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Faith and Ecology Retreat

“Discipleship for the 21st Century: Living in the Spirit of Laudato Si’”

The retreat will begin on May 28, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. and end Sunday, June 3, 2018, at 1:00 p.m.

Combining spirituality and ecology, this retreat invites us to explore prayerfully and in a practical way, the integral relationship between faith, care for the Earth and for most vulnerable persons. The experience incorporating the beautiful natural setting at Villa St Joseph in Cobourg ON, silent times for reflection, Scripture, the letter of Pope Francis (Laudato Si’) and writings from a wide range of faith traditions will enable us to see these interwoven elements as essential for our call to discipleship in the world today. The retreat will be facilitated by Sisters from across the Canadian Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

All welcome: For further information or to register please contact Sr. Loretta Manzera at the Federation office p: 519-642-7029 or e: can.csj-fed@bellnet.ca

The cost of the retreat is $425 (a deposit of $50 would be required at time of registration. Space is limited.

Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada
Federation Ecology Committee



Engaging South Sudan

From January 13-28, 2018, three Sisters of St. Joseph will be travelling from London to South Sudan with Canadian Aid to South Sudan (CASS), led by Jane Roy and her husband, Glen Pearson. Sisters Joan Atkinson, Joan Driscoll and Teresa Ryan will be with eight other members of CASS, some of whom have been to Africa previously.  The youngest of the group is a thirteen-year-old girl who will be accompanied by her mother.

The purpose of the journey is to support the people of the Awell area, letting them know that they have not been forgotten by the world as they struggle with the effects of civil strife, poverty and food shortage following several years of civil strife.

The CASS group will stay in a Catholic mission run by the Camboni Missionaries.  From there, they plan to visit schools, health clinics and small enterprise groups along the way.  They also hope to interact with their hosts, praying and celebrating together.

South Sudan is a landlocked country in North Eastern Africa which gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. It has a population of 13,000,000, the median age being 17.1 years.  Since 2013, South Sudan has experienced civil war caused mainly by tensions between the two main tribes, the Dinka and the Nuer peoples over political and economic power.  Despite vast oil reserves, the country is poverty stricken.  However, the CASS visitors will not see military conflict but rather will witness the impact of food shortage caused by years of war.

Regarding the effects of war and exploitation on people and their lands, Pope Francis, in “Laudato Si” states, “The human environment and natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation.  In fact, the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet”.  Chapter 5 #48.  Witnessing such deterioration and degradation will be evident to the group as they visit the Awell area and reach out to them in their need.

We here at home, stand in prayer and solidarity with our Sisters and their companions of Canadian Aid to South Sudan as they undertake their long journey to be a solace and healing presence with the South Sudanese. May we continue to look for ways to be ambassadors of peace.

Jean Moylan, CSJ


A Life Well Lived  

“The life and death of each of us has its effect on others”. These words of St. Paul have been constant in my mind since the January 5th memorial service in honour of Catherine Finlayson.  London’s beautiful Colborne Street United Church was crammed to the rafters with family, friends, colleagues and people whose professional, philanthropic or business lives were personally touched by Catherine’s loving presence and outreach over the past forty years.

At the time of her death on Dec. 28, 2017, Catherine was the Executive Director, Advancement and Alumni at Fanshawe College as well as Executive Director of the Fanshawe College Foundation.  It was in the latter connection that Sister Joan Atkinson and I were present at her memorial service.  Almost a decade ago, the Sisters of St. Joseph made a sizable donation to Fanshawe College to establish the Sisters of St. Joseph Bursary for single mothers. This bursary enables single mothers to attend Fanshawe College and earn diplomas in various fields and find satisfying employment.  Throughout the intervening years, we have admired Catherine’s dedication to her work, enhancing the bursary and spreading it to other Fanshawe campuses. Last fall, Catherine and a colleague took several members of our congregation on a tour of the Clinton and Goderich campuses. Although her health was failing, she went out of her way to make the day pleasant, interesting and informative.

Since Catherine was not one to talk about herself, it was inspiring to be present at her memorial service and learn of the magnitude of her influence in London and surrounding areas.  This poised and engaging woman cared deeply that individuals and groups be successful and prosper.  Due to her efforts through education, journalism, mentorship, fundraising and charitable giving, many received the assistance they needed to be successful in a multitude of ways.

Catherine will be missed deeply by her loving husband James MacNeil, her four adult children, their spouses, her grandchildren and all those whose lives she touched through helping others.  She was a faith-filled, successful and treasured advocate for good.  Now, her works shine as bright stars in the heavens.

Jean Moylan, CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

Starting over is an acceptance of a past we can’t change, an unrelenting conviction that the future can be different and the stubborn wisdom to use the past to make the future what the past was not.

Craig D. Loundsbrough.  www.wiseoldsayings.com


This Christmas Season is Rich with Song and Symbol!

The Christmas season is rich with song and symbol. Today being the 9th day of Christmas as we count along to the feast of the Epiphany, a dancing image emerges in 9 ladies dancing. (8 maids a-milking, 7 swans a-swimming, 6 geese a-laying, 5 golden rings, 4 calling birds, 3 French hens, 2 turtle-doves and a partridge in a pear tree!!!)

It is the dancing image that attracted me today, because there is reason to rejoice. We received word from our Office for Systemic Justice through Sue Wilson, CSJ, that it is a time to celebrate. In my words it is a time to dance. Why? Because there is a little bit of justice and peace being born in our world. In the midst of darkness light is radiating hope.

The darkness is the environmental and human-rights abuses that occur in countries where our Canadian-owned mining companies are operative.

The light: in December 2017, a spokesperson for Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announced that the Ombudsperson’s Office will open in early 2018 – something many of our Sisters and Associates/Companions have  been lobbying for by joining the wider collective of concerned citizens who have urged the Canadian government to implement an Ombudsperson for the extractive (mining) sector in Canada. This office will have an “advisory and robust investigative mandate”. 

Many Canadians have been writing letters, and attending meetings to raise their concerns about the lack of accountability for these injustices.

With projects in over 100 countries, Canada is home to half of the world’s mining and mineral exploration companies. The current mechanism to address issues is ineffective in that the participation of the extractive-sector companies is voluntary and complaints are never made public. This new Ombudsperson would investigate allegations, make recommendations to the mining companies and the Canadian government. The Office would be independent of political or corporate influence and accountable to Canadians through public reporting.

Numerous Canadians have been urging the government for this change recognizing that the current policy does not reflect our Canadian values. As one bishop has stated: “We cannot accept the unethical way Canadian mining companies have been operating in Latin America or other regions of the world, taking the absence of effective regulatory schemes as a reason to shirk their ethical responsibilities.”

So the news of the early 2018 Office opening is indeed cause to dance. And this dance reflects the energy and movement of not a beautiful soloist, but that of a multitude of persons, joining together in effort to create a new pattern of hope.

It is stated that the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” held a hidden message for persecuted people in the 16th and 17th centuries.  The number 9 represented the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

So on this 9th day of Christmas, we rejoice that many of these 9 fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, have shaped our character and values, bringing light into the darkness. And so we dance in the light of Christ, rejoicing in a micro-incarnation of peace and justice on earth.




Sue Wilson CSJ, Office for Systemic Justice

Blogger: Loretta Manzara, CSJ, musician striving to affect change in the world, one hymn at a time.


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