VICTORIA, B.C. – Over the past 160 years, the Sisters of St. Ann have taught thousands of students, treated thousands more patients, and multiplied social justice efforts in B.C.

Published in Canada

GLENMOORE, Pa. – The way Sister Rita Cameron sees it, her grandchildren didn't lose a grandmother when she became a sister. They gained 106 great-aunts.

Published in Faith

I have been living this last week in a convent with habited nuns who describe themselves as semi-contemplative. They are Bridgettine Sisters, a 20th century American revival of a Medieval Swedish order.

MARKHAM, ONT. - After a four-year process, and the amalgamation of four congregations, the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada have emerged.

“We have shifted in our identity from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Hamilton, London, Peterborough and Pembroke and now we are the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada,” said Sr. Margo Ritchie, speaking via telephone from the order’s chapter in Markham, Ont., which ran from Nov. 18-24.

“Together, we feel that we can engage the crucial issues in a way that transforms us and the systems in our world and we could perhaps have a larger voice.”

The move actually brings the Sisters of St. Joseph closer to their origins, when there was only one congregation.

“So it’s a natural impulse for becoming one again. But there was an emerging energy in all of us to do something new and we felt we could be that better together.”

Ritchie believes the change will expand the sisters’ consciousness of who they are.

“And some of us may make choices to move if there is a particular job opening in another neighbourhood.”
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto and of Sault Ste. Marie were also a part of the four-year process but decided it was best for them to not take part in the amalgamation at this time.

That said, “All the congregations will continue to work together,” said Ritchie.

With approximately 300 sisters in the newly formed congregation, 137 sisters were in attendance at the chapter.

“People were very eager to be part of this new moment.”

At press time, the chapter had only undergone its initial two days which began exploring the direction the unified sisters will head in for the next four years. The “coalescing of various voices” discussed ecological justice, the growing disparity between the rich and the poor and indigenous rights, said Ritchie.

Sr. Sue Wilson said the conversation focused on the interconnected nature of the sisters’ lives.

“No matter what issue we try to take hold of — whether it’s poverty or environmental damage — you start to see how the issue is connected with our social systems, our economic systems, our political systems and environmental systems,” said Wilson. “So given the interconnected nature, we really see a lot of value in contemplative practice to get at that level of interconnection.”

Through this, the sisters will be better able to see root causes of injustice and how to bring about systemic change, she added.

Sr. Joyce Murray said the discussion tried to better understand what the needs of today mean for the ministry and mission of the sisters.

“We have always tried to respond to the needs around us at the moment and have always been conscious of currents in our world,” said Murray.

One of the objectives of the chapter is to formulate a new direction statement, said Ritchie.

“We’re really clear we don’t want a nice statement that gets framed and put on a wall,” she said. “We want to challenge ourselves.”

Ritchie, who held the position of congregational leader for the Sisters of St. Joseph of London as of press time, said the congregational leadership circle of five women was to be elected during the chapter, after The Register’s press time.

Published in Canada