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Meet a Sister

"My life-journey has been one of relationships with wonderful and amazing people, some of whom were disabled, and all of whom shaped my growth and transformation."

Sister Sue Mosteller CSJ

First contact

Sr. Sue and Thelus George

Sr. Sue and Thelus George

In eighth grade, Sister Sue Mosteller was sent from Akron, Ohio to boarding school with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Toronto, because, she explains, "My mother was a Canadian." Coming into the Catholic environment as an Episcopalian, she found the adjustment needed time. But she was won over by the welcome and kindness of her teachers:

"The one thing that was so amazing was the Sisters’ openness to me and to my needs. Their spirit of life and vitality drew me into the centre of life where I soon began to thrive."

By the time she finished high school, she knew she wanted to become a Sister. She entered the order.

Seeds

After Teacher’s College and teaching in Barrie, northern British Columbia and Toronto, Sr. Sue attended university to complete her BA in 1967. A friend took her to a lecture by Jean Vanier, Founder of the L’Arche Community in France. Her heart was moved and about the person of Vanier she says, "This man radiated God’s presence."

Turning point

A short time later, she attended Vanier’s seven-day retreat at Mary Lake with her close friend Sister Marie Paradis. There, Jean Vanier asked Sister Marie Paradis to help organize an international pilgrimage to Lourdes in France for people with disabilities, their families, and other young people. When Sister Marie asked her for help, Sister Sue declared that she was "absolutely not interested in either pilgrimages or handicapped people." But after shared prayer, she heard herself committing to help Sr. Marie. Of that experience of organizing for the North Americans, she says,

"We knew nothing about organizing a big trip . We had not a penny. It was so impossible. Then, things just began to fall into place. I learned to live with miracles."

Support, money and help flowed. The local L’Arche community of Daybreak agreed to come along. The two sisters chartered two and a half planes and went to Lourdes with 500 people from Canada and the U.S.

"In Lourdes, our group joined the 12,000 others from 14 countries. The entire experience had a powerful effect on every one of us. I felt deeply affirmed. I also felt strengthened to risk more of myself to work with others whose needs had previously intimidated me. This was a turning point in the story of my vocation."

A new direction

When Sister Sue returned, she asked to live and do ministry in the Daybreak community. This was a highly unusual request in 1972 because sisters lived in convents and not in mixed communities. Her Superior affirmed her ‘call’ and she became part of L’Arche.

"It was an adjustment, yes, but totally compatible with our charism and it was a gift for me to live there. My early experience living in community with the Sisters taught me much that I could later contribute to the building up of this new lay community of friends. So I also brought a gift to L’Arche."

During her 31 years with L’Arche, Sr. Sue has lived with the men and women with disabilities and served as Community Leader and International Coordinator of L’Arche. She worked with Henri Nouwin for the ten years he was at Daybreak, and was his literary executrix when he died. She published two books: My Brother My Sister and Body Broken, Body Blessed.

Of her life to date she says, "My life-journey has been one of relationships with wonderful and amazing people, some of whom were disabled, and all of whom shaped my growth and transformation. They have been my teachers, helping me to understand that love is possible, and that God’s spirit calls us to walk together, learn to forgive, and experience the Kingdom of God on earth."

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This page was last modified on Friday, July 7, 2006.
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