We Will Miss You, Mother St. Henry

We write to share with you all the news that Mother St. Henry entered into eternal life on September 3rd, at around 4 am.  While we praise God for the gift of her beautiful witness of a religious life filled with charity and great virtue, and also rejoice that she goes to meet her Eternal Bridegroom, we do grieve the loss of such a wonderful Mother and Sister in Christ.

Mother St. Henry, throughout her 77 dedicated years of religious life, has touched many lives and brought the gift of the Lord’s presence and love to them through her life of prayer and joyful service.  We are so grateful to God for allowing her to be among us and pray that she will continue to guide us and assist us from the “other side” even as we pray for her, that she may be brought into the fullness of the beatific vision.

You are welcome to join us in prayer as we commend our Sister and Mother to the Lord. Visitation will be:

  • Saturday, 7-9 pm, Barthel Funeral Home 566 Queenston Road, Cambridge, ON
  • Sunday, 2-4 pm, Barthel Funeral Home 566 Queenston Road, Cambridge, ON
  • Sunday, 7-9 pm, Marian Residence Chapel, 640 Hillview Road, Cambridge, ON
Mass of Christian Burial will be:
  • Monday, 11 am.  Followed by a reception and interment.


Lenten Journey with Pope Francis: Be Converted to the Lord Your God

With great joy, we praise and thank God for the gift of new our Holy Father, Pope Francis and pray that the Church will be filled with an abundance of grace as he begins his ministry as Successor of St. Peter. We thought it would be appropriate to share with you an excerpt from Pope Francis’ 2013 Lenten message (dated one month before his election to the papacy) to the people of Buenos Aires. It is beautiful and gives one a glimpse into the heart of our new Holy Father.

“Lent comes to us as a cry of truth and sure hope, which answers yes . . . it is possible that everything be made new and different because God continues to be rich in kindness and mercy, always willing to forgive, and He encourages us to begin again and again. Today we are again invited to undertake a paschal journey to Truth, a journey that includes the cross and renunciation, which will be uncomfortable but not sterile. We are invited to admit that something is not right in ourselves, in society and in the Church, to change, to turn around, to be converted.

“Strong and challenging on this day are the words of the prophet Joel: Rend your hearts, not your garments: be converted to the Lord your God. It is an invitation to all peoples; no one is excluded.

“Rend your hearts, not your garments, artificial penance without guarantees for the future.

“Rend your hearts, not your garments, formal and fulfilled fast which continues to keep us satisfied.

“Rend your hearts, not your garments, superficial and egoistic prayer which does not reach the depth of our life to allow it to be touched by God.

“Rend your hearts to say with the Psalmist: we have sinned. Sin is the wound of the soul: Oh poor wounded one, recognize your Physician! Show him the wounds of your guilt. And given that our secret thoughts are not hidden from Him, make him hear the groan of your heart. Move Him to compassion with your tears, with your insistence. Importune Him! May He hear your sighs, make your pain reach Him so that, in the end, He can say to you: The Lord has forgiven your sin (Saint Gregory the Great). This is the reality of our human condition. This is the truth that can bring us closer to genuine reconciliation with God and with men. It is not about discrediting self-esteem but about penetrating the depth of our hearts and of assuming the mystery of suffering and pain which has bound us for centuries, thousands of years, always.

“Rend your hearts, so that through that crack we can really look at ourselves.

“Rend your hearts, open your hearts, because only in a broken and open heart can the merciful love of God enter, who loves and heals us.

“Rend your hearts says the prophet, and Paul asks us almost on his knees, be reconciled with God. To change one’s way of living is the sign and fruit of this broken and reconciled heart by a love that surpasses us. This is the invitation, given the many wounds that harm us and that can lead us to the temptation of hardening us: Rend your hearts to experience in silent and serene prayer the gentleness of God’s tenderness.

“I wish you a holy Lent, a penitential and fruitful Lent and, please, I ask you to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin look after you.”

New Vocation FAQ series on Youtube

About a month ago we started publishing a short weekly FAQ video on youtube. We thought it would be a great way to have a more personal way to answer the questions that come to us and a forum for those discerning religious life to have their specific questions answered by dropping an anonymous question to us on our FAQ page. We plan record, produce and upload them ourselves, and have received positive feedback so far as a help in discernment. We hope that you find them helpful or that you will have the opportunity to share them with others who might benefit from them. We also look forward to hearing your questions. Our next one is coming out next week!

Pilgrimage to St. Peters!

A few days ago the Sisters celebrated the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter! Here is a little bit of information about this feast day:

The Feast of St. Peter helps us to remember how Christ conferred a special mission upon St. Peter and upon every pope after him. We celebrate how the Church is united upon the apostle Peter. In Matthew 16:19 Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.

What do these keys represent? They signify the power of order, power of jurisdiction, and the power to define in questions of faith and morals. This feast has been celebrated from the early days of the Christian era on the 18th of January (and now is celebrated on 22nd of February), remembering the day when St. Peter held his first service in Rome.

An interesting note: there is a physical chair believed to be used by St. Peter and it is preserved in the Vatican.

In honour of the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Formation Sisters went on a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica and St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ontario!  The Sisters offered their prayers for the needs of the Church, for the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, and for the upcoming conclave to elect our new Pope. The Sisters sang a piece of chant at the cathedral in honour of our Holy Father called Christus Vincit.

The Sisters on the steps of St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica

Praying before Our Lord

We started at St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica which was very beautiful.  Some interesting facts about St. Peter’s Cathedral:

  • It was built between 1800 and 1885 under the leadership of Bishop John Walsh.
  • Architecture style is 13th century French Gothic. The material is red sandstone with limestone facings. The original slate roof was replaced in 2003.
  • The towers, stained glass and interior decoration were not complete at this time, and were finished in stages. The first stained glass windows were installed in 1889. The remaining windows were completed, together with the Stations of the Cross and the paintings in 1926.
  • There are twelve bells that make up the Carillon, and each bell is named after one of the twelve Apostles. Each bell is inscribed with a saints name and a holy verse.

The cathedral floor plan is in the shape of a cross seen from the sky: the sanctuary being the top of the cross, the Narthex, or vestibule, being the bottom of the cross and the West and East Transepts the horizontal beam of the cross.  The towers outside were intended to have tall spires like many of the magnificent Gothic Churches in Europe.  When one walks up to the front, it is breathtaking to see the intricate details on the facade with high arching window frames and three doorways surrounded by arches that are supported by columns.

The columns inside numbered eight along the nave made out of marble which supported towering arches that adorned the side corridors and symmetrically led the eyes to the high-arched ceiling.  Such a visual journey guided our thoughts and hearts to God’s magnificent glory.  Upon approaching the beautiful sanctuary, one may pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament on the West side in the Christ the King Altar, (the original altar from 1852), and be inspired by the beautiful art surrounding it.

Our Lord present in the tabernacle

Architecture in the Cathedral


The main altar

The cathedral is lined with stained glass windows, each with significance. At the narthex, all stained glass windows depict scenes from the Old Testament, such as the sacrifice of Abraham, and the offerings of Cain and Abel.

Cain and Abel

As you move up the church there are windows on the upper level of the saints; behind the sanctuary are windows of the New Testament. To the left of the Altar, at the West Transept, stand three tall windows depicting the 12 Apostles, and the 12 articles of the Apostles Creed.

The twelve apostles

On the other side of the altar, at the East Transept are 3 windows containing four doctors of the western church, and four doctors of the eastern church, along with a harp and shamrock which are the symbols of the Irish roots of the diocese.

"Feed My sheep"

From the Cathedral, we continued on to St. Peter’s Seminary.

St. Peter's Seminary

The Sisters browsed the halls on which were hung photos of all the priests ordained there since its foundation in 1912. The sisters visited the library and were impressed by the size of it, containing a large selection of books on every topic pertaining to the faith.

There were also many very old books, perhaps 100 years old or so.  There was a great statue of St. Francis de Sales.

St. Francis de Sales statue

From the library we went to the chapel… we wanted to save the best for last! We were so blessed to be able to spend more time with Jesus here. Each Sisters said that this time in the Chapel was the best part of the pilgrimage because it is so beautiful that it instantly raises your heart and mind to God.

The altar in the chapel of St. Peter's Seminary

The upper walls were lined with stained glass windows depicting the doctors of the church up until 1926. The carvings and wood work were incredible. As one walks in, these pews were set in two choirs on each side of the chapel facing each other having the Sanctuary with the Blessed Sacrament in the back of the chapel located to to the right or left hand of the choirs.  This wonderful chapel also appeared to have a Gothic style in that it had a high pointing-arched-ceiling.  The Sisters chanted our Vespers there. (We had permission from the secretary).

Praying Vespers

As we were leaving, a room was found across the hall from the chapel that has a very large statue of St. Michael, so Sr. Mary Michael had her picture taken with him, and was very happy to see her patron saint represented there.

Sr. Mary Michael with her patron saint

It was a beautiful day of prayer and pilgrimage and we will continue to offer our prayers and sacrifices for the Holy Father’s intentions and the needs of the Church.

In Season and Out of Season

Ordination of St. Timothy by St. Paul

As I was praying Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, the exhortation from St. Paul to St. Timothy in the reading to  “preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2) resonated in my heart.  It is not always easy, but the Church wants her children to receive a full catechesis – systematic, organic and complete (CCC #5).  The General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) put out by the Congregation for the Clergy in 1997, around the same of of the official promulgation of the Latin Editio Typica of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, on this topic states in paragraph 30 that “various problems exist with regard to the content of catechesis: there are certain doctrinal lacunae concerning the truth about God and man; about sin and grace and about eschatology; there is a need for a more solid moral formation; presentations of the history of the Church are inadequate; and too little importance is given to her social teaching.” It is not always easy to teach the truth, but we are called by Christ to offer the People of God the fullness of the faith “in season and out of season.”  Several years ago, I was attending a Mass at a nearby Parish that I did not regularly attend. The Gospel had been on the topic of the “faithful and prudent servant whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time” (Mt 24:45).  When it was time for the homily, the priest spoke to his congregation from the heart, saying that sometimes there is an unwritten rule that if he doesn’t preach on certain topics then everyone will remain satisfied and happy members of the Parish.  He went on and said that he felt the need to be that “faithful and prudent servant” and that in order to fulfil this, he was going to start that night, that maybe he hasn’t been as vigilant as the Lord is calling him to be.  Then he took his Catechism of the Catholic Church in hand and began to read the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception and to sensitively explain it to his people.  I was highly edified by his humility and courage.  He did it with such sensitivity and humility that I felt that his words were being well received by his people, despite the fact that perhaps they had never heard that teaching, or never heard it explained, or maybe felt challenged by it.

In being faithful to teaching the whole content of the faith, however, the Church does not call us to “assault” people with truth :) God did not and does not reveal Himself all at once, but rather gradually.  The pedagogy (teaching style, as it were) of God is one that is gradual. This is how the Church encourages us to teach – gradually; gradual, yet complete and full (cf. CCC 69;  GDC 139). This helps people to assimilate what they are learning gradually, because this is how we learn.  When there is too much to assimilate, it spills out and can seem overwhelming. There is a happy balance!

In whatever way you are called upon to lead others to a deeper knowledge of their Faith, may you be blessed this day and always, as you strive to faithfully lead people into relationship with Christ and the Church!