Sunday, June 24, 2007

Away from It All

This past Monday I returned from a week long retreat in Ohio. It was a week without phone calls, mail, or Internet access. The timing was so that I was able to attend my niece Sharon's graduation ceremony as well as the party on the following Sunday. After connecting with the Lord during a time of semi-seclusion and silence, I was able to re-connect with ten of my brothers and sisters. Only one of my siblings was unable to attend. She lives in South Carolina. As you may have been counting, I am from a large family.

My retreat was spent with part of my spiritual family. As a Daughter of St. Paul I am a member of what's called the "Pauline Family." My retreat director was Father Ignatius, SSP. The SSP stands for Society of St. Paul. Today in New York's Staten Island borough, members of the Daughters of St. Paul and the Society of St. Paul are celebrating the anniversary of the arrival of the pioneer Paulines in America in 1932. After an ocean voyage of about 12 days, the future priests and the young Sisters arrived in the Port of New York with few belongings and much faith. For the historians among you, 1932 was the height of the Great Depression. Those were days when every nickel went a long way. The Sisters' first home was a small apartment in the Bronx. In 1936 the Sisters and the Fathers moved to Staten Island locations.

The chapel where I spent my days of retreat is well air conditioned. The Lord provided perfect weather for my time of more intense prayer. The nights were cool and the days comfortably warm and sunny. Father suggested some New Testament readings which had a lot of substance and meaning for me. At night time traffic on the road outside seemed quiet. The only noise at night came from what I think were frogs who kept up an alto and bass chant all night. Even the flying creatures like flies and mosquitoes were pretty tame and restrained. One morning three large deer showed up on the back lawn. I could hear coyotes, I saw several rabbits, and ground hogs were around too. "Wild life" in this our area of Toronto is limited to black and grey squirrels, sea gulls and a few other birds. One morning as I left the front door of chapel, a chipmunk zoomed by me, practically running right over my feet. A mulberry tree at the monastery is home to several kinds of birds and a host of chipmunks. I wish you all have the opportunity to one day spend a week of prayerful retreat in a place similar to that where I was in Ohio. I will post here some of the photos of St. Paul's Monastery so you can see what I mean.
The pond whihc is in the back of tghe monastery was a favorite place for meditation. I call it the "Reflection Pool," since I could see the trees and shrubs all reflected like a mirror on the pond's surface. A robin is framed by the remains of an ancient mulberry tree.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

June Blog

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that my last blog entry was in mid-May!
June is full of religious feasts, at least for us members of the Pauline Family. Last Sunday was the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Soon we will celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, then the celebration in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, next the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At the end of the month is the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. On the 30th of June, we Paulines have a special Mass in honor of St. Paul. On that day three of our novices will pronounce their first vows at our Boston convent. The novices are from California, Arizona and Singapore. They are from three different ethnic heritages: Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese. Yet they are now part of a world-wide religious family. In a sense, they are "nuns without borders" since we Daughters of St. Paul are in 51 countries. There is a possibility that one day any one of those three may be called to serve in a different country.
In a few days one of our Sisters who was serving in Philadelphia for the past two years will leave for "the missions." Sister has been asked to become a missionary in the sense that she is leaving the USA, her homeland, to serve abroad. She will go to Rome for studies and then she may be assigned to one of our convents in what was formerly the Soviet Union, or she may go to any other country in need of a Pauline Sister.
We already have eight Sisters from the USA serving in other countries (not counting us assigned to Canada). We will miss her. Now with email we can always keep in touch electronically.
Sister Roberta is the "new" missionary. Last year Sister Pat (Patricia Thomas) left for her mission assignment in Moscow. I knew Sister Pat when she was a young woman in Alaska discerning her call to be a Daughter of St. Paul. When I was assigned to our book center in Alexandria, Virginia several years ago, I met Roberta the high school student. Now she is Sister Roberta. During her novitiate, Sr. Roberta and I were together for six months in our Charleston, SC convent. As a novice, Sister spent time in a smaller community to experience what life might be like once she made her vows.
Another one of our Philadelphia Sisters is flying to Rome soon. There she will perfect her Italian skills in preparation for attending the Course on the Charism of the Pauline Family. I attended the Course from 2003--2004. She will have the chance to study the life of our Founder, Blessed Alberione, the history of our order, the Daughters of St. Paul, and each of the other nine branches of the Pauline Family, plus many other subjects. After I finished the Charism Course I felt enriched not only by all the informational input, but also by new friends with whom I still correspond.
On Friday I will leave for Ohio. On Saturday one of my nieces is graduating from high school. For the first time in m life I will be able to attend a niece or nephew's graduation. Then on Saturday evening I will begin a spiritual retreat at St. Paul's Monastery in Canfield, Ohio. So during that time I will not be blogging or emailing. Once a year we Sisters have the privilege and the obligation to make a week-long retreat. I look forward to this precious time.I promise you all that I will pray for you too. Have a good month of June. God bless you! Sister Mary Peter
A P.S.
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