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Shakespeare Saved My  Life

Opening Laura Bates Shakespeare Saved my Life resulted in setting aside my mystery novel and sacrificing hours of sleep, an unexpected happening. 

Dr. Bates, an English professor at the University of Indiana recounts her experience of teaching Shakespearian plays to prisoners in a “supermax” penitentiary in Indiana.  Approval for her project required a huge effort to overcome derision, dismissal, fear, and disbelief despite her excellent success in teaching college courses in other Indiana prisons.  She describes the metamorphosis of inmates enrolled in the program and the appalling conditions in which she met with a group of eight inmates.

They attended class enclosed in windowless segregated cells and knelt on the floor to see through the unlocked waist high openings in their cell doors while Dr. Bates sat on a chair in the corridor. They completed weekly assignments that challenged their abilities and their thought processes.

The following quote (p. 253) is from an account co-written by one of the convicts, an uneducated man who will spend the remainder of his life in jail because he, at age seventeen, committed murder. Studying   Shakespeare changed his life.

Richard the Second is our launching pad that brings convicts back to normalcy. Then we break the curse that they are defined by their deeds with Henry the Fourth.  After that we build in them the potential for greatness with Henry the Fifth. In Henry the Sixth, we teach them to keep that potential grounded in realistic options. And with Richard the Third, we show them that it is essential that they follow their intrinsic motivation. Richard the Third is the consequence of not being rewarded as one thinks he should be.  He is the consequence of extrinsic motivation.  We do not live in fantasy worlds, and adversity will always exist, especially when one has a history such as ours, but when we are intrinsically driven, as Henry the Eighth is, the adversities do not have breaking power!”

I found myself lamenting the quality of my education in Shakespearian plays and seriously contemplating the project of studying Shakespeare.

-Sr. Patricia McKeon, csj



Summer days are upon us and we will kick back a bit and have a more relaxed posting schedule for our blogs. 

You will still see new content and some suggestions for some summer reading but we will very much be in summer mode!


Seeing through another’s eyes  

It seems like just yesterday that they were little boys, doing what little boys do.  Now, suddenly, they are grown men in their late twenties, leading busy adult lives. I am so proud of these delightful, self assured, kind young men.  Sure, I may be biased, for they are my sister’s sons.  It has been years since I spent time with ‘the boys’ – as my sister affectionately still calls them. You see, they live on the other side of the ocean in Germany.  However, much to my delight, they are here on a visit to beautiful Canada.  Time spent with my sister and ‘the boys’ was far too short. To really get reacquainted with my nephews an extra couple of days with them would have been superb. Yet, during our brief time together I noticed what amazing young men they are.  Now, dear reader, you may think, ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’.  Sure, I hear you and am aware of this.  Yes, I may be biased, but hear me out.  Take my younger nephew, for example.  He is very concerned about the state of our world and chose to focus his studies on climate change and dreams of working for an NGO in Nepal.  For several years now, he has chosen to be a vegetarian, prefers to buy used clothing and hardly resembles the many young people who have such a sense of entitlement.

Looking at things Canadian through the eyes of my nephews was quite an eye opener.  They shared how frustrated they were when the car rental dealer in Toronto tried her utmost to convince them that they needed an SUV for their travels.  They could not be swayed, convinced a regular smallish car would serve them very well.  Wherever we drove, they commented on how huge most Canadian vehicles are.  And talking about huge – they couldn’t get over the consumerism.  The multitude of stores everywhere just about overwhelmed them. 

These nephews of mine caused me to pause and ponder about our lifestyle here in North America.  They didn’t much like the concrete jungle of downtown Toronto and though they liked London, Ontario, the forest city, much better, even here they mostly yearned for the outdoors, for a park or a trail.  Unfortunately, it rained most of the time while they were here.  Was this a blessing in disguise?  It afforded me the opportunity to spend treasured moments with my sister and nephews in unplanned and surprising places.  Sure, we went to the quintessential LCBO to check out the wide selection of Canadian beers.  And to the Bulk Store!  You should have seen how fascinated ‘the boys’ were with this concept of scooping whatever into bags.  And, you guessed it, we also ended up in a Goodwill Store where the two ‘big time spenders’ found a few treasures.  Further treasures, of a very different kind, were found in St. Peter’s Basilica.  In the pouring rain we not only found shelter in that magnificent cathedral but shelter in each other as we sat and quietly talked about life, its joys and sorrows, its challenges and blessings. 

What a blessing and gift it was to spend such precious moments with my dear sister and these two wise young men.  I cherish the memory of their presence, their insights, their hugs, the laughter we shared.  Much to my surprise, they remind me of the book ‘Hope for the Flowers’, a fable about life, about revolution and lots of hope.  This precious, albeit brief time with my nephews gives me hope for the future.

Cosmic Agelessness

Wisdom trades places, at home with the young

Seasons pile up

Roles reverse in the natural progression …

 (Jane and Aaron Jackson)


- Sr. Magdalena Vogt, cps


Weekly Pause &  Ponder

July 1st ~ CANADA DAY

The people of Canada have worked hard to build a country that opens its doors to include all, regardless of their differences; a country that respects all, regardless of their differences, a country that demands equality for all regardless of their differences. - Paul Martin. 


Celebrating Canada Day: We The North 

On July 1, 1867 four British colonies: Canada(provinces of Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined together to create the Dominion of Canada. The passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931 augmented Canada’s power to govern ourselves. With passage of the Constitutions Act in 1982 Canada, composed of ten provinces and three territories, we achieved complete independence from Britain.

Celebrating the victory of the Toronto Raptors was a great prelude to the celebration of Canada Day. Enthusiastic fans watching televised basketball games on the streets, at home, or attending the victory parade in Toronto were the epitome of diversity in unity that is characteristic of our great country. 

We Canadians are a people composed of many faiths, cultures, and ethnic origins.  Most of us arrived in Canada, welcomed by the indigenous Inuit and Indians already here. We are still learning to accept and honour each individual and group as equal and honoured citizens of Canada.

Sports events, such as the public gatherings of Raptor fans, have the power to unite us in a common goal. Community gatherings throughout the country have a similar power to draw people together in celebration of being Canadians. In London, Ontario, Canada Day offers many opportunities to come together, have fun, and contribute to our pride in being Canadian consider participating in:

  • Fireworks displays in parks throughout the City
  • Night Market June 30, 7:00 to 10:00 pm at Dundas Place, Talbot street with local bands, performers, a craft beer garden, food trucks, artisans, local crafts

These events are opportunities to greet your fellow Londoners, celebrate and promote our unity as Canadians. HAPPY CANADA DAY! 

- Sister Patricia McKeon, csj

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