Sr. Mary Elisabeth and the Seeds of the Word Catholic Community lead an Advent mission in Medicine Hat, Alta. Photo courtesy Seeds of the Word

Calgary sisters sow seeds of the season

  • December 16, 2021

The Seeds of the Word Catholic Community has covered a lot of ground in southern Alberta this Advent season to empower young and old to prepare their hearts to welcome Christ on Dec. 25.

Sr. Mary Elisabeth, the lead coordinator and presenter of this Calgary-based contemplative and missionary group of six Brazilian Sisters, and her fellow missionaries have presented these messages in recent weeks through school visits, retreats and one-day parish talks. She spoke to The Catholic Register about the core message her community is imparting.

“Advent comes from the Latin word, Adventus, which literally means ‘coming.’ Literally the season of Advent is all about preparing for Jesus coming to us historically in a couple of weeks, but also readying our hearts for Him to come at the end of time, and He will bring us to eternal life,” she said. “Also, the third coming of Jesus is daily in the Eucharist. He is always coming to nourish us, feed us.”

One of the major highlights of the Seeds of the Word’s current evangelization effort was hosting a five-day missionary week in Medicine Hat at Holy Family Church and St. Patrick’s Church in the days leading up to Advent’s start. Over the week, the sisters hosted their Advent retreat, led a family-oriented seminar about St. Joseph, promoted their community and lectio divina during services for both parishes and connected with parishioners by hosting a macaroon fundraiser.

Day four and five of this experience was devoted to classroom visits in eight of the city’s Catholic schools, visiting students from Kindergarten up to Grade 9 to talk about Advent, vocations and missionary life.

On the way back to Calgary, Seeds of the Word made a detour into Brooks to deliver an Advent presentation at St. Mary’s Parish at the request of pastor Fr. Marino Infante.

Until Dec. 20, Seeds of the Word’s calendar will be chockful of school visits and parish events.

“We started with Mass, we do talks, set time aside for reflection, offer confession, participate in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and after the final talk, we set aside time for people to share what they learned and experienced on that day,” she said.

An interesting development Sr. Mary Elisabeth has noticed this Advent is the number of retreat attendees communicating their feeling that Jesus returning to the Earth will happen sooner than most think.

“People are more aware of it now,” she said. “And they are working to prepare more and more for this coming. It seems to be sooner than later. But one of our focuses as Catholics is to be able to see that Jesus comes every day in the Eucharist.”

Our Lady of Fatima Parish was very integral to Seeds of the Word’s infancy in Calgary. In 2014, the parish requested permission from then Bishop Frederick Henry to identify a religious community that could help with the parish’s running and growth-building efforts. Henry engaged in conversations with Brazilian Seeds of the Word superiors and worked out an arrangement.

Sr. Mary Elisabeth and her fellow Sisters worked almost exclusively in Our Lady of Fatima for the first couple of years while they learned English. Becoming adept at the language has enabled this mission to become a potential evangelization asset to all 67 churches in the Calgary diocese.

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