Sisters of the Presentation of Mary say farewell to Discernment House

The Sisters of the Presentation of Mary welcomed visitors to Discernment House Oct. 5 for a come-and-go tea to say goodbye to the well-loved building (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

For decades the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary have opened their doors at Discernment House in Saskatoon, sharing their life, their charism, and their home with young women, offering retreats, and welcoming friends and visitors.

That Discernment House hospitality was very evident during a come-and-go tea Oct. 5, 2019, held as a way for friends to join in bidding farewell to the well-loved building on University Drive, which has been sold with a possession date at the end of the month.

Friends and supporters gathered to share memories, to take a last look around, to enjoy many treats, and to hear the plans of the Sisters in the days ahead – which include keeping a presence in Saskatoon at a new, smaller home in the Willowgrove area.

Many items from Discernment House are also being prepared for an online auction – including such things as interior doors, etc. The online auction will begin Oct. 12.

Sr. Lise Paquette, PM, (left) with some of the earliest Discernment House live-in participants, left to right: Sr. Reanne Letourneau, PM (1989), Crystal Hampson (1988-89); and Sr. Evelyne Nedelec (1987-88).

“This has all been good – very good,” said Sr. Lise Paquette, PM, reflecting on the impact of Discernment House on the lives of many young women, retreat participants (both men and women), and their families. “But we had to do this before it becomes too difficult.”

A handout provided to visitors at the Saturday afternoon tea related how in 1968, the Sisters of the Presentation found “a roomy, solidly-built place, very well situated with a character of simplicity and of poverty which is good to find in a religious house.” The occasion for the observation was the blessing of the congregation’s two houses, located side-by-side in the Nutana neighbourhood of Saskatoon: one serving as a residence for Sisters taking university classes, the other for the religious formation of their newest members.

The two houses had a similar size and style and were joined together into one connected building in the summer of 1969. In 1972, one side became a residence for female university students, and in 1980, vocational retreats started at the Saskatoon house.

In 1986, the Sisters were preparing for a General Chapter, in the midst of a focus on “the awakening of vocations.”

In response, the Sisters of the Presentation decided to convert their formation house into what became known as Discernment House. It became a residence for young women to share community and prayer life with the Sisters, a place to discern their baptismal call.

Popular weekend retreats continued to be offered a few times each year until 2019, which along with the live-in program, has helped to form men and women for the Church and for the world, impacting thousands of young women and men.

At a prayer service during the Oct. 5 event, the sisters and their guests prayed for vision, wisdom, courage, trust, love and grace.

The service ended with words from the founder of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, Marie Rivier: “Lord, stay with us, without you, we are only weakness. Stay with us so that we might be strong, humble, grateful and ardent in our love; because it is you alone who are our strength, our light, our guide, our way and our term, the end and beginning of our journey.”

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