16th anniversary of the vigil / 150th anniversary of the Sisters of Providence

The Rt. Rev. Michael Oulton had to raise his voice above the hum of traffic in front of City Hall. But most of the 150 supporters gathered to mark the sixteenth anniversary of our Silent Vigil could hear Kingston’s new Anglican Bishop as he led us in prayer.

150 people gathered with Sisters of Providence at the weekly silent vigil at Kingston City Hall on September 16 to raise awareness about social justice. It marked the 16th anniversary of the vigil and the launch of an election sign blitz campaign to end poverty.


“Together in this vigil we bring before us injustices affecting our world…”

The September 16 gathering was also part of the ongoing celebration of 150 years of Sisters of Providence service in Kingston.

Tara Kainer of the JPIC office distributes signs with the message Let’s Vote for a Poverty Free Ontario.

The two anniversaries underlined a longstanding commitment to addressing both the symptoms and causes of poverty in a land of plenty. As Kingston Senator Hugh Segal noted in a letter of recognition: “Your vigil on September 16 reflects in its consistency and the determination of your Order and its many supporters to bear witness to the scourge of poverty and homelessness that still weakens our city, our neighborhoods, our province and country.”

The anniversary vigil was remarkable for its ecumenical nature. Not only did Bishop Oulton lead the prayer. The other faith communities represented included people from the United Church, the Kingston Unitarian Fellowship, the Society of Friends and of course the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston. Local Lutheran and Presbyterian congregations participated in the Faith To End Poverty campaign by displaying signs reading Let’s Vote for a Poverty Free Ontario.

Sisters Frances O’Brien and Sandra Shannon attended the special Silent Vigil.

We made a special effort to invite candidates from the four main political parties, all of whom stood holding the lawn signs that became familiar around town during the recent campaign.

In 2009 all political parties in the Ontario Legislature supported a new Poverty Reduction Act. By passing this historic legislation unanimously, the three parties at Queen’s Park recognized that “a sustained commitment to work together to develop strong and healthy children, youth, adults, families and communities is required to effectively reduce poverty.”

Of course, such an Act needs to be backed up by the political will to put words into action.

“Thus, we stand in hope,” concluded Bishop Oulton, reading the verse recited by the vigil keepers every Friday.