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
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.
After Teachers 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 LArche Community in France.
Her heart was moved and about the person of Vanier she says,
"This man radiated Gods presence."
A short time later, she attended Vaniers 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 LArche 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 LArche.
"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
During her 31 years with LArche, Sr. Sue has lived
with the men and women with disabilities and served as Community
Leader and International Coordinator of LArche. 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 Gods spirit
calls us to walk together, learn to forgive, and experience
the Kingdom of God on earth."
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