Items filtered by date: January 2020
Being passionate about culinary art, I love transforming natural products and producing new creations. I was pleased when I first heard about this new XXIst century culinary trend and decided to try it. It brought back a childhood interest. Woman of the soil, to this day I grow fine herbs on my gallery to produce pestos and coulis. I make candied fruits, jellies, ketchup and jams for my displays.
The dino-cocktail consists in the serving of a variety of appetizers: finger foods, "mezzes", tapas, antipostos and more. The entire display must have the coherence of a balanced meal. The approach creates a friendly atmosphere conducive to conversations around current events: social, pastoral and political.
"This evening has been a heavenly event," an energized guest said Lucienne.
"A marvellous experience where the beauty of culinary presentation is blended with savour. At Lucienne's, the dino-cocktail naturally leads to the swapping of stories around our engagements in our daily life ", added another guest, Gabrielle.
Each quality we possess is like a spring about to break forth if we cleaned the surface that keeps it sealed away.
Louis-Marie Parent, O.M.I.
My move to a seniors’ home was not expected; it was motivated by health issues. Confused, I call upon the Blessed Virgin to show me a new mission where I could be happy. Here is the journey she pointed me to.
Initially I was reassured by the smile of a lady who often sat next to my door for a rest. Then, at the cafeteria, I was invited to a table. At the reception I was well received and was given the information I requested. The people here are welcoming and greet each other every time they meet.
I have found here at Le Patrimoine de la charité chrétienne (The Heritage of Christian Charity) elements of my spirituality. How marvelous! The Blessed Virgin has chosen well! The charism of the Institute invites us to A constant availability to the will of the Father to live everywhere the charity of Christ through service, with the help of Mary.
Being available means living the present moment, to being open to the people I meet. That is how I am adapting to my milieu while discovering how likeable people can be. And my mission? Like Christ, manifest the unconditional love of God the Father to everyone… The people in the residence have already manifested that by their warm welcome by revealing the signs of his presence at the heart of daily life. How can I not myself manifest love in return to love? How can I not smile when I am loved?
How is that love carried over in daily life? By a greeting and a smile. What is remarkable in this region is that people look at us, greet us and help with intention by opening doors, helping to carry packages, etc. It is simple but effective.
I don’t have to search any length of time to find concrete ways of living the presence of God in my milieu. Who does not need a listening ear, encouragement or affectionate attention when visited by illness or in mourning the loss of a loved one? We have at our disposal a chapel, mass, various celebrations, interesting activities that call for collaboration and participation.
Several people are aware of my Oblate commitment and I feel well accepted. I am involved in pastoral work with the sick, I bring communion to residents in their rooms, I participate in animating celebrations and help in training animators. Often, as I pass by heading to the chapel for mass, people share prayer intentions they want me to bring on their behalf.
After visiting a home where I saw sad, withdrawn people my response was to radiate smiles and good humor in greeting others. Why? If not we look old, we look like living dead. At 84 I don’t feel old so I smile and am happy, and I hope to be even moreso tomorrow. What about solitude? I need it to go to my inner being, to be silent, listen to God and meet him in prayer, in the Word and in people. I need it as well to cope with the many changes to life in society, in the Church and in the Institute.
I can live with hope and trust because, every day, I am nourished by the spirituality of the Institute. Mass, the rosary, meditation of the Word, the love of each person, abstaining from judging, taking a positive reading of events give me concrete tools that help me to adapt. I also have Oblate companions who support me with their affection, their attention and their marvelous commitment to love and serve. The team enhances life and energy.
As you can see I have no reason to complain! To the contrary, I am abundantly blessed. I thank Mary for having accompanied me so well.
As long as I live, my mission is not ended! I love life! I love life!
Reine-Aimée was a pioneer of our Institute, present at the time of the foundation.
The unfolding of her life: Reine-Aimée was the 11th child in a large family of 14. Early in life she sensed the call to consecrate her life to Jesus.
Several years later, around the age of 16, she met Father Louis-Marie Parent, OMI, and told him of that desire. He told her to wait a little... he had a project for a foundation in mind.
Then, in 1952 when she was 23 and had taught school for 4 years, she received a letter from Father Parent saying that, in July, he was facilitating a retreat in Edmunston (New Brunswick) for candidates who were interested in his foundation project. Reine-Aimée attended that retreat.
At the end of the first day, Father Parent, (passionate as always) had assigned responsibilities to each: Luce Lacombe, a nurse, was named “foundress,” Isabelle Delisle, co-foundress and Reine-Aimée, the formator of new recruits.
Reine-Aimée hesitated to take on such a responsibility. Father Parent asked her, “Have you ever done this?” “No,”she replied. “Then try and we’ll see,” he said. And that is how she became responsible for formation, first in Grand Falls (New Brunswick), then in 1953, at the house of formation at Cap-de-la-Madeleine.
Reine-Aimé had pronounced her first vows October 7, 1952. Shortly after she was assigned more responsibilities.
In February 21, 1953, she opened a house at Cap-de-la-Madeleine. Prophetically, the house number was “555” and the street name was “Notre Dame.” Soon after, with Marguerite Desharnais, she moved to 20 Sanctuaire Street.
Five years later, December 28, 1958, she is unanimously elected Directress-General of the Institute. She was congratulated by His Excellency Roméo Gagnon, bishop responsible for the Institute at the time. “You have been chosen by the Institute and you are my choice as well,” he said; words that she accepted with humility. She remained Directress-General till the 1967 General Assembly.
Here are several events that reveal the humility that characterized Reine-Aimée:
One day during one of his visits, his Excellency Bishop Pelletier (of Trois-Rivières, Quebec) commented, “Such a young woman with such big responsibilities!” Reine-Aimée replied, “I am not alone. There is Father Parent and competent companions. I wouldn’t want to bear the same reproached the Lord addressed to Peter, ‘O man of little faith, why did you doubt?’”
On another occasion she had a similar response to Cardinal Léger who had asked, “Who runs the Institute? Is it Father Parent or Madame Reine-Aimée Welsh?” She replied, “It is neither, Your Excellency. It is the Holy Spirit!”
Indeed, it was the Holy Spirit, through the person of Bishop Albert Sanschagrin (a cousin to Reine-Aimée), who inspired Reine-Aimée to suggest to Father Parent to undertake procedures to have the Institute recognized by Rome. And the approval was granted.
Following the 1967 General Assembly
After 22 years of dedication at the head and heart of the Institute, Reine-Aimée, accompanied by Angèle Demontigny, spent a year in Paris studying in human relations.
Upon her return she enters the labor market working in a bookstore, then in Quebec City in charge of the MSA Welcome Centre for the Ministry of Social Affairs which provided shelter and social reintegration services to unwed mothers. She was well prepared for this commitment; it suited her perfectly, as was confirmed by her team and supervisors who were impressed with her respect for others, her calm demeanor and her frankness.
Upon retiring in 1988, Reine-Aimée moved to a residence in Quebec City then later to Montreal. She never doubted her calling to Oblate life nor did she doubt the survival of the Institute (that many labeled as a flash in a pan or a passing fancy). Her spirit of service and her faithfulness set the tone for all the Oblates she welcomed during her many years at the head of the Institute.
Sixtieth Anniversary of the Institute
In November 2011, on her 60th anniversary in the Institute, Reine-Aimée drafted a short autobiography. Here are a few extracts describing her journey as she experienced it:
From the beginning I always did my best to foster the emergence of the founder’s charism, to leave him all the space. I have never considered myself the foundress; I would say to myself, “It is Father Parent who received the grace of foundation and not me.”
At the end of his life Father Parent told me, “Reine-Aimée, I thank you for what you have been for the Institute. I have always been sure of you and sure that I could count on you.” These words struck a chord with my deepest sentiments. My docility to the charism of the Institute, as revealed through Father Parent, was my way of serving as the Virgin Mary served.
I was docile because I was convinced that that was what the Lord asked of me. There was never a doubt from the moment I said ‘yes’. I would sometimes offer suggestions but it was always he who made the final decision. I made it a point not to be a hindrance. I was not at the service of Father Parent but at the service of the Lord in all that Father Parent, the intermediary, asked of me.
I once told Father Parent, “Working for you is easy but working with you is not always easy.” All that to say there were difficult moments but I remained faithful to my calling in all that required service, gift of self and availability.
I therefore served with profound faith, in freedom, in discernment and in great abandonment. I stayed in the background. At times when I was at a loss, I am sure the Lord gave me the wisdom and the discernment I needed.
One of my great joys was when I saw the Basilica at the Cape filled to capacity for Father Parent’s funeral. I said to the Lord, ‘How I am pleased that you gave me the grace to be faithful to all you asked of me, because there were many occasions when I could have created issues in Father Parent’s mission.
We see in these writings how discretion and humility were intentional choices Reine-Aimée made.
You, the humble and discrete woman who was a precious collaborator of the founder of our Institute, be assured that your name will forever be etched in the history of the Institute and in the heart of each one of us who has known and loved you. You have truly been the ‘beloved queen’ of all with whom you have crossed paths.
Obtain for us the grace to continue loving the Institute as you have loved and served it these many years among us.
Rejoice now in the presence of the Beloved of your life!