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Visitation Province Associates Assembly

Marjorie Allison-Ross

The first Visitation Province Assembly was held on Pentecost weekend, May 18-21 at the Mother House in Montreal with 48 Associates and 14 Sisters attending. Some Associates arrived early to participate in a Walking Tour, “In the Footsteps of Marguerite Bourgeoys”, visit Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel and Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum on May 17 that was organized by Sr. Maura McGrath. Our Tour Guides were CND Sisters Patricia Simpson, Joyce Roberts and Sheila Sullivan. It was a wonderful experience to be in the areas of Ville Marie where Marguerite walked over 318 years ago. She died in 1700.

The Assembly opened on Friday evening with a very moving Ceremony, “Mohawk Prayer of Gratitude.” We gave thanks to The People, Earth Mother, The Waters, The Animals and Plants, The Four Winds, Our Ancestors, The Creator, This Assembly. After the prayer for each of these, the Assembly replied, “Now our minds and hearts can be one.” Several symbols were carried in a procession by Associates: Candle, Felted art piece, Image of a Door on Visitation Province Prayer Card, Vase of daisies, unrolling of Marguerite’s Pathways in the four directions —north, south, east, west. We were each given a little cloth flame as we entered the Assembly and we placed it in the table centerpiece and lit our candle — “One little candle can light up more than we realize sometimes.” There was a reading from Scripture: 2 Timothy 1: 5-9 and a reading from Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, paragraph 200. We sang Joyce Johnson Rouse’s song, “Standing on the Shoulders”. Monica Lambton from JPIC spoke to the Assembly. Her topic was “On Fire For Mission: Building a Foundation for the Future, A JPIC Perspective.” After the closing prayer, we watched a video presentation of Associates and Sisters while listening to Carey Landry’s song, “Companions on the Journey.”

On Saturday, Sr. Ona Bessette, CND from Blessed Sacrament Province and a current member of the Congregation Leadership Team, was the guest speaker on the topic “Mission Effectiveness.” She led us in a daylong process of naming 5 Core Values for Visitation Province Associates.

Saturday evening, everyone attended Mass at Bon Secours Chapel in Old Montreal. Associates and Sisters participated in the various ministries. Fr. Charlie Broderick of Riverview concelebrated Mass. Sisters renewed their vows and Associates renewed their commitment to Associate Relationship.

On Sunday, Sr. Josephine Badali, former CND Congregational Leader, facilitated a process where we looked at the Core Values — what do the core values look like and what concrete actions will foster the core values? We were given time to be creative about one of the core values and draw, write a poem, etc. We worked in groups on a value and shared ideas.

Socials were held on Friday and Sunday evenings so that Sisters and Associates would have time to get to know each other and catch up with friends we had met in the past.

On Monday, there was a Closing Ceremony with readings from Joyce Rupp, Prayer 20 — Guidance, “Prayers to Sophia” and from Pope Francis, “Prayer of St Francis.” During the Blessing and Going Forth, the Core Values were incorporated into the prayer. We each selected a name of someone who had attended the Assembly to be a Prayer Partner. At the end, there was a video of pictures of people who had attended the Assembly.

Many Associates were involved in the planning of the whole Assembly (arranging speakers, booking accommodations, registration, arranging rooms, supplies, equipment, preparing invitation flyers, creating prayer service handouts, soliciting province pins, Opening Ceremony, Closing Ceremony, preparing communication updates, taxis, pictures and Socials). Very positive comments were received about the Assembly. Many expressed the hope of a second Associate Assembly!


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