50 years of blessings after Emilie – 50th religious life anniversary for Sister Diane Sarrazin, SP
The day of Mother Gamelin’s feast, September 23, I entered religious life with the Sisters of Providence. In this year of my golden jubilee, I have become more aware of having been blessed by God since my conception and that the graces received from the Lord in his Love are countles
At the beginning of my jubilee year, I asked the Lord to give me the grace to live the as consciously as possible in his Love Presence, in the sacred place of my heart, where he dwells permanently. I was sure that He also wished it so that I would pay attention to his Love Presence in others as well.
I love the motto of our Community, “The love of Christ urges us!”, the chosen topic for this “Missive”. On my return from Haiti, during my spiritual retreat, which lived “in quarantine” and in a virtual way, I recognized this Love of Christ bequeathed to me by my parents and family and by many people, including the Sisters of Providence, of course, who have been a path of blessings for me in my human-Christian growth and in my 50 years of religious life as a SP.
The love of Christ has allowed me to exercise my teaching and compassion ministry with the hearing-impaired children of Montreal for more than 25 years. And, thanks to a request of the “Missionary Centre” of the Congregation at the Motherhouse, I was able to go to Haiti for two years, from 1984 to 1986, to give pedagogical support to the School St-André de Rendel, in the South. These two years were my first occasion to fall in love with Haiti, with a small local community of four sisters inserted into the area where we also had a dispensary where an SP was working.
Only God knew that I would return to Haiti, 13 years later, this time to Port-au-Prince, for the formation of candidates for religious life. I joined a small team of SP’s with the intention of receiving the first candidates for the “Come and See” internship in Ruelle Rivière. After renovations of a second house in Cité Wilson, we were able to welcome the first two novices in November 2003 in this novitiate house.
After the earthquake in Haiti, in 2010, we were eight sisters, including the novice and three temporary vows sisters, who went to Montreal to live a post-earthquake session first and to form a community together with apostolic activities. Then, in community discernment, the love of Christ and of our Haitian Sisters “moved” us to go back and continue the mission in Haiti and to get in touch with people interested in the religious life of the Sisters of Providence.
From April to July 2011, I was part of the formation team of the international program for the sisters in formation, in Montreal. It was a unique community experience that opened me to the intercultural, intergenerational and interdependent richness of the Congregation.
In Montreal, a little before the 2012 General Chapter, I learned that in Cameroon, there was a lack of Sisters for the formation of candidates ready for the novitiate. I see today that I had received a strong call within me, like that of the Love of Christ, which urged me to say “present” to going and responding to this need in Cameroon, a country that I had had the good fortune to know and love during a stay of about a month and a half, in 2006, working with the Sisters on the reunification of our two formation directories and for a consultation on the possibility of having a single provincial novitiate one day.
Thus, in the enthusiasm of the new orientations of the 2012 Chapter where we had decided to become an intercultural and intergenerational Congregation, as we already were an International Community, I left for Cameroon in September with a mandate for the formation of novices. I was accompanied by two Egyptian candidates recently admitted as pre-novices who were going to join a Cameroonian candidate for their prenovitiate, a Haitian prenovice who would begin her novitiate with two other Cameroonian candidates and another perpetual professed.
I share this experience during which I also knew, with two other Sisters, the suffering of seeing the signs that would lead us to consider closing the mission in Cameroon by the end of 2014. I believe that in the silence and darkness of the earth, Providence continues to watch and the Love of Christ does not stop manifesting itself. I trust in the future no matter what.
Upon my return from Cameroon, I continued my ministry in Montreal with the novices, with the much-appreciated opportunity to live in a local intergenerational community with the novices, and to work on a formation team that could meet often.
In September 2017, a Cameroonian Sister who was prepared for spiritual accompaniment accepted the call to take over the formation of novices in Montreal. It was good to have “new blood” in formation and I, with my need for rest and renewal at all levels of my being, took a year of renewal in Sherbrooke.
After this very beneficial renewal, I went to Haiti for 2 months to replace a sister. And it was there that I felt that the Love of Christ seemed to invite me to “come back” to Haiti. And I felt energy in me for the mission in Haiti. The community leaders and the other sisters in Haiti were also identifying needs for personnel for formation.
I have been living in Haiti in Port au Prince since October 2018; I am responsible for the temporary vow stage which has 11 sisters of the Province: eight Haitian professed Sisters and one Egyptian professed Sister who are living in Haiti; a Cameroonian professed Sister and an Egyptian professed Sister who live in Montreal.
The pandemic, with the second wave now, continues to give me lessons on how to live “differently” and to trust in Providence. In my vacation space in Montreal, including the “quarantine”, I have become more aware of the certainty of knowing that I am loved by the Lord, who is always there even when I don’t feel him, who nourishes my deepest being and gives me Life for the Mission entrusted to me.
The uncertainties around us often disrupt our planning and make us go from Plan A to Plan B, from Plan B to Plan C, etc… I am learning to live less on the level of reason and control and to enter, with the grace of the Lord, into my heart where I feel the call to surrender myself and to let myself be liberated and transformed by Him. His Love, acting in me, helps me to see and accept myself with my frailties and my strengths and, in turn, to see people and events with that look of trust, tenderness and mercy of Jesus.
I believe that the Love of Christ allows the blossoming of the best in the depths of our being, which ‘pushes’ or ‘urges’ us to give the best of ourselves, wherever we are, in our various activities or in illness or in any other uncomfortable situation. For me, this is how the Mission of Christ is made concrete, especially for the people of the Providence Family, through compassion and trust in Providence.
Providence of God
Providence of God, I thank you for all!