Posted August 16, 2012 in Combermere Diary:
Combermere Diary (July-August 2012)

by Paulette Curran.

If you are a regular reader of this column, you will know that, among other things, we live according to the rhythm of the seasons—both liturgical and natural.

In part of the time covered by this month’s diary, we were in Easter Season and, more recently, in planting time.

One wonderful thing here in Madonna House is that all of us who are physically and otherwise able to, take part in the planting.

We had, for example, work bees in the evening to plant onions and potatoes.

There is nothing quite like looking at that those tiny seeds and those small pieces of sprouted potato and knowing that, in just a few short months—if God gives sufficient sun and rain and we do the necessary cultivating—they will grow into food to feed the family.

For other departments in Madonna House too, spring is a time of preparation and beginning.

The staff at the shops, to give just one example, gave the museum a thorough cleaning, put the antique furniture back out in the yard, and making new displays, stocked the shelves of the gift shop with merchandise for the summer influx of customers.

And then there are the pleasures of spring. After the long winter, it’s great to see the increasing sunlight and the varied plants appearing and growing. It’s great to feel the increasing warmth and to begin to sit outside, at least some of the time.

And this year, being outside has been more pleasant than usual. For that scourge of late spring—the black flies—were far fewer than usual. (We think that’s because of an unusual hot spell in March.)

One of our main events was the local directors meetings, which last approximately three weeks.

At the beginning of May, the directors of our eighteen houses returned to Combermere from our houses across the United States and Canada and from Belgium, Carriacou (West Indies), England, and Russia, for their annual meetings. They began with a two-day retreat, and then it was on to the meetings.

Unlike in the earlier years when the directors stayed all over the compound, we now have room for the women to stay together in one building and the men in another. This, of course, facilitates their building community among themselves.

All in all, the time of the meetings is an opportunity for the widely dispersed directors and the Combermere directors and elders to become more one, to share with one another, to discuss whatever needs discussing, to be spiritually fed, and to discern prayerfully together where the Spirit is leading Madonna House.

There were times for the directors to relax as well, and as usual, we had a Sunday picnic for the whole community.

For us who live in Combermere, besides being a time to play games and to eat the kind of food we rarely have (hot dogs, chips, homemade pop, ice cream, etc.) the picnic was a time to visit with individual directors if we hadn’t done so already.

Another event of this time was a national one: the March for Life. This took place in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, less than a three-hour drive from here.

More of us than usual went this year—staff, applicants, and guests. For some, it was their first march. All the men guests except one took part.

Staff from MH Toronto and St. Joseph’s House in Combermere marched as well, as did some of the local directors. (The meetings for that day had been cancelled specifically so that the directors could have the opportunity to participate.)

The march was a day trip for the rest of us, but Aliz Trombitas and applicant Sara Matthews stayed on for another day to host a Madonna House book table at the evening banquet and at the youth gathering the next day.

One exciting thing about this annual march is that every year the numbers increase, and this year, they were estimated at 19,000.

(In Canada, there is no law limiting abortion, so by default, a woman can virtually get an abortion on demand.)

Victoria Fausto, one of the directors of training, and our three second-year applicants—Sara Matthews, Martha Reilander, and Michael Amaral—attended a vocations fair sponsored by the Conventual Franciscans at a parish in Kingston, a large city in southern Ontario.

Each group brought an exhibit and after each of the parish Masses, people were invited to the hall to see them and talk to the exhibitors about their life and ministries.

On a lighter note, Diana Breeze, Aliz Trombitas, Ruth Siebenaler, and Beth Scott, took part in the annual Ottawa Race Weekend in late May. All four did the 5 km. race, which had almost 10,000 participants. Everyone who completed the run or walk received a medal.

One major event that will just miss being covered in this column is Promises Day—the day members of our community make and renew their promises of poverty, chastity and obedience.

This gives us an opportunity to cover an event associated with Promises Day that we just about never cover in this column, and that is, the promises retreat.

Every year, we make it not only a retreat but a three-day outpouring of love by the community on those making promises.

The handicraft department decorated the dining area beautifully, making some changes every meal and a complete change every day.

Staff volunteers cooked breakfast and supper, and poured lots of effort and creativity into those meals. One of the meals was Korean, cooked by Maria Park and helpers.

Other staff volunteered to serve the tables and wash the dishes.

For those on retreat, besides being a time of retreat with conferences and prayer time, it was also a time to be together in a new and relaxed way.

Promises retreats are just one more example of the way Catherine taught us how to celebrate.

In the September issue, we’ll tell you about Promises Day.

On the other end of the spectrum, we had a simple celebration of the 60th anniversary of promises of our very first staff: Marité Langlois and Mamie Legris. (It’s the 50th anniversary that is the big celebration.)

Now I’ll close this diary with two short pieces of news:

Andorra Howard, our herb gardener, bought a cocoon of praying mantis larvae—up to 400 of them, she was told. This is an insect that only eats other insects. (When you don’t use chemical pesticides, you have to try different things.)

Andorra showed us the tiny creatures as they were hatching, and then she brought them to the garden where, hopefully, they would eat heartily.

The second final piece of news is this: Fr. Bob Wild has had another book published, this one by Justin Press. It’s about one of his favorite subjects—G.K. Chesterton, and it’s called The Tumbler of God: Chesterton as Mystic. It’s available from MH Publications as well as from Justin Press.

Well, that’s all the news for this time. See you in September.


If you enjoy our articles, we ask you to please consider subscribing to the print edition of Restoration; it's only $10 a year, and will help us stay in print. Thanks, and God bless you!


Restoration Contents

Next article:
Milestones (July-August 2012)

Previous article:
Evening Prayer



RSS 2.0RSS feed

Madonna House - A Training Centre for the Lay Apostolate