Shannon Moore, right, and Sara Muthee are learning how to live communally in a faith-filled environment. With the support of the Notre Dame sisters, they hope to discern the next stage of their life. Photo by Elizabeth Iwunwa

Visitation Place provides safe haven for young women

By  Elizabeth Iwunwa, Youth Speak News
  • October 20, 2017
Visitation Place was like an answer to all her prayers. 

Last summer, Sarah Muthee was in Kenya, collecting data for a research project and wondering where she would be living when she returned to Canada for her second year of graduate studies at the University of Prince Edward Island.

That’s when her professor told her about Visitation Place.

She quickly contacted Sr. Susan Kidd, chaplain at UPEI, and, overcoming the challenges of different time zones and a weak Internet connection, Muthee began to finalize plans to move into the communal living space for women owned by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame in Charlottetown.

Joining her in the three-bedroom house is Shannon Moore, a teacher and alumna of UPEI. She discovered Visitation Place while seeking opportunities for independent living.

For both women, Visitation Place was a perfect fit. With a focus on young professional womaen, the Notre Dame sisters hope Visitation Place can fill the pastoral gap between graduation from post-secondary education and employment. 

“In today’s world, it’s good to come home to a place that is so supportive of your values and your beliefs,” said Moore. “When you get knocked down and bruised by all the pressures of the world, it’s nice to have a place where you believe so strongly in what you do and feel comfortable in your own space.”

Plans for Visitation Place were laid out at the sisters’ international meeting in the summer of 2016 and the home celebrated a soft opening last month.

“As a Church, we’re great when we respond pastorally to prepare somebody for a sacrament or in a crisis,” said Kidd. “In the ordinary time of life, I don’t think we’re as good and especially in those transition years. I think the early years of employment is one of those gap times.”

As part of their rental arrangements, the women have committed to actions like sorting their garbage, saving electricity and forgoing the use of a car when possible. In addition, they intend to seek out potential tenants who will live at the Visitation Place after them, to enable the project to stay alive. 

Both Muthee and Moore have found living communally a fulfilling experience. The women recently hosted some members of the Catholic community in Charlottetown to an open house. 

During this time, they shared ideas on how the space could be used to build faith and community. Currently, they are working out the logistics of hosting a weekly gathering after Mass a few times a month. 

Muthee and Moore also committed to daily morning walks and meeting with Kidd once a week for dinner.

Moore also hopes to meet with young women to discuss faith in daily life. For her, Visitation Place is one of “comfort, spirituality and support.” 

Muthee sees the Visitation Place as a great way of affirming God’s presence and one’s ability to live freely and without fear. 

“For society to blossom spiritually, it needs to give women a chance to first learn who they are and grow spiritually,” she said.

(Iwunwa, 20, is a fourth-year psychology student at University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.)

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