Timeless Dedication: A Belated Celebration of Sister Carolyn Heil’s 50 Years
Take a moment to journey back to a heartwarming celebration that took place this past summer as Sister Carolyn Heil marked an incredible 50 years of commitment to spreading the love of Christ through education and retreat in Ontario, Canada.
Sister Carolyn marked her golden jubilee this past summer at St. Rose Convent, following a three-year postponement of the celebration due to the challenges of the pandemic. In this special feature, we revisit Sister Carolyn’s journey, embodying the FSPA’s timeless spirit of Eucharistic presence.
“Our charism is that of presence, of Eucharistic presence,” shared Heil. “I make the commitment daily to be a Eucharistic presence to whom I’m serving and with whom I’m living.”
Throughout the decades, the FSPA sisters, including Heil, have served in different roles such as schools, hospitals and on First Nation reserves, embodying a balance of contemplative and apostolic service. Sister Carolyn, a teacher by training, holds a master's degree in the Culture and Creation-Centred Spirituality program from Holy Names University in California.
In the midst of this journey, Sister Carolyn’s bond with her twin sister, Sister Roselyn, stands out. Answering the call to religious life together, their shared commitment has enriched their unique experiences. Sister Carolyn’s deep connection to nature, nurtured during her upbringing on a farm, is mirrored in her twin, who admires Carolyn’s wisdom gained through reflection on experiences and the integration of knowledge.
In 1991, she took on a mission to Orangeville, Ontario, to establish her ministry at the Ecology Retreat Centre. There, she joined two former classmates and took roles as a cook, gardener and housekeeper. Sister Carolyn emphasized the intention of creation-centred spirituality, “We came with the recognition that God is in all of creation, and we are all sisters and brothers – which is very Franciscan – and to live the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
Sister Carolyn served as the sole elementary teacher at Stoney Point Reserve School in Forest, Ontario, for one year. In Kilworthy, Ontario, she played a role in founding Camp Winston, a nature-focused haven for youth with neurological disabilities. Growing up on a farm, Sister Carolyn’s connection to nature guides her in instilling love and respect for the environment in camp attendees. Grateful for the wisdom gained, she emphasizes learning patience and acceptance. Sister Carolyn’s enduring commitment to her calling and contribution to education reflect a lifetime devoted to embodying the Franciscan charism of Eucharistic presence.
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