POST ASSEMBLY NEWSLETTER
CLC CANADA


NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PARTICIPANTS ON A SUNNY SUNDAY MORNING AT ST. BENEDICT'S
DEAR CLC COLLEAGUES,

This issue of "Update" contains reflections and reports on our National Assembly. In it you will find reflections from
Michelle Mahoney, our President,
Peter Chouinard, the Assembly Process Guide,
Father Charles Pottie-Pate, national EA,
Julia Donahoe MacDougald, facilitator for the discernment on the National Evaluation document.

We begin this newsletter with a poetic context for the National Assembly.

Please note: In this issue all articles appear in the newsletter itself because they relate to national events and outreach. In subsequent issues, some articles will be accessed by a link rather than appear in the newsletter itself. You will be able to access them by clicking the link button.
MOVING BOLDLY FORWARD
rooted in Hebrews 4:16… “Go boldly before the throne of grace to receive…”
SANDY MUDGE
Today we bathe in gratitude of graces freely flowing,
For yesterday we boldly sought to quell an anxious growing
Of fear and negativity that paralyzed our being
Faithful servants of life and love…Empowering and freeing.
You called us forth to recollect our CLC identity,
And how to share that gift of self, that we may all be spiritually free.
You promised to be with us along life’s narrow way…
Spirit dwelling within and out, that we may find no cause to stray.
At times we fall and stumble, as memories fade and fail
To boldly seek intentional grace, ensuring life and love prevail.
Please, help us in these moments when evil rears its ugly head
And flaunts deceit before us, as, with paralyzing thoughts, we’re fed.
Help us to remember, then, that you are always there for us,
That we just need to boldly tap the flow of grace we’re called to trust.
Our hearts know so much better, yet, our heads can fail to see
We’re well equipped for mission since we carry your life eternally.
You’re all we’ll ever, ever need in response to any call
That bears your name and beckons forth the gifts we hold to share with all.
So, we bow before your faithfulness, your power and your story,
While going forth intentionally to serve your greater glory!
From the heart, AMDG…

Sandy Mudge,
Living Water/Fishers of People CLC,
Atlantic Region
THREE GRACES:
CATHERINE KELLY : Assembly Facilitator for Friday's reflections on the prayer exercises in small groups, using the three rounds, and Writing Team member.
ANN MARIE BRENNAN : World ExCo Vice-President, Steering Committee member for Global Catholic Climate Movement, CLC, U.S.A., Assembly presenter,
MICHELLE MAHONEY : CLC Canada National President
A LETTER FROM OUR PRESIDENT
National UPDATE November 2019

Ps 107:1 O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in CLC,

My heart is filled with gratitude for each of you and to God for this re-birthing process in CLC Canada through our communally discerned decisions of the National Assembly. At this point, we are savouring the graces of our written story (National Assembly Summary) and will soon begin the implementation phase of our National Evaluation discerned document.

Still nothing comes easily and the success of the National Assembly is really based on people coming forward to God with their loaves and fish. At the Assembly, I was able to acknowledge many of these but there was a core group that I was not able to thank publicly. This was, in part, because some of them were still working and not able to be present at our Sunday Morning Mass.
I am, of course speaking about the work of the National Assembly Organizing Committee who played a major role in the success of our Assembly. In particular, I would like to thank Ruth and Steve Chipman and their Transportation Team who ensured the coordination of everyone’s transportation to and from the Centre. I would also thank Pat McRae for her work in putting together the Welcome packages and to those who helped contribute to the contents, useful and ecologically sound treasures. Christine Butterill received all of our monies and showed great stewardship in the challenge of keeping track and ‘paying the bills’. Janet Ho and the Registration Team did a professional job in setting up the On-line Registration and provided much needed data for the Transportation, Financial, and Accommodation Teams. Mary Lou Gonzales from Central Region coordinated the Liturgy Team who provided us with rituals, environment and heavenly, inclusive music at our liturgies.

Last but not least, we send out a HUGE note of Gratitude to Howard Engel, the National Assembly Coordinator and Prairie Region Representative who filled many gaps in coordinating Hospitality, Accommodation and worked directly with St. Benedict’s over the past year behind the scenes and under personal duress. He was always the first to show up and the last to leave, not only at the Assembly but from the very beginning when he said ‘yes’ to being coordinator. It has been a challenge and I would like you all to join me in prayer for Howard and his family as he now focuses his attention on them and other responsibilities.
Both Howard and Mary Lou Gonzales stayed on as Regional Reps for the sake of our National Assembly beyond their terms. Susan Rodgers is now Regional Rep for Central Region and we welcome her on General Council. Please pray that someone will answer the call to Prairie Region Representative at this time in our CLC Story.

Continued and ongoing prayers for CLC Canada, each of you and your families,
Advent Blessings and Peace to all!

Michelle Mahoney

PS Please stay tuned for a Special Edition of the UPDATE in December when we will focus on our ongoing experiences and relationships with HAITI
A REFLECTION FROM THE ASSEMBLY PROCESS GUIDE
PETER CHOUINARD
Reflecting on my experience as Process Guide for our
Winnipeg National Assembly 2019

I was humbled at the invitation from our National President after GC made the discerned decision to invite me. I took some time, a lot actually, to consider if God was calling me in this invitation. After personal prayer and reflection, including seeking assistance in my discernment from my home CLC community, Earthen Vessel, I discerned that this was a stretching moment that God was calling me to and so, even with some hesitation, in my confirmation I felt that yes, I should say yes. That in itself was a blessed moment in my personal growth in ‘leaning into’ God.
Did I think I had all the gifts needed? Of course not but I knew that God wouldn’t abandon me if or when I needed help during the assembly. In the General Council SOP on Process Guide , it states; “The General Council will appoint 2 persons to work as a team supporting and consulting with the Process Guide for each day of the Assembly. GC went well above that.
 
I was supported and I shared the assembly movements with the Evaluation Working Group Team - Jane Abernethy Parker, Ruth Chipman, Leanne Salal and Fr. Trevor Scott. As well, with Julia Donahoe MacDougald, our gifted Assembly Evaluation Communal Discernment Facilitator and also the Writing Team – Mary Balfe, Leanne Salal and Catherine Kelly where there offering their wisdom and insight throughout the weekend.
 
As expected, there were movements toward acceptance of the National Evaluation document and some movements away. The Good Spirit was obviously present but the evil one was lurking about. Some hesitation and restlessness were present as the delegates processed what was shared.
 
The enemy can attack anywhere and anytime without warning. In fact, on Saturday the enemy attacked me. While we were off reflecting on the ‘amendments’ to be brought back to the Assembly, Julia noticed my face flushed and sensed that she should pray over me and she invited Ruth Chipman to join her in laying hands on me and praying for me. Within minutes, my blood pressure returned to normal. There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit released that pressure and assured my spirit I wouldn’t be abandoned.
 
Ignatius asserts that it whenever we are trying to advance in closeness to God and to hear God’s voice, the enemy attacks us at our weakest point, like a general about to attack an opposing army. (Ignatius’ Second week Rules for Discernment 327 # 14) For me, the weakest point is conflict. An old enemy that rears its ugly head every now and then. So the wisdom of GC to have a Process Guide SOP that appoints a support team to work with the Guide is critical.
 
Further help arrived during the actual process as discussion ensued around different models of communal discernment. Quickly two Elders jumped to the ready - Barb Peloso and Elaine Regan Nightingale followed by Fr. Charles Pottie-Pate who clarified the communal discernment model we were following. A real grace and sign of the Holy Spirit working through our wisdom leaders at the Assembly, supporting and helping the assembly to come to a balanced and wise listening. 

As I led the Sunday Morning Communal Awareness Examen, and the community listened to the graced awarenesses of Assembly Delegates and Observers, I was filled with gratitude for how the Holy Spirit worked within us all.
 
Can or should an Assembly Process Guide walk alone? Absolutely not. Without the support and encouragement of others the task would be frightening. Knowing the support is there is so freeing.
 
The comments captured by Leanne Salal (Thank you Leanne) as our Assembly Delegates and Observer’s voices spoke in popcorn style around the Assembly room are evidence of God’s grace in the Assembly. This was the Appropriation Round, the voice(s) through which God spoke, in the final chapter of the Assembly process for 2019. Watch for this when the Appropriation is uploaded to our CLC Canada Website.
 
It was an experience of growth and challenge for me and I have been encouraged by the favorable words and hugs I received from many of you for my efforts. May we each be ready to respond to wherever God’s calls take us, after proper discernment of course. As General Council begins the process of unpacking the Assembly and starts to consider the journey down this 5 year roadmap, may we all be open to discern well God’s calls forward for the Magis. Both communally, individually and as regions.
 
St. Ignatius, pray for us.
 
Blessings,
Peter Chouinard
Earthen Vessel CLC

A REFLECTION FROM FR. CHARLES POTTIE, NATIONAL EA
FATHER CHARLES
Dear CLC friends, 

      The images, sounds, and actions of our recent National Assembly in October at St. Benedict’s Retreat Centre are still swirling around in my imagination! I have been to other National Assemblies as well as to World Assemblies. But, to be honest, this one was a special experience for me. I came into the middle of its preparation, being asked to replace Fr. Trevor for this year as National EA (not an easy task to do, given Trevor’s gifts and tireless generosity for CLC Canada!).

     Working with the General Council and all the various teams from across Canada’s regions to collaborate and to make this once-in-five- years event a work of the Spirit was already for me a foretaste of what I sensed would happen in Winnipeg. My particular responsibilities were being part of the liturgy preparation and the transportation to and from the airport. But I was aware of how much effort was going on in the other dimensions of the Assembly – registration, finance, accommodations, hospitality, etc. So many gifts shared.

    And the unfolding of the Assembly didn’t disappoint me. The excitement of delegates arriving from across the country -some I knew already, others meeting for first time - and the creative opening ritual with each region’s presentation delighted my heart to be a part of this rich tapestry of committed followers of Christ Jesus. Each morning’s prayer ritual was so strengthening for the day ahead of us. And the experience of our small groups engaged in the three rounds of spiritual conversation was a learning experience but filled with much consolation. Even the anxiety of some around the “paralysis” exercise showed us how God’s Spirit was at work and we could even laugh after it – a sure sign of God’s action among us.

     The communal discernment process around the document of the National Evaluation Working Group – our National Priorities - was, for me, a highlight of the Assembly. I didn’t need convincing of the importance of this process, but I also knew there wasn’t anything automatic about it. It really had to be guided at every step and engaged in by everyone present to bring it to fruition. And it happened! thanks be to God by the work of the Spirit and our generous response to God’s grace. The mood of consolation was palpable at the end of the day and we were ready to celebrate which we did with music and dance…. But unfortunately no wine! (Next time we’ll make sure there is wine in abundance!)

      Our Eucharistic celebrations in that lovely chapel of the Benedictine Sisters can’t be forgotten. Somehow all our talk and activity are symbolized and gathered up in these faith-filled celebrations that speak of Mystery within us and around us.. The inclusion of some indigenous elements – the smudging ceremony, the procession with the drumming, the use of the Eagle feather to proclaim God’s word, and the drumming during the prayers – certainly added to the depth of these liturgies for me.

      And the final element that made me so grateful, and still does, is the writing team’s “story/narrative” of the unfolding of the assembly and the movements of God’s Spirit among us. Not an easy task to accomplish. But they did it and it will stand as a narrative to enrich us for the years ahead.

     Thank you to each and all for such a wonderful experience of God’s presence. May what God has begun in us come to completion in the years ahead! It was indeed a gift to be part of this wonderful event in our CLC Canada history.
 
   Your brother in Christ,
    Charles
A Reflection on our Communal Discernment Process by Julia Donahoe-MacDougald, facilitator for this process.
On arrival I was blessed with hospitality, love and community in a stance of trust and openness . I knew I was robed in the sending prayer by “Companions on the Way “, and we were all held in prayer. I also carried my faithful phrase given years ago “let the mystery unfold do not to take it on” . The process was all about seeking God’s will .As we named and modeled our paralysis on Friday and experienced being freed by the touch of love, I was being nudged to be open to the movement of the wayward spirit. Knowing I was journeying with the working group (Leanne, Jane and Ruth) and the process guide (Peter) as a team was very consoling.

There are too many graces and gifts to articulate from the Process and the entire Assembly, so I will try to fulfill the request to keep this short. We knew as a team the document was long but felt it was difficult to shorten and still honor the response from the CLC groups across Canada. In reflecting on the process prior to arrival, I felt the challenges of time and loss of focus could be concerns . The passion and generosity of participants was very evident as we listened to the response of “yes” with adaptations and a” no “and one abstention. As groups shared it was difficult to keep in balance the honoring of an equal time and voice for all ten groups because all quite naturally desired to tell their small group story. I also knew that ownership for that balance was not only mine as facilitator but the participants as well so I felt a healthy inner tension.
 
Counter movements towards desolation seemed to be evident in three main areas 1) with the expression of a deep passion around the ecology crisis, although good, it was taking precedent over the task at hand 2) there was expressed doubt around the question that was discerned and it’s formulation 3) the need for further clarity around intent and focus of the communal discernment.

The Assembly moved to consolation as the delegates took ownership of the question when they were asked if they wanted the communal discernment process to continue with same question knowing that the document would be adjusted and mindful of the suggested adaptations . This would mean flexing the schedules for rest of the day so the reworked document could be presented .An unanimous “yes” was expressed by a show of hands. I felt graced with deep gratitude, compassion and generosity by the delegates’ . Praise and thanks to God. Clarification was given that this discernment was NOT about changing CLC Canada’s mission statement and the apostolic mission thrust but looking at our structure and the ways we function/operate. It was so comforting to see the heightened sensitivity and awareness surrounding the tiredness of the delegates by the National Working Group. Everyone needed a light comforting song with physical stretches before the body and mind were ready for reengagement. The revised document was unanimously accepted with a few additional tweaks .I can’t describe my interior movement but to say the birthing happened in deep mystery-filled joy by the grace of God and a faithful community . We then moved into taking this tentative decision into confirmation by moving into silence and prayer with reflection questions (I forgot to read the scripture, but I have forgiven myself). It was unanimously accepted . Time now to celebrate the fidelity of God, and the gift of discernment and to realize we need to continue to be more formed in this area. I felt deep hope as I left the Assembly by the eagerness that the participants desired to be involved in the implementation process and not leave it on the shoulders of General Council. Thanks be to God for this privilege and for my friends that had faith in me when I doubted.

Julia Donahoe MacDougald
ABOVE: THE NATIONAL EVALUATION WORKING GROUP, L>R: JULIA DONAHOE MACDOUGALD, LEANNE SALAL, JANE ABERNETHY-PARKER, RUTH CHIPMAN (absent: FR. TREVOR SCOTT)
AN END NOTE
Joseph Beuys, 1921 – 1986, was a pioneer of conceptual and ecological art. His spiritually important insight was that every one of us was an artist, and this belief could unlock the unique creativity of each human being. This creativity, in turn, would lead to actions for the greater communal good. He named this artistic sensibility and its resultant actions “Social Sculpture”. This insight can be expanded to include all of Earth’s life; so, a forest with its plant and animal inhabitants constitutes a Social Sculpture.

At our National Assembly we were asked to reflect on the kinds of thoughts and emotions that lead us to paralysis; a desolation that prevents us from choosing the greater good. We shared our reflections within our small groups and then each group was asked to create a living social sculpture which represented or symbolized our paralyses. The result was a powerful, communal symbol of desolation, made concrete because it was embodied. In the group of Assembly images below, there is one image of this Social Sculpture of desolation. More will be included in the coming slide show. But there can be ones of consolation, too, filled with beauty, grace, and the love of God. Is this not also the forest? The mountain? The ocean? What a gift this Spiritual Exercise is to our CLC communities!
SOME ASSEMBLY IMAGES
JUDITH DE WITT LED THE SINGING WITH HER BEAUTIFUL VOICE.
LINDA ADAMS, OUR ASSEMBLY MODERATOR, KEPT US ON SCHEDULE WITH GRACE AND WIT.
GRAYDON NICHOLAS REFLECTED ON THE SPIRITUAL IMPORTANCE OF THE NATIONAL CLC EAGLE FEATHER.
A LIVING SCULPTURE OF THE PARALYSIS THAT PREVENTS ACTION FOR THE GREATER GOOD.
HOWARD R. ENGEL, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COORDINATOR
FATHER ERIK OLAND, CANADIAN JESUIT PROVICIAL, TEACHING US A SACRED SONG OF HIS OWN COMPOSITION!
THE ABOVE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE MANY KEY IMAGES FROM THE ASSEMBLY. IN LATE DECEMBER, A LINK TO A DETAILED SLIDE SHOW OF THE ASSEMBLY WILL BE POSTED ON OUR WEBSITE, IN ADDITION TO A LINK TO ANN MARIE BRENNAN'S SLIDE SHOW PRESENTATION FOR OUR ASSEMBLY.