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By Thaddeus M. Baklinski and Steve Jalsevac

TORONTO, June 7, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Sisters of Life, who first came to Toronto in 2007, will be hosting an open house at their new Visitation Mission to Pregnant Women on June 12. The June 12 event will include a Mass and special blessing of the center by Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins at 1 o'clock. Mass will be followed by a social gathering and tour of the newly renovated former rectory of St. Catherine of Siena parish, 1099 Danforth Ave., located along Toronto's Bloor subway line.

The sisters Toronto mission is the first one established outside of New York city and came about in response to an exceptional series of unconnected invitations to the sisters from Archbishop Collins and others asking them to come to Toronto. The uniquely pro-life and faithfully Catholic religious order spent its first year and one-half in the city discerning its role in the community before deciding upon and commiting to the new center.

Since arriving in Canada's largest city the sisters, notable for their constant cheerfullness and spunk, have participated in most pro-life functions and activities in the region such as 40 Days for Life, pro-life conferences, meetings and prayer events, as well as many diocesan and other functions.

They have given spiritual formation talks to pro-life activists and been a regular presence at recent National March for Life events in the nation's capital city. The sisters have also visited many Toronto parishes to tell about their special vocation and the need for co-workers to assist their mission.

The Sisters of Life is a contemplative/active religious community of women founded in 1991 by John Cardinal O’Connor, focused on assisting pregnant women in crisis and promoting the culture of life.

Like all religious communities, the Sisters take the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They also are consecrated under a special, fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.

The Sisters welcome pregnant guests to live with them in the “Holy Respite” of one of their convents, assist pregnant women in need of practical assistance through their “Visitation Missions,” and invite those who have suffered abortion to find hope and healing through day and weekend “Entering Canaan” retreats.

The Sisters also direct and staff the New York Archdiocesan Family Life / Respect Life Office and the Dr. Joseph Stanton Human Life Issues Library.

Sister Mary Elizabeth, one of the five Sisters of Life at St. Catherine of Siena, told LifeSiteNews that the purpose of the Visitation Mission is not only to help pregnant women in distress, but to involve the surrounding community in this work of providing spiritual, emotional and practical support.

“We invite members of the community to join us in this work, to become co-workers for life, and just giving what you can to help pregnant women,” Sister Mary Elizabeth said.

“There are different categories of volunteers,” Sister Mary Elizabeth explained. “Some, who are called handmaids, actually will pair up with the woman who is pregnant and offer care and love, because a lot of times we find that women have no one who actually care for them, to be with them and give them material and spiritual support.”

Sister Mary Elizabeth also said that the Sisters of Life have sought the support of men in this work through their group called St. Joseph's Workers.

“These men have so much to give, whether it's moving furniture, driving errands, or offering support and encouragement to the young men connected to the women we are helping,” she said.

“Another initiative we have are the prayer groups that have formed in the various parishes we have visited and given presentations, that give us and the moms spiritual support.”

Sister Mary Elizabeth remarked that she has found Toronto to be very welcoming to the Sisters of Life and their mission.

“We have over 1,000 co-workers in the Toronto area already, and we've been so blessed by the welcome we've been given by both the archdiocese and our neighbors.”

The Sisters of Life website states that their “missions are carried out with the heart of the Church and with the hope of revealing to those we serve the inherent goodness and beauty of their own lives, so that each person may see and experience the truth that they are an unrepeatable creation of the Master.”

To contact the Sisters in Toronto, call 1-877-543-3380 or (416) 463-2722, or visit their website here.

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