On October 7, the Feast Day of their Patroness, four Sisters from the Congregation of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary came to speak about their community to the Sisters at Maison Jésus-Marie. This visit was part of the project “Discovering other Religious Congregations” which began two years ago by Sisters Maryse Moisan and Gisèle Lalande, SNJM. Its goal is to make better known, Religious Congregations living and working in the Diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil.
With the help of videos, the four Sisters spoke about their charism, their works and their history. Founded in Rimouski by Blessed Elisabeth Turgeon, this Congregation has spread to six countries. As with many other communities, over the years their mission as educators has evolved, in keeping with the countries in which they are involved.
Besides presenting this overview of the community, Sisters Lina Thériault, Mary Mongo, Gabrielle Desrosiers and Jacky Abi Nassif each spoke about their current commitments. The first one works mainly with immigrants, the second one, who comes from Maine, U.S.A., works mostly with youth, and has already taught at Collège Durocher. The third one is now in charge of the maintenance of the house and daily logistics.
Invited by her Sisters on the South Shore, Sister Jacky Abi Nassif came to meet the SNJM’s and to speak about her unusual career. She has spoken at length to other audiences about her commitments. It is impossible for her not to mention one particular event which occurred in March, 2016. In fact, as an immigrant, originally from Lebanon, she became only the second person to be both a religious and a chaplain in the Canadian Army.
During the swearing in of 13 chaplains, one of whom was Sister Jacky, Captain Harnois declared “Canada attaches great importance to the role of army chaplain. This profession has a very positive impact on people’s morale."
A journey of commitment for this Sister of Lebanese origin…
Sister Jacky Abi Nassif’s journey is what might be called unique. Born into a Maronite family, she immigrated to Canada in 1992, during the Syrian military presence in Lebanon. It was during her life as a refugee from the diaspora, that she discovered her religious vocation and entered the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. She became the first woman to graduate from the Grand Seminary, which was established in 1879, in the Rimouski area.
Being very committed, she got involved in the cosmopolitan Montreal society in which one could find, among others, many Arabic-speaking Christian immigrants from all walks of life. She also started an Arabic Catholic radio station on the internet which currently has half a million followers on Facebook. As part of her work in a Melkite-Catholic parish in Montreal, she founded the movement of the International Apostolate of Children (Midade, Melkite Canada) which for the most part helps Arabic-speaking children fleeing the conflict in Syria. She also accompanies a group of young Melkites between the ages of 18 and 25.
Emphasizing that this new role will not prevent her from maintaining ties with Lebanon and the Arab-speaking world, Sister Jacky stated: "Canada welcomed me when I was young and when I was fleeing from the war in Lebanon. As a Canadian of Lebanese origin, I am proud of my new mission, proud to serve Canada. As a captain and a chaplain, I will not carry weapons, but I will bring moral support to the troops, to any member of the military, regardless of religion. It's a call that I have received from God and to which I am responding with the support and encouragement of my Congregation. I pray the Lord to help me."*
It goes without saying that those present at the meeting were very interested in this presentation.
It would be informative to consult the website of this community: www.soeursdusaintrosaire.org
*The quotes come from a published article written by Frédéric ZAKHIA, following the swearing in ceremony.