Just before Christmas, we were finally able to cross the border into Canada and open the latest foundation of our Province. Beginning with two sisters, our community is working alongside the IVE priests in two parishes in the Diocese of Peterborough, northeast of Toronto. Our new convent chapel means that there is another tabernacle in the world, where Our Lord may be honored and adored.
The Journey North
On December 18, 2010 after Holy Mass, our small group of missionaries set out from New York City for Peterborough: Mother Sacred Heart, Provincial Superior, Sisters Maria Pompeya, Maria Parousia and myself, Mother Sol. On the way we took a slight detour to pray at the shrine of the North American Martyrs at Auriesville. During the winter season the church and museum are usually closed, but to our great delight on that day the doors to the church were open and we were able to go in and pray and take a few pictures.
We then went to the place where St. Isaac Jogues placed the body of St. Rene Goupil after his martyrdom. According to accounts written by St. Isaac Jogues, he buried the remains of St. Rene Goupil somewhere in the forest without telling anyone, so that his tomb would not be desacrated. His remains are still in this land and that is why Pope Pius XII named that ravine a “Natural Reliquary.”
After praying at the ravine we walked around contemplating and recalling their footsteps, which are none other than the footsteps of our Lord. Expanding our desire to serve His Divine Majesty like them, we each asked as St. Ignatius said: “ if they could, why not we?” Finally returning to our journey, we commended all our intentions for the new mission to the North American Martyrs.
The trip itself was quite fun, a mix of American and Argentinean cultures: coffee and maté, English and Spanish conversation. The clouds eventually gave way to the sun whose rays were brilliantly reflected in the pure and white snow of fields. We crossed the border; it was already night when we arrived at Canada.
First Days in Canada
We reached the parish of Saint John the Baptist at 8:30 PM, where we found a wonderful family welcome. Mother Regina Pacis, SSVM, missionary in Toronto, Fr. Andrés Ayala, IVE, missionary in Cobourg (also Diocese of Peterborough), Fr. Ervens Mengelle, IVE, pastor of St. John the Baptist and Sacred Heart Church, and a faithful couple of our Third Order who are the parents of two of our sisters were all waiting for us.
The next day, on Sunday morning, we attended Holy Mass for the first time in our new parish. At the end of the Mass Fr. Ervens presented us to the people who received us with joy and kindness. In the afternoon we went to visit Fr. Andrés and met his parishioners. That evening we traveled to Toronto for a dinner with the missionary sisters, priests and families.
Monday morning we went to greet Bishop Nicola De Angelis, Bishop of Peterborough , who has known our Religious Family for many years. He gave us a very warm welcome as it has been quite a while that he has been awaiting our arrival in his diocese.
In the afternoon we went again to Toronto, and attended a concert of Handel’s “Messiah.” Pretty good! This was the “simple welcome” our missionaries of Toronto gave us! On Tuesday we visited the John Paul the Great Family Centre at St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, our parish in Toronto, and by the afternoon we finally returned to our own house in Peterborough.
All according to God’s plans, we arrived in the midst of Advent, preparing for Christmas, and in the very parish of St. John the Baptist. God really wants us to prepare the hearts of so many who place their hope in the Savior: they are eager to receive His grace, His comfort and His peace. We wish to thank the first missionary sisters in Canada who have received us with so much charity.
Above all, we give thanks for the many seen and unseen graces bestowed upon our small missionary family in the year 2010.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam,
Mother Maria del Sol, SSVM
Community of Blessed Marie de l’Incarnation