On June 2, 2018, the Healing Violence Committee commemorated 20 years of work guided by their mandate. We gathered in McKinley Hall at Providence Motherhouse with invited guests to mark the occasion. Sister Sandra Shannon set the tone of the celebration with her welcome to all. Providence Associate Barbara Baker led a prayer ritual in which we welcomed the four elemental forces of earth, air, fire and water into our midst. I gave the historical background to the formation of this committee in 1998. Sister Margo Shafer and Associate Carol Groten offered a PowerPoint presentation of the conferences and workshops we have hosted since that time.
Participants shared memories of their experiences at the various events. All present were invited to make a commitment describing how they would continue to heal violence in their own way. The remainder of the time was spent toasting and celebrating with food and drink while participants browsed through a display of materials prepared by Sister Marie Dundon. It was a fitting way to celebrate the work that we had accomplished over the past 20 years. –Sister Frances O’Brien, member of the healing violence committee.
Following are some reflections submitted by members of the committee.
For 20 years it has been a rewarding experience to serve on this committee. We were inspired and guided by our mandate which was read together at every meeting. Personally I learned so much about the various issues of violence that we addressed through our conferences and workshops. Our networking with other social agencies was a rich experience for all. The opportunity to take our workshops ‘on the road’ to schools, Catholic Women’s League (CWL) meetings, and parishes presented us with opportunities to do education for transformation. I am proud of our work and grateful to all who contributed to our Mission in any way. –Sister Frances O’Brien
Over the number of years that I have been a member of the committee I have valued the awareness that each Conference and workshop has brought to me personally, and to the Sisters and other participants, of how serious a problem it is in society. The networking with other agencies and individuals as well as the speakers we have engaged has been a wonderful experience and source of connection to be able to refer people to when asked. It has been amazing how the committee has been able to work so diligently and passionately to be available not only for the planning, but to offer what we have to assist the parishes, and how people have responded who attended. It was certainly evident in the comments at the 20th Anniversary celebration and should be a source of satisfaction for how we have reached out. –Sister Catherine Casey
I am impressed that the Sisters took the initiative and that this important work will continue through bursaries. –Friar Ed Debono
I became a member of the Healing Violence Committee in 2005 after attending a training session on Human Trafficking sponsored by the Canadian Religious Conference. As a member of the committee I was privileged to take an abbreviated form of the training session to church groups, CWL groups and high schools in the area. To hear the remarks from parishioners and students about their growing awareness and understanding of this form of slavery in our time was heart-warming. Because of this experience I remained on the committee promoting awareness of many forms of violence in society including child sexual abuse in the Church. It was very rewarding and empowering work. –Associate Barbara Baker
It is life-giving to work with a group of people who have the same passion to first study and educate themselves on different aspects of violence such as abuse, gender violence, trafficking, clergy sexual abuse, etc. and to network with other agencies to provide conferences and workshops to raise awareness on the issues of violence, promote healing and also inspire others to carry forward the commitment to continue this work. I am delighted that the Congregation is going to continue the bursary which provides educational opportunities and counselling opportunities for victims to continue their healing journey and create a healthier life for themselves. — Sister Margo Shafer
During Chapter preparations in 1993, my personal conviction was that the topic of violence and its consequences was one of the needs to be explored. For seventeen years it has been my privilege to have worked with committee members in this healing ministry. –Sister Marie Dundon
Pictured: The final year committee members were (from left): Sister Marie Dundon, Sister Catherine Casey, Providence Associate Carol Groten, Providence Associate Barbara Baker, Sister Margo Shafer, Friar Ed Debono, and Sister Frances O’Brien with Sister Dianne McNamara.