and the parish members I worked with. For 13 years, I had the privilege of sharing in many lives — their joys, sorrows and journeys through sickness to death.
From 1996-2012, my parish ministry at St. Paul's Basilica involved primarily the outreach programs to the economically poor (Children's Breakfast Club and the Food Room) as well as the sick and elderly. My faith was nourished by the many people who generously and faithfully gave of their time. The people we served lived under difficult circumstances but made every effort to live life fully. Now living at 2 O'Connor, I strive to enter more fully into a ministry of prayer and a new kind of service to our "dear neighbour."
Sister Roberta Freeman
It appears that fate brought me to this congregation 60 years ago! My first memory of convent life takes me to the sewing room and the travails of the novices as they struggled with the task of making their religious habits. While there were many laughs, there were also a few tears!
The next memory is of being a Religious and a mature student in Household Economics at the University of Toronto with a small class of wonderful young women, more intent on meeting their future husbands than their studies! Our connection has continued over these many years! This educational opportunity prepared me for my ministry in Dietetics at Morrow Park, Our Lady of Mercy and St. Michael’s Hospitals where I recall the many staff, students and colleagues who have touched my life in many significant ways.
My memories now take me to my ministry in administration at St. Joseph Residence in Winnipeg, Manitoba and what is now called Providence Healthcare in Toronto, both being devoted to the care of the elderly with special needs and to the medical and rehabilitation services for those with chronic or other long-term disabilities. The life stories and courage of those that I have had the privilege to encounter in these settings has motivated me, during my retirement, to volunteer my services, in a small way, by being a visitor and Eucharistic minister to shut-ins in a number of settings including Providence Healthcare, Meighan Manor and Briton House Retirement Centre.
During this journey of 60 years, there have been various periods of darkness, of shadow, and of light. However, I am filled with gratitude for God’s continuing Presence at all times and to this point of celebration of these many years.
Sister Teresa Garvey
At the time of my birth, my father, a Roman Catholic, was hoping that I would be baptized in his religion. My mother was a High Anglican and my two brothers and I were baptized in her religion. As a teenager, forever researching other churches for meaning in my life, I was slowly drawn to the Catholic Church.
One day, as I was walking along Côte St. Catherine Road, "Someone” compelled me to climb the many steps to St. Joseph's Oratory. There, I knelt before the statue of St. Joseph. God's hand was in this and many more events, leading me to start instructions to become Catholic and finally to enter religious life.
I began visiting different religious convents in Montreal, the city of my birth, but they did not "turn me on." Unbeknownst to me, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto operated an orphanage just a block away from where I worked. One staff member had both an aunt and a sister in this congregation. After having an interview with one Sister and meeting the others, I knew this was the congregation for me. Even so, it was hard for me to leave my family as I departed for the Motherhouse in Toronto to start a two-year novitiate.
During my 60 years as a Sister, I have served in many ministries including nurturing children in an orphanage, fulfilling clerical duties at our motherhouse and in hospitals, working with the elderly and nursing. But one of the most vital aspects of my community life is sharing love and support with the Sisters I live with. God has surely blessed me and shown me the way.
Sister Marie Howorth
I grew up in St. Joseph’s parish, Toronto, and attended St. Joseph’s School where my grandmother, mother and aunt had previously taught. I had two aunts in the cloistered Good Shepherd Convent and we visited them frequently. I, however, felt attracted to the religious life with the Sisters of St. Joseph. So I visited Sister St. Brigid and became a Sister of St Joseph along with 32 other women in September 1952.
I enjoyed all my years of teaching, administration and chaplaincy. After profession, I taught at Holy Rosary School, Toronto. Then I taught at: Christ the King School, St. Catharines; Holy Rosary School, Thorold; and Blessed Trinity School, Toronto. For five years, I was a principal at St. Peter's School in Toronto. Oshawa followed where I taught at Paul Dwyer High School. I served as vice-principal at St. Joseph's College School. I was a chaplain at Michael Power/St. Joseph's High School.
In 1983, I attended Boston College where I received my M.A. in theology. In 1996, I went to Oakland for four months to the School of Applied Theology. Then I visited the Holy Land for four months on a guided bus tour — the highlight of my life! I enjoyed the lectures, the people from many different countries and the interesting sites in Palestine.
In 1997, I was appointed local leader for the Sisters at Morrow Park where I enjoyed my four years. Next, I went to the novitiate house where my time with Sisters Mary Lou, Theresa and Trudy and the novices, Nida and Divinia, was valuable and rewarding.
Today, I volunteer at Michael Power/St. Joseph High School in chaplaincy. The summers at Invermara are one of the highlights of my life as we have so many happy experiences: assisting at liturgies, swimming, canoeing, playing bridge, walking, chatting and enjoying the delicious meals.
Sister Sue Mosteller
I love the song, "Nobody knows the troubles I've seen!" But looking back over 60 years, I'd have to substitute, "Nobody knows how grateful I am."
I'm thankful for Frank Sutton, a man with a heart for others and an intellectual disability. After hearing me arguing with another gentleman with a disability who was aggravating me, Frank invited me to his room and gently announced to me, "If you want to help Paul, you have to love him."
Then there is Jean Vanier, the Founder of the L'Arche Communities, who announced the living God to me. I made a retreat with Jean and he spoke of Jesus as his friend and Master. I wanted to know Jesus better after the retreat.
Sister St. Martin was a friend and a guide. When we lived together in Kitimat, BC, she was, for me, an example of care, kindness, generosity and a wonderful sense of humour.
My nieces and nephews, now in their 40s and 50s, are such beautiful witnesses to family life and loyalty. The way they care for and about their parents, their love and inclusion of me in all family events, their generosity and consciousness of the less fortunate in the world, and their amazing care of one another, is an inspiration!
Henri Nouwen, the late Dutch priest-writer, became my co-worker and friend. For 10 years, we lived with many others at L'Arche Daybreak and we collaborated in ministry and life. Henri, an over-the-top extrovert, invited me, an introvert, to participate with him in many of his retreats and conferences. His friendship and passion for the Gospel touched me, and helped me grow in my desire to love and follow Jesus.
It's awesome to reflect and remember God working in my life!
Sister Rita Smith
Religious life has been my path to try to follow Jesus. I was gifted with the opportunity to announce Good News while teaching, caring for children with disabilities, supporting staff in a large high school, and offering hundreds of hand-made hats, scarves, baby blankets, mitts, and body warmers to brothers and sisters particularly in Africa, Peru and Haiti, with my knitting and crocheting skills. I'm so grateful for this wonderful and transforming journey.
I was an inexperienced volunteer, wanting to be of service to children with disabilities at the MacMillan Centre in Toronto, but also not confident in my knowledge of what was appropriate or not. Meeting Felicity, however, swept away all my apprehensions! With a huge smile and a few guttural sounds, she welcomed me into her precious heart! We 'connected' and all else was history. One day, cradling her celebral-palsied body in my arms, Felicity noticed my colourful hand-knit purse. Her little arm shot out pointing to the purse and then with spastic gestures, she showed me how much she wanted that purse for herself! My mind told me it was futile because she could never 'use' such a thing. But I listened to my heart, and we both celebrated on the day I presented her with her own colorful hand-knit purse, containing some Kleenex and a heap of my love for Felicity!
And it was while doing some pottery, years later in an Advent setting, that I worked the ball of clay in my hands while my eyes were closed. Gradually, my fingers began molding I knew not what, until I held a beautiful image of the Mother, holding her Child, and the Child was pointing at me! I'm thankful for my path and for the One Who said long ago, "Follow Me."