Archive for November, 2010


Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

by Sr. Patricia Kay OLM, photos by Sr. Rosemary Williamson OLM

On Saturday November 20,2010 at the 34th Convocation of Regis College, Toronto, Sister Elaine MacInnes, O.L.M., O.C. was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Sacred Letters by the Chancellor of Regis College, Very Rev. James F. Webb, S.J.

The citation for her honoris causa was read by Fr. Jack Costello, S.J. In it, he  described Sr. Elaine as a ‘world-travelling pilgrim’. He briefly sketched her life starting with her early years in Moncton, N.B. where her home was ‘vibrant and filled with music’.  He spoke of her education in music first at Mt. Allison University in Sackville, N.B. then on to more study of the violin at the Julliard School in New York. Later she played violin in both the Calgary and Edmonton Symphonies. By 1953 to the surprise of many of her friends she entered the newly founded community of Our Lady’s Missionaries in Alexandria, ON hoping to find the way to a deeper life in the Spirit as a missionary.

Her first missionary assignment was to Japan. There she founded a Conservatory and Cultural Centre in Osaka but it was her dialogue with Buddhism that led her to the rigorous study and exacting meditation of the practice of Zen. For many years she had the privilege of studying under the guidance of Ramada Roshi, a well-known Zen Master. And by 1980, she was made a Zen Roshi, or master, one of only two Catholics to be given the distinction at that time.

In the meantime, after some years in the Philippines, she was asked on behalf of  a  tortured prominent political prisoner in the Bago Bantay Prison of Quezon City, just outside Manila to come and teach him meditation. As a result of this practice, he could later write” Through my prison windows I can see oneness pervades the whole universe and I am in my perfect place, moving along the way”.

In 1993, Sr. Elaine moved to Oxford, England to become the Director of the Phoenix Prison Trust and where she became an enthusiastic advocate of Restorative Justice . She began to see prisons as potentially places of healing instead of only punishment and trained volunteers to be teachers of yoga and meditation in more than 85 prisons throughout all of U.K. including the notorious Maze Prison in Ireland.

After 40 years outside Canada, she returned to her own country in hopes of carrying on her work in Canadian prisons. Though here ,more than in any other country, she and her teaching teams have often been greeted with suspicion and resistance. She began a Zendo in Toronto for the teaching and practice of meditation and also founded an apostolic group called Freeing the Human Spirit for the continuation of her work of teaching yoga and meditation to prisoners.

In 1998 Sr. Elaine was granted an honorary degree by Mount Allison University, her alma mater. In 2001 she received the Order of Canada. Then in 2005, she received another honorary degree , this time from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish,  N.S.

Throughout the years, Sr. Elaine has had innumerable interviews in media of all forms. In 2004 a Hilary Pryor film was produced based on her life and work entitled The Fires That Burn . This has been widely shown to appreciative audiences .Sister Elaine’s 6th and latest book The Flowing Bridge is filling a gap for English speaking Zen students in several areas. Her work in Inter-religious dialogue continues to interest and fascinate her. As she experiences the gradual depletion of being in her middle eighties it is enormously relieving to her to know that the work will continue even when she no longer around there to guide it.

New Link on the OLM Website – The Toronto Japanese Catholic Community

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

The Toronto Japanese Catholic Community gathers monthly in order to provide spiritual and mutual support in Japanese:

  • for Japanese Catholics who live in the Toronto area and also encourage each other to participate in their local parish community,
  • to provide support and hospitality for Japanese Catholics who come to spend some time in the Toronto area,
  • to be a source of contact to introduce Japanese non-Christians to the Catholic Church.

A link to the TJCC website has been added to our OLM website (with other links on the lower right-hand side of the main page), or you can click on the link here: (Contact: Roy Sakaguchi at or 416-960-8827)

Bishop Vincent Nguyen gave a talk on Oct. 31st at the Scarboro Missions. It was entitled “My Spiritual Journey – from a Boat Refugee to a Catholic Bishop of Canada”. There was a good turnout of about 130. On the above website in the News & Events page, his talk is available in three formats – a text summary, an audio and video version. Many pictures from the evening are also available.

Our Lady’s Missionaries to Remember and Pray

Monday, November 8th, 2010

 On Sunday, November 21st, Our Lady’s Missionaries will have a special Mass to remember sisters, family, and friends who have gone before us, especially those who have died within the past year.  Would you like us to hold your loved ones in prayer too?  If so, please submit their names by leaving a reply at the end of this entry.



Monday, November 1st, 2010
 Every year the Scarboro Missions graciously devote a full issue of their magazine to highlight the activities of Our Lady’s Missionaries.  This year’s issue is now accessible on the internet: (click on the image of the magazine cover to go to the Scarboro Missions web-site and read the contents inside) 

Scarboro Missions Magazine May/June 2010

 To look at other Scarboro Missions Magazine click on the “Publications” page found on the right-hand side of the main page of the OLM web-site.