The 2023 Jubilee Celebration, Jubilarian reflections and thank you’s

The 2023 Jubilarian celebrants are, standing from left: Sisters Ellen Murray (70 years), Elaine Hogan (70 years), Sandra Shannon (60 years), and sitting is Sister Joanne Colligan (60 years).

On Saturday, June 10, four Sisters of Providence celebrated milestone Jubilees totaling 260 years.

It was a wonderful celebration which opened with Sister Frances O’Brien welcoming everyone on behalf of the Sisters, as General Superior Sister Sandra Shannon was one of the Jubilee celebrants this year. Friar Ed Debono presided over the Mass and Sister Una Byrne delivered a reflection on the readings.

Each of the Jubilarians submitted a reflection on their jubilee or a note of thanks.

Sister Ellen Murray
70 years

I raise the chalice of my life, my vocation, in thanksgiving to the One who called me to be His in a special way for 70 years. Seventy years filled with joy and service, loss and sadness, prayer and peace.

I am grateful to the Sisters of Providence for embracing me into their fold as a Servant of the Poor.

To my companions over the years – both living and deceased – I am grateful for your kindness and fidelity.

We lived through seven decades of change in our world, church and congregation. In fact, our generation has lived through and witnessed more than any other in every dimension of life. Time does not stand still. What happens next, we do not know; but this we do know, that God’s faithful love and mercy for me and us all is fresh every morning.

Sister Elaine Hogan
70 years

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.

It seems to me that Jubilee ranks high as one of the best times to celebrate and give thanks to the on-going Provident Care of our Loving God.

I like to think that Sr. M. Jerome O’Reilly who died the day I was born has watched over me these 70 years.

Early in life I watched and learned from my Mom Aileen, faithfulness to duty and courage when faced with life’s ups and downs.

As teachers many of the Sisters of Providence in Perth and Belleville had a prominent place.

Of the ministries to which I was called, the experience of serving the developmentally challenged women (the girls as we called them) in McKinley Centre is still the closest to my heart.

It is with grateful thanks to my family, community and each Sister for their support, love and prayers in good times and bad.

United always in prayer.

Sister Joanne Colligan
60 years

I wish to pass along a thank you to everyone involved in making this a wonderful Jubilee.

Thank you everyone for the gifts, enrollments and cards; Thank you Sister Barbara Thiffault for organizing the Jubilee;

Thank you Liturgy committee, the choir, the readers, and the homilist Sister Una, for a lovely celebration Mass; and thank you to the Kitchen staff for the beautiful food.

Sister Sandra Shannon
60 years

It is hard to believe that it has been 60 years since Mom and Dad, my sister and her husband drove me from Toronto to Kingston to enter the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. All I knew of the Sisters was what I had read in their literature. So I came with mixed feelings of anxiety, sadness but also excitement.

Visions of hard work and austerity filled my naïve mind before I arrived at “Heathfield” but I soon learned that the hardest part of living religious life laid in developing and maintaining relationships. To be thrown together with a group of strangers and my expectation of getting along with everyone put a lot of pressure on myself. However, everything worked out well throughout the novitiate.

Life after novitiate was an adventure too – school in Brantford, and Belleville and nursing school in Montreal, at St. Mary’s School of Nursing. Again building relationships with Sisters and fellow students was part of growing up and developing.

Making perpetual profession in this regard changed nothing. Except now I felt like more of an adult and now put adult expectations on myself. God has given me the personality to adapt and change. This was important as I moved from Montreal to Brockville to Kingston to Moose Jaw (not my favourite place) to Camrose (my favourite place) to Kingston to Arnprior and back to Kingston. Religious life and community life changing rapidly over those years. I develop as a person too. I fell in love with God more profoundly and treasured my time and experiences of spiritual development. The years of work, study and reflection were a gift.

Life from 1994-2003 was my first call into leadership. Sister Joan Whittingham taught me much about community, patience, vision and love of the Sisters. I cherish our time together. I appreciated coming to know th Sisters at a deeper level. It was a time of closures and letting go of ministries, institutions and houses. Many Sisters experienced moves and the population of the Motherhouse grew. We re-defined ourselves as Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul once again.
Being with the sick and dying is another call I received while ministering at St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital. Relationships established there continue until today.

Another call to leadership came in 2011 which has lasted up until today in 2023. Once again years of great change and letting go of property, and funerals of Sisters. There have been great challenges and much chaos due to COVID and realizing that we as a congregation had to change everything in order to move into a new reality, in order to live in a new way. But not everything has to change. Again relationships forged over the years have become even more important. These bonds we have with each other, those with friends and especially with our God is the glue that can hold each one of us together – no matter what.

I am finishing this unexpectedly long epistle on the day after our Jubilee celebration.

Yesterday’s prayer was all about gratitude. How good God has been to me. Through the gift of consecrated life, I have been nourished, lead, refined, challenged and loved by our Provident God who has been my constant companion throughout the good and not so good times. God has always provided me with the right person(s) at the right time to give me support.

I am grateful for my loving family both dead and alive who have carried me over the years.

I am certainly grateful for the many, many Sisters of Providence who have supported and shaped me through their relationships with me over these 60 years. I pray that I have been a good companion in return. Relationships in Religious Life can bring both pain and much joy.

It is said that consecrated life is a life of service and giving. For me it has been a life of receiving, receiving, receiving.