Posted May 24, 2011 in Combermere Diary:
Combermere Diary (May-June 2011)

by Paulette Curran.

Most mornings after breakfast, Fr. David May gives us the news headlines, and newspapers and a variety of magazines are available. So every day, even though we live in an isolated area, we hear of so many events and people to pray for.

This past month, as seems to happen often in these troubled times, we have been living our ordinary life against a background of major crises—the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear threat in Japan and the war in Libya. The people in these countries are very much on our minds and in our hearts and prayers.

During such times, we of course continue to live our ordinary lives. Catherine always told us to "do the duty of the moment," and that is what we do, offering our daily lives and prayers for all those in the crisis spots.

These days, as I write this in late March, it is Lent and the very beginning of spring.

In these northern parts, spring comes slowly, venturing tentatively and then seeming to disappear under a sudden drop of temperature, or even, like today, still another snowfall. But the light is increasing and the weather most days rises above freezing, melting the snow and gladdening our hearts.

Yes, it is maple syrup time. Fr. Louis Labrecque and his crew have put the taps in the sugar maple trees, and the mild, above-freezing temperatures (some days) and the below freezing nights are making the sap run. People are going up to the sugar shack on Sunday afternoons to check out the operation and enjoy Fr. Louis’ hospitality.

Up at the farm two new calves have been born and a third is expected, and Mary Davis and Ruth Siebenaler are wading through heavy wet snow to prune the apple trees.

Lent has also arrived, preceded by the traditional Shrove Tuesday pancake supper and our MH traditional "Pre-Lent Event," a variety show composed mainly, though not entirely, of comedy skits.

This year Opray Wintery (Andorra Howard) and Teddy Sullivan (Chris Hanlon) were the MCs, and different groups, including three dormitories, presented skits. So did all the library (which presented a classic Canadian story, "The Hockey Sweater,") and people from the Saskatchewan prairies. There are a surprising number right now—eight—and six of them sang a song about a Sasketchewan pirate plying his trade in a land with little water.

Well, as I said before, it is Lent, and Lent is generally a quiet time for us, and there are various things to help us get into the spirit and sustain our efforts—such as Lenten spiritual readings, beautiful Lenten songs, and Friday evening Stations of the Cross.

And, of course, during Lent, we prepare for Easter. Theresa Girard, for example, is making the koolitch (Russian Easter bread), and our handicraft department is giving lessons on how to make pysanky, Russian Easter eggs.

In Lent, there are always a number of retreats: some people, mostly priests, going out to give them, and others making them here. Fr. Denis Lemieux gave a parish mission and house retreat in Winslow, Arizona, and Fr. David Linder did the same at our house in Vancouver.

Fr. Paul Burchat gave a mission in Brampton at the parish of one of our associate priests.

Then when Fr. Paul returned, he, Fr. Tom Zoeller, Derek Pinto, and Victoria Fausto were involved in giving weekend retreats for Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy (a nearby school of higher learning)—one for the men and one for the women. Derek talked to the men about St. Joseph, leading them through a meditation of what it might have been like to be Joseph, and Victoria’s talk to the women was titled, Friendship: St. Joseph, St. Therese, and You.

St. Patrick’s Day was more low-key than it is some years, but many people wore green for the day and the atmosphere was festive. Janine Gobeil, Sofia Segal, and Marie-Therese McLaughlin, all of whom play or sing Irish music, were able to attend an Irish concert in nearby Eganville. (There are a number of people of Irish descent living in this area.)

On March 19th we celebrated the feast of St. Joseph. He has a special place in Madonna House, especially for the laymen whose patron he is. They had a supper together the night before—staff, guests, and applicants. On the day itself, the library displayed a large statue of St. Joseph with a basket at his feet in which we could put in petitions. And of course we had a special Mass and supper.

Here are some news in brief:

Several women are getting together to knit—a good way to combine crafts and relaxing together. Kylah Darwent and Stephen Corsi, former working guests, had a formal blessing of their engagement in our chapel. Marie-Therese McLaughlin gave a workshop on lullabies to a group of home schooling mothers.

Since most of you will be receiving this newspaper shortly after Easter, let me take the opportunity to wish you a joyous, grace-filled Easter Season. Despite whatever is going on in the world, Christ is risen. He has conquered death, and he will ultimately triumphant.


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