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Ferris, Sister Margaret

  • Person
  • May 25, 1931-November 12, 2017

Born Mary Margaret Ferris in London in 1931, Sister Margaret Ferris was a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who has spent much of her life furthering her education and ministry. In particular, she has been a reformer and innovator of prayer, community involvement, and spiritual direction at the Congregation. She also published a book titled Compassioning: Basic Counselling Skills for Christian Caregivers in 1993, and various articles pertaining to spiritual direction and community living and involvement.

Sister Margaret Ferris was involved in her local parish at an early age and was especially encouraged in her faith by her grandmother, who lived with the Ferris family. At a young age she began to consider entering religious life. She completed upper school at St. Angela’s College in 1950 and graduated in the first class to ever graduate from Catholic Central High School in 1951. At age twenty-two, after working as a legal secretary, she joined the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. After the completion of her novitiate, she attended the University of Western Ontario where she completed her B.A. in 1959, and Master’s degree in Education in 1977. In 1959, she began her teaching career as a high school teacher.

She continued to advance in her career in the 1960s. She became vice-principal of St. Patrick’s High School in Sarnia in 1963, and then principal of Mount St. Joseph Academy in 1966. During the 1960s, she continued to further her own education. She studied during the summer months at the University of Notre Dame. There she received a Master’s degree in Science in 1968. She also became a leader of spiritual renewal at the Congregation, which resulted in a strengthening of her own prayer life.

In 1972, she resigned as principal of Mount St. Joseph Academy, and with three other Sisters, established Internos, a home for troubled teenage girls, who experienced family difficulties or substance abuse. Her ministry evolved as she became exposed to, and involved in family and community life. In 1977, she became Director of the Congregation’s Medaille Retreat House. During this time, she was also completing her Master’s degree in Counselling at the University of Western Ontario part-time. During this time, she continued to broaden her experience and understanding of spiritual direction and contemplative spirituality.

In 1978, she was elected to the Congregation’s General Council while still maintaining her position at the Retreat House where she worked alongside individuals of other Christian denominations. In 1984, she studied for a year at the Institute for Creation-Centred Spirituality in California where she obtained a Master’s degree in Spirituality and Culture. She marks this as the richest experience of community in her life, which strengthened and broadened her own spiritual understanding and life.

When she returned to London in 1985, she was asked to join St. Peter’s Seminary as a faculty member in the positions of teacher, counsellor, and Formation Director for Lay Ministry. This was another fulfilling experience for Sister Margaret Ferris as she was able to influence the development of the Church and to give empowerment/influence to the laity. She held this position for over ten years. In 1992 she obtained her Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Direction at the Graduate Theological Foundation, and in 2007 she received an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from the same institution.

Sister Margaret Ferris also dedicated a portion of her life to travelling. From 1959-1963, she made various trips around Ontario and northern U.S.A. In 1981, she travelled to Peru and Florida. In 1990, she and other Sisters visited Rome where she also met Pope John Paul II and received a rosary from him. In 2003, she made a pilgrimage to Le Puy, France, from where the Sisters of St. Joseph originally came. In 2004, she was honoured as one of the seven Golden Jubilarians in the Congregation.

Gagner, Sister Eveline

  • Person
  • 1917-2020

Sister Eveline Gagner was born in Chatham, Ontario on July 3, 1917. She was one of five children born to Dieudonne Gagner of Tilbury, Ontario and Marie Helene Caron of Dover Township, Kent County, Ontario. Her sister, Viola Marie Blanche, also entered the Congregation, and was given the religious name Yvonne.

Sister Eveline received her B.A. from Assumption University, Windsor in 1963, and her M.A. in Theology from the University of Windsor in 1972. She received a diploma from Lumen Vitae in Brussels. Following this, she received the Attestation d’Etudes: Recherche en Catéchèse from the University of Montreal in 1967. Three years later, in 1970, she received her Attestation d’Etudes: Perfectionnement en Religion from the University of Sherbrooke. Sister Eveline attended the EXODUS program in St. Louis Missouri, during a sabbatical period in 1988.

As well as her academic training, Sister Eveline holds her permanent teaching certificates for French and English. She taught from 1939 to 1979 in separate schools in Ontario, in London, Windsor, Belle River and Sarnia, and held positions as principal as well during this time. From 1969 to 1973, she served as the religion consultant for the Roman Catholic Separate School Board in Windsor, Ontario. From 1979 to 1982 Sister Eveline worked in the field of adult faith education as a catechist in the Stratford Deanery, followed by pastoral ministry at St. Andrew’s Parish in London from 1982 to 1988. Sister Eveline served as a volunteer in various capacities, including as a hospital visitor and ministering to the poor.

Hartleib, Sister Mary Anthony

  • Person
  • February 10, 1924- June 23, 2008

Sister Mary Anthony Hartleib (nee Mary Anne Lenore) was born in Stratford, Ontario on February 10, 1924. She was the daughter of Charles Henry Hartleib and Loretta Durand. Her stepmother was Mary Hartleib of Waterloo, Ontario. Mary Anne Lenore Hartleib joined the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of London, Ontario and received the habit on July 2, 1965. She made her first vows on July 2, 1966 and her final vows on May 30, 1971 in the Chapel at Mount St. Joseph. She was given the religious name Sister Mary Anthony. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in art and theology at the University of Windsor in 1969, and then studied at Althouse College in London, Ontario. Sister Mary Anthony received a permanent teaching certificate in 1972, a supervisor’s certificate in art, and a teaching certificate in art and English. From 1970 until 1981, she supervised the art department at Mount St. Joseph Academy in London. She was appointed assistant bursar at Mount St. Joseph, but continued with art and the teaching of ceramics until 1985 when her art work took a new turn. Always interested in the spiritual, Sister Mary Anthony turned to iconography. She spent two years studying Chinese water colour painting, followed by three years of iconography. She was a scholar, a skilled teacher of art, and a passionate advocate of the way icons open the mystery of the sacred. Sister Mary Anthony became well known as an iconographer and maintained a studio in the Sisters’ residence after Mount St. Joseph Academy closed. For several years, she shared her knowledge of iconography with the seminarians at St. Peter’s Seminary in London. The community of the Sisters of St. Joseph moved to 485 Windermere Road in 2007, where Sister Mary Anthony occupied her own art studio. Three of her icons, including that of the Blessed Trinity, were placed in the Chapel at the new residence. After a very short illness, Sister Mary Anthony died in the care centre at the Sisters’ Residence on June 23, 2008. Her funeral Mass of Resurrection was celebrated in St. Joseph Chapel in the residence at 485 Windermere Road. Father Frank O’Connor of St. Peter’s Seminary was the main celebrant. Sister Mary Anthony was buried in St. Peter’s cemetery in London.