What’s Up

Happy Feast of St Francis Xavier!

Portrait of St Francis Xavier – Azulejos from Goa
Gift from Fr Dan, Pastor of our parish, St Joan of Arc
at mass on Dec 3rd, 2018

We are celebrating today our patron saint, whose dedication to the mission of Christ inspired Claire Monestes, foundress of the Xaviere Sisters.

“To work for the glory of God is not an empty phrase. It implies putting all our sweat and blood and life’s breathe.”

CLAIRE MONESTES

Let’s follow them in their passion for Christ to be discovered in the midst of the world!

And now this breeze that blows me from China and further away, it is you, my God, who come to me.
For I know now. I know, and people who will talk a lot won’t know.
They will believe that I was going to gain the world when you were going to gain my soul.
They will believe that I was going to bring Christ to the Chinese when it was you, you first of all, who were carrying him to me through them.
And it was up to me to enter first through my neighbor’s door, so that we could go out together through the door of God, through your door.

Fabrice HADJADJ, what good can it do to gain the whole world?

I just love Halloween!

I’ve been living in Canada for 20 years and I particularly love the days before Halloween, all the excitation, the decorations in the streets and in the gardens. Some are very scary (ghosts, skeletons…). In our neighborhood, quite a few houses have some very original decorations. We like to take a walk around to go and see them.

Every October 31st at dusk, under rainy or clear sky, knights, princesses, rabbits, dinosaurs, pirates, Transformers, Ninjas, Spiderman, ghosts, vampires, rabbits, cows, etc. are walking the streets (with their parents not far away), knocking at the doors where there is a lit carved pumpkin. “Trick or treat!” and goodies of every kind are offered…

I love it because it is one of the few evenings where there is entertainment in our street! We sit on our porch watching the families outdoors, happy kids to be with their parents in the dark. It’s also an opportunity to talk to our neighbors, to share memories of our childhood.
I like the costumes: even adults have their own. Usually I am dressed in orange, wearing some funny wig and hat looking like a funny pumpkin.


I like carving the pumpkin: with few cuts, it takes a funny look.
So it’s an evening special for children, which involves creativity and on a deeper note that speaks about death and darkness. Its origin is Celtic, in Ireland where the days are shorter and darkness longer. For me it’s a help to think about death, to laugh about it because I am scared of it and to prepare myself to die and to remember the departed that I loved.
I am aware that this tradition can be offending if you don’t have the codes.

Hospitality, creativity and family moment for two hours once a year: I don’t want to miss it!
Now Halloween is part of my life and is a way to prepare myself to the celebration of All Saints and the commemoration of the Dead in the following days. A way to tame death to celebrate Life all the more!

Happy Halloween!

Marie-Noelle

In solidarity with the Climate strikers

On Friday September 27, the climate strike wave hit Toronto. To express our solidarity with this global movement, Sr. Laurence joined the thousands who gathered in front of the Ontario legislature at Queen’s Park and marched afterwards in the streets of Toronto. More images of the event in Toronto can be seen here.

“I was impressed by the number of children, teenagers and young adults participating. You could really feel the rising mobilisation of the younger generations asking current leaders to take effective measures to curb the alarming progress of climate change.”

Climate change is a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness that Pope Francis highlighted in Laudato Si’. We are connected to all living beings and with the Earth itself, currently suffering and crying under all sorts of abuses. The wounds we inflict on disappearing species, on others and on the Earth, are wounds we are inflicting on ourselves and on younger generations down the road. Will we wake up in time?

Starting a new community year

On Labor Day week-end was the first monthly community week-end. Time for us to acknowledge our new configuration for the year with Laurence, Marie-Noëlle, Claire and Blandine in Toronto, and Nathalie in Paris and later in Boston.

To do so, we had (among other things):

  • A “Grace Night” to share about how God granted each of us personally his love and his graces throughout the summertime
  • The “Time that God is giving us“: a look on the calendar of the year written on huge post-it on the wall to acknowledge our reality incarnated in time and choose realistically what we feel called to live together: invitations, sharing…
  • A discernment on Christmas time including a 3-day recollection in a monastery and the visit of a General Councillor, led with Nathalie through Skype: thanks to the modern communication channels!
  • And a visit to the Exhibition on Saturday evening to feel what so many Torontonians are experiencing every year! What a discovery for two of us!

Sister Laurence becomes a Canadian citizen!

On May 29th, Laurence took the oath of citizenship and became a proud Canadian. She shares with us her experience of that day and what it means to her.

Taking the oath of citizenship was very moving! I found myself pronouncing the words in English and in French with joy and gratitude for the journey that led me there. Yes, Canada has become my country! I experience now a deeper connection with the land and with the people around me, and I welcome this new step as a great gift from God!

Laurence

Celebrating a community year on the move

Strolling in High Park during the last community week-end of the yeqr: Catherine, Nathalie, Claire, Laurence, Sonal, Blandine and Marie-Noëlle.

On June 15th– 16th, the seven of us were gathered for our last community week-end in Toronto before summertime. Together we gave thanks to God for all the blessings we received and experienced during this special year, such as:

  • welcoming a postulant and celebrating her entry to the novitiate
  • welcoming Nathalie during her sabbatical time here in Toronto and for a program in Chicago (and visiting her there over Victoria day week-end)
  • accompanying the closing of the community in Montreal in October and welcoming Claire
  • hosting Christine M., one of the four General Counsillor of the congregation, and travelling with her to Anishinabe Spiritual Center, near Manitoulin Islands, for a session reflecting on our ministry in Canada
  • redesigning some rooms in the house, moving the furniture around and creating a library
  • sharing about Laudato Si, the way we eat, how we are connected to the people in Toronto as regards to our mission…

Sr Nathalie appointed as a consultor to the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops

The former director of the National Service for the Evangelization of Youth and Vocations in the Conference of Catholic Bishops of France, she participated in the last Synod of Bishops on Youth in Rome last October as an auditor.

Nathalie Becquart, who is part of our Toronto community, has just been appointed by the Pope as a consultor to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

She shares on how she received this appointement.

I received this nomination with great surprise as a very beautiful gift. Appointed at the same time as I were two other nuns, one lay woman and the two religious priests (a Jesuit and a Salesian) who were the special secretaries of the last Synod. This is the first time that women have been appointed as consultants for the General Secretariat of the Synod and I think it reflects Pope Francis’ desire to involve more women in Vatican affairs. From what I can see, this mission will consist in providing help and advice in the preparation of the next ordinary synod of Bishops. My mandate is for three years.

She was featured on The Tablet on May 24th, 2019: Pope appoints four women to top Synod jobs

At the Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocation Discernement in Rome in October 2018

Back on the net!

The community has known big changes in the past two years and, as many of you have certainly experienced, it is very hard to communicate while you are in upheavals. So here we are, with a new energy and a great desire to search how to listen to the prompting of the Spirit in this big city of Toronto. And for us, listening to the Spirit happens through dialogue… That’s why we are very excited to restart this website! So you can maybe discover what gifts God has in store for you through our presence… and us through you!

Some of the changes that took place in the past months:


The new General Superior & her 4 Councillors elected in July 2017

The General Chapter of the Congregation was held in July 2017, six years after the previous one. A new General Superior was elected: Christine Danel, then 50 years old, who is a doctor. And Laurence, from the community of Toronto, was elected as one of her 4 General Councillors!

It’s a part time job and requires availability, whether to discern specific questions on the go by email or by Skype or for week-long Council meetings in Paris four times a year. Quite a change for Laurence and for the community here!


The community of Montreal was closed in 2018, after 21 years of Xaviere presence.

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges parish, Montreal, on October 13, 2018

On October 13, 2018, an emotional celebration took place in Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, our parish during our time in Montreal. We said goodbye and the commissioning we received from all who were gathered was led by Mgr Alain Faubert, Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal. Several Xaviere Sisters now living in Toronto spent several years in Montreal in the past.

“Every branch that is in me and already bears fruit, my Father will prune it” (John 15)


  • In September, Sonal entered the postulancy in the community.
  • In November, Nathalie arrived for a sabbatical time after ten years working at the France Bishops Conference and after the Synod on Youth in Rome in October.
  • And Claire arrived from Montreal, after her final vows during the summer and the closing of Montreal community.

Claire Monestès

claire monestes
Claire Monestès, in 1915

Claire Monestès, who founded the Xavieres Sisters, passed away on February 14, 1939. Every year, the date of February 14 is an opportunity for us xavieres sisters to remember Claire and to give thanks for who she was and for the legacy of her spiritual insights. Remembering can be as simple as reading some of her spiritual writings, or sharing these treasured texts with friends… or doing both by posting a post on this blog! The text below was found by Claire’s bedside after her death. It was in her handwriting on the back of a card.

“Courage et confiance! l’hiver est passé, la tourterelle chante déjà, la moisson va venir, allons la cueillir d’un grand cœur reconnaissant et fidèle.”

In English this text could read as follows:

“Take courage and trust! Winter is over, already the dove is singing. The harvest is at hand: let us go gather the harvest with a large, grateful and steadfast heart.”

This hopeful exhortation still resonates with us! We hope it reaches the heart of many. We are delighted to share it with you on this day.