Posted October 21, 2011 in Combermere Diary:
Combermere Diary (October 2011)

by Paulette Curran.

As I write this column, it is late August, and summer is coming to an end.

For us at Madonna House, the highlight of the end of summer, of the whole summer in fact, is the feast of the Assumption, August 15th—a day of joyful celebration of Our Lady.

Well, celebrate we did with song and prayer and an abundance of flowers.

In his homily at the Byzantine liturgy, Fr. David May told us that he had asked Our Lady for a word and she said, "You could sing with me more."

What a beautiful word not only for the feast but for every day!

Our celebration also included a wonderful Italian supper including hors d’oeuvres. And we made the lasagna noodles from scratch!

Yes, led by Chuck Sharp and Alexandra Do, a number of volunteers spent the feast day afternoon making those noodles.

This feast is also the day we celebrate 25th and 50th anniversaries of promises, of commitment to the Madonna House vocation. (See "Milestones")

In the evening, we gathered for a sharing of memories with the golden jubilarians.

Deirdre Burch told us about her nursing experiences, especially delivering babies in Carriacou, West Indies, teaching the very poor in Honduras basic health care, and serving as a lone apostle in Canada, in a small village in northern Saskatchewan.

Kathleen Janet, who was Catherine’s secretary for many years, spoke of her relationship with our foundress and of the great privilege of working so closely with her.

She also told us about non-work times with her—going mushrooming together in silence as they soaked in the restoring beauty of nature.

Bill Ryan, who is in MH Belgium, sent us a couple of pages about his early life at MH, which Mark Schlingerman read to us.

Among other things, Bill told how his typing skills got him the job of running the men’s office right after becoming an applicant—the sort of thing that only happened in the early days of our apostolate.

He worked there and for Restoration for much of his apostolic life. Bill’s journalistic style of writing and great wit kept us laughing.

This past month, the summer program continued. Each week had a different theme, and we had talks on vocation and discernment, challenges to faith (is it worth it?), and witnesses to faith.

And there were some wonderful presentations.

Eliana Chagas, Peter Anzlin and Charmaine Treige gave us an entertaining and intriguing look at what we can learn about community from ants. One example: they are "free" to decide what to do but nothing they do makes sense except in the context of the colony.

Also included in the presentation, as an illustration of one of the points, we watched a short video of the 1937 Walt Disney rendition of the Aesop fable, The Grasshopper and the Ants.

Another delightful event was a marionette show, an imaginative presentation of the Russian fable, "Varenka," by Carol Ann Gieske and Helen Porthouse.

Finally, to illustrate how Madonna House is restoring the world, Derek Pinto and Bryan O’Brien made a video juxtaposing clips of MH people taking care of things with clips of people destroying things in the recent riots in Vancouver.

And we had a square dance and a day of recollection.

Another event of the summer program was a walking pilgrimage to Kaszuby, a Polish shrine about five miles away, a pilgrimage organized by Andorra Howard. About 25 of us participated.

(Well actually, some walked and some rode.)

The group included four Polish guests who added to the occasion by singing Polish songs.

The pilgrimage ended at our own shrine—Our Lady of Combermere.

Now summer is ending, and it is harvest time—a time when the men bring in the bounty and the women preserve it for the winter. What a gift from God and what a tangible fruit of the work of our hands the harvest is, and what a joy to see and eat the fresh produce!

As always, some of us travel in our apostolic work.

Fr. Denis Lemieux went with our diocese to Madrid for World Youth Day. Helen Hodson, watching WYD on television was surprised to see him and Bishop Don Bolen, our associate bishop, in a shot of "the Canadian contingent."

Victoria Fausto spent a week in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where Bishop Don Bolen called the first meeting of a think tank to develop an approach to "a new apologetics" according to the ideas of Pope John Paul II, an approach which gives an explanation of our faith from the fundamental human experience.

Hopefully it will be a basis for a dialogue with the secular culture, with people who are not even familiar with Christian culture and language.

Ten people attended—a wide cross-section of scholars from various fields, not all of them Christians. Victoria was included because the bishop wanted a "Madonna House presence."

Of all who have visited us the past month, I will just mention one small group—four members of the Toronto foundation of Shalom, a new ecclesial community from Brazil.

One of the members, Reimar, who has spent time here, came to say goodbye; he’s been transferred back to Brazil after six years in Toronto. The others came along to visit, too.

Well, I’ll mention one more: The Friends of MH, a group in Ottawa, came for a day.

And some of Joan Bryant’s family came for the blessing of her cross, the cross which marks her grave.

Last, but most definitely not least, we had a meeting introducing us to the new Mass translations which the whole English-speaking Canadian Church will be using starting in Advent.

The new translations are a more literal translation of the Latin. Change is always difficult and just because we are so familiar with the old translation, this one will take effort.

But this translation is meant to recapture the reverence and poetry of the original, some of which got lost in the loose translation of the early ‘70s, a translation that was never meant to be permanent. We found this new translation both beautiful and more profound.

May God’s peace fill each of your hearts.


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