The next three issues of Charity Alive will include short introductions to Associates who are attending Chapter. Meet the first three Associates below!
by Peggy Dupuy
Hello, my name is Peggy Dupuy, an Associate with Zelma’s Way.
I grew up in Winnipeg, MB and was taught in elementary school by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary at St. John Brebeuf School. I moved on to the Convent of the Sacred Heart and continued my education with the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. After graduation I moved with my family to Halifax, NS. A couple of years later I married into the navy and moved around the country for the next 10 years never really settling. When I arrived in Bedford, NS with a six year old, and a six month old daughter I started to attend St. Ignatius Parish. It was there that I was introduced to the Sisters of Charity. I attended Mass every Sunday with my two girls and was now expecting my son. One Sunday I was stopped by one of the nuns from the Convent on the church property. The friendly Irish-Boston accent drew me in immediately. Sister Joan O’Keefe invited me to join a group of ladies who spent one afternoon a week making crafts for shut-ins. I immediately had all kinds of excuses for why I could not. For which she had an answer for why I could. We all know how convincing S. Joan can be and from that day on I found a new family with the Sisters of Charity. While my oldest was in school I raised my two youngest in the Convent with the Outreach Group. I soon became involved in the Religious Education Program, teaching my daughter’s grade two class.
I was invited to join the Associate program in 2004, was mentored by S. Helen Danahy and made my commitment in 2005. Through my relationship with the Associates and the Sisters I have grown in my spirituality and want to learn as much as I can from them.
I have been involved in the Religious Education Programs at St. Ignatius Parish for the past 30 plus years. I was hired as the DRE about 16 years ago and became the Youth Director along the way. I love my work with the children and youth. I have stayed connected to many of them from the time they made their 1st Communion, through Confirmation and Marriage. It is exciting to see them bringing their children for Baptism.
In the last few years while still working as DRE, my ministry has taken on a new direction. I am now involved in a Funeral Ministry. I meet with grieving families to help them prepare the perfect Celebration of Life for their loved ones. These meetings are special for me. Having to do this for both of my parents and two of my sisters, I knew this was where I was being called. I love sitting with families and listening to their stories. I have now begun to pre-arrange services for families as well. This allows the families to come together and plan together.
This year I will be participating in my second Chapter. I have learned so much about the life of the Sisters of Charity sitting at the table and listening to the stories. There is so much wisdom around one small table. Being with them feels like I am on retreat. I hesitated to join in this year when it changed to an on-line event, but I knew I would be missing out by staying away. I will be joining a group of ladies whom I do not know but am so excited to get to know them and be part of something that is so important to the community.
I do not believe I would ever be where I am today in my Ministry and in my Spiritual life if S. Joan had not stopped me in the church parking lot that Sunday morning, so many years ago.
by Elena Miranda
I began first grade in St. Paul School in Brooklyn, NY in 1964, the year the Congregation arrived, thus beginning a long, heartwarming, and deep connection with the Sisters of Charity – Halifax. In a sense, I became an Associate long before the relationship was defined. My experience of being among caring, committed, deeply spiritual women who welcome me with warmth and kindness touches my soul and fills me with gratitude. In my heart, I know this where God reaches me best. It was true during my eight years of elementary school. It is still true today.
For many years my connection to the Sisters of Charity – Halifax existed primarily in my friendships with Sisters Barbara Toland and Margaret Coppenrath, two former teachers. In 2008, I reconnected with S. Maryann Seton Lopiccolo, an old family friend and fellow St. Paul alum. I offered my web design and photography skills for the 2009 bicentennial year, and soon my relationships with Sisters of Charity, the Vincentian Family, and the SC Federation blossomed.
Through the years my relationships with Sisters Margaret and Barbara were a source of support and encouragement. And I faithfully sent photos of my three kids at Christmas! Today I am grandmother to a beautiful, happy eight-month-old boy, Louie, whom many Sisters and Associates know through Facebook. Back in 2008, when I first began attending Congregation events and meetings, my kids explained my absence to each other by saying, “Mom is out ‘nunning.’” They know my Associate relationship makes me happy and are accustomed to —and even enjoy— having a Sister or two at family events.
When I learned last December that Associates were invited to Chapter 2020, I immediately said, “yes!” I offered my photography skills to help Melissa Falle document the meetings. Then COVID-19 happened and my reason for attending no longer existed. Do I have anything to contribute beyond my photography skills? What can I possibly offer to those who dedicate their entire lives in service to others as they plan the Congregation’s future? I honestly don’t know, but I still want to be part of Chapter. Perhaps the virtual presence of a long-time beneficiary of the community’s joyful witness and love might somehow be of help. Or, possibly, the Spirit knows something about my participation that I don’t. Whatever the reason, I feel blessed for the opportunity to be there.
by Barbara Pyles
Hello, dear kindred friends of Elizabeth, Vincent and Louise! It was a surprise to be invited to write for Charity Alive to share with you a little bit about myself, my journey with the Sisters, why I’m attending Chapter and some Vincentian practices that guide my life.
I’m a mother of five, grandmother of seven, recently retired R.N, who loves books, art, nature and singing, especially acapella hymns with my church choir. Yoga, walking, contemplation and meditation are mental, physical and spiritual activities that help keep me balanced, in these pandemic times.
Rita MacDonald was my first encounter with the Sisters in the early 70’s. She was Director of Religious Education for my children. Truth be told back then I didn’t even know she was a Sister of Charity – Halifax. What I did know was that she radiated something unique and very special. It was only years later that I heard the word charism. It was an epiphany, an “Aha” connection resonating deeply within my faith life, my relationship with God. In the mid 80’s two recently retired sisters, living at Mount Saint Vincent, Wellesley, started a small scripture study faith sharing group for mothers that was instrumental in giving new dimensions of faith and spirituality to all of us. 1990 began my professional relationship as a nurse for the Sisters at Elizabeth Seton Residence. Every morning as I walked through the courtyard past the statue of Elizabeth Ann Seton, my curiosity about her faith and her life grew. S. Peter Claver introduced me to Elizabeth by loaning me her lengthy, well researched book and biography on the life of Elizabeth. Reading that book launched my journey to become an Associate. Working with Sisters as a nurse, being involved with the Global Concerns Resource Team, enriches and aligns my life in Vincentian values of simplicity, humility and service.
Attending Assemblies, and especially Chapter this year, are vital opportunities to ponder anew the ongoing evolution of Charity coming alive in our Sisters of Charity – Halifax community, Sisters of Charity Federation and our world. Our charism guides us individually, collectively and corporately in faith with openness of heart, mind and spirit. Hazarding forward with technology, climate change, human rights serving and caring as we go into unknown, uncharted territory.