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A Mystery for the New Year - A Book  Review

To Die But Once   by: Jacqueline Winspear

This is the latest book in a series of mystery stories, woven around tales during the months of the second World War following Britain’s declaration of war on Germany. Maisie Dobbs, the main character, is a private investigator, in England, who has two assistants, Sandra and Billy.

The combination of fact, events detailing the second world war, and fiction, the mystery story that has been threaded through this novel, results in a very interesting read.

I look forward each year as Winspear continues to involve Maisie Dobbs in the next adventure in such a way that it like listening to yet another new and suspenseful tale told by a friend.

Although the Maisie Dobbs books are published yearly 2003 -2018  (with one exception, 2014), the author keeps the reader informed about past events in a very succinct and helpful manner. Her novels have been on the New York Times bestseller several times and readers wait for the next book in the Maisie Dobbs series to appear. I encourage you to join the Maisie Dobbs fan club!

- Sister Valerie Van Cauwenberghe


Weekly Pause &  Ponder

Nothing paralyzes our lives like the attitude that things can never change.  We need to remind ourselves that God can change things.  Outlook determines outcome.  If we see only the problems, we will be defeated; but if we see the possibilities in the problems, we can have victory. 

- Warren Wiersbe



I’ve loved this story for 65 years. I was in grade 5 at Blessed Sacrament School in London Ontario. My teacher for grades 5 to 8 was Sister Alice Marie. Each day right after lunch, she would read to us from a book that we would come to love like “Outlaws of Gravenhurst” or the Enid Blyton Mysteries. She didn’t care that we were far too old to be read to and we didn’t care either. In fact, it was my favourite time in the school day. And perhaps, hers, too.
As Christmas approached, she would read A Christmas Carol (Scrooge) to us and we were all wrapped in the spell she wove. Ever since, the Christmas Season has not really arrived until I’ve watched “A Christmas Carol” at least once. Last year, Sister Alice Marie died and I decided to honour her by going to the Grand Theatre to watch their production of this great classic. It was fabulous! I loved every minute of it. This year I just had to attend again and it was superb! And I had a new thought about it.
“Is this kind of profound conversion possible?” I thought about the human species and the profound damage we are doing to our home Planet and wondered if we could change. I believe we are a species in our teenage years, we have power but not enough wisdom. 
Then I thought, in the story, Ebenezer, was not always mean and miserly. He had the love of his sister Fan and he loved his apprentice days with old Fezziwig where he fell in love with a co-worker, Belle(Alice). But then Fan died in childbirth. He began a different love affair with wealth and power and he lost Belle as she recognized she had been replaced.
We too, as a young species had profound connections with our earthly home. Some of that energy is still with us in the spirituality of Indigenous peoples as they try to uncover the relationships that the colonizers tried to extinguish. Yes I need to have hope. I have to have hope. I will live my life as if I have hope until it becomes a reality in me. Otherwise I will just become numb with a giant TV soother in my mouth. I will cease to live my one precious life.
I won't let the profound hopelessness of our times seep any deeper into the marrow of my being. I will believe that the human species can evolve to maturity and wisdom. I will invite the dreams of the earth, past, present and future to teach me. I will listen to the earth. I will align myself with the children who need a future full of hope, who need to see elders who believe in their possibilities. 
I will start now as I take my morning walk into our glorious home.
Thanks Sister Alice Marie.
- Mary Margaret Howard (Gaiamma)

Fourth Sunday of Advent leaping into  Christmas

Well here it is and there it goes!

This year the calendar permits one day only, of what is usually a week, and then a quick turn around into the festivities of Christmas. The fourth week of Advent begins and ends on Sunday, well with a few hours in the heart of Monday, but then . . .

In the Sunday gospel Elizabeth questions: “Why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” We would like to linger and ponder that great visit of Mary to her cousin, both with child, both awaiting a miraculous birth. Both an expression of God’s largesse of love for - yes the individual mothers, - and ah yes for the entirety of all creation.

Well, this year the rhythm of the liturgical year is imitating the rhythm of giving birth. The signs come quickly and the process begins, and then the wondrous mystery shines forth in glorious light.

In the beginning was Divine Love

            Through a simple breath Love birthed creation

                        Then at the appointed time

Love burst into humanity

                                                And Love became flesh

                                                Dwelling with us . . among us . . .around us . . .

                 May you and yours be God’s Word of Love shining forth in glorious light

                                                Proclaiming Christ’s Peace and Hope to our world.


- Sr. Loretta Manzara, csj


Imagine a World of  Welcome

A world that becomes

a Home shaped by love and compassion

a world that becomes a Home where

dreams and possibility flourish.

A world where all are welcome.


Together as co-creators with God,

let us continue to create a world of welcome.


Christmas Blessings

The Sisters of St. Joseph


Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.