In this Random Nun Clip, we talk about the spiritual legacy of CND foundress, Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. Hear the full Ask Sister podcast at AS206 from our Motherhouse Road Trip with the Congregation of Notre Dame in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
L: Sister Sue Kidd has taught and volunteered in a wide variety of ways. She arrived on Prince Edward Island in August 2010, where she works as Campus Minister at The University of Prince Edward Island and continues building relationships and showing hospitality to students, faculty and staff in many different ways. In addition to this, she is also involved in various types of committee work. She holds several certifications such as Youth Ministry, Spiritual Accompaniment and Healthy Campus.
R: Sister Frances MacDougall has been a teacher, counselor and spiritual director. She’s worked with elementary school students, lay leaders, seminarians and priests at St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College. After decades of service to the Catholic community of Edmonton, Sister Frances moved to her home province. She lives with five Congregation of Notre Dame sisters in a small retreat house in Summerside, where she provides spiritual guidance to the community.
This Random Nun Clip is brought to you by A Nun's Life Ministry. We're in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, on a motherhouse road trip with the Congregation of Notre Dame and our guests, Sister Frances MacDougall and Sister Sue Kidd of the Congregation of Notre Dame. How would you describe the spiritual legacy of the founders? Maybe you could start by telling a little bit about the story of her, how she got here.
Marguerite Bourgeoys is the founders of the Congregation Notre Dame, and she was born in 1620. And she came from Troyes in France. And she came in the beginnings of the movement in Canada with other missionaries, of course, to teach the native children, the indigenous children who were here, and the children of the French settlers, etcetera, and to help establish a school system. I mean, it's been one of the great legacies, I'd say of any congregation that we always kind of seem to be able to look at the most urgent unmet needs of the time and plan for them and begin them. And I think happily set up often an infrastructure that way outlives any of the people in the congregation. And that's still our goal today. So Marguerite Bourgeoys came in those early days as an educator. Because there were no children in the beginning to be educated--there weren't school-aged children--she found other ways to help work with families and do all kinds of other ministry, I'd say, in the spirit of the Visitation. At the same time, for those of you familiar with cloistered life, it was one of the few times when uncloistered--it was kind of the beginnings of uncloistered communities. Now, that happened at several places in the world at the same time. But she came to Canada to establish an uncloistered community, which means that we go out to the people rather than the people coming into us to be taught.
I do think that it was the Visitation that kind of fueled her fire. So we have one of our sisters that talks about, just as Mary was part of those early movements in the church, Marguerite was part of those early movements in the colony--what was New France are now in Quebec and Montreal--and so we're called to kind of be a part of what's the new that's emerging in our world now, in our realities. And I think that it's her spirit--like Marguerite left home, and crossed the ocean. When I think of that, when I think of people that have come from away--it's that spirit of "I'm going to find what God is inviting me to by this journey, by this path." Marguerite Bourgeoys was also part of that early church--that whole indwelling of the Spirit, like what did Pentecost mean for us as people and gathering?
So let's touch on a couple of things. First, you've got a number of sisters in the community, but also associates so there's other ways of belonging.
We do. We do. Almost the same number, really. Associate membership--the associate relationship kind of started coming for us in the early 80s, I think, and part of that sense of call that you were talking about the beginning, Max, that just lets people find the path. That spirituality of Marguerite--she was named a saint by the church in the early 80s, which she's not just ours. So other people are inspired by that, but don't feel called to vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. So associate relationship. And it's kind of neat, you know, just in the reality, we're almost the same number internationally. We're in eight different countries right now. The numbers of sisters and associates are, you know, probably a few more associates. But it's kind of neat that her spirit is bigger than that little congregation that she started in Montreal.
And you touch on her spirit, on the spirituality, you know, the Pentecost spirituality. I hear some Visitation in there. Can you say a little bit more about that spirituality and how it enlivens the congregation and the associates and everybody whose life is touched by it today?
Well, for me, one of the maybe the more significant aspect is Mary with the Apostles in the early church. I've always been drawn to that aspect of the charism. We emphasized it more in the last years, but it for me, it's always been. Because to me, that's where she's the encourager, you know, she's with the Disciples. And I see such a connection with today's world and today's church, you know. We need encouragers, right? We need people that encourage and foster and say the Spirit is with us and we can do this. And I think she wanted us to imitate the Apostles going out, you know? Change the world! The purpose of the church is to change the world, not to be by it for itself.
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