Life con­tin­ues to evolve

Sis­ters of St. Martha of­fer wis­dom, prayer­ful pres­ence

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIEDS/RELIGION - Joanne O’Re­gan Dioce­san Voices Joanne O’Re­gan, a sis­ter of St. Martha, serves on the con­gre­ga­tion lead­er­ship team and lives in Antigo­nish. She has worked as a peace ed­u­ca­tor at the Coady In­sti­tute, co- or­di­na­tor of Well­spring Cen­tre at St. Fran­cis Xavier

We, the Sis­ters of St. Martha, are inspired by God’s gra­cious­ness, hear, em­brace and re­spond to the cry for gospel hos­pi­tal­ity.

Our mis­sion state­ment speaks to our 115-year history of ded­i­cated ser­vice to the church and the peo­ple of God.

We first re­sponded to this cry for gospel hos­pi­tal­ity in 1900 at St. Fran­cis Xavier Univer­sity in Antigo­nish where we wel­comed the stu­dents and priests through our pres­ence and by pro­vid­ing the ser­vice of house­hold man­age­ment.

It did not take long for the young con­gre­ga­tion to hear and em­brace a new cry for gospel hos­pi­tal­ity as nurses and teach­ers, fol­lowed by our pi­o­neer­ing work in the field of so­cial work. As found­ing mem­bers of the Antigo­nish Move­ment we have al­ways been with, and for the peo­ple, meet­ing them where they are.

To­day we con­tinue to re­spond in ways that give life to the val- ues to which we have com­mit­ted our­selves — hos­pi­tal­ity; com­mu­nion; con­se­crated life; jus­tice; ser­vice; sim­plic­ity; col­lab­o­ra­tion; stew­ard­ship.

Our 2014 di­rec­tion state­ment says we strive to of­fer our “life as mis­sion” by be­ing “pock­ets of hope” in our world in what­ever way we are able. A core as­pect of this life in com­mu­nity is a com­mit­ment to prayer, both com­mu­nally and per­son­ally, from which comes the strength and courage to be ac­tively en­gaged in cre­at­ing the space where hope can be found as we move into the un­known fu­ture.

This move­ment into the fu­ture is not with­out pain and loss. We no longer see the large num­bers of women en­ter­ing. In fact those who do choose to en­ter re­li­gious life to­day are older and come with a wide range of life ex­pe­ri­ences, per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. How­ever, out of this loss of what once was comes the strength of what is. The wis­dom, cre­ativ­ity and prayer­ful de­ter­mi­na­tion of our Martha Sis­ters helped give shape to so many in­sti­tu­tions, pro­grams and com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions. We see their legacy in hos­pi­tals, schools, so­cial ser­vice agen­cies, univer­si­ties and parishes.

To­day we have so much with which to move for­ward. Our Martha way of life con­tin­ues to of­fer a dif­fer­ent world view, an al­ter­nate way to ap­proach the ques­tions and is­sues of our time. Those who say ‘yes’ to re­li­gious life to­day are say­ing ‘yes’ to col­lab­o­rat­ing with other re­li­gions and with peo­ple of like mind, say­ing ‘ yes’ to be­ing agents of change, and “to move into the fu­ture as women of un­daunted hope,” as our vi­sion state­ment says.

As we move into the fu­ture we are en­gaged in min­istries that of­fer spir­i­tual growth through re­treats and spir­i­tual di­rec­tion; care for the per­son through foot care, street min­istry, pas­toral care and a min­istry of pres­ence; build­ing right re­la­tion­ships through var­i­ous so­cial jus­tice com­mit­ments; rais­ing aware­ness around eco­log­i­cal is­sues through our com­mit­ment to ed­u­ca­tion and care for Earth.

As I re­flect on my on­go­ing per­sonal ‘yes’ to liv­ing my life as a Sis­ter of St. Martha I am aware of be­ing part of some­thing that con­tin­ues to evolve. This fills me with such hope. The op­por­tu­ni­ties that I have been given to be about build­ing the king­dom of God are be­yond what I would have ever imag­ined.

These “Women of Martha” with whom I am blessed to share my life con­tinue to of­fer wis­dom and a prayer­ful pres­ence wher­ever they find them­selves.

Pope Fran­cis in­vites us to “celebrate the past with grat­i­tude, live the present with pas­sion and em­brace the fu­ture with hope.” What a won­der­ful way to celebrate and ac­knowl­edge the gift that re­li­gious life is to the world.

If you feel inspired to join us in be­ing a #pock­etofhope in our world come and see us.

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