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Sisters of Life step up pro-life efforts

By 
  • February 19, 2009
Sisters of LifeTORONTO - The Sisters of Life have spent the past year-and-a-half discerning their role in Canadian society. Now, they will be teaming up with parishioners across the Toronto archdiocese to assist pregnant women in need.

The religious order, founded in New York in 1991, first established a Canadian presence in August 2007. Like other orders, the sisters take the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience but take a fourth vow to “protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.” Most of the sisters are young, between the ages of 28 and 45. The age range for postulants in formation in New York is 22-32.

Sr. Monica Faustina, one of the five sisters currently living in Toronto, said they were to hold the first co-workers training day for lay people Feb. 28, after getting a feel for the needs in Toronto.

The sisters were to train more than 120 volunteer co-workers in the art of helping pregnant women in need, a successful initiative begun in the United States about five years ago. The Toronto sisters currently do not have a centre for welcoming expectant mothers so are concentrating on building leaders in the parishes who could assist in their ministry.

“We spent the first year discerning and doing full-time evangelization, getting to know the people and the pro-life movement in Canada,” Sr. Monica said. “We thought we would begin with serving young pregnant women in need, but (the Sisters of Life) protect in all aspects of life.”

Since their arrival in Toronto, the sisters have attended pro-life conferences and have given informal presentations on vocations and the culture of life to schools, parishes and other organizations as far east as Moncton and Halifax.

They encouraged pro-life groups in their efforts, while networking just to see what is already being provided, Sr. Monica said.

Their evangelization extended to World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, last year where the order hosted a three-day event with the Knights of Columbus and the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, called the “love and life site.” Here youth were able to attend catechesis, concerts, watch a screening of the movie Bella, take part in eucharistic adoration and much more.

“The Lord wants young people to go to World Youth Day but He wants young people to come into the world,” said Sr. Kathrine Marie, 35. “I think the gospel of life is at the heart of the new evangelization, which the pope said too.”

Sr. Kathrine said she is touched that the order expanded north of the border, where she could minister to fellow Canadians.

“I’m originally from Canada, so it’s a real joy because I’ve seen all the work being done in New York and now I get to see the seed being planted in Toronto.”

Sr. Kathrine was excited about the Feb. 28 “Co-Worker of Life” day-long workshop held at Cardinal Newman High School in Scarborough, which marked the beginning of the co-workers initiative for Torontonians.

“We hope to have a convent where (pregnant women) could come to us directly, but right now we can only use the temporary space provided by churches and other organizations,” she said.

The co-workers were to learn valuable communication skills, discover the ways to use their individual talents for helping mothers, while learning the language surrounding adoption and “understand the heart of a vulnerable pregnant woman.”

“The purpose (was) to hear about the charism of life and how that can inform our hearts and our minds — that it’s a mission to love,” she said. “Resources are important but it’s really about entering into relationship with each woman.”

The order’s superior general, Mother Agnes Mary Donovan from New York, was scheduled to provide a talk on “how to be moved by the goodness of a woman.”

While the sisters are still in the preparation stages of their women’s assistance program, they plan to set up a central help line later this year.

For more information about the Sisters of Life or to contact them as volunteers, visit www.sistersoflife.org .

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