What’s Up

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.


A Poem, a Prayer

This poem was written while staying at Weston Priory, Vermont, USA
during the Summer of 2015


are you an arrow?
planted in the ground,
directed towards the sky?

The Cross in the Stone Chapel
The Cross in the Stone Chapel, Weston Priory

Your bar reaches from
East to West.

You look simple
yet when I look at you
I feel that you reach out
to the whole world.

You look simple
yet my eyes upon you,
and I feel that you tell a story
that all can understand
a story that touches the life
of all.

I notice the red dots
on your branches.


North and South,  East and West,
Rachel wailing,
people  wounded,
creation spoiled
through  carelessness,

The Cross in the Barn Chapel, Weston Priory, July 2015
The Cross in the Barn Chapel, Weston Priory

Your Cross is in my life
my body shaped by the Cross,
my heart opened up by the Cross.

Your Cross calls out to me
o Lord:

“What will you do?
Will you live and love
to restore creation,
to restore creativity,
wherever you are,
wherever it is shattered?”

To this I say yes my Lord, yes.


Where is the Water?

Lake Ontario in Cobourg – Winter 2014

March 22, 2014 was World Water Day. We celebrated that day in different ways here in Toronto, including by attending a workshop at Regis College in the Windows on Theology – Continuous Learning program. The workshop was named “Living Waters: Reflecting on the Source and Summit of Life”. There were great talks about the state of the Oceans and what it means for life on our planet; about eco-justice and how eco-justice relates to the social teachings of the Church; and about the need to find a language of the heart, a language of the Spirit, to reach the confluence of science, spirituality and ecology. The day ended with the celebration of the Sunday mass: in this the third Sunday of Lent, we were given the story of the people of Israel journeying through the desert and receiving water from rock, as well as gospel story of the woman of Samaria, who goes to the well to draw water, and finds Jesus -or rather, is found by Jesus. Attached to this post is the reflection that I prepared for that celebration. Many blessings on your lenten journey! Gabrielle

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Lent – March 22, 2014 – World Water Day

The Month of Claire Monestès

claire monestes
Claire Monestès, in 1915

Two dates in the month of February evoke Claire Monestès for us. On February 4, 1921, Claire took her first vows in Marseilles, and so did Leonie Fabre, her first companion. The community of the Xavieres was founded on that date, Claire later said.  On February 14, 1939, Claire passed away in Paris. On her nightstand was found a note that read: « 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 ». A translation in English would be as follows: “Courage and trust, winter is over, already the turtledove is heard singing, the harvest is coming, let us go out to the harvest with a faithful heart filled with gratitude.”

Claire Monestès is the founder of our community, the Xavieres, Missionaries of Christ Jesus. She was born in Savoy, France, in 1880, and died in Paris, France, in 1939. A fine musician, she was a passionate woman who from a very young age was determined to be consecrated to God. She was inspired by the missionary zeal of St Francis Xavier, and by the spirituality of St Ignatius Loyola. She grew up in a France marked by the beginning of the separation of Church and state. She grew in her spiritual journey, with an ever greater desire to bridge the divide between the Church and people who are far from the Church. In 1921, she founded the Xavieres.

Today, men and women of different walks of life are touched by Claire Monestès. They find solace and inspiration in Claire’s spiritual journey for their own life of disciples of Jesus in the Church.

During this month of February 2014, in this jubilee year for the Xaviere community, we give thanks to God for the life of Claire Monestès. We are grateful for the fruits she has borne in the Church, for the inspiration she is for many. We pray that we may have an ever deeper understanding of her gift for the mission today.

« Soyons ferventes du monde présent, non de celui d’hier; adaptons-nous perpétuellement. Servantes du monde présent, voilà la Xavière. » – Claire Monestès, founder of the Xavieres

“Let us be fervent of the present time, and not of time of the past. Let us constantly adapt. Servant of the present time, this is the hallmark of the Xaviere.” –  Claire Monestès, founder of the Xavieres

Happy Feast Day!

Our community was named after Francis Xavier. An early publication about our community profiled a text written by Louis Mendigal, that gives an image of St Francis Xavier on his trip from Italy to India, and makes a connection between Francis Xavier’s missionary zeal and the foundation of the Xaviere sisters. We publish this text below, on the occasion of the Feast Day of St Francis Xavier, December 3.

It is 1541, and Francis Xavier is en route to India. 1541, a date that will have a great significance in the history of the Church and the world.

You would be mistaken if you thought that, during this seemingly interminable journey to the Far East, Francis Xavier stood at the helm of the ship, dreaming of new converts to Christianity and so focused on these mysterious, faraway lands, that he became oblivious to his immediate surroundings.

Xavier was not a dreamer, but a realist who had better things to do than to allow himself to be carried away by romantic notions. The narrow, rocking vessel that buffeted him and jostled him about during weeks and months at sea, was the home of sailors. These were men who, alternately, laboured like convicts or slept like logs, overcome by exhaustion; who toiled or ate voraciously; who fought and cursed for no reason — because suffering often brings out the worst in even the gentlest lamb — or bickered during their unending card games while the ship lay motionless in the still air, a time when card-playing and boredom were the only choices the men had.

Men — work-weary and crook-backed, brutalised by this harsh, servile life. Sailors — mercenary and joyless men for whom nothing mattered other than the anticipation of some sleep, or a bowlful of foul-smelling, rancid gruel. Occasionally, in their infrequent ports-of-call, they would engage in drunken debaucheries, bloody fights and illicit liaisons and forget their prolonged and constant misery, the invasive vermin and oft-deadly typhus.

They were children of God, redeemed men. Yet who would be able to see, beneath their rough exteriors, the wondrous likeness of God?

These were the men of whom Francis Xavier was thinking, these men so near to him. Rather than being caught up in grandiose schemes and living in a pipe dream, this descendant of a noble Spanish family, this Sorbonne professor, still in the rapture of youth, became a sailor to earn the right — having first won their hearts — to speak to his fellow sailors.

He lived their harsh life — climbing ladders, scraping his hands on the rough ropes, eating from the common porringer, heaving the capstan like a seasoned sailor and, during calm seas, playing cards. Therefore, between games or between high winds, he spoke of Christ to these men whose confidence and esteem he had earned, and who did not know — or had forgotten — that there is a God who loved them enough to die for them.

I truly believe that it was there, on the forecastle of that old ship, which, at times, the sea would shake like a straw, or leave drifting, that the Xavières were born.

 But no one knew anything about it — not even me, not even you — until 1925. No one, but God.

 Louis Mendigal