In preparation to welcome thousands of pilgrims from around the globe to World Youth Day, many Sisters of Life embarked on pilgrimage through the homeland of Pope Saint John Paul II. Joined by the College Knights of Columbus from the United States and Poland, we traveled to many holy places around Kraków, carrying with us the many intentions of all of the pilgrims flocking to the historic city. We walked in the footsteps of Pope Saint John Paul II, visiting Jasna Gora and the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, hiking in the mountains of Zakopane, visiting Our Lady of Ludźmierz, praying in Wadowice, the hometown of John Paul II, and celebrating mass in the chapel of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, where St. Faustina received the image of Divine Mercy. A visit to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II Birkenau provided opportunity to remember the many lives lost on that hallowed ground, and the many saints raised to glory through the darkness of suffering, including St. Maxmillian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). Many thanks to the Albertine Sisters and the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy who graciously hosted us during these days with beautiful Polish hospitality!
The Sisters of Life attended part of the Couples for Christ Youth national conference, “Christ Unlimited” held at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo the weekend of July 15-17. We shared our charism and apostolate with many of the participants, had great conversations and played giant checkers, Jenga and Connect Four!
Sr. Rita Marie and Sr. Ann Catherine were blessed to join the Archdiocesan New York pilgrimage to Rome during the Year of Mercy for Divine Mercy Sunday! They had many adventures and Masses at Holy Sites. They enjoyed a day trip to Assisi and a Wednesday audience with Our Holy Father Pope Francis! One of their many highlights was going through the Holy Door with Cardinal Dolan in the front leading their group, processing through St. Peter’s Basilica and celebrating the Holy Mass at the tomb of St. Peter.
This past year, the Visitation Mission in New York organized a special RCIA class for some of the women and children we have served in our mission who had the desire for deeper encounter with Christ through the sacraments but were unable to attend a traditional parish program. This special program, taught by Coworkers of Life Colette and David Dempsey included babysitting provided by volunteers and “make-up” classes for those who had to miss a class due to illness and family emergencies. Below are photos from the Mass celebrated on Jun 6th by Bishop Peter Byrne which included 3 Infant Baptisms (ranging in age from 9mo to 4 yrs), 4 adult baptisms, 6 Confirmations, and 4 First Communions. It was a beautiful night of grace!
On June 1st, the entire community and hundreds of our friends and family gathered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Sisters of Life. His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, joined by dozens of bishops and priests, celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for the innumerable graces that God has poured out to and through our community in its fledgling years. Immediately following, we trekked across town to continue the celebration outside of Sacred Heart of Jesus Convent, with a block party the likes of which NYC has never seen! There was much laughter, food, live music, games for the kids, videos of our founder John Cardinal O’Connor, and adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The day was complete when Jesus came out onto the street, concluding with the Divine Mercy chaplet and Benediction. Thank you to all who joined in the celebration and to the many volunteers and benefactors who helped to make the day so beautiful!
The Sisters of Life have the privilege of constantly working closely with so many very heroic mothers, so naturally Mother’s Day is one of the most significant and celebrated days of our year! Despite the heavy rains the week leading up to (and even the morning of!) Sunday May 8th, we were overjoyed to see the sun miraculously come out so we could host almost 70 mothers and over 100 children at Villa Maria Guadalupe to honor the tremendous gift of their motherhood. It was a full day of great food, arts & crafts, face painting, and lawn games for the kids, and a fun music concert provided by our friend Sarah Kroger! The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and a sweet May crowning of our Blessed Mother made this very special day complete!
The Toronto Sisters & all-star Co-Workers didn’t want to miss the Sisters of Life 25th Anniversary celebration in New York on June 1st, so they packed up a picnic and hit the road. All in all it was a very blessed trip!
On Saturday, May 28th we celebrated the women we serve in our Visitation Mission- all our heroic mothers- and welcomed them and their children to our Centre at St. Catherine of Sienna for an afternoon of festivities, fellowship and food. Matthew McCarthy & Kris Gardner – seminarians for the Archdiocese of Toronto – headed up the band for the day, joined by some friends. Our all-star co-workers outdid themselves with the decorations, kids games, serving the food and helping clean up. Fr. Edwin Gonsalves, rector of St. Augustine’s seminary, joined us for the day and instructed our moms on how to bless their children and even had their children bless them. The Sisters sang a hymn to Our Lady as Mary was crowned by sweet little 5 yr old.
On Thursday May 12th, the Toronto Sisters joined over 20,000 people in the 19th annual National March For Life in Ottawa. The night before the Sisters hosted a Vigil for Life at St. Augustine’s Parish with evening prayer, a brief talk on mercy and a Eucharistic Holy Hour with meditative music. The Sisters were proud to stand for life with all of our friends in the pro-life movement, especially during this time when legislation for euthanasia is under consideration.
The Toronto Sisters were delighted to host some of our novices in May. They enjoyed their time doing all things Canadian- Tim Horton’s Coffee and Tim-bits,milk in a bag, composting… but more importantly, they encountered the faith, love, devotion and sacrifice of the Canadian Martyrs when they went to the Midland Shrine. Fr. John Sullivan, SJ celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at St. Ignace, the site where St. John de Brebreuf was martyred.
The apostolic novices even joined Sr. Maria Regina and Sr. Cecilia Rose on three school visits where they shared the Charism of Life during Catholic Schools Week.