“God is too large to fit into a credo statement.” said ’Ibn ‘Arabî, Sufi mystic, who then asked each of us: “Who is God or me?”
During the three planned gatherings, the three women: Jewish, Christian Orthodox and Muslim will answer this question from the perspective of their faith tradition as well as their personal journey.
The three gatherings, organized by the Spiritual Animation Committee, responded to the General Chapter asking us to reflect upon what we can learn from people who are of diverse cultures, races and religious beliefs.
These three women, Sharon Gubbay, Denitsa Tsevtkova et Samia Amor, are our sisters in the faith in the one God.
Welcome to Marie-Rose Durocher Residence on Saturday February 9th and March 30. The first of these gatherings were held this past November 22nd.
Lise Bluteau, facilitator
Sister Denise Mercier had an important role during the inauguration ceremony of Father Reegan Soosaï, c.m.f., as the new pastor of Notre-Dame-de-Protection Parish in Sherbrooke, on Sunday, September 23rd. As spiritual mentor to Fr. Soosaï, c.m.f., Sr. Denise introduced him to the large number of parishioners who attended.
The story of the friendship and spiritual relationship between Sr. Denise Mercier and Father Reegan Soosai is significant. It goes back to Reegan's time as a student of the French language at the CASA Center in Montreal. Rated at the beginner level upon arrival, he moved to level 2 a month later and had Sr. Denise as his teacher. His former teacher said, "It’s a little fast."
During his training, Reegan asked Sr. Denise to be his spiritual mentor. It’s hard to refuse such a request when you know Sr. Denise. As a result, visits and an exchange of correspondence would foster this mutual, dynamic relationship.
In 2011, while in Level 2, Reegan was ordained a deacon in the Montreal Archdiocese and in December 2012 was ordained a priest in South India, his country of origin.
"A ball of energy!”
It is with great pleasure that Sr. Denise portrayed the one she affectionately calls "Reegan". "It's a moment of high energy! A challenge presents itself? Oops, Reegan is here. A need is felt? We can count on him ... He is always on the alert!”
Sr. Denise recalled the testimony of a now-deceased friend of Reegan, "In a special ceremony, he confided to me his great surprise at discovering such a young a priest who was obviously very mature and possesses a quality of harmony between human and spiritual relationships. He had great admiration for him."
Sr. Denise considers the richness of his personality complements his spiritual formation and his three years studying theology during his 12 years of priestly formation.
"Today, I give thanks for the witness of his life given for God and for others. Now, I leave you the joy of discovering over time, this gift called 'Reegan' and I wish you happiness and abundance." After Mass, several former students gathered around Sr. Denise to express their appreciation for having been educated by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) in the areas of La Patrie, East Angus and Weedon.
Having walked in the entrance procession and been invited to speak to the parishioners at the beginning of the two-hour celebration, Sr. Denise also sat at the head table for refreshments with Fr. Reegan and Archbishop Luc Cyr, of the Diocese of Sherbrooke, who had presided over the ceremony.
This event is now a memorable moment for both Sr. Denise and Father Reegan.
Thursday, October 4, the administrations of schools associated with Quebec SNJM's presented a video in their respective institutions, encouraging young people to commit to some action related to justice. School principals responded positively to the invitation to participate in the first SNJM Day of Service and Justice, initiated to celebrate the 175 years of the Congregation's existence.
The purpose of this day is to witness to the SNJM spirit and mission still vibrant today. Within the same time frame, with the magic of technology and social media, SNJM Sisters and Associates in various parts of the world shared their experiences, giving an excellent portrayal of all that is being done and can be done to fight injustices and help make the world a better place.
The video (in French but with excellent photos) initiative is the result of a collaborative effort by members of the Quebec Leadership Team and the Quebec youth group that participated in the SNJM Youth Justice Forum this past summer.
The invitation is addressed to Sisters, associates, current students as well as parents, alumni, students, faculty, staff, members of the various organizations associated with the SNJM’s, collaborators and friends.
Several projects had been announced and were held close October 6, the birth date of the foundress, Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher. Details can be found on the SNJM Quebec Facebook page.
Let us recall, in closing, that Collège Durocher-Saint-Lambert, Saint Nom-de-Marie Boarding School, the Vincent-d'Indy School of Music and Mont-Jésus-Marie elementary school were founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. These schools, presently managed by private and autonomous corporations, remain associated with the SNJM’s through shared values and the desire for excellence in education.
The many comments and accolades received since the beginning of the festivities celebrating the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) confirms the major impact of these Sisters on the development of the full potential of thousands of girls and boys, throughout Quebec and in other parts of the world.
Following the spring launching of the festivities with the exposition, “Educate to Liberate”, organized by the archives department, several other activities have been open to the general public. These were opportunities for learning, sharing and discovering large segments of the history of the Congregation, founded in Longueuil on October 28, 1843, by Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher.
A significant public event took place on September 29, within the context of the Cultural Days in Longueuil. Two presentations offered excerpts from the archives that were read aloud, accompanied by audio and visual elements featuring the 175 years of SNJM history. The audiences were captivated by stories about the daily lives of the Sisters as well as their various commitments throughout the years. They also discovered the deeply-held values of the Congregation which ministers on three continents.
In addition to these presentations which required reserved seating, the Longueuil Convent opened its doors to welcome visitors interested in viewing the various attractions of this historic site: the Foundation House, museum, historic rooms, original chapel and an archival exhibition. All were accessible free of charge between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 80 Saint-Charles Street East in Longueuil. In addition, architectural heritage enthusiasts were invited to register for the guided outdoor visit at 3 p.m. entitled "If the walls could speak".
The archival exposition and various other events organized during the 175th anniversary of the SNJM foundation invited people to rediscover the determination and the vision of Mother Marie-Rose. Sr. Denise Riel, Province leader, noted at the launching of the festivities, “She had an unshakeable faith in education as a vehicle for social change, a commitment that is just as relevant today”.
This desire to encourage young people of their time, especially young girls from the countryside, to develop their full potential expressed the Sisters’ vision of the role of women and women's leadership in the family and society. An avant-garde approach, still relevant today, has brought forth much fruit. A former student, during her visit, expressed this so well: "Thank you for the many wonderful things I learnt and which are still useful 40 years later.”
On the occasion of the birthday of Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, founder of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM), a commemorative Mass, celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Claude Hamelin, took place on Saturday, October 6, at 4:30 p.m. in Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue Co-Cathedral. The public was cordially invited to attend.
Following a few informal visits or pilgrimages, the festivities surrounding the SNJM’s 175th anniversary will end in the Quebec Province with a Eucharistic celebration on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception,
The general public will have free access to the “Educate to Liberate” archives exposition which will remain open until January 25, 2019. At any time, by appointment, those interested in visiting the Marie-Rose Centre located in the Longueuil Convent are welcome to see the many artifacts in this heritage site. For information or to make an appointment please phone 450-651-8104, extension 1209.
The SNJM Sisters have worked in a dozen dioceses in Quebec, including Montreal, Gaspé, Hauterive (North Shore), Joliette, Saint-Hyacinthe and Valleyfield. They founded convents and boarding schools, worked in public schools, taught all subjects including music, contributed to the advancement of social causes and worked in parish ministry.
Today, the Sisters are still involved in pastoral work, social justice and spiritual accompaniment. They partner with others for the cause of migrants and refugees; work against human trafficking and forced labor; and promote sustainable development especially in the area of access to clean drinking water.
2018 has been a year full of events and moments of gratitude for the SNJM’s, expressed by alumni, partners and collaborators. "I’m happy to see what the Sisters have accomplished and are still involved in today", said a former student who attended a recent event.