Sister Elizabeth Lynch has been a member of the Sisters of St. Ursula of the Chatham Union for 63 years. Growing up in what is now called the district of Cliff Bungalow, she attended Holy Angels Elementary and Junior High School and St. Mary’s Girls’ High School in Calgary. Since her profession and training to be a teacher, she has been missioned to Ridgetown, ON, Rockyford, AB, and Edmonton. She taught elementary grades over a course of 19 years and then moved into pastoral ministry in Stratford, ON, Drumheller, AB and Calgary. In Calgary she also served as a diocesan chaplain in long term care and worked with AHS in Chaplaincy at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
It was 1921 when the first Ursuline Sisters came to the Diocese at the request of Bishop McNally. Two were from the USA, one from Chatham, ON and a postulant was from Toronto. The superior was Sr. Angela Sidley. The order was independent of other Ursuline communities and was officially called Calgary Ursulines, a corporation unto themselves. They established the first English speaking novitiate in Western Canada.
The Sisters taught in St. Anne’s, Holy Angels and Sacred Heart Schools and in later years at St. Charles, St. Paul, Forest Lawn, St. Margaret’s and St. Francis High schools. They also had a music school in Calgary. In 1929, they were asked to send Sisters to Rockyford. There they taught at St. Rita’s and had boarders from the country during the week.
In 1934, the Calgary Ursulines were amalgamated with the Chatham Union of Ursulines. Young women who entered from the West travelled to Chatham for their religious formation. The Sisters in our diocese opened a convent in Drumheller in 1935 to respond to the bishop’s request for social workers in that town. They also taught music and kindergarten. For many years Ursulines gave catechism classes to students of public schools on Saturdays and did the same in various country places during the summers.
Sr. Elizabeth, the last Ursuline of Chatham in our diocese, will be leaving Calgary in mid-November. We thank Sister and all of her congregation who so generously served southern Alberta.
Please join us congratulating our women religious jubilarians of 2017 for their years of devoted service. They have been a joyful witness to all!
Sr. Helen Hengel, SCSL (75th Anniversary)
Sr. Mary Spence, SCSL (75th Anniversary)
Sr. Clemence Liboiron, SCSL (70th Anniversary)
Sr. Marjorie Perkins, FCJ (65th Anniversary)
Sr. Theresa Parker, SSM (60th Anniversary)
and Sr. Patricia Derbyshire, SCSL (50th Anniversary)
The women religious of the Diocese of Calgary are looking forward to participating at One Rock 2017. Please stop by and say hello!
Vocations to the religious life might seem to have been dwindling in recent decades, but we appear to be in a new springtime of interest now. Several young women attended a recent Lenten vocations retreat at St. Joseph’s parish in Calgary, adding to the growing evidence that young people are still drawn to an experience of living the life of Christ in today’s world. Woven throughout the day was the theme of Thirsting for Mercy, and the 10 discerners had a chance to interact with several Sisters from various religious communities within the Diocese.
The day kicked off with Mass, followed by a Scriptural reflection on Isaiah 55. Next was a presentation by Fr. Luan Pho, a Dominican priest, who graciously shared his faith journey: From the poverty of a post-Vietnam War life to that of a ridiculed immigrant in the United States, to finding merciful love and acceptance in a youth group at his local parish. This loving acceptance eventually led him to consider the priesthood, enflaming in him the desire to share God’s love and mercy with others in the way he had experienced them.
Once the discerners had a chance to meet and talk in small groups, the morning continued with a musical interlude. Songs and hymns that focused on the theme of God’s infinite mercy were played and sung, such as There is a Wideness in God’s Mercy, and a beautiful recording of Cece Winans’ Mercy Said “No.”
For the second half of the day’s proceedings, the retreatants listened to and shared their thoughts on the story of the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, and how Jesus’ merciful approach transformed her life.
After viewing What is a Vocation? by Fr. Mike Schmitz, the participants assembled in groups of two or three to engage in eight-minute sessions with each of the religious communities in attendance. They had an opportunity to learn about the charisms of the communities along with personal stories of the Sisters. Present for the retreat were Sisters of Providence, Dominicans, Seeds of the Word, Faithful Companions of Jesus, Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, and the Society in the Image of the Triune God.
The day concluded with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, along with an opportunity for receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. Feedback from the participants was both positive and encouraging, giving the Vocations Planning Committee responsible for the event valuable information for future vocations events.
Young women considering a vocation to religious life are encouraged to contact Sr. Lucille Field, S.I.T.G., at (403) 461-1094 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/AveMariaDiscernmentHouse.
Additional events will also be announced on the Calgary Vocations Retreat Facebook page, found at facebook.com/calgaryvocationsretreat.
On January 24, twenty-seven young women and Sisters gathered for a day of prayer and discussion about discernment and Religious life. We began at the Dominican Sisters' convent where we were treated to hospitality that included a tour of the Sisters' residence and day care. Then we walked across the street to Our Lady Queen of Peace Polish Church for the celebration of Mass. Fr. Sebastian Szewczyk, SDS preached enthusiastically on the reading from the Book of Jonah and encouraged us to answer the call of the Lord.
Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, FCJ, gave a practical talk about discernment of the Lord's will following the insights of St. Ignatius Loyola. She clarified how the awareness examen; silence and prayer; interior freedom; growth in humility and self-knowledge; and listening within oneself aids in the discernment of God's will. She also explained how to practice the awareness examen on a daily basis to develop our ability to hear the Lord when He speaks to us. This included being aware of God's presence; asking for openness to the Holy Spirit; expressing gratitude while reflecting on one's experience of the day; and asking for help and guidance for tomorrow.
One Sister from each of the six communities present (Dominicans; Society in the Image of the Triune God; Faithful Companions of Jesus; Congregation of Sisters of Our Merciful Jesus; Sisters of Providence; and the Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth shared a little of the history of their respective orders and of their own personal vocations. Some of the points made included the importance of having quiet times to listen to what is going on within one's heart in order to learn how God is calling; the role of prayer in discernment; how God can speak to us in our dreams; the value of having a spiritual guide or mentor;and finally how to discover communities with that share a charism that resonates with your gifts.
The day was interspersed with quiet prayer in the church before the Blessed Sacrament, and the communal praying of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. The final prayer of the day was a guided Scriptural meditation led by Fanny Tamegnon from the planning team. In their evaluation of the retreat day, the participants expressed appreciation for the tour of the convent and the hospitality of the Dominican Sisters, including their home cooking.
Responding to the requests of the young women, the Sisters are in the process of arranging a monthly schedule for visits to the different convents. The young women also asked for a bi-weekly vocation support group for those actively discerning the call of the Lord in their lives. Information about these events can be found on the Facebook page set up by Karla Subero from the planning team.
Displays and brochures from the various Religious communities of the Calgary Diocese offered an opportunity for the women to learn more about the Sisters. Information on the communities of the Diocese can be accessed at www.calgarydiocese.ca/vocations.html
The next event planned for the Year for Consecrated Life is open to men and women. March 13, 2015 for information and visit www.facebook.com/calgaryvocationsretreat for more details.
Pope Francis asks that from the First Sunday of Advent (November 30, 2014) until next year's Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (February 2, 2016) we celebrate a Year of Consecrated Life.
Some may be wondering what is meant by the "Consecrated Life." Are we not all consecrated because of our baptism? For sure, we are! The term "Consecrated Life" however, refers to the religious life in which people dedicate themselves to God and serving God's people by living the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. Some consecrated persons live out these vows as singles, but the majority live in community.
In the Diocese of Calgary there are many religious communities. All are strengthened by a life of prayer and sharing in community. The particular gifts that God gave to their founder(s) or foundress(es) comprise the "charism" of each order. It is that charism that attracts others to ask about becoming a member of the given community.
If you or your friends would like to learn more about the religious life of women in our diocese, please contact Sr. Margarete St. John, SP (email@example.com) or me, Sr. Theresa Smith, FCJ (firstname.lastname@example.org). We can help you become acquainted with the various orders in our diocese and give you contact numbers. The religious communities of women in this diocese are:
- Sisters of St. Joseph
- Sisters of St. Martha
- Assumption Sisters of Nairobi
- Franciscan Missionaries of Mary
- Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth
- Dominican Sisters
- Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict
- Ursuline Sisters of the Chatham Union<
- Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood
- Sisters Announcers of the Lord
- Sisters of Charity of St. Louis
- Society in the Image of the Triune God
- Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate
- Sisters of Social Service
- Sisters of Our Merciful Jesus
- Sisters of Charity of Providence and
- Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus
Several parishes are under the direction of male religious including the:
- Sons of the Immaculate Conception
- Society of Christ (for Polish Immigrants)
In addition, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers have parishes in the Diocese of Calgary. The Franciscans are at Mount St. Francis. An Oblate of Mary Immaculate is at St. Mary's University in Calgary, and a Jesuit resides at St. Mary's Cathedral. A new community, Seeds of the Word which is serving at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, is a community open to men and women.
A committee named by Bishop Henry is working to arrange four events during this year. Vibrant speakers will be sharing their witness on the consecrated life. Please watch your parish bulletins and The Carillon for details.
"No one contributes to the future in insolation, by his or her efforts alone, but by seeing himself or herself as part of a true communion which is constantly open to dialogue, attentive listening and mutual assistance. Such a communion inoculates us from the disease of self-absorption" [Pope Francis' Message for the Year of Consecrated Life].
"I will spend my heaven doing good on earth… I will help priests, missionaries, the whole Church…" St. Thérèse of Lisieux