Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Home Away from Home

I have just returned from two weeks in Canada, more specifically Montreal - my former home - and Ontario north of Toronto. When I have gone back to Montreal for visits since coming to Saint Benedict's many years ago I have received warm and generous hospitality from the Sisters of the Congrégation de Notre Dame. As much as I am rooted in and love my community here at Saint Ben's, there is a huge place in my heart for these women who have been part of my life from the age of 10 until my 50th year.

Who are these sisters who have been so significant in my life for over 40 years?  Their founder, Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, came to Ville Marie, as Montreal was known in the 1600's, at the invitation of the founder of Ville Marie to teach the children of the settlers.  Upon her arrival Saint Marguerite discovered that there were no children to teach because the young settlers were just beginning to meet newly arrived young women, marry and have children. While she waited for the children to be of school age she became the matchmaker of the new settlement and taught the young women how to be wives and mothers. In time other women joined Marguerite and the community grew.  Now there are sisters, both French and English-speaking across Canada, some in the United States, Cameroun, Japan and Guatemala.

The community's patronal feast day is the Visitation, May 31; last Wednesday while I was there the sisters gathered for faith sharing on the Magnificat and how their charism guides them in their lives as faithful women of the Gospel.  The picture above was the center piece of the prayer space and each sister brought from her room a favorite image of the Visitation.  My joy that day was that I was included in the prayer service and felt very much at home since as a Benedictine we sing the Magnificat every day at Evening Prayer.

By now you might be asking yourself: "If she is so fond of these sisters why did she come all the way to Minnesota and become a Benedictine? Why did she not join their community, the CNDs?"  It is like falling in love.  Why is this person THE person you want to spend the rest of your life with . . . and not another? It is all part of God's mysterious design and invitation in our life.  Since my return a sister asked me at dinner one evening why I had come here and not stayed in Montreal and joined the Congrégation de Notre Dame. A much younger sister, and one who is in formation, answered: "Because she has a Benedictine heart!"  Right on!

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