by Sister Fernande Rivard, S.A.S.V.
Jesus was journeying through towns and villages, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God. With him were the Twelve, as well as some women…Luke 8:1-3.
This page of the Gospel that the liturgy offered us this past year is a reality for us these days. Jesus is still journeying through towns and villages. He has come among us in Arviat, stopping to invite people to walk with Him, to become His disciples and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God. As to faithful disciples, He entrusts to them ministries within their community and confirms them in their call to work as leaders and to be witnesses of His Love.
In response to this invitation, ten persons made a commitment to give over two hours every day to the study of the Bible. They were to be found in the Mikilaaq Centre every evening from Monday to Friday, after days fully spent working, as well as on Saturday afternoons. This building has been transformed into a diocesan centre for formation, renewal and meetings, thanks to the great generosity and unceasing dedication of Monique and Réal Leclerc who have been working, with Sister Simone Bastien, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) provincial superior, and Sister Doriça Sever, F.M.M., in the planning and setting up of this project.
The men and women studying on this level have already completed the first part of the program, “Builders of the New Earth,” designed by Jesuit Father Patrick McCorkell, and adapted to the needs of the Inuit in the Churchill-Hudson Bay diocese by Sr. Sever, director of the program, assisted by Raymonde Pelletier and myself.
As we entered into this second formation session, we saw with great joy the progress that the participants, both men and women, had made since the year before and the enthusiasm that still motivated them. They continued to bear in their hearts a great desire to go more deeply into the Word by meditating on it, by making it part of their prayer, and by sharing it with the group. The joy they had found in discovering how this Word becomes flesh in daily life in their families, their workplace and their parish, was quite evident.
As animator for the first week, Fr. McCorkell proposed a very simple form of prayer based on Biblical texts and the artistic collection illustrating the life of “The One called Jesus,” painted by Maurice Gaudreault from Fauquier, a small village in Northern Ontario. Participants listened to the reading of an incident in the Gospel, took it to heart, and meditated on it with the help of the pictures, so as to pass it on to others through the testimony of a life in the service of the Kingdom.
On the Saturdays, it was with a video tape, “Faith Lessons on the Promised Land,” that we presented our course. Thanks to this teaching aid, we visited places in which the great events in the history of the people of God took place; they helped us understand how God was present to His people and never abandoned them in spite of their deviations, their faults and their infidelities.
For the last part of the project, we used the document, “The Bible and You,” composed by Oblate Father Robert Lechat, published in English and in Inuktitut. This document permits a short survey of the entire Bible which helps us to understand better how God’s great plan for humanity unfolded, how God walked with His people, and how He gave them guidance and made Himself known by entering into their history most especially in the Incarnation of His Son, Jesus.
To lead the participants to go a step further, a new factor was introduced in this last part of the session. Fidel Ramirez, a very generous volunteer from New Mexico, initiated the group into Centering Prayer, a form of silent prayer that prepares one for the prayer of contemplation. This method allows one to develop a relationship with God beyond all words, thoughts and feelings.
Yes, Jesus is still journeying through towns and villages…and we see Him at work among us!
Sister Fernande Rivard, a member of the Sisters of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, is part of ministry team in Mikilaaq Centre in Arviat in the Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay, Nunavut.
—Reprinted from Catholic Missions In Canada Magazine, Spring 2014.