By Michelle Garlinski, SNJM
Well, as I write on the eve of Valentine’s Day (which seems to be a true Hallmark holiday), it is a wonderful time to extend warmth from one heart to another. January started off chilly and forced me to wear multiple layers as I walked to work, but it must have wanted to impress our California guests because it brightened up when they arrived. We welcomed Sister Carol Sellman and Alan Liebrecht from Holy Names University to Winnipeg and St. Mary’s Academy for four action-packed days. I love the challenge of filling other people’s schedules! It was wonderful to share our city, my SNJM home and of course SMA. It was an enriching visit for all. Students are showing serious interest in HNU. Admittedly, there was a method to our madness in promoting a California university to students in Winnipeg in January!
Work in the Charism and Mission Office is progressing. SMA has just officially launched our five-year strategic plan, and charism is a priority. This, combined with a successful open house that welcomed 450 visitors to our school, might translate to some degree of job security. This is Catholic Schools’ Week for us so we are celebrating in a number of ways. One is by offering our annual “Retrally” (retreat + rally). This year we’ll combine multiple grades and walk to the synagogue where the theme, Women at the Heart of Change, will guide the day. The animators for the day are from Development and Peace (the Canadian counterpart to CRS). I am pleased that we will carry this theme through the Ash Wednesday liturgy, Lent and our Human Rights dinner in May. We conclude this week by hosting the division-wide faith day for staff.
My ministry at Gonzaga Middle School has a regular weekly rhythm where my understanding of First Nations culture deepens. I continue to meet with the young adults’ group every three weeks. At our last faith-sharing evening, we baked cookies and wrote Valentine’s Day cards for the residents at Despins. I was challenged and blessed to share a session with the RCIA group at the Catholic College on the campus at the University of Manitoba. The topic of “Vocations – A Way to Life,” served as an additional formation for me on the journey. Life continues to provide “on the job training” experiences for me and as difficult as it is in the moment, I appreciate the incredible support I have around me. As Batman learns in the Lego Batman movie, we were not created to do it alone.
I am looking forward to my visit to California this month. It is interesting – when I visited in November, we drove to Campbell for the Thanksgiving liturgy. This time, we will travel there again as we gather to give thanks to God for the life and gift of Sister Barbara Williams. I feel very blessed to be able to share in these special moments with our SNJM community.
As we greet one another on Valentine’s Day, let us remember the words of Mother Marie Rose, who invites us to “meet in the heart of Jesus” as it seems even more poignant on this day.
Note: Michelle Garlinski was received as a novice of the Sisters of the Holy Names in July 2015. During her first year living with Sisters at our Province’s welcome house in Berkeley, CA, she began sharing her journey through a series of "News from the Novice" letters. She is now spending her missionary novice year at St. Mary’s Academy in Winnipeg, Manitoba. To learn more about becoming a Sister and the SNJM formation process, please click here.
In the photo: The young adults' faith-sharing group in Winnipeg. (Sister Michelle is in front, at right).