Catholic Sisters Week: Celebrating Traditions, Changing the World

March 8-14 is Catholic Sisters Week. The theme this year is Celebrating Traditions Changing the World.

Sr. Marie-Noëlle and Sr. Blandine share some of their experiences:

When I (Sr. Marie-Noëlle) arrived in Toronto in July 2006, I met a sister from the Congregation of Notre Dame, Sr Ann, who she told me right away, ‘Save the date. The first Saturday of Lent is a retreat day for Catholic Sisters of the Archdiocese of Toronto.’

In fact, for the past 25 years, Catholic Sisters of Toronto organize a retreat day on the first Saturday of Lent. The committee’s name is Together For Mission and such is the reality: we are all together on mission in the Archdiocese of Toronto. The facilitator is always a Catholic Sister from the Archdiocese. The themes and insights are different each year…. It is very special for me to pray and meet with others religious during this time of the year.

Here is a reflection by Sr. Blandine about the retreat on Saturday:

The theme this year was, ‘The Gift of Joy and Laughter.’ It was facilitated by Sister Dotsy Schweitzer, a Sister of St. Joseph of Toronto. Sr. Marie-Noëlle and I participated from the Xaviere Sisters along with 40 other Catholic Sisters. This was a fraternal encounter in person after being virtual for the past few years due to the pandemic.

While difficult to share everything, I present to you a few phrases that are good to hear and relish on religious life today and how to purposefully live these during the Lenten season:

‘Joy is never out of place!’ ‘ Joy should be always a part of who we are,’ ‘Joy is not an option,’ these remind me of what our foundress, Claire Monestès used to say, ‘Joy is a central element of life in Christ,’ and ‘To not feel joy is possible, to not possess it is impossible … the charity of Christ urges me: all is joy!’  

Photo by Bekka Mongeau on

This does not mean that everything is always simple and easy. Joy is first a choice as Henri Nouwen reminds us, ‘Joy does not simply happen to you … We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday!’ 

The secret? Live each day in gratitude (which is like a muscle to exercise!). And cultivate this joy in the smallest things, the least of our encounters. Keep a sense of humour that rhymes with love.

This is what I wish for each and every one of us during this Lenten season. And to ‘joyfully spray that joy to others!’

A week later, I (Sr. Marie-Noëlle) saw many of the sisters again at the Festival of Women and Girls – Making a World of Difference organized by the Loretto Sisters, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto and the University of St. Michael’s College.

It was the same joy given by the Holy Spirit that makes me more aware of how we are connected! It could also be an inspiration from the cookies of Joy that were shared, based on an old recipe of St. Hildegard von Bingen!

On this International Women’s Day and Catholic Sisters week, I share with you this quote by Mary Ward, the foundress of the Loretto Sisters, ‘Women in time to come will do much.’

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