Dear CLC colleagues, in this newsletter you will find

  • an Advent - Christmas reflection by Father Charles Pottie, our national EA,
  • two articles on our collaboration and outreach to Haiti CVX, by Gilles Michaud and Mary Balfe, respectively,
  • information from Michelle Mahoney on donations for our Haiti initiatives,
  • an Advent context for our Haiti initiatives.

Each new liturgical year begins with the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season. But each year is a different moment of our history – of our world, our community, our family, our own personal life. The joys, struggles, pains, successes, failures, loss of loved ones and special graces are what we bring to this “new year”.

    Recently I was deeply struck by this image of the “Holy Family” which captured for me a new awareness of what this season means this year for me.
It symbolizes much of the divisions, the injustices, the violence in our world today. Yet… does not our Advent longing for God’s reign of peace, justice, love and freedom end in a glimpse of how God breaks through our darknesses – in the birth of a child who gives us the promise of new life, new joy. He has come once into our world in hiddenness and simplicity. As we celebrate this Birth of the Saviour – Good news and joy for the whole world – this year, we can continue to hope and long for a better world because GOD IS WITH US… CLC Canada has experienced this God-with-us in our National Assembly, in the visit to Haiti with our brothers and sisters there, in the many graced moments we all know and have shared with each other.

  May the One who has come to bring us true peace, justice, love and joy fill us and our world with hope to accomplish what there is yet to do….

   Blessings of this season of Light and Love,
   Your brother in Christ,

Here’s a lovely poem of Robert Southwell, SJ (1561-1595)

BEHOLD a silly tender Babe, In freezing winter night, In homely manger trembling lies Alas! a piteous sight.
The inns are full, no man will yield This little Pilgrim bed; But forced He is with silly beasts In crib to shroud His head.
Despise Him not for lying there, First what He is inquire; An orient pearl is often found In depth of dirty mire.
Weigh not His crib, His wooden dish, Nor beasts that by Him feed; Weigh not His mother's poor attire, Nor Joseph's simple weed.
This stable is a prince's court, This crib His chair of state; The beasts are parcel of His pomp, The wooden dish His plate.
With joy approach, O Christian Wight! Do homage to thy King; And highly praise this humble pomp
Which He from heaven doth bring.
A Collaboration CLC Adventure:
Haiti, French Canada, English Canada
Some History:
The CVX Haiti mission project began in February 2017, when CLC Haiti sent a request to the World CLC ExCo requesting membership as a national body in the World Community. Consequently, the World CLC ExCo sent a request to both the CVX and CLC Canada inviting them to discern the possibility of Godparenting the emerging CLC in Haiti. The options presented were for either CVX or CLC Canada to take on the role separately or both join together as a collaborative endeavour. CVX and CLC Canada’s discernment led them to accept the call to accompany and assist CVX Haiti in their CLC formation as they journeyed towards full membership in CLC at the World Assembly in 2023.
After some months of developing a formation process geared to the needs of CVX Haiti, Dominique Cyr from CVX Canada and Gilles Michaud from CLC Canada travelled to Haiti in October 2019 for 12 days. From Wednesday evening, October 16 to Sunday, October 20, 2019 at noon, 7 members of CLC Haiti received an initiation into the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Community (Ann 19). In a country that lacks many resources, this goal of introducing the Spiritual Exercises in a communal manner is an essential component in helping members to discern their vocational call to the CLC way of life.

Haiti has been a country in political and economic crisis for some months. The October retreat was first scheduled to be held in March 2019, but was postponed due to the socio-political crisis. Not only were state institutions such as the Canadian Embassy in Haiti closed, there were very few flights to and from Haiti. The conditions in October remained tentative but, finally, the decision was made to carry on with our revised plans despite some risks.
CLC in Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince is composed of a "senior" community and a "junior" community. The terms senior and junior are not intended as an ‘age’ category but rather an indication of the length of ‘time’ in Ignatian formation category. With the advice of Sr. Nadia and the EA, Fr. Jean Bertin sj, 10 CLC Haiti members were invited to attend the Retreat/Workshop (R/W). Unfortunately, due to the mounting violence in the streets, along with the many barriers being put up throughout the city in PAP, only seven of the ten members were able to make their way to the Centre to participate in the retreat.

As resource material for the R/W, we used a book, developed by the Ignatian Center in Montreal, based on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Community (ISE). The publication includes 30 prayer exercise units translated into French. On our arrival at the retreat centre, we spend 1½ days with Sr Nadia and Fr. Jean-Bertin finalizing the program. We sense that this teamwork proved to be very beneficial in strengthening our relational and collaboration efforts, as well as being a relevant and fruitful building block for our on-going association with CLC in Port-au-Prince.
The Process:
We began the retreat by giving the retreatants a spiritual exercise based on the anthropological aspect of life by meditating on the sense of "seeing". This was followed by a time of meditation on the "Principle and Foundation" and subsequently, the five units on the 1 st week graces of the ISE. During the retreat days the process unfolded in the following manner; each prayer unit was reviewed emphasizing the theme and grace. The retreatants went off for personal time meditating on the theme. After that, time was given for a one-on-one spiritual direction. Then the retreatant came together in 2 groups to share their prayer experience. Sr Nadia and Gilles guided one group while Dominique and Fr. Jean Bertin guided the other group. The group sharing was done in the usual CLC manner of using the 1st and 2nd round. The retreat program ended with a meditation on “The Call of Christ Our King”.

In addition to this introduction to ISE, three other formation sessions/presentations were given on: the 1st and 2 nd Rounds of community sharing, the Daily Awareness Exercise and the Life-Death-Resurrection cycle
At the closing Eucharistic celebration, the retreatants each made a commitment to continue the ISE in the coming year. The process ended with a ‘sending’ blessing for the seven CLC members.
The retreatants will continue their journey in this coming year, using the material in the book that each were given for their daily prayer. As well, they will also begin with a 4 week prayer exercise based on the anthropological aspect of the exercises. These particular exercises were created by the Spirituality Center Manrèse in Quebec City. The retreatants will meet bi-monthly with the guidance Sr Nadia, Fr. Jean- Bertin and two other Jesuits. It is anticipated that they will complete the Communal Spiritual Exercises in one year.

Dominique, Gilles, Sr. Nadia and Fr. Jean-Bertin, were deeply touched by the sharing of the seven retreatants. We were able to see that the participants were able to "open their hearts with great generosity” as Ignatius suggests as one of the virtues necessary to be open to God’s deepening love. We could say that they were deeply moved by the Holy Spirit as they (2 women and 5 men) experienced the graces in each of the units. We noticed that the retreatants became more and more at ease in their meditation thus deepening God's merciful and infinite love for him/ her by making concrete connections with his/her daily life.
On Sunday afternoon, six members from the ‘junior’ group (3 women, 3 men), including 3 retreatants who stayed on after the retreat gathered to meet with us. This event allowed us to hear their grace history. One could see and hear that there was much energy as they articulated their desire to continue their CLC journey.

On the following Thursday, we met with members of the ‘senior’ group, including 4 of the retreatants. At this gathering, we heard the story of how CLC in Haiti started during the 2004-9 period with the help of Denis and Eleonore Tchuente and the progress that continued with the help of others up to the present time. It was for us a moment of reliving the insight of St. Igantius; “what has Christ done for us, what is Christ doing for us, and what is Christ asking of us”. What was Christ asking them to do now was clearly expressed in their desire to continue the CLC journey by taking on the Spiritual Exercises in community.

After the R/W, we had originally planned to go to Ouanaminthe, which is situated in the north-east of Haiti. Unfortunately, because of the present socio-political crisis along with all the roadblocks in many parts of Haiti, we were not able to fly to Cap-Haitien and then on to Ouanaminthe. We were all very disappointed in this turn of events, particularly Sr. Françoise who accompanies the 25-30 people in Ouanaminthe who continue to express a great interest in the CLC way of life.
The Haiti mission project has been and continues to be a privilege and gift to us in CLC Canada. It is a confirmation that God works in wonderful and sometime surprising ways. The decision taken on by CVX/CLC Canada to support and assist CLC Haiti has revealed to us that we are truly answering God’s call. Without the generosity of our National Community members this project could not have taken place. It is truly an example of living out the DSSE in community.

To continue our mission with CVX Haiti we are asking, once again, for your support as Godparents. Prayers are very important as a sign of your solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Haiti. But, just as important, we are asking you to ponder donating financially, if you can, in the on-going development of CVX Haiti.
Submitted by,
Gilles Michaud in collaboration
 With Dominique Cyr
CVX French Canada   
Advent 2019 with Dreams of Raspberry Pi
Advent Proclaims a light will come in the darkness……

The Raspberry Pi Pilot Project will begin February 2010 in Port au Prince with continued gracious help of the Spirit and collaboration with our partners.
Central Region discerned a trembling “YES” to a recommendation made by 2 Elder members: Peter Peloso and Peter Nightingale following the Haitian earthquake that shook the world January 2010.

Mentored by Fr. J. P. Horrigan S.J. our Central members have made annual insertion trips to Hispaniola at their expense, to build relationships with a budding CVX in Port au Prince, to experience the culture and to dream with our Haitian brothers and sisters a future of hope. On the way our relationships with CVX Canada and CVX Haiti grew as we experienced insertion trips together with warm and generous hospitality from CVX Cameroon mentors living in Port au Prince at the time; Denis and Eleannore Tchuente now live in Montreal.

Today, standing in the shoes of young Haitians is daunting as cyclical, corrupt political crisis overcomes the citizens and their livelyhood all too frequently. Schools and universities close along with businesses, banks, hospitals and grocery stores while the shortage of water and food impacts the most vulnerable. It is not uncommon to see armed residents and police along roads with tires burning. This “news” is not generally transmitted on CBC networks but we often rely on our collaboration with the Jesuit network in Haiti/Canada to keep us informed.  How would Central bring light and hope in this darkness?
Central Region made a huge leap of faith April 2019 discerning their focus for the next 3 years as integral ecology. It was within this faith filled atmosphere that Kuruvila Zachariah , a retired university professor birthed the Raspberry Pi Project with resounding and unanimous Central member support. With Central Council/ Exco leadership, Central’s Haiti Working Group would offer a rare opportunity to share advanced computer technology that is used widely in poor countries.

The computer does not use costly Google or Microsoft programs but rather one called LINUX. This credit card sized computer can be hooked up to a regular monitor and keyboard and if needed powered by a car battery! And the best part is that CVX students will have 6 kits, each consisting of a state of the art computer with a micro SD card, Open Office Suite, monitor, and keyboard/mouse, to launch them into the Age of Automation! The cost of these kits has been covered. A key advantage of these kits is that the students who use them can acquire Linux operating system skills and programming language skills.

Kuruvila has worked tirelessly completing a series of tutorials that will be translated by the committed CVX computer enthusiasts as necessary. The students will have the freedom to explore and learn skills of automation independently and will meet with Kuruvila through scheduled ZOOM meetings for encouragement and problem solving. This pilot project deserves thorough and careful management in its execution and evaluation, in preparation for the next steps, as the Spirit leads. 

There have been several ZOOM meetings since April 2019, listening to one another with translation, adjusting the dream to practical terms with flexibility, generosity and patience as the Spirit led us to envision the way forward. The Working Group have been faithful servants: Kuruvila Zachariah, Fr. J. P Horrigan, Denis and Eleannore Tchuente, Sr. Nadia Gbaguida and Fr. Jean Bertin S.J. (CVX Haiti’s new E.A.) and Mary Balfe. Recently 3 potential students joined the call with tangible excitement!

Please pray for this lifegiving movement of the Spirit, stirring hope and joy with vision for a future that only dreamers can imagine!
Mary Balfe for Central’s Haiti Working Group
I had a meeting with Mary Balfe and Gilles Michaud in November about our God Parenting Haiti Initiatives and was asked to write about a fundraising possibility for CVX Haiti. As you are aware, Mary mentioned at our National Assembly that the Jesuits in Haiti will be offering a One Year Certificate Educational program. This could be a wonderful opportunity for members of CVX since it would enhance their leadership skills. The cost for one person is $1,020.00 USD. We hope to sponsor 2 CVX Haiti members. At the moment we have enough in our CVX Haiti account to sponsor one member. We will ask CVX Canada if they could provide funds for the other CVX member. We feel that it would be much better for 2 rather than one to go as they would be supportive of one another in their studies. In addition to this we are planning to send Dominique Cyr and Gilles Michaud to do further CLC formation in Oct 2020. This would provide follow up and additional formation for members of CVX Haiti as they prepare for acceptance into the World CLC at the Assembly in 2023.

I know that there are many things to do and think about before Christmas. Your financial contributions would be a great gift for CVX Haiti especially at this time of year. In that way we can continue in fulfilling our responsibilities as God Parenting CVX Haiti.
I thank you for your generosity and prayers.

 I wish each of you and your families the Peace and Joy that the Christ child brings to our world. God, in Infinite Goodness, became one of us so that we might be free.
May we Deepen, Share and Go forth in that Freedom!
The Magi offer us a wonderful symbol of...religious hope. As the Church moves through the weeks of Advent preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we can think of the Magi as having already been on the road for some time. They are on the way, over the horizon, and they will eventually join us at Bethlehem. They are travelling in hope.

Influenced by Jürgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope (1967), and inspiring the various theologies of liberation, the idea of hope has moved from a former attitude of sitting patiently, while waiting for God to improve things or to remedy some situation for us. Now God is viewed not as sorting things out for us, but as doing it through us. Hope has become an active, transformative, driving force, which encourages believers to cooperate, and spurs them to work with God now in achieving an improvement in difficult situations.

At the Epiphany I always like to think of the Magi from the East adoring the infant Jesus at the crib in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:11) as representing the best of human wisdom worshipping at the feet of the incarnate God of all. That is why, before their arrival, the Magi, travelling forward in uncertainty yet strong in hope, make wonderful patron saints of Christian hope for us, particularly in Advent, as we look forward to, and devote ourselves to working for, the growth of God’s presence in our lives, our activities and our world.

An exerpt from  Glimpses of the Gospels- Theological, Spiritual and Practical Reflections  by Jack Mahoney SJ, posted on the Sacred Space website.
(pp: 80-82)