Friday, September 30, 2016

Sr. Amy Joy

Sr. Amy Joy was born and raised in Hong Kong, coming to Canada in 1973 to further her study and was graduated at the University of Toronto with a BA in Economics in 1977. She received her Canadian citizenship in 1978, but returned to Hong Kong that same year to take over her Father’s business following his death. Her brother who worked together with her died suddenly the following year. These two deaths in such a short time had a severe impact on her, and she crashed emotionally. 

Religion had not been a major concern in her life to that point; but in 1989, a relative introduced her to Jesus. She was baptized the same year, and found a welcoming Methodist Church nearby. After her conversion, there was a break-through for her. Study used to be a difficult task for her, but in Christ she was able to continue her study and received her MBA from Zhongshan University in China (1993-1996). She was later trained and equipped by the Hong Kong Methodist Church in lay ministry and joined several mission trips with her church. The mission trips to Malaysia in 1998 and Cambodia in 1999 were highlights.

Sr. Amy Joy returned to Canada in 2001 to study for and obtain her Master of Divinity from Toronto’s Tyndale University College and Seminary in 2004. Following graduation, she worked as a Pastor with the North Toronto Chinese Baptist Church, specializing in women’s ministry until 2011. 

She left to pursue a Master of Divinity in Spiritual Formation from Tyndale, completing this degree in 2012. She is currently pursuing her Certified Spiritual Direction credentials from Tyndale. In the meantime, she joined the SSJD Women at a Crossroads program during the summer of 2012, and learned about the importance of balance in life for the first time.

In September 2012, she joined the Alongsider program until September 2014 then applied to enter the Community as a Postulant. During this time, she has undertaken a variety of duties - assisting in the Guest House; as part of the St. John’s Rehab team; and, as the Volunteer Coordinator.

In April 2015, she became a Novice, and is assigned as the Sacristan Assistant. She finds this work in the Chapel challenging due to the discipline and detail required; however, she is also discovering its joy. A highlight for Sr. Amy Joy since entering the Sisterhood has been the incredible sense of peace, belonging and acceptance that have come from living and worshiping with community, a new and wonderful experience for her.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sr. Anitra

Sr. Anitra was born in Regina’s Grey Nuns Hospital (now Pasqua Hospital) to Danish parents who had emigrated from Denmark to Canada during the Great Depression. She was christened in the United Church as there was no Lutheran Church in Regina at that time. The family made the big move to Toronto in 1938 and they found a Danish Lutheran Church on Wellesley Street – St. Ansgar Lutheran, but the family later switched to Bloor Street United Church.

In the early 1960’s, she was confirmed at St. John’s Norway Anglican Church. She attended Toronto’s Central Technical School for Commercial Art courses and later the University of Toronto Fine Arts program. She taught art at Glen Ames and Fairmount Park Senior Public Schools.

Her initial contact with SSJD came in 1962, but she had the impression that she needed first to be a nurse – not a personal interest of hers. She was next introduced in 1975 by an Associate, and knew then that she was meant for the religious life and this order. However, the tragic accidental death of her brother and the sudden death of her Father shortly thereafter forced a postponement.

Finally entering the Order on October 25, 1977, Sr. Anitra has worked in the kitchen, the laundry, housekeeping, as a Guest Sister, Librarian, Archives Sister, and Retreats Director. She has been a Spiritual Director and an Assessor on ACPO, and has served at the Branch Houses in Edmonton, Cana Place, Victoria (twice) and Montreal. In the early days in community, she did some painting and small clay sculptures. As time went on, assignments intervened and she has not done anything in this creative area in recent years.

Currently, she is Spiritual Care Sister at St. John’s Rehab Hospital, a ministry she particularly loves. Throughout her life, Sr. Anitra says she has been particularly influenced by her Father and his attitude that clearly said to her – “be who you are and YOU decide what you want to do.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sr. Anne

Sr. Anne was born in Ashbury Park, New Jersey, although her parents were from Montreal. Her father was an English Protestant organist and her mother a French-Canadian Catholic opera singer. The family moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania and later, with her sister, to Baltimore, where “I experienced school integration of blacks and whites in the ‘60’s. Moving to New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, however, racism was still apparent. Her parents began teaching children, most of whom were black, sowing seeds of Sr. Anne’s desire to teach music to disadvantaged children.

Having taken up the violin at age nine, Sr. Anne studied at Dalhousie in Halifax and at various times since, has played with the Atlantic Symphony, the Canadian Chamber Orchestra in Banff and several Ontario symphonies. She started choir involvement at age six in her father’s choir and along with Sunday School, “the two golden threads of music and theology began weaving through my life”, yet not quite taking hold at the times when she was ready to grasp them firmly.

Sr. Anne was raised a Lutheran as it was considered a compromise between her parents’ traditions. “I experienced a call but I didn’t know what it was” after graduating in Music. Waterloo Lutheran Seminary was followed by chaplaincy experiences, and then a priest said “maybe you should enter a religious community”.

Her initial contact with the Convent prompted an inner voice, “I don’t think so, Lord”, and later on “maybe it might be possible”. Although Anglican-Lutheran dialogues were occurring then, Sr. Anne took steps to become an Anglican as “I sensed something’s going on. Then it became clear, so I entered on Holy Cross Day 1994 at age 42”.

She has been involved in every department of the Sisterhood, including the branch houses. “A real highlight was having my Lutheran Bishop participate in my Life Profession as it occurred the same year as the signing of the Waterloo declaration”. Another highlight for her was the Order of the Holy Paraclete (OHP) exchange and being able to visit Iona.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sr. Beryl

Although born in Coronach, Saskatchewan, Sr. Beryl and her three brothers lived on a farm nine miles away. To attend the one-room school over three miles away, they had to walk, take a horse and cart or ride bareback.

At 13 Beryl went to Regina to the Qu’Appelle Diocesan School (QDS) for five years, then began BA studies at Regina College, completing them in Saskatoon at the University of Saskatchewan. Intending further studies she went to England, “ambled about doing various jobs”, returning to teach at QDS in ’52 and to Toronto in ’53 for MA studies in English.

Hearing about short term missionary work in India (as well as thinking about the Sisterhood), Beryl set off via England where she worked in summer agricultural camps and a UN camp in Austria. She sailed from Southampton to Bombay via the Suez Canal during the Suez crisis in ’56. After four and a half years teaching in India, she came to the Community “feeling well-marinated in SSJD” through her times at QDS. “A lot ended but a lot began”.

She returned to QDS three more times as a Sister, the last as headmistress and oversaw the closing of the school – a “low-light” for her, but aware that “tough times are important to our learning”. A highlight of the Priory in Edmonton was when she and Sr. Jean were asked “to do something for the poor”. They joined a United Church project in which Sr. Beryl started an adult literacy programme that expanded and still exists as “The Learning Centre”.

After 13 years Sr. Beryl returned to the Convent, continuing [in] the role of Associate Director but now for Ontario and the Eastern US; then six years at Maison in St. Lambert, Quebec. Through all the years “the friendships and relationships were gift – and now the opportunity of doing spiritual care at the Hospital [SJRH] – a highlight for me”.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sr. Brenda

The eldest of six children, Sr. Brenda was born in Windsor, Ontario. Her father, a cabinet maker, her mother a woman of strong faith, Sr. Brenda was a cradle Anglican growing up in a rural church. She enjoyed Sunday School, Guiding, youth groups, participating on school teams, attending the YM-YWCA and later on, taught swimming, gymnastics and judo. “Guiding had a tremendous impact on my life by opening doors for me to explore new things and learn about God, our environment and myself”.

An RN, Sr. Brenda combined her interests in nursing, physical geography, social geography and culture, and adventure by nursing in Canada’s Arctic and abroad. She ventured deeper into the spiritual dimension of her life, her relationship with God and who she was as a Christian.

Home on furlough from India, her minister suggested she go into a retreat at the Convent. “It was on this retreat that I heard God’s call for me to enter the religious life. With fear and trepidation but a desire to be obedient, I entered SSJD in June 1991 at age 40”.

A highlight for Sr. Brenda was being on exchange with the Order of the Holy Paraclete Sisters in Johannesburg, South Africa. “It was the moment my past life as a nurse who liked to work overseas and my new life as a Sister met, and I found marvel, peace and joy with what was, for what is now, and for what is to come”.

Another highlight was the first Christmas at the new, unfinished Convent. “We went into the Chapel and sang among the chaos of building material. As I sat on a pile of wood and soaked in the beauty of the candlelight, the huge snowflakes gently falling on the windows, the singing of Silent Night and thinking of Jesus’ birth in a stable, beauty, peace, hope, joy and good old nostalgia danced within and around me. Gratefulness for God’s presence that Christmas in the messes and dreams of life, and for the gift of community, still flows forth when I think about that night”.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sr. Constance Joanna

Along with her brother, Sr. Constance Joanna was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents shared Swedish roots but met in Chicago at the 1933 World’s Fair.

She learned to play the piano early on but gave it up at age 10 “because I wanted to be outside playing not inside practising”, then picked it up later along with the organ. “Music was a huge part of my life. I don’t think I was ever away from a choir.”

Sr. Constance Joanna got her undergraduate degree in English, and then her MA followed by a PhD in American Literature and Linguistics. Five years teaching in Detroit and a year as a Fulbright Professor in Germany were followed by a tenured position at Virginia Tech.

“I grew up in the Methodist Church and, although I was later confirmed in the Episcopal Church, I always loved John Wesley, especially the way he talked in his journal about how his heart was ‘strangely warmed’. I aspired to be that myself but it was many years before I discovered that God was around me all the time. This gave me the courage to accept that God could call me out of teaching into the Sisterhood….

I thought I was giving up teaching, but it was my first true ‘vocation’ in the sense that I felt God truly called me and gave me gifts for that. I had become an Associate through my friends at the Cathedral in Detroit and was a regular visitor at the Convent from 1972.”

In 1984 at age 43, Sr. Constance Joanna came to the Sisterhood “not sure whether I was called to be a Sister or a priest. Eventually I had the great blessing of fulfilling both…. I’ve worked at several areas in the Convent and in many roles at St. John’s Rehab. I also had both the joys and the heartaches of being Reverend Mother for 11 years.”

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sr. Doreen

Sr. Doreen was born in Verdun, Quebec, the eldest child of four. As her father worked for the CPR,

the family moved frequently, so her schooling was experienced in Winnipeg, Calgary, Medicine Hat and Vancouver.

She was strongly influenced by her time in Brownies, Guides, Rangers and then as a leader with Guides, along with the Anglican Young People’s Association (AYPA) and teaching Sunday School. Involvement in Rangers was a time of travel, fellowship and outreach projects to the disadvantaged and handicapped. Holidays with family, friends and relatives travelling in Canada brought enjoyment of camping and the outdoors.

“Since the age of eight when an SSJD Sister spoke to our Sunday School class, I had a longing to give my life to God in some way”. Teen years in Medicine Hat surrounded by SSJD Associates and teaching Sunday School, continued to nourish the spark. “I became an Associate in the early ’60’s in Vancouver and, after finishing my BA at UBC in May 1965, I came for a month’s holiday to the Convent, hoping that would either confirm my call to the religious life or free me to ‘get on with other plans’ – marriage, lots of children, teaching, postgraduate studies…. My call was confirmed, so I entered in October ’65 at age 22.

Highlights for Sr. Doreen “have always centred around our life together, doing whatever was needed to make our Community strong and authentic in its outreach to others and the world”. From retreats, missions, spiritual direction, cooking in the Convent kitchen to times in Regina and Edmonton houses and our Home for the Elderly and Cana Place, VP at St. John’s Rehab Hospital (SJRH), starting a branch house in BC – and now a return to the Convent and Community life here – have all added their own highlights to the underlying foundation of prayer, hospitality and service”.