And I am inclined to add Hello March! Hello Spring! Hello Sunshine!
Last weekend, quite by chance, I met Sister Aline Ratelle, S.N.J.M. in a shopping center in Montreal. Having accompanied our youngest daughter, I had a lot of leisure time to chat with Sister Aline while waiting for her. If you remember, she was among the last of the S.N.J.M. Sisters to leave the convent in Sainte-Martine.
She is now living in Montreal with about fifty Sisters. Many of them are elderly and sick, especially Sister Huguette Poiré, whom some of you know from when she was living in Sainte-Martine and whom Sister Aline recommended to our prayers. (Sr. Huguette died on April 4, 2012). I also learned that, after a period of rest, Sister Marthe Carmel had accepted the position of superior.
Throughout our conversation, I was impressed by Sister Aline, an intelligent woman probably more that 80 years old, who is perceptive and has a cheerful personality. I had met her during the Eucharistic Congress in 2008 in Quebec where she was very active, and I remember the preparatory notes which we had posted on the Internet.
In the conversation which we had I was struck by the good fortune which she and her religious companions have – in comparison to people in typical seniors’ residences – to be able to use their talents and to be useful to their community. One common factor found in both groups is that of loneliness experienced by some people. As for Sister Aline, she works with computers and is responsible for) doing the accounts that deal with pharmaceutical suppliers.
This reminded me of Jean Vanier and L’Arche, a movement in which people with intellectual disabilities share their talents with their caregivers and live together in peace and with dignity.
We all have disabilities, limitations...we all have talents, gifts. Her community demonstrates an aspect of l’Arche in which the human person is fulfilled. “To love and to be loved” said Jean Vanier. We are happy when we use the best instrument there is: our strength and when we leave it to others to offset our weaknesses.
Thank you, Sister Aline for the reflection which you have inspired!