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News from the Novice: An Autumn Update from Sister Michelle in Winnipeg

By Michelle Garlinski, SNJM

Hello from warm Winnipeg! It is hard to believe that lately there was only a 2-degree difference in temperature between here and Berkeley. Thank you, God! Flip flops in November in Winnipeg? Definitely global warming! Otherwise, it looks like fall has settled with the trees bare of their leaves and harvest moons. October was also the beginning of my favorite season – turkey and pumpkin! With Canadian Thanksgiving and Sister Cathy’s family visiting from Australia, I had opportunities to perfect the turkey on three different occasions. I am delighted to be in California for U.S. Thanksgiving as it extends the season!

Life in the condo remains quiet while Sister Cathy is gone; she continues to receive medical care and build up her strength. In the meantime, I have tried to “share” the space in the condo by initiating a regular gathering of young adults. Our group is approximately nine women, ages 18-32, who are interested in community, faith and service. At each gathering we rotate the focus between faith-sharing and a common service experience. It is a nice mixture of St. Mary’s Academy alumnae, staff and others connected to SNJM in some way.

The Charism and Mission Office at the academy is unfolding as the timeline to roll out our five-year plan becomes more concrete. We celebrated Mother Marie Rose week in fun and engaging ways Oct. 3-7, including our launch of prayer pals, a basic session on Mother Marie Rose and our SNJM story in 10 of 22 homerooms, and “following” her on social media. I’m experimenting with a new initiative that I call “charism corner.” It’s a weekly piece of information about our charism that is connected to the students’ lives today. Preparing these has also benefited me, as it has helped deepen my understanding of our charism and how to articulate it to our school community.

I am appreciating my ongoing formation, focusing on the General Chapter Acts via regular phone conversations with Sister Beth. I look forward to her visit in mid-November. I meet weekly with Sister Carmen, who lives nearby, for a meal and prayer. I’ve also been invited by Kateri House in Toppenish, WA, to join them in evening prayer by phone when my schedule allows.

My service experiences continue at two ministries that serve the economically poor. I have also had my official tour and meeting at the Jesuit Gonzaga Middle School (similar to Nativity Schools) and I will begin Nov. 30. I get frustrated sometimes because it is difficult to keep the regular commitments at these agencies given the evolving nature of the new charism office at the academy. What a difference from my canonical year! However, I am confident that a regular rhythm will emerge. In the midst of all of this, I am still finding time to play! Spending time with family and friends proves to be good for the soul, too.

As I follow the news of the presidential election, be assured that the U.S. is in my prayers. This is a very anxious time for your country and we stand with you in prayer and hope. God is always faithful.

I look forward to my visit to Northern California later in November and a blessed Thanksgiving with community, family and friends.

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 spending in 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: An autumn scene in a Winnipeg neighborhood.