Jubilarians 2013: Looking Back Over 70 Years
Sister Jean De Luca
I was born in Toronto and grew up in St. Patrick’s parish. My years of ministry as a Sister of St. Joseph were either directly or indirectly related to education. For many years, I was a teacher at the elementary, secondary and later at the post-secondary levels. During a five year period, I was involved in addiction research programmes in Toronto and Ottawa. This included individual and family counselling. During a short period, I was a full-time member of the team at Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre, in Mississauga.
For over 25 years, my chief ministry was as director of "New Beginnings" for the archdiocese. Today, in partnership with the Archdiocese of Toronto, Catholic Family Services of Toronto offers New Beginnings programming. New Beginnings is a ministry dedicated to helping widowed, separated and divorced people make a new beginning in life. These were wonderful years for me as I watched people slowly heal and move on with their lives. God’s presence among us was very tangible at times. In this challenging and rewarding ministry of healing and reconciliation, I was blessed by the assistance of our Sisters who shared their beliefs, values and experiences of many years. We were truly living our Shared Ministerial Commitment. As stated earlier, my ministry has been principally one of education, whether in the classroom or elsewhere. Over these past 70 years, I have always strived to live out the following statement in our Constitutions (#45): "In our apostolic endeavours, we collaborate with others in a common effort to create a society transformed by the values of the gospel by which the dignity and freedom of every person is experienced and affirmed."
Sister Leona Graham
I was born second youngest in a family of five into a Catholic family where religion was, I think, transmitted by osmosis. The first Sister I met must have in some way impressed me deeply. Then and there, at age five, I made the decision to become a Sister when I grew up. As a small girl, I was always going to take my mother to the convent with me.
My schooling in both elementary and high school was entirely with Sisters. In high school, the call to religious life and my desire for God, although always within me, was somewhat obscured by the fun and good times I was having. I especially loved sports of any kind.
I planned to consider the question of my vocation at the end of high school but when I mentioned this to Sister Helena McCarthy, she set the wheels turning and I found myself being interviewed by the Reverend Mother and the Mistress of Novices. I entered the Novitiate in September, 1942, aged 18 — an age both my parents thought much too young for such a step.
After 70 years as a Sister of St. Joseph, I am convinced the Lord has been with me every step of the way. I have felt Him beside me through my early teaching years, in my ministry with the men at Matt Talbot House, during my time with the CSJ Associates, and while assisting at my parish. I feel a deepened relationship with the Lord in prayer and every activity, mostly ordinary, occasionally extraordinary, that makes up the life of a religious Sister. My heart is filled with gratitude to God. May He continue to guide me in the path He has chosen for me.