April-May-June Issue

Summary

contents

(VOL. 61, No. 2 /April-May-June 2018)

Columns

Spiritual Life

Take Action  – André Gadbois

Many centuries ago, Jesus, son of Mary and Joseph, was born in a stable in Bethlehem, Judea. While in Palestine, he went into exile in Egypt with his parents who later decided to raise him in Nazareth. With them, obedient to the Law, he learned the way of the synagogue and observance of the Law... but he also spent time reflecting on his Father’s bold ideas of Unity: That we all be one! Jesus was undoubtedly a man of good company, happy among his people, sometimes sad and shaken by things he saw or heard. As a shepherd, he sought to be a unifier, to bring everyone together as ONE; he loved to wander to different corners of his country and speak with people. Over the years, he noticed the humiliating submission of many of his fellow citizens under the cruel reign of those little kings blinded by their own interests; he witnessed many sick people who went untreated; children with no hope for the future and people afraid of expressing  themselves freely. His heart was filled with pity for the masses he saw, for those tired and discouraged; they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). It was difficult for them to live life to the fullest when, day after day, they were exploited by those stronger than themselves and endlessly weakened by those clever tyrants who subjected citizens to their plans and laws. The common world disappears when political freedom ceases, when everyone is sent back to their private lives... when common space is confiscated by tyrants... public debate is muzzled... when society is too busy to consume and produce.

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Cultures and Mission

The Hope of Harvest – Éric Desautels

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Mt 9:37) : ); these are the words that inspired a missionary Sister whom I met recently to take her perpetual vows. Yet this harvest is impossible without the seed and the labourers who work hard to make the land fertile. When we sow seeds, we always hope the harvest will be good, despite bad weather, unforeseen circumstances or unsuspected dangers. Sometimes, the person who sows has not yet adapted his knowledge and beliefs to the new land and, when it is arid, it does not help the crop flourish. This analogy works well when considering the missionary activity of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate-Conception. Based on some of the testimonials I found in the pages of Le Précurseur since 1920 (French edition of the MIC Mission News), I hope to show that sometimes arid land changes the way we need to sow in order to produce a bountiful harvest. What were the initial reasons the Sisters went abroad?

Youth

Chinese Youth in Montreal – Wilson Wong

I will always remember, September 21, 2017. On that day, I had the honor of   accompanying Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus Bishop of Hong Kong, during a visit at the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, in Laval, Quebec. Even though the Institute is only 13 km from downtown Montreal, it was the first time I had an occasion to visit the Mother House of the MIC Sisters and the museum of Venerable Mother Délia-Tétreault.

The Fantasies of God in Délia’s Life – Suzanne Labelle, m.i.c.

It is interesting to note that all the great illuminations Délia had during her lifetime took place in nature. In his book, the French Canadian author, Yvon Langlois1 mentions: a field of ripe wheat, a raspberry patch, the family’s garden. Moreover, her baptismal name, Délia, seems to announce what is to come. A lovely name, whose consonance is reminiscent of the dahlia flower which blossoms everywhere in Quebec during the summer season.

At a young age, little Délia lost her twin brother as well as her mother. Adopted by an aunt and uncle who had no children she would play by herself; often she would hide in the attic to read old magazines of the Holy Childhood and of the Propagation of the Faith buried in boxes. The stories of the missionaries enthused her and fascinated her mind to the point that, one night, she had a dream which she related at a later date. I saw a field of ripe wheat that stretched as far as the eye could see. Suddenly, all those ears of wheat were changed into heads of children. Délia understood the call - to go tell all the children about Jesus. Thus, the first traits of her missionary vocation were already being sketched

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IN FOCUS

WHAT AM I SOWING?

A Dream of Liberation – Maurice Demers

The Haitian people have struggled for their freedom throughout their existence: first, the abolition of slavery in 1794, then the declaration of independence in 1804 (as the first free black republic in the world), then the opposition against imperialism (both French and American) and the insurrection against dictators who have marked its political history. Since 1942, hundreds of missionaries from Quebec have gone to Haiti to evangelize the population and support the local Church, as well as help the people in their quest for emancipation. The experience of Sister Marie-Paule Sanfaçon in Haiti, from 1971 to 1990, tells us of her meeting with the Haitian people and what the missionaries tried to sow in this country. We spoke with Sister Marie-Paule to hear about her missionary experience.

Being Committed to a True Cause – Carole Guévin

It’s on Barclay Street, in Montreal, Quebec that my story began with the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (MIC). In 1990, I signed up to be a volunteer at PROMIS, an organization in the Côte-des-Neiges area which helps newly arrived immigrants, founded under the leadership of Sister André Ménard, m.i.c. I had no idea what was awaiting me with these Sisters. For almost fifteen years, I have had the joy of working as assistant director and with the members of the MIC Missionary Press. This work was for me a mission which I plunged into with all my heart, my energies, and my deep convictions. The joy of being committed to a true cause gave me great satisfaction and it was most fulfilling.

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Evangelization in Continental China – Therese Peug, AsMIC

Last summer, Sister Maria-Goretti Sun, m.i.c., from Taiwan, Ms. Woo, and an associate, Ms. Peug, embarked on a three-week evangelizing mission in China, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chengdu, where Délia Tétreault had sent her very first missionaries back in 1906. The Paris Foreign Mission Society had begun evangelizing the Sichuan Province in the 17th century, and the MIC Sisters were honoured to follow in their footsteps and continue their mission.

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ABOUT THE MICs

“Viva mi Patria Bolivia!” – Suzanne Labelle, m.i.c.

It was time for the MIC Sisters in Bolivia to celebrate. On September 24, 2017, they joyfully highlighted the 60th anniversary of their arrival in South America. In 1957, the first 2 MICs – Sr. Irène Trudel and Sr. Lucile Baril arrived at La Paz. The following month, they settled at Cochabamba and opened a commercial school.

Afterwards, numerous MIC Sisters followed, offering their time, heart and life to the mission work in this country. They were welcome in many places, from the capital and a mining center on a high plateau, to the temperate and tropical zones; from populated cities and to remote villages often deprived of running water or electricity. Their apostolic hearts never wavered. According to the needs of the population, they served in many capacities: education, health care, social service, communication, catechesis as well as pastoral and vocational animation. Thus, a variety of works came into being: establishing primary schools; training “doctors in sandals”, computer and veterinarian technicians; animating the basic ecclesial communities and supporting movements on social justice; founding a health and hospital service cooperative; improving a radio station and empowering women in various fields.

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A Daring Hope – Jeanne Ostiguy, m.i.c.

My name is Jeanne Ostiguy, I was born in Acton Vale, Quebec, on May 24, 1926. I am the sixth of nine children and my parents were profoundly committed Christians. As a child, I often said I wanted to be a nun, but during my adolescence I was attracted to worldly pleasures. More so, I had a boy-friend who had given me a lovely necklace which I loved; I experienced the struggle between his gift and the Lord’s call which kept haunting me. At sixteen, I went on a three-day retreat and without telling my parents, I decided to ask for my admission at the novitiate of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. I had forgotten that as a minor I needed their written consent...

I entered the novitiate on February 1, 1943.

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Roots of Hope

Have you ever seen a bougainvillea? It’s a marvelous climbing plant which comes in a variety of colors. It is easy to grow and is a popular landscape in Haiti; the poor as well as the rich can decorate their property. It’s free! How can it be propagated? From stem cuttings which are planted in the soil and watered, it’s as simple as that. The stem takes root, grows, flowers and gives joy. Rain or shine, it is there for all to admire.

The bougainvillea could be compared to the Word of God. The missionary sows the Word and by the grace of God it takes root in the human heart. Lately, some missionaries from Taiwan went to mainland China and during their stay they observed how people still have the faith notwithstanding decades of revolution and persecution. Evangelization in China began in the XVIIth century. Christianity was introduced by the Jesuits and the secular priests of the Paris Foreign Missions Society. The Taiwan visitors were delighted

to discover an active Church in the Diocese of Guangdong (Canton). The same wonder is happening in Cuba. Notwithstanding the Communist regime of Fidel Castro, faith is alive more than ever. Scripture does say: The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow... It judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart (Heb 4:12). Like the bougainvillea the Word of God, saturated with Sunlight, brings joy to the heart even to the poorest and gives strength to accept many trials. This is Christ’s active presence in our hearts, it is the profound dynamic of the Gospel.

As Christians it is our duty to help God’s Word take root and germinate in time. Like that young boy who had five small barley loaves and two small fish, little did he know what the Lord would do with his modest offering; He gave food to a very large crowd of people (Jn 6: 1.15). How encouraging this is for us! The Lord also transforms our slightest good deeds into an invaluable source of life.

The articles in this issue help us reflect on the importance of our deeds, no matter how meager they are. The Lord blesses thoughtful and loving actions, he makes them flourish in abundance and touches the hearts of those in need.

With confidence, let us do good deeds and spread the Good News, God will know how to transform our modest sowing into a blooming plant.

The Team

Marie-Paule Sanfaçon, Directress of publication

Originally from Quebec, Sr. Marie-Paule was a missionary in Haiti; she worked with high-school students in the field of catechesis and also in youth ministry.  She is now directress of the MIC Missionary Press.

Carole Guévin, Direction's assistant

Assistant Director of the MIC Missionary Press, Carole lived in Nicaragua and Lebanon as a lay missionary.

Translator : French to English - MIC Mission News

Sr. Claudette is a former missionary in Malawi, Africa.  She also worked in the Archdioceses of San Francisco, California; Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Colombia as Archdiocesan coordinator and promoter of mission awareness activities. Within parish contexts, she coordinated religious education programs and accompanied youngsters on their faith journey.

André Gadbois, Editorial Board

Married and father of two children, André Gadbois, after several years in pastoral work, taught children with serious learning disabilities for 20 years and was school director for ten years. He has been very involved with catechumens of the Church in Montreal, and is the editor of their journal, le Sénevé.

Audrey Charland, Editorial Board

Audrey Charland, a 25-year-old graduate student with a master’s degree in Religious Studies, is trying her hand at something new: first the thesis, now the news article! After studying the history of Catholic missionary nuns in India, she has joined the MIC Missionary News team as the new Communications and Development Officer. This position will allow her to take on new and exciting challenges, and put her knowledge and skills into practice.


Éric Désautel, Editorial Board

Éric Desautels is a PhD candidate in the department of

Humanities at Concordia University’s Centre for

Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture.


Maurice Demers, Editorial Board

Maurice Demers is an associate professor in the Department of History,

Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Sherbrooke. He is the

young father of three children.


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