Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 9, 2003
Sisterhood enjoys fellowship
Women religious discuss value of embracing diversity
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
In ministry it is crucial to have a certain understanding of multicultural reality in today’s society.
Ursuline of Jesus Sister Geraldine Kelly reminded her fellow sisters at that annual gathering of the women religious in the Edmonton Archdiocese, May 31.
It is important because it facilitates in communicating with other people how important is my following of Jesus, Kelly told the WCR.
“This is the reason of my life, my commitment to Jesus, the joy of being able to share the love and presence of God with other people.”
When ministering or simple interacting with people of cultures different from hers, she feels incredibly enriched because they give her something different from what she had experienced.
“And I have the joy of other people saying the same thing to me.”
Some 78 sisters, representing 20 different congregations out of the 35 women’s orders in the archdiocese attended the gathering.
Kelly stressed sisters in ministry have to constantly remind themselves of the importance of how culture shapes us.
“When we step beyond what is familiar that we find that challenging and sometimes isolating, we would know how to respond according to the love of God,” she said.
The sisters agree that many search for ways to connect with other people and it is vital not to be frightened to go beyond familiar cultural experiences. Such reaching out highlights the truth that there is a variety of gifts from the Holy Spirit and that these gifts are for the growth of the community
Kelly said, “We feel that is our number one value to be able to create harmony and to share the richness of diversity.
“At the same time it helps and motivates us to go beyond what we find different in each other. “
Kelly’s experience of cultural diversity began right at home. Her parents who met in Canada were immigrants from the United States.
Her parents got married in the United States and she was born there but raised in Canada.
“When my family moved to Canada it was always with the idea that we would be here temporarily and we would go back home. And I found over time that Canada became home for me. That made me reflect a lot on that experience.
Joining the Ursulines was another experience that widened her cultural experience. “Our motherhouse is in France. Eventually I went there and I experienced that their culture was quite different from what I was used to.”
But she was not discouraged at all.
“Our gathering is a symbol of the richness of the gifts that the sisters in the Edmonton Archdiocese have to offer.”
- Sr. Norma Johnson
“I think within myself there has always been that desire to learn from others and in a more recent personal history I’ve had that wonderful privilege of going to different countries in Europe, Africa and South America.”
Learning the languages and learning how much is contained in a language provided her a new way of thinking about different situations and responding to them.
Nevertheless, she also learned struggling with some of those differences.
“Sometimes I do that gracefully and other times I find it a little bit more difficult or that there could be a conflict. I think what has been helpful is that there is this deep-seated belief that this is important. This is worth it.”
In the afternoon St. Joseph Sister Mary Laurene talked about Project Rachel. She encouraged the sisters to volunteer in the program.
Sister of the Child Jesus Agness McGrath, chair of the council, noted that it is important for sisters to get together every year.
“I think the greatest importance is just for us to … celebrate our sistership. It’s just so beautiful sharing with each other and getting to know each other, enjoying each other. We’re all one. We’re all God’s people.”
Sister of Our Lady of Charity Norma Johnson, added, “Our gathering is a symbol of the richness of the gifts that the sisters in the Edmonton Archdiocese have to offer.”
“It’s really wonderful when you discover the richness of their lives and the mission that they bring forth in the archdiocese. The sisters will always be part of the church in Western Canada.”
The gathering concluded with the Mass presided by Msgr. Don MacDonald.