Sisters Celebrating their 60th Jubilee
Sister Peggy Bach
I read a book entitled And Nora Said Yes
When asked why I entered, my answer was, I read a book entitled And Nora Said Yes. Until that time (I was in Grade 11 at St. Patrick’s, Vancouver), I had no attraction to religious life. After reading it, I remarked, “That would be a beautiful life in community.” My teacher, Sr. Marie Christine, suggested very tentatively that I might have a vocation to religious life. Well, three months later and 3,000 miles to the east, I was in the novitiate.
Sixty years later, I look back gratefully on ministries in teaching (Ontario and British Columbia), pastoral work in remote areas with no resident priest (north end of Vancouver Island and Lower North Shore of Quebec), volunteering with people with AIDS in Toronto and now visiting at 2 O’Connor with our Sisters in the Care Centre. Over time, I have become aware of the unfolding Universe Story and our oneness with all creation. It has been a good life and I have been richly blessed along the way.
Vatican II was very positive for me
Being from Toronto, I was taught by the CSJs in grade school (Corpus Christi) and high school (St. Joseph’s Academy on Wellesley Street as it was called then). These two experiences, plus being from a large Catholic family and attending St. Joseph’s Hospital Nursing School, were the major contributing factors for my vocation. Before entering, I worked as a nurse in Toronto, Montreal and New York City. All my life, I have been happiest before the Blessed Sacrament. The family attended Sunday Benediction regularly. I think that is where I heard God’s call. At 23 years of age, I made a vocation retreat. I realized that I had all the necessary requirements that were outlined by the retreat director. So after that I asked to enter.
At that time, community life was strict. Life was pretty structured. Vatican II was very positive for me. Reading the documents, I saw a new future for the Church and for the Congregation. There was a joy in this experience and that joy has stayed with me over the years. Change has been part of all this. That’s been good. The stress on commitment and our love relationship with Christ gives a solid foundation to our apostolic outreach. As I think over these past 60 years, I have been very happy, spirit-filled and blessed. I have much for which to be grateful.
Sister Joanne Daley
Dressed in ordinary clothes, I felt that we were more approachable
After a year of employment before entering the convent, I had a growing awareness that my deepest desire was to have more time to deepen my spiritual life. I had been spending time monthly as a volunteer with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Montreal where I lived. Seeing the Sisters’ practical and loving way with those in their care there greatly impressed me.
As I look back over the past 60 years that I’ve spent as a Sister of St. Joseph, I realize that I was relieved when we no longer wore the habit. It was that same down-to-earthness that had first appealed to me. In the habit, I had experienced being put on a pedestal. Dressed in ordinary clothes, I felt that we were more approachable. This simplicity appealed to me more. My life has been overwhelmingly blessed by God in all its stages and my overall sentiment right now is one of deep gratitude for God’s merciful love.
Sister Marie Kilcullen
Today, I look back on how one ministry led to another
I attended St. Patrick’s High School, Vancouver, B.C. The commitment of our Sisters of St. Joseph was evident in their interest in us and in the quality of their teaching. Vocations were also encouraged. Msgr. Forget, pastor of St. Patrick’s Church, would ask students after Mass ,”Are you going to be a Priest or a Sister?” Apart from the example of the Sisters, I was also attracted by the spirit of the congregation. In our Postulant Manual, a booklet that provided information to help us adjust to community, we were encouraged to practice the virtues of humility and charity offered in the spirit of simplicity, that is without affectation or duplicity. In the end, this spirit is what drew me to our community.
Today, I look back on how one ministry led to another. They were all hands-on, from St. Michael’s hospital food services to nursing. I upgraded my studies which led to my taking a fine arts program. Later, this enabled me to volunteer at the Women’s drop-in and then Studio on the Hill. Therefore, I was excited about having a choice of directed retreats and then art as prayer. When I look back, I am grateful for my gifts of gratitude and intuition and to the women in community and all my friends for their support and affirmation.
Sister Margaret Myatt
God's plan worked and 60 years later I'm still here
September 1953 — my life changed! I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. My entry was not accompanied by a surety that God was calling me — rather I was motivated by the thought that I'd be home for Christmas!! However, God's plan worked and 60 years later, I'm still here with gratitude for God's mercy and patience.
I was missioned to St. Michael's Hospital, St. Joseph's Health Centre, Toronto; and St. Joseph's Hospital and Home Guelph (with the CSJs of Hamilton). Our ministry in Toronto was enriched by many good things happening: St. Joseph's and Our Lady of Mercy hospitals were merged into St. Joseph's Health Centre; a department of Social Work was inaugurated by Sister Anne Marie Marrin; Sister Marcella Iredale planned and occupied the role of Director Mission and Values; Sister Mary Carmen and all of our Chaplains played important roles with patients, families and staff. In Guelph, planning for a new Long Term Care facility took many hours and collaboration with Guelph General became a reality. In Toronto and Guelph, I was engaged in patient and family visiting, meeting with staff, Board of Directors, medical groups, external advisors, financial matters etc. The Sisters in each of these ministries were great! I am grateful to God for wonderful mentors in my life: Sisters Maura McGuire, Janet Murray, and Mary Zimmerman. Each day, I thank God for my place in this Congregation and for the years in Leadership — a gift I'll always treasure.
Sister Loretta Rollheiser
I have learned that presence speaks louder than anything I can or will do
It all began with my mother. As a very young child, I remember her telling stories about “the sisters.” In 1943 our family moved from Saskatchewan to Chilliwack, B.C where in 1948 the parish opened the first Catholic school. We prayed to St. Joseph for “the sisters” to come and teach us. Our prayers were answered with the arrival of Sisters Tarcisius and Marie Aubert, my first introduction to the Sisters of St. Joseph. I was awestruck. Much later, I realized that this was God’s way of preparing me to accept the invitation that lay ahead. The journey began.
I left home and family to come to Toronto for two and half years in training with its joys and sorrows. I was immediately sent out to experience my service in Sacred Heart Children’s Village; to St. Joseph’s on the Lake and from there to Montreal. I returned to Toronto to make Final Profession and prepare to attend teachers’ college. My time as a teacher gave me the opportunity to extend my abilities to teachers, parents and especially the primary children. The parish ministry which followed has been such a blessing. Working with the women in the C.W.L, instructing and journeying with those in the R.C.I.A; setting up Communion services and being with those in our Nursing Homes; and volunteering in the parish, I have learned that presence speaks louder than anything I can or will do. Yes, it has been all of 60 years and there is more to come.
Sister Anne Schenck
At the end of the year, if the answer is Yes, then enter the convent; if No, then forget it and get on with your life
As a youngster, I was drawn towards becoming a Sister because so much of what I learned about Jesus and His love — even unto death — went deep into my heart. Why I developed this real relationship is still a mystery. In high school and university, this attraction to leave all for Jesus continued, but I was putting off making the decision. I thought that God would somehow ‘make it happen.’ A Sister, with whom I shared the heavy weight of this indecision, gave me good advice: “Give yourself one year to pray about it. At the end of the year, if the answer is Yes, then enter the convent; if No, then forget it and get on with your life.” I immediately knew the answer was Yes.
My 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph have really deepened my relationship with God and with others. Community life not only focused on what is truly important, but also provided the support of other Sisters in our daily prayer, monthly retreat days, annual eight-day retreats, and a Sabbatical year for theological and Biblical Studies. I tried to live Jesus’ statement, “Love one another as I have loved you,” through my ministry in schools, Heron Place Refugee Centre and Furniture Bank, all of which allowed me to share the life journey of so many. Although I first resisted the call, I now consider it the greatest blessing in my full and active life.
Sister Trudy Zunti
I told God, if you want me to stay, you’d better get me better
As I recall, the first desire to become a Sister came when I was in Grade 5 or 6. I was enrolled in the Catechetical Correspondence Course sponsored by the Sisters of Service. I wanted to be a missionary. I read as much as I could about it and wrote to the Medical Missionaries. I found out I would have to go to England for their novitiate. That unsettled me. In high school I was in boarding school in Rosetown, Saskatchewan. Sister Janet Murray, my teacher, asked me if I ever thought of becoming a Sister. I tried to ignore the question but it wouldn’t go away. I entered but was still unsure. During the novitiate, I developed a critical illness. That was when I became serious about my call. I told God, if you want me to stay, you’d better get me better. I did get better and am still here.
I would say there are two scripture quotes that have stayed with me over the years and have been a constant anchor for me. The first is, “Whatever you do for the least of mine, you do to me.” That quote stayed with me in Guatemala, northern Manitoba and Toronto Parkdale. It still sustains me today. The other quote is, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” I am a farmer’s daughter, so I understood that metaphor. Over the years, I came to realize that formation is all about transformation. I am still learning that.